This is the actual key to my actual door!

MEXICO.

One of my students asked me today, “Do you like Mexico?”

I said, “I’ve been here a day and a half.  So far, yes.”

That about sums it up.

A hiccup with my first flight left me waiting in the Houston airport for 9 hours, and put me in Veracruz at 11 at night instead of just before noon as I’d planned.  All I saw of the drive up to Orizaba on Sunday was a dark night and what the headlight shone on.  I have no idea what most of my new country looks like.

My first day on the ground was overwhelming. Seeing the house, finding the school, meeting a million people, getting a ton of lesson planning plopped in my lap, exchanging my money, stocking up on groceries, unpacking, all on not-much-sleep.  Today was better.  I walked to work for the first time.  Its a good 30 minute hike in the pre-dawn.  Most schools here start at 7 and I have to be at mine a little before that (those of you who know how I loathe with a burning passion love morning may now roll on the floor laughing).  I’m going to tolerate enjoy the morning stroll.

The view from my new class room.

The school is quite nice and very modern.  All built 15 years ago or less, with projectors and i-Pads in every room.  My first class is a small group of high school juniors and seniors.  I’m going to enjoy them, I think.  The rest of my day is given over to 5th graders, with a decent chunk of lesson planning time as well.  I have to appreciate that!

Orizaba itself is a pretty city, and surprisingly clean.  It’s laid out in a cross-based grid with streets numbered and named for the compass points (I live between Sur 5 and Sur 7, for example).  Ringed by mountains and over-looked by the snow-covered peak of the highest volcano in North America, I’m surprised it’s not a tourist  draw.  Instead, it’s a quiet, calm little city, dotted with parks, churches, and quirky little details.  I can’t wait to have time to really explore.

The courtyard on a gray afternoon.

And then there’s the house.  For the time being I’m living in a pensíon (think a guest house run by grandma).  The house itself is massive and ancient, in various states of dishevelment, and littered with antiques and old-lady doilies.  Quaint.  And old.  Late Colonial-era old with touches of art deco modernity.

Check out the chandelier in my room!

And it shows.  The center of the house itself is an open-air courtyard, which all the rooms face.  The ceilings are 20 feet high, at least, with doors and windows built on a giant’s scale.  6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a random assortment of small sitting rooms on one seems to use. But head out the back door and the garden makes me consider staying here the whole time I’m in Mexico.

It’s not a yard, it’s a park! Walled and gated.

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