Settling in

Trip Start Jul 29, 2012
1
5
25
Trip End Aug 01, 2013


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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Whew.  We're here.

Sensory overload.  Yes.  Overwhelmed.  A bit.  Homesick.  Check.  Glad we’re here and looking forward to the next eleven months.  Without a doubt. 

Our day of travel went about as smoothly as we could have hoped for.  My parents got us to the airport by 4:50am for our 6:30 flight (ok, Mom, your behemoth car did come in handy after all).  Check in with Delta Airlines was smooth as could be.  I didn’t know that my suitcase packing skills would be so appreciated by Leah, but by the time our fourth exactly-fifty-pound suitcase was on the scale, Leah was so giddy that she asked me to take a photo of the scale (photo).  I can thank years of canoeing and backpacking trips with Widjiwagan for helping me hone my packing expertise.  The security line was pretty short at 5am, so we waltzed through without a wait and without any hassle.  The kids even made friends with the TSA agents. 

No surprise, the flight to Atlanta saw some nap-taking by all of us.  After a pleasant two hour layover in Atlanta, we boarded our plane to Mexico City.  To the kids’ delight, there were individual screens in front of each seat.  Thanks to this technology, the sub-three-hour flight went by fast.  Micah played chess and Bejewelled and watched some cartoons.  Zola watched cartoons and a show about chimpanzees.  Leah read the New York Times and clutched her armrests when we hit turbulence.  I did the puzzles in the back of the in-flight magazine and played some games as well.  All-in-all, the flight was smooth.

The only little kink came when we reached Mexico City.  After breezing through customs, we rolled our smart cart, piled high with luggage, to find the ticket counter of Interjet, the carrier that would fly us to Oaxaca, only to discover that their domestic flights departed from a different terminal.  Getting to the other terminal required a short bus ride or a ride on a light rail.  Both options required us to leave our smart cart behind and move our bags ourselves.  Well, two of our bags were duffle bags and two were rollers.  Micah and Zola volunteered to take one of the rolling suitcases.  I was very proud of them, working together to drag the suitcase … about twenty feet.  Then Leah took over, rolling both bags behind her, with her carry-on on her back.  That left two carry-ons and two duffle bags for me.  Needless to say, I received quite a few quizzical looks from people.  I’m sure I read in their eyes, "How is that skinny guy managing to haul 150 lbs of stuff?  And why hasn’t he opted to pay a porter to move his stuff for him?"  Well, we made it to the Interjet counter with the satisfaction of knowing we had summited the proverbial terminal 2 peak under our own power.

After checking our bags, we grabbed some food.  The food court in terminal 2 included a bevy of American fast food chains.  Fortunately, we were able to bypass those options and instead found some enchiladas, vegie wraps, guyaba juice, and a yogurt liquado (smoothie).  It hit the spot.  Waiting for our next flight, the kids were as punchy as I’ve ever seen them, somewhat distracted and squirming all around.  At 5:30, when our flight departed, it had already been a long day. Our flight from Mexico City to Oaxaca was up and down in 45 minutes.  Easy.  On the ground in Oaxaca, we grabbed our bags and then took a taxi to the house we would be occupying for the next eleven months.  Midway through downtown Oaxaca, at 7pm, the kids had nodded off (photo)

They woke up twenty minutes later when our taxi backed down a short dirt alley that led to our place.  It was as we had expected - light, airy, simple, with a large covered terrace, a small yard, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  But, it wasn’t home.  Micah let us know that.  In his sleep deprived state, he started to cry.  He said, “something doesn’t feel right inside of me.”  Zola, unphazed, comforted him.  Soon thereafter, Leah unpacked their bags, I read them bedtime stories, and they were both asleep in no time.

Leah and I agreed that this did not yet feel like home.  The bed didn’t feel like ours.  We waxed philosophical about how good it was for us to force ourselves out of our comfort zones.  We agreed that we have it so good in Bozeman, how insulated from inconvenience we are in the States.  Lights out at 11 p.m. 

Rooster calls woke me up at 4 a.m.  I went back to sleep on and off for the next three hours, when Micah came in to our bedroom.  Zola slept for another hour and a half while Leah and I unpacked our own bags and started to get settled.  The sleep had done Micah well.  He said he was already starting to like our new digs.  Leah, on the other hand, had just seen a spider, about two feet across, as she described it.  I’m not sure where spiders rank next to Leah’s other phobia, cockroaches, but the exact order really isn’t important.  She found a can of Raid in a cupboard and went after the spider.  My suspicion that the spray was not a local, organic variety of bug repellent was confirmed when Leah came downstairs and told us we were not allowed to go upstairs for thirty minutes, while our bedroom aired out.

Mid-morning, we ventured out to explore our new neighborhood.  We found a little “hole in the wall” place for breakfast – eggs, potatoes, black beans, and freshly made corn tortillas.  The kids and I enjoyed our hot drinks, a cloudy, sweet, oatmeal-flavored water.  Leah was in heaven with her coffee.  The woman who owned the place struck up a conversation with Leah, and ended up asking if we’d like to see how she made her tortillas (photo).  What a great introduction to Oaxaca.  The other people we’ve met have been warm and welcoming.  I’ve been impressed at Leah’s Spanish fluency.  She’s made friends with taxi drivers and restaurant owners alike.  I love how good she is with people.  After a stroll through the central square of San Felipe del Agua and a stop at our local convenience store for some basic provisions, we walked back to our pad

The afternoon was all about running errands – getting cell phones activated, buying more groceries, getting a feel for the area… Leah was less than amused to be the one we needed to navigate the cell phone process.  Her Spanish is great, but her patience with technology isn’t.  At the moment, there’s still work to do.  She can call me on her phone, but I can’t yet call her.

We can’t tell you how depressing it was to go to a grocery store with expectations of buying the fixings for local cuisine and seeing bananas from Venezuela, grapes from California (though, as Leah reminded me, most certainly picked by Mexican migrants), and of all things, melons from China. Ughh.  Melons from China?  Isn’t Mexico a great place for growing melons?  My sociologist wife just looked at me and said (a version of…), “This is what 'free’ trade has done…And people wonder why so many Mexican farmers have migrated.” 

Back at home, we got the kids to bed before 8 pm for the first time in months.  The 7:50 pm sunset certainly helped, as did accumulated sleep deprivation.  Leah and I spent the evening reorganizing the kitchen, eating tostadas, listening to the rain, Skyping with my sister and brother-in-law, and enjoying a glass of wine (from Chile) together.  After our first full day, things had already begun to feel more familiar. 

Our second night in our new place was very restful for all of us.  Micah slept twelve hours, Zola slept twelve and a half hours, I didn’t hear the rooster until 6 am, and Leah didn’t fret about spiders in her sleep.  Leah and I each got in a run and explored our area a bit more.  We’ve got a big park not too far from our house, which we’re sure the kids will enjoy.  Our plan was to head into the center of the city for the day, but heavy rainfall kept us at home.  This is the rainy season after all.  It’s on our list to buy some umbrellas. 

After two days, we’re all doing well.  Micah and Zola, without any toys or books, have been keeping themselves occupied in a variety of very creative ways (see the photo of the book hurdles for wolf pups).  I couldn’t be more impressed by how well they are doing.  Leah is chomping at the bit to get to work.  She wants to write this darn book.  Awesome.  When the kids start school on August 22, I’ll start looking into taking language classes myself.  I am very eager to learn how to speak Spanish. 

Our place is great.  We’re in a very beautiful, quiet part of the city.  Quiet, that is, in terms of traffic and mayhem.  Not so quiet when it comes to roosters.  We’ll take it.
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Comments

Augusta on

As dictated by Augusta to Mom: "Micah and Zola, I miss you. I'll visit you whenever I like. I miss you very much. What does your home look like? Maybe I could visit you tomorrow. Love you. Ciao. Adios."

And Mom adds: We miss you guys so much! I'm so glad to hear that you're settled a bit and exploring the new surroundings. I wish you could come over for dinner tonight, but instead I'll invite you over on August 17, 2013. Just a year.... I can't wait to hear more updates, and good luck to Leah as she gets to work, to the kiddos as they start school, and to Steve as he masters the language! All our love to you all.

Ben on

Ben says: "Hi. I'm going to tell Micah I'm wearing his shirt. I want to be twenty Powell. I run fast. I do somersaults. Hi and goodbye."

I have no idea what "I want to be twenty Powell" means, but he insisted on it. He's wearing Micah's Bobcat jersey. -Sara

Jim on

We were so excited to reas through the blog and the kids really enjoyed the stories about hauling the bags through the airport in Mexico City. They also enjoyed the wolf pup hurdles. You are an excellent writer Steve; the blog reads really well. The phots are also a treat, and the new digs look awesome!

Let us know when you are online and available for a skype.

Love, Jim, Victor and Olympia

Rumpy on

I loooove the outdoor patio...looks like a nice place to have a glass of vino and chat. Not quite as nice as mountain views though, I expect...

srbruner
srbruner on

Well lookie here. I can reply to comments with my own comments.

Sarah - Micah and Zola were very excited to hear from Guppie and Benny. Thanks for giving them a voice. Dinner invitation accepted. Let's make it August 1, as that's the day we hope to move back into our house in Bozeman. We miss you and love you all, too.

Jim - I'm glad Victor and Olympia enjoyed the photo of our wolf pups jumping over book hurdles. Leah enjoyed that one as well. After reading my draft, I heard her chuckling to herself in the kitchen and muttering "book hurdles for wolf pups". It's all Micah and Zola. I'm just the reporter. Thanks for your kind words about my writing.

Rumpy - Yes, Leah and I just enjoyed a few moments together out there after dinner yesterday. It is very pleasant. I hope you'll get to enjoy it yourself.

Matt, Laurie, Trace, and Mia on

Looks wonderful. Laurie and I could see ourselves on that porch drinking coffee at sunrise and vino at sunset. We will show the kids the pictures tonight. I will let Trace type his own message to you guys. Looks like the start to a great adventure.

Steve wanted to let you know Tim and I did the Spanish Creek loop this last Saturday. We got lost a couple of times and ended up with 28 miles on the day, roughly 9000 feet of vertical. I think Tim is trying to turn me into an ultra guy.

Can't wait to hear about Micah and Zola's school.

Heidi on

Your place looks perfect, though I am in Leah's camp about the spiders. I can't wait to hear more. I have Skype open most weekdays, so call anytime!!!

trace on

micah and zola,

I hope you have fun

Lotus on

Oh goodness, this is so adorable that I don't know where to begin! Steve's packing accumen, Leah's impromptu lecture on the globalization of melons and migrants, and Zola's care for Micah's home-ache, make for such a memorable family adventure. Thank you for sharing such joy.
--- if this is a duplicate entry, my apologies! My FB comment did appear on this page. Best!

Pat O on

Looks like a great place, and sounds like a great adventure. Enjoy:) Look foward to hearing more stories.

Abigail, John, Cora and Thomas on

We LOVED reading this Steve--so beautifully written and such a treat to catch a vivid glimpse into your just-begun exciting new lives in your incredible new surroundings. And the photos to accompany your narrative were so lovely and evocative. We feel lucky that we can keep abreast of your adventures and so look forward to your next entry! Thanks so much for sending. Love to all!

Don Juan on

What a pleasure to read your blog!! Will be interested to hear bout kids school? How do they get there? The Amanda forum thing is coming together with Bethany playing a role, Katie too. I mentioned my collaboration with your research in my intro bit .. Keep up the news. updates Doug says HI.. Hunt

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