Thursday, April 01, 2010

Expat 101

We welcomed our first visitors this week when friends Carol and Terry arrived from Calgary.  (I became friends with Carol when we both worked at Jayman.)  They are both newly retired and seeking new experiences and adventures and thought spending time with us would help them see life from an expat's perspective and answer some of their questions.  We laughed when they told us that the idea of living in another country started after they visited us in Idaho a couple of years ago and heard our stories.

In typical warm Mexican hospitality, an invitation to attend a baptism fiesta was extended to include our Canadian guests.  It was held in an beautiful outdoor event center, and we all enjoyed the taco buffet and music.  They were welcomed by our Mexican friends and experienced the challenges of trying to visit with a limited vocabulary.

  On Sunday we drove to San Carlos and were surprised to see it sunny, but blustery.

When we returned to Hermosillo, we drove up Cerro de la Campana to give them a bird's eye view of the city.

On Monday, I brought them to Ciudad de los Ninos and they experienced organized mayhem as we celebrated Easter with egg decorating, games and an Easter egg hunt.

My friend Tracey and her daughter were also there so we had lots of people to help which was great since all the kids were off school so there were around 50 children aged 1 to 15.  I brought about 60 boiled eggs -- some of which became projectiles before the morning was over.
Below:  It's impossible not to fall in love with the children, and despite language barriers, Carol and Terry connected with them in a special way.
In response to my "wish list" for the kids, they generously brought arts and craft supplies as well as a game of Twister that I thought the older ones would enjoy -- and they did!
Tracey provided 200 candy stuffed Easter eggs for the hunt which turned out to be a huge success.

Roger and I really haven't done many touristy things in Hermosillo, so I asked friends where I should take our guests and sure enough - we had a great day exploring the city.  My trusty taxi driver, Jose, doubled as tour guide and shared his knowledge.
Above: Catedral de la Asuncion, built in 1877 is a city icon, and is located in the Zaragoza Plaza.

Below:  The Government Palace is also located in the Plaza and is home to breathtaking murals that depict an often violent history of the State.

Below:  The Palace's inner courtyard had a beautiful garden and statues.

One of the saddest places in Hermosillo is a shrine set up in the Plaza.  In June 2009 a fire in a government-run daycare would eventually claim the lives of 47 children under 4 years of age.  An inquiry recently found the fire was caused by an electrical short --- but in reality it was a tragedy waiting to happen as there were more than 150 infants and toddlers who were cared for by 6 caregivers --- with no working smoke alarms and only 1 working exit.  Another exit was chained shut. 
After leaving the Plaza, we checked out the Municipal Mercado.  There, butchers cut up and sell every part of cows and other animals and are openly displayed.  I can't imagine what it would smell like in the summer when the temperatures can reach 55C. It was interesting to see, but I'll stick to shopping at Sorianos!

When a Mexican girl turns 15, she is often given an incredible party called La Quinceanera that would rival any Sweet 16 party.  Big, frilly dresses are worn, and can be found in dress shops around the city.  We checked out one of the specialty stores and even found tiaras! 

Below:  Our last stop was Museum de Sonora which is housed in the city's jail that closed in 1979.  Right on cue, we saw a young girl having a photo shoot for her Quinceanera.
Below:  It's hard to believe the jail only stopped operating 30 years ago -- all I can say is I'm pretty sure all the reports of draconian Mexican jails is probably all true.

Below:  I had no sooner finished telling Carol and Terry that we missed the Donut Man who used to come around in the evening selling treats in a funky mobile bakery case --- that I heard the theme song to the Pink Panther and he came scooting through the gates!  We wildly waved our arms and he came to the house -- obviously happy that we remembered him!
While Roger was working, we drove out to Kino Bay for lunch and enjoyed a walk on the beach.
Our last dinner out was supposed to include mariachi music -- only to find (despite advertisements to the contrary) that the band was having a night off!  We still had a great evening of good food and conversation.  Carol and Terry said they learned a lot from their visit including getting a better understanding of doing business here as they followed Roger's daily updates of a project that kept getting delayed despite assurances from the client it would all be resolved "manana".
We bid Carol and Terry farewell and will look forward to hearing about their adventures.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister of India

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