You Say Hello, And I Say Goodbye - The arrival of a new baby is usually a time of joy and celebration. Er...usually. "Well, the stork was busy, so we figured we'd just chuck the lil' tyke ...
Friday, September 28, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Home at last….
Nick spoke with an attendant and was informed that there were several openings on a flight the next morning out of a nearby airport, Long Beach. He added our names to the standby list for that location, and we took the metro across town, through Compton! Stayed at a hotel for the night – it was so nice to have a bed to lay down on! Very Sleepy…..
After Breakfast we went over to Silvia’s house to work on the cast that Lalo would take of me. We decided to do an entire cast, waist up, rather than just the shoulders and head! We set the abdomen portion while I was laying down, and the rest would be taken while either standing or sitting. Between sections, I went downstairs to buy some jewelry from Adrianna’s dad. Yet another artist in the family, he makes beautiful bracelets and necklaces with molds out of various metals.
Unfortunately the rest of the day didn’t go quite as well. Possibly due to stress from the accident, or possibly due to a head injury, I had two incidents of passing out and convulsing. After the first, I just sat quietly and drank a bunch of water, but felt fine for the most part. The second one really did me in though – I was so very tired and out of it. We went back to the emergency room, where they kept me overnight for monitoring. They took a cat scan, which the neurologist said looked fine, and the next morning they took an EEG. There wasn’t a neurologist available at this point, so I was sent home to the states with the test results with instructions to follow up with a specialist at home.
After breakfast, we had to run a few errands in regard to the insurance situation with the car. Unfortunately this has been a very stressful situation for Wyatt and Adrianna, only made worse by the fact that everyone is either telling them something different from person to person, or the same person will change their story back and forth 3 times! Wyatt finally was able to reach Mazda, who they are still sending payments to, and was able to sort things out a bit more. Of course, that wasn’t very easy either, since Mazda only has an 800 number, which you can’t call from Mexico! So, Wyatt’s mother had to make a 3-way call with Wyatt and Mazda so that he could get some clarification. Of course, Mazda has never had to deal with a total loss of a car in Mexico. Awesome. In any case, it seems that things have reached a positive level on that front. For now.
As we were preparing to leave the house for our errands, we were all informed that the maid, Adelita was leaving for a few days for a family reunion.
Once we finished all that business, we went back to the hospital for follow up appointments. I actually felt absolutely fine by the time we got there, in regard to my neck and back, so the doctor told me that I only needed to wear my neck-brace if I felt tired. This is, of course, much better than the original plan of a strict 3-4 weeks! Every one seems to be doing great, and we all received good feedback, with instructions to follow up with a doctor in the states.
Finally, all of the errands were finished! We drove to Adrianna’s mother’s place, where everyone was busy making shrimp! At one point, every single sister and cousin was in the kitchen peeling shrimp. Unfortunately, by the time dinner was ready, my fever had spiked considerably, and I was pretty congested, so I wasn’t very comfortable. Plus, my lower back was in extreme pain – figures that it felt FINE at the hospital!!! I figured some food might help, but it turns out that the shrimp were “camarones diables”, not a very friendly recipe if you can’t handle spicy food! By the time I finished that, my stomach was in knots! I went upstairs to Sylvia’s room to lie down for awhile, and someone had given me some medication which is good for fever, congestion, etc. Once that kicked in, about 20 minutes later, I was feeling much better – the back rub from Nick helped a lot too, of course!
Once that disaster was over, things started to look up again. America and I went over to her place with Veronica and we made chocolate chip cookies for everyone! We used my recipe that I’ve had for over 10 years; I was really interested to see how it would turn out with the altitude and the ingredients! They actually turned out pretty well, considering I was trying to convert to ounces, and managed to totally mess up the amounts for both types of sugar! They were a bit flat, and pretty darn sweet! Everyone was pretty happy with them though. Once we had finished baking, we brought the finished cookies back to the waiting crowd at Sylvia’s house. Upon arrival, I was greeted with many smiling faces, all singing a Mexican happy birthday song! They even had number candles to put “27” on the cake, which Wyatt was kind enough to reverse, so apparently I am 72 years old today. ;> Of course, in Mexico there is a really great tradition that the birthday boy or girl has to take the first bite out of the whole cake without using their hands. Apparently this signifies the transition from young to old, in that it is a sort of “comparison” to when you are very small and you put your hands and face in the cake before anyone get’s a chance to cut it! So, being the adventurous girl that I am, I made sure that no one was behind me, then I leaned in for the bite. Adrianna, being the sneaky girl that she is, managed to get back behind me to push my face into the cake! Good times. ;>
After cake was served and thoroughly enjoyed (a 3 milk cake that is traditional in Mexico with a lemon frosting – delicious!), some of the girls were looking at the necklaces that Veronica had made and collected. In the midst of this, she handed me a beautiful beaded necklace that she had been wearing the other day, which she knew that I was admiring – a wonderful birthday gift, indeed!
When everyone was starting to head out, I was invited up to watch another art project. Adrianna’s brother Lalo is quite the sculptor, apparently. I found out that he used to be very active in making the large statues that you see of angels and saints, mostly of a Catholic flair. He has also done some philanthropolic(sp?) work, and even did some forensic work! Apparently some very old bones were found, and some scientists were trying to re-create the facial features. They were able to create the markers to indicate muscle and tissue, and then passed the project off to Lalo to create the full sculpture. Fascinating, no? So…what I found upstairs was Lalo making a mold of one of the younger cousins! He wanted to make a fairy sculpture, and he asked to take a mold of her face and upper chest area, shoulders, etc. He wrapped her hair in saran wrap, then coated the areas to be molded with Vaseline, so that the dried cast wouldn’t stick to her skin. Then he went to work with the casting material. Lalo had gone to the drug store and bought the same material that they use to make casts in doctor’s offices for broken bones! It’s a gauze type material, with dried plaster powder coating, which he soaks in water, and layers on the skin, taking great care to ensure that it is perfectly smooth, without wrinkles or folds. The hard part is the eyes, nose and mouth, of course! He does leave holes for the nostrils, but everything else is completely covered with dried plaster when he is done! I can imagine that it is quite claustrophobic in there!
Apparently Lalo had asked for me to come watch, because he is interested in making a mold of me for an angel sculpture, and he wanted me to watch him work so that I knew what I was getting into before I agreed. It was so cool to watch him work and such a pleasant surprise to be asked to participate, that I had to say yes! I know that I can’t keep the sculpture, but I would love to have photos of the finished project. I’ve always wondered what I look like as an angel! ;> So, tomorrow I will go back to Silvia’s to have a mold made!
In the afternoon, relaxing at Veronica’s place, she was showing off some of the jewelry she has made. She makes necklaces with various beads in wood, glass, any material you can think of. She has some really amazing designs, so it was neat to see some of her handiwork. Knowing that I’m not much for shiny jewelry, just like herself, she gave me a really fantastic wooden bead necklace that she made some time ago. Now there’s no question that I have authentic jewelry from Mexico!
We spent the late afternoon and evening at Adrianna’s mother’s house, for a barbeque. They had several huge fish and some beef to prepare, but it all had to wait for the coals. The men had quite a hard time getting the coals started, and by the time things started to catch, a huge rain storm started! So, we moved the barbeque under cover and were finally able to cook the food.
By the time the food was ready, there was a 4 foot wide river in the streets, due to all of the rain!
After lunch, we all went to the cultural market. This is a market that is only open on Saturdays, so today was the only opportunity for us to go on this trip. This is the market that I mentioned a few days back, and it really was fantastic. There were drum circles and tons of great jewelry! Apparently it used to be strictly hippies that would frequent the market, but now it has become a mixture of hippies and punk-types.
At the market, I learned the amazing benefit of the process that Adrianna and I use to get a good price. I was looking at a pair of pretty fantastic earrings, and the vendor was telling me that they are made right here in Mexico. He said that he would give me a great deal of 50 pesos for them. They were pretty nice, but it seemed like a high price, considering some of the other deals I have gotten. So, I thanked him and moved on. I really wanted those earrings though! So, later I gave Adrianna some cash, and asked her to go back and see if she could get a good price. She came back with them, only having paid 30 pesos! Amazing. I did tell Wyatt later that it is very hard to get into the mindset that 5 dollars American is too expensive for a pair of earrings!
I also found a really great necklace for a certain mother of a certain boyfriend! They only had the pendant portion, but they offered to attach a chain to it for me. I expected a pre-made chain, but they sat there and made the chain, link by link, until I was happy with the length!
I’m lying in bed, watching a lightening storm – a regular, almost nightly, thing here during the summer. It’s strangely peaceful. Aside from the smell of the impending rain, nothing is familiar. The lightening comes in large flashes that fill the night sky and light up the silhouettes of the clouds, but only occasionally do I actually see a lightening rod. There’s no thunder – just the sound of the crickets and the occasional bark from Luca.
Today Adrianna’s dad came over with coconuts from his property, which he cut with a machete so that we could drink the water, then eat the meat inside. Once we had finished those, he made gorditas – corn dough which is fried, then covered with butter and cheese! In a bit we will have prawns – a day of eating!
This evening we drove over to Adrianna’s sister, America’s house. I completely lost it on the way over – so uncomfortable in the car that I started crying uncontrollably. I think it’s going to take some time getting used to being in a car again. I hope that things will improve a bit once I get home. I just can’t get the accident out of my head. I remember exactly what it felt like when the car made it’s first flip, and I remember vividly what it felt like when my head was hitting the window.
Of course, nothing that a beer can’t fix! Once I had calmed a bit, Nick and I joined the party and had a great time. Our Spanish has improved immensely since being here, so we were actually able to carry some broken but understandable conversations.
There was so much dancing and drinking – by the end of the night, 2.5 bottles of tequila were gone between about 10 people (3 beers was plenty for me!), and everyone was having a great time. Despite doctor’s orders, Adrianna and I couldn’t help joining in the dancing! I had to break out my belly dancing moves of course, and from that point on, no one would let me leave the dance floor! At one point I was off in my own little world, getting into the music, not realizing I was the only one dancing. When I stopped for a drink of water and some fresh air, everyone in the room broke into applause! I think I could fit in just fine here….
I’m convinced that the seatbelts were the only thing that saved us. We can’t say a damn thing for the 6 airbags that didn’t deploy! The frame of the car held up quite well, especially considering we were bouncing off of some pretty large boulders. The top of the car was dented and separated from the frame, but didn’t collapse, which is truly amazing. The rear and passenger side windows were all destroyed.
As the car was flying through the air in all directions, I had the good sense to put my hands up to brace myself on the ceiling, rather than the window. I also thought to keep my mouth shut, which might not seem like an important thing, but those who didn’t clamp it shut had the opportunity to experience the taste of glass. I remembered being very aware of what was going on and that the car was actually flipping – this realization gave me confidence that I was going to be okay, as long as the car didn’t explode. As soon as the car stopped, I immediately asked if everyone was okay, and received responses from each person. Someone, I think Adrianna, started whimpering. Being a strangely level-headed person when it comes to traumatic situations, I yelled at her that she was fine, that we were all fine.
Luckily there were plenty of other people on the road at the time, so a couple was there immediately to help us. Of course, with the car lying on its side, we had to coordinate our escape, but in the end, it worked out okay. When I got back to the street and looked back at the car, it was such a shock to see what we had all survived. I looked at Josh, Adrianna’s second cousin, who had blood all over his face. It turned out to be a very small scratch on his cheek which had run all over his face as the car was flipping. Wyatt seemed fine, but understandably upset, and Adrianna seemed alright, though quite shaken. Nick however, received the brunt of the injuries. His arm was completely thrashed in two places. We’ve come to the conclusion that he must have put his elbow through the window, since his cuts were so jagged in nature. His elbow had markings that resembled a shark bite in my mind, and his forearm was described later by a doctor as being “filleted”. Needless to say, he was bleeding all over the place – and the only form of water available was lime flavored. Awesome. As with Adrianna, I felt fine, other than a headache, which was a result of banging my head on the window several times.
When the paramedics arrived, they treated Nick and Josh and then informed Wyatt and Adrianna that they could take Nick to the hospital, but that would result in Wyatt going to jail until everything was sorted out and there was a trial. Apparently in Mexico, if the police see or find out about even a drop of blood at a car crash, the driver who is at fault goes to jail automatically. Even though Wyatt and Adrianna already knew this, I thought it was kind of the medic to let us know so that we could choose to go to the hospital on our own.
After the ambulance left, we had to wait for the police, and then the tow truck. We had to keep Nick’s wound, which was wrapped in gauze at this point, “under wraps” so to speak, so the police wouldn’t know about his injury. Poor Nick had to hang out in a sweatshirt that covered his arm for several hours in the Mexican heat.
Once the tow truck came and hauled the car out of the field, we were able to get our things. Please keep in mind, I’ve been out in the sun for several hours, while my sunscreen was in the trunk of the car that I couldn’t get to! I guess I’ll be crispy-fried for the rest of my vacation.
We all went to a private hospital to get checked out and to get stitches for Nick. I had xrays done, because my neck and back were starting to get sore. Survey says: Kim has extreme curvature in her lower back (read: badonkadonk), which, if untreated, will cause major issues later in life, if not already. The car accident aggravated this in my lower and upper back, so when I return to the states, I need to get extended treatment. The doctor even let me take my xrays home for this purpose. He also sent me off with this handy foam neck brace that I have to wear at all times except when I’m eating, sleeping our showering. I don’t have any fractures, but with my neck being so sore, I need to rest it as much as possible for 3-4 weeks. I also have muscle relaxers and a muscle cream that I can use during the day without worrying about drowsiness.
Adrianna gets to wear a neck brace too! I figure, with the car totaled, we’ll be flying home – maybe Adrianna and I can get better seats if we really play up the neck injuries!
Nick received his stitches, and they pulled a chunk of glass out from under his skin. He kept the glass, of course. Wyatt sustained zero injuries, but is a little sore in the neck. He was sent home with some Tylenol for soreness and the option of taking a neck brace. We’ll all be going back on Tuesday for follow up appointments before heading back home.
It’s so overwhelming to think about what happened today. I periodically go back to it, and I become very emotional. What if someone hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt? What if the car hadn’t been going as fast – would we have landed closer to where we veered off the road, which was a much larger drop? What if I hadn’t gotten off with simple aches and pains?
Moral of the story? Wear your goddamn seatbelt.
Apparently there are several different types of Americans. There are the business travelers, the spring break Americans and the traveling Americans. I’ve been told that I am a traveling American (read: Hippie). The girls have been telling me about a market that is only open on Saturdays – they say I would like it because it has “Bob Marley style”. ;> I do think they have me all figured out though…whenever I am around, someone is showing me a chunky piece of jewelry or a fantastic pair of sandals – I think I might commission some of the girls to shop for me periodically after I have left!
Veronica and Braulio have a maid, which is a little strange getting used to. She cleans the entire house every day, and cooks breakfast for the guests and the 3 boys who live here. Once she has cooked, she brings your food to you in the dining room, then she will come out later and ask if you want more. If you say yes, (si, gracias), she’ll take your plate and bring it back piled high with more food, but if you say no (no mas, gracias), she’ll take your dishes into the kitchen for washing. I’ve probably received the best service of my life here! She is a sweet old lady who stands around 4 feet tall – She has to stand on her toes to reach the kitchen faucet! She makes the best scrambled eggs you have ever had, and serves them up with a big glass of milk. This morning she made chiliquiles, which is a mixture of tortillas and a red sauce. Of course, the meal was too spicy for me, but she was more than happy to make some scrambled eggs with ham instead. Everyone got a good laugh over that one –apparently she used ancho chiles, which are considered the least spicy!
I’m overwhelmed each day by how welcoming Adrianna’s family is. Every day Veronica wants to know if we slept well and if we need anything to make our stay more comfortable. Adrianna’s mother makes a large pot of postale, a pork and corn soup which you add onions, radishes, lettuce and lime to, and everyone comes over to eat – not at the same time, mind you. We eat around dinner time, and a short time later, a few more wander over…there are still people arriving well into the night. Time is not an issue – there is always a bowl and a chair for anyone who shows up.
We’ve gone to street taco stands twice now – something that Wyatt warned would cause considerable stomach issues which could only be helped with Immodium – and even then not by much. Despite the warnings, I want to take in as much of the culture as possible, and since there are taco stands on nearly every corner, even in the suburbs, we will eat tacos! Wyatt has had his share of issues as a result, but apparently not nearly so much as in the past – he wonders if they have made improvements to the sanitary conditions. Nick and I have not had any issues, however. This is quite the relief for me, as I’m sure you know…my stomach seems to be like a delicate effing flower much of the time! I have to say, I can certainly understand why Wyatt continues to cause himself suffering when he comes here!
We spent the afternoon at a place called Tlaquepaque. It’s a pretty touristy area, with lots of little gift shops. Obviously the prices can be pretty ridiculous – Wyatt says that some of the places that we went yesterday sell their merchandise to these people, who then mark up the prices and sell to tourists. Despite the price hikes, I did manage to find a pretty good deal – A bracelet which is exactly like one I have coveted online, but with different (better) stones, was $40 online, and I managed to get this one for 50 pesos (the equivalent of about $5 US.
After shopping for awhile, we went back to Adrianna’s father’s neighborhood, and enjoyed tamales from a street vendor! I had one chicken mole – the mole was so different – creamy! I also had a chicken and vegetable one, which strangely, tasted exactly like my chicken pot pie! I also had “”, which was interesting, but quite good. They cut the corn off of a cob into a cup, and then top it with this fresh cream which is the consistency of sour cream, but does not have the flavor. Finally, they top it off with some Mexican cheese and chili powder. Yum!
Found out today that only “bad” girls have tattoos. Adrianna’s mother apparently said that I am very pretty, but it’s too bad that I have a tattoo. However, she does love my hair. She asked what color my hair is naturally, and I told her purple and green. ;>
We went to a market today, and I was able to get most of the gifts that I wanted to take home. I also found a really fantastic handbag for myself – soft leather with a purple flower! Also, we went to the jewelry district, which is completely insane. It’s counter after counter of silver, gold and jewels in all shapes and sizes. It even goes underground in some spots! They post the market rate for a gram, so you know what you should expect to pay. When you find something that you want, they weigh it to find out how much to charge, which can change depending on the quantity – most places, if you spend at least 500 pesos (about $50 American dollars), they will go down by a peso or two per gram. I’ve learned the “routine” for buying things at the markets here: Find something you like, then discreetly tell Adrianna, who will be a short distance ahead or behind, and she will go back to the counter to find out how much, then go to other sellers to see if she can get a better price. Once she has found a good deal, she calls you over to make a decision. I had been told to do this initially, but without thinking I went crazy over a particular bracelet. When the girls told me how much it would cost, Adrianna told me that it was a ridiculous price, but by that time we could not get a better deal. Obviously the sales-people know they can get much more out of tourists – but really, even the overly high prices are excellent deals!
We traveled in the Mexican way to get downtown – cramming 8 people into a car that comfortably seats four! What an adventure that was! In addition to that, we experienced the terror of public transportation – I truly feel that I have an “authentic” experience here every day. ;>
Today was a day of relaxation. We drove over to Adrianna’s mother’s house and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying not being in a car. I got some reading done, and we walked to a local market. I received quite a few stares due to my hair, I think. There are a lot of girls here who dye their hair blonde, but most are a honey color – not quite the platinum that I sport. Adrianna’s sisters say that by the time I leave, all the girls in Guadalajara will want short hair. ;>
Adrianna’s mother is very welcoming – she informed Nick and I that her house was ours, and that we shouldn’t ask before doing things there. Then she decided that we looked tired, and insisted that we take over her bed for a nap. I guess there’s no arguing with Mexican women!
In the evening, the entire family came over to the house and we had a bit of a fiesta. Adrianna’s father used to be a vocal performer, and he showed off some of his skills for us. His friends came over and they performed mariachi music well into the night. There was dancing and singing and muchas cervecas! I couldn’t believe what an experience I was having – I truly felt that I was in Mexico at that point!
From Mazatlan we continued our drive toward Guadalajara. We stopped along the way at a small store on the side of the road to use the bathrooms and for Adrianna to call her sister with our location. We had homemade tamales which were pretty much amazing (“esta muy rico!”). Up until this point, I had been pretty lucky with the spice factor – for the most part, everything is exceptionally seasoned, but you add the chili sauce yourself. However, just as I was getting really into my tamales, I got a nice big bite with a big chunk of cerrano in it! Oy! Luckily Nick had gotten milk to go with his meal, which I was happy to help him drink!
Continuing our trek, we drove and drove and drove…and then I’m pretty sure we drove some more! Driving over the mountain pass west of Guadalajara, there was quite the traffic backup, due to only one of the two lanes being open in our direction. We passed through that delay still wondering what the problem was. Further along the pass, we slowed due to flares on the side of the road. The flares down here are much more impressive than in the states. They have actual flames! I’m not sure what they are exactly, but they sortof look like very small barbeques with flames shooting out the top! Of course, once we came around the corner where the accident was, we were all mesmerized by the flares, and almost didn’t see the semi truck turned over on its side! Thank you, Adrianna, for having such great reflexes!
We finally made it to Guadalajara around midnight. We had planned quite carefully to ensure we would not be driving at night, but there were several detours and an accident to slow us down considerably. I assumed that everyone would be asleep when we arrived, but I guess the rumors are true about the people of Mexico not sleeping! Adrianna’s sister Veronica and brother in-law Braulio greeted us at the door, and took us into the house, toward the back, I assume under the guise that it was much cooler outside. Once through the back door, we were attacked by Adrianna’s entire family (cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, nieces, nephews, siblings…) with shaving cream and balloons! Once the craziness had subsided, we all sat around the back yard and had cervesas, quesadillas and chips.
I didn’t sleep well that night due to the heat, being in a new place, and all the damn mosquitoes! In the states, they don’t really bother me, but here they are eating me alive! Luckily I have calamine lotion, and I wear long skirts, so I don’t itch too much and no one can see the bites!
We reached our record high temp in south Arizona at 105, and it probably stayed right around 100 through the state, but as soon as we crossed the border the thunder and lightening started, and we dropped to 75! It was very humid, but such a relief! While we were driving to the “Banjercito” to get our visas, the rain started. It freakin’ poured!!! There were kids on the streets selling cookies, and they held out for a while, but finally even they went running for cover!
That night we stayed at Ciudad Obregon; a short stop just for sleeping. Along the way there were cemeteries on the side of the road. They were so colorful – Rather than the basic headstones that we have in the states, they have small houses built. Wyatt expressed what I had been thinking, which was that many of these “houses” are nicer than the houses that the families live in. Along the way we drove through many small towns, as well as some areas that just consisted of a few houses. It was hard at times to see the conditions which the local people live. Many of the homes were just random materials stuck together with a very meager roof. I found myself thinking that despite the very warm weather, there are some pretty intense rain storms here; I can’t imagine some of those homes standing up to such weather! I also found myself becoming concerned about the conditions in which we would be living for the next 9 days! Adrianna had told us that her sister’s house was very nice, but if the things I had been seeing were any indication….
We drove through part of Oregon, Idaho and into Utah, before stopping at Salt Lake City to see the lake and take a lunch break. The lake was pretty disgusting – probably not a future destination. With the heat, it smelled like garbage – that, coupled with the fact that the lake has been drying up for sometime, made for a very quick stop!
We also stopped along the way to get breakfast at Ihop, where I learned the dangers of mispronunciation. In an effort to improve my Spanish before arriving in Mexico, I said to Wyatt and Adrianna “Quiero las salchichis”, when what I should have said was “Quiero las salchichas”. A single letter changes the whole world. I was trying to say that I wanted sausages, but what came out was that I wanted big boobs!
In the evening, we arrived to the Grand Canyon just on time to see the sunset! At just the perfect time, a double rainbow showed up over a large cliff that the sun was reflecting off of. The cliff was a really intense gold color, the sky was dark and the rainbows were so bright. This was quite possibly the most amazing thing that I have ever seen.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Today has been one of those days where everyone seems to look great. Someone has a nice pair of earrings, or a pretty skirt, or a fantastic tie. I'm hyper with the desire to compliment everyone.
I took a picture of this girl - I couldn't help actually saying something to her about her great outfit. She also had a shirt under her denim jacket which was the same color green as her boots. On most people, this would look ridiculous, but girlfriend was rockin' her style! She might be a good candidate for Wardrobe Remix. (Thanks to mightygirl for the awesome link!)