Monthly Archive for December, 2009

Looking forward to 2010

Since I got my assignment a little over two months ago, moving to Juarez has seemed quite far off.  Now that 2010 is almost here it is slowly sinking in that in a few short months I will be in Mexico! The question I seem to get most from people when they hear I am going to Juarez is “aren’t you scared?” I do actually read the news, despite being advised that ignorance is bliss, and I am still excited to go. I didn’t sign up for this job thinking that it would be safe 100% of the time. I always like a challenge and I have a feeling that working in Juarez will be sure to provide that. As for the safety issues, well I tend have just enough common sense not to get myself in trouble. I’m also not exactly the demographic being targeted in the violence so it’s not keeping me up at nights. So I am looking forward to 2010 and moving to Juarez. As more and more of my A-100 colleagues depart for post I’m getting envious. I’m itching to get out there and start doing my job. Unfortunately ConGen and many more weeks of Spanish stand between me and departure.

Looking back, 2009 was quite a year. It’s hard to believe that a year ago this time I had just learned my QEP results and was stressing about my upcoming OA. Thanks to friends and family for their support through this incredibly crazy year and Happy New year to everyone! Hopefully 2010 will bring much more interesting blogging material as I finish my training and head off to post!

Aventuras en español

Spanish continues! Though I am afraid the joys of wrangling the preterite vs. the imperfect tenses doesn’t make for fascinating blogging material. I had my week 7 progress test which went a lot better than I thought. Progress tests are like shortened versions of the full test which includes a conversation, an interview and five minutes of talking at length on a given subject. At the end of the test I was given a range on my speaking ability of 2 to 2+ and my reading was a 2+. I’ll take it! I came in with a 1/1 so I wasn’t starting from a complete 0 though I feel like I was pretty close to it. The progress tests are done by our learning consultants who are there to help us prepare for the exam, give us feedback on what we need to spend more time studying, and keep us generally on track. Continue reading ‘Aventuras en español’

From the ridiculous to the sublime


El Vez

Recently I’ve ventured out with my fellow members of Team Mexico to a few “Mexican” cultural events to get in the spirit. I have to put “Mexican” in quotes because the first of these events was a concert featuring El Vez y Los Straightjackets. El Vez is the self-styled Elvis of Mexico. I think in reality he is the Mexican Elvis of L.A. It was a hysterically funny concert of holiday themed music.  Tragically I didn’t think to bring my camera, but I think this picture I found with the assistance of google helps capture the mood of the event.

Tonight I went to a cooking demonstration hosted by the Mexican Cultural Institute. The theme of the event was the cuisine of the Yucatan Peninsula

Avocado Soup with Tortilla Chips and Queso Fresco

Avocado Soup with Tortilla Chips and Queso Fresco

and the food was absolutely amazing.  As an unapologetic foodie, this was right up my alley.  We sampled 8 dishes and 2 different drinks which were representative of Yucatan cuisine.  The presenter kept emphasizing how different the food on the Yucatan was from the rest of the country; I’d have to agree. While it had a lot of the spice that we typically associate with Mexican food, there was a lot more sweetness in the food as a whole as well. I don’t think there was a dish I didn’t like but perhaps my favorites were the Sopa de Aguacate and the Arroz Amarillo which was a rice dish with saffron, onion, and tomatoes.

Pollo Pibil, Cebollas Encurtidas, Tzaabi Buul, y Arroz Amarillo

Pollo Pibil, Cebollas Encurtidas, Tzaabi Buul, y Arroz Amarillo

The Sopa de Aguacate tasted a lot like very creamy guacamole which is perfect for me because me encanta guacamole! Since I like spicy food I also accepted the demonstrator’s challenge to try the habanero salsa. It was phenomenal. It certainly was hot but it had a lot of flavor to it and the heat faded quickly. They finished the meal with a flan style desert. If I have one complaint about the experience, it would be that it increased my fears that I’m going to gain a hundred pounds being constantly exposed to tasty Mexican food. At the end of the evening we had all pretty much committed to returning for the next cooking demonstration at the Cultural Institute.  And now back to studying Spanish.

One month down

Whew!  I’ve survived the first month of Spanish training. I’ll have my first progress test in about two weeks so I will have a better idea then of how well I’m doing. I have noticed a difference in my speaking and reading ability already. It is amazing how quickly you progress when you spend 8+ hours a day working in a language. Though, I’m sort of expecting to reach a learning plateau soon.

We had our first instructor rotation this week. They try to change teachers every four weeks so that we hear different accents and are exposed to different teaching styles. Both of the instructors I’ve had so far have been excellent. If I have one complaint it is that I am starting to think that all the Spanish teachers in the world are from Colombia. I had one teacher all four years in high school and one instructor for the year of Spanish I took in college; both were from Colombia. Thus far both of my regular instructors at FSI and the two subs I’ve had have been from Colombia. Perhaps the universe is telling me I need to bid posts in Bogota high next time around because Colombian Spanish is definitely the accent I understand the best. Continue reading ‘One month down’