Well, I am living abroad...yet again. After Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Korea the Netherlands (and returning to Spain for a Masters) I've unpacked my backpack a little closer to home in Mexico. I live in Culiacan where I am trying my hand at teaching English to University and high school students. Below you'll find random updates as I go to festivals, explore my city or just feel like sharing a random story.

What time is it?

Monday, August 1, 2011


Just some pictures of the new apartment


We went to a nearby mall today and saw this lovely gem

yep... that makes sense...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Copying Keys

So after moving the furniture around the new apartment (pictures to come) we needed to make copies of our keys. Since I´ve been delegated "roomie-with-the-best-Spanish" I hopped out of the car to get copies made.

I approached a cute little key copy shop near my house (On the off chance anyone needs a place later or me in case I get locked out of the house: Cerrajería La Lomita Álvaro Obregón 1019 Sur Colonia Guadalupe Tel: 712-134-0269) it is probably the size of my office and held 5 men.

When I approached the shop I gave my usual smiling "Hola" and received a few "Holas" back. I did not however receieve anyone who asked what I wanted or if they could help me. In fact the man closest to me kep his head turned away the entire time. So I continued in Spanish (but for my non hispanohablantes I'll translate) "Whom should I talk to?" I asked, one man told me the man nearest me (the one who was still not facing me) I put the keys I needed copied down on the table and said, "OK, I need two copies made of these three keys" he turned his head slowly and took my keys handing them to the man sitting next to him, "She needs two copies of each" he said (a bit briefer but essentially exactly what I had said).

That man handed them to the next man and in a perverse game of telephone my keys (and requirements) were handed down through the five men until it reached the last man (closest to the machine).

I had to wonder if the men exchanged positions regularly so that the one taking the order would eventually work his way over to making the keys, or if it was a promotion based gig (the ones who simply sat did seem to be older). Nonetheless in the end I got all of my keys for 92 pesos (about $8 by current exchange rates).

I believe the plan is to move in on Saturday, but there's really no rush.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting there is half the battle

Well before I could get to lovely Culiacan I had to well…get here. I woke up early to make sure I remembered everything important (note I forgot: PJ pants, PJ shorts, and my blue purse) while it is still before 6 am I run and take my last American shower for a while.

Eventually my parents wake up (I don’t eat because my tummy gets nervous sometimes while flying…not always but enough that I don’t risk it). My parents wake up and get the car packed and we get to the airport.

Now, I am taking an international flight, but I am leaving from the San Diego commuter terminal. Like so many other times that means that the person in charge of me checking in will undoubtedly be unaware of visa requirements.
This time they were convinced I needed a round trip ticket to go to Mexico. This is not the case and eventually they figured it out as well, but it always leads to a slightly nerve wracking 15 minutes as I wait trying to figure it out (that’s why I am always early to airports people).

After I get to go through security I got to experience the “machine that takes a picture of you naked or whatever to make sure that you aren’t hiding things (yet I still have to take my shoes off).” I was OK with that, and my baggage made it through unscathed as well.

Quick puddle jumper over to Los Angeles and I wandered around aimlessly trying to find where the hell AeroMexico was. I finally found a place and when checking in (entirely in Spanish mind you) was told they have no idea where my baggage is and my name is not on the list. Well, I was thinking a few choice words in Spanish (Joder being one of them) but I settled on an Ottie like head tilt and something very elegant (like a mix between a grumble and a mumble, a mumbled grumble?) after a good 15-20 minutes of her talking with her boss she seemed to find my bags and print out a boarding ticket.

I can again only repeat my support of early airport arrivals (including layovers). My next flight was pretty inconsequential. I sat next to a bigger lady (so I could not put my arm rest down) but managed to get moved during the flight (just not during take-off or landing). When we landed in Hermosillo there was a torrential downpour and the pilot advised we stay in the plane for another 10-20 minutes to avoid getting wet.

We did and when I went through customs I only got a quick, “Vivas en los Estados Unidos?” I almost answered, “No, es que el año pasado vive en España y antes de este en Hollanda, pero si he vivido en Los Estados Unidos” but with customs I find shorter is better so my response was simply, “Sí.” I then got selected for a random bag screening (literally you press a button if it turns red you get checked) they search your bag. It looked like every other bag was searched. Mine was found acceptable if anything it was very dull (though the person after me was questioned as to the amount of clothes they had packed for their trip they seemed to think my two bags were fine). Due to the rain my flight was delayed for an hour and a half so I finished a book and stalked a person who said they were also headed to Culiacan.

One last take off and finally I had my last landing in Culiacan. I grabbed my bags and met up with John and his wife (Mickey) and was led to my new (temporary) home sweet home.

And so it begins

Hola todos!

I woke up this morning to two somewhat smiling cherubs watching me from the walls and a flowing statue of Jesus, Joseph and Mary beckoning me to wake up and seize the day. I am not on the Camino de Santiago again; rather I am in Culiacan chilling in a homestay waking up for my first day of work. Oh Mexico!

I also have a cricket serenading me who I have recently discovered is about the size of my nieces head (ok small exaggeration, but at least her fist…maybe two!) and lives with me in my room not directly outside of it as I originally thought.

Oh well, it worked pretty well for Pinocchio (until he ignored the cricket and ditched school and started to turn into a pig and what not), but before that Jiminy was a pretty good friend to have so I will keep him.

The cricket BTWs is not a reaction to a messy room. I did unpack and my room is flawless at the moment. The overall the wall show organizer is perfect for makeup, belts, purses, and all that other girlie stuff I do not use nearly enough, plus the purple is a nice detraction from the slightly demonic angel heads watching me sleep (might I add I had a horrendous nightmare last night so I think I would prefer dream catchers).

Anywho, so I am here typing from my new office (with a window view of trees, palm trees, sunshine and cute little red bences) in Culiacan. I am currently staying with a very nice lady who was born and raised here (Dorita) as well as a fellow teacher (last in India but also from San Diego). Tomorrow we look at phones and some apartments (I may decide to share with my colleague, or not…TBA).

The boring details I teach 4 classes a week:

2 at the high school (one at 8:30-10:00 MWF, the other at 10:30-12:00 MWF)


2 at the college (one at 7:00-8:30 MWF, the other 3:00-4:30 MWF)

There’s a small grace period, where I take roll 5 minutes AFTER class starts and I let students out 5 minute earlier.

I need to be on campus from 8-1, and 4-6. However, I get 3 hours to play with so later I can decide to show up later Tuesdays and Thursdays, and maybe get off early on Fridays. I still need to play with the schedule, but it seems OK.

Basically, that is about it for now (I am sure I am missing something but it cannot be THAT important and I am sure to mention it later if it is).



Thursday, June 30, 2011

Letter from my pre-school teacher

I just found a letter from my teacher:

"Dear Carissa,

Its been a pleasure having you in class. You are a wonderful, bright and conscientious student. You're also a charming sweet little girl who's eager to learn and to share her knowledge with her friends. At times you are quite shy and reluctant to change. However don't ever let that make you lose confidence in yourself. You are a bright little girl and you have so much to offer. Always remember you can do it sweetie. And knowing you, I know you can do it very well too. Underneath that shy exterior is a sweet intelligent Carissa ready to accomplish anything and everything she sets her mind to. I know you'll do fine in kindergarten and throughout your formal education.

You've made teaching enjoyable and rewarding. Thank you for sharing your love and super hugs with me. Have a wonderful summer and a great school year. You'll always be my Carissa-Bissa.


Mrs. Solomon."

I know some of it is probably the same that she wrote to other students, but I hope that I have met her expectations. I hope that I have gained confidence in myself and shown a stronger acceptance of change. I think that I have accomplished most my goals (though I admit I try to keep them low to make sure I can) and I really hope I can continue to do so.

Wow, who would have thought a letter from a teacher who knew me from for a brief year (when I was 4-5 years old) would inspire me to keep trying to be the best I can be.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Back in San Diego!

Super Sad to leave my great Spanish friends but I know I will be in touch with those lovely ladies.

In the short time I have been home I have been able to have in & out, taquitos, slurpees, and a sandwich from my favorite deli.

I have started working for IH and thus far things are going great (then again I haven't actually started teaching yet so that could be it)

It is odd to think that in less than a month I move to MEXICO!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mexico...let´s go

"Dear Ms. Peck:

I am pleased to offer you the job of instructor of English at the Sinaloa Campus of Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey."
What's the job?
  • Commit to a one-year contract (with possibility of renewal).
  • Start work on July 25, 2011. (Classes start August 8.)
  • Be on campus 40 hours a week (teach 4 different classes for 4.5 hours each which means 18 hours a week).
  • Teach in high school and university divisions.
And what do I get?
  • Salary of 23,000 pesos per month (that is about 2,000Euros/month)
  • Paid airfare from point of origin to Culiacan, Sinaloa
  • Paid airfare from Culiacan, Sinaloa to point of origin at end of one-year contract (and paid return to Culiacan if renewing contract)
  • Paid housing (homestay) during first two weeks in Culiacan
  • Assistance in finding apartment
  • Five weeks’ paid vacation per year (two at Christmas, two in the summer, one during Easter week)
Why I am super excited?
  • I am really excited to be back to working with older students
  • I am super excited about being in a Spanish speaking country again
  • I am thrilled about the weather (yes I know gross humidity, but my hair rocks humidity anyways)
  • I am closer to home (actually be able to fly home for holidays or maybe even weddings!)
  • The pay is enough that I can actually save again (wohoo!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ooooh Mexico!

Oh Mexico! So I've recently taken a job in Sinaloa, I am off to my current job now to teach the Ants go marchign one by one :) but I wanted to quickly give some videos

Las Fallas

4 years ago I wrote this e-mail:

"Just got back rom Las Fallas and it was awesome! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Las Fallas (and I´ll take bets that's most of you) it is a festival that is essentially celebrating San Jose (it takes place on Spanish Father Day..which reminds me...Happy late Spanish Father´s day daddy) but as with moth Christian holidays we stole it.

Like many Spanish festivals, Las Fallas was, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, a simple pagan ritual that celebrated the Spring Equinox - the longest day of the year - and the subsequent coming of summer. Basically an excuse to celebrate by burning things! The religious view now (much like most adopted holidays) was added later by Spain's mega-religous leaders. Granted it wasn't that hard since carpenters were involved and San Jose kinda rocks those.

The history goes a little something like this:

In 15th-century Valencia when fall started to come and the days got shorter, artisans and carpenters had to spend the last few hours of the work day working by the light of oil lamps hung from crafted wooden "parots." When spring came the days got longer and the artisans would celebrate by burning the "parots," along with all the other stuff that had accumulated (wood shavings, extra cuts of lumber and random broken things).

Eventually (or purpose all of a sudden) the workers added a creative touch, by decorating the lamp post with rags and a hat, and voila! It was a human! They became called, "Ninot Falla (Doll Fire)". Around the mid-18th century groups would get together and arrange them in a funny scene.

Now they are AMAZING!!! Some of these (basically gigantic papermache creations...but with wax and wood) are larger than the buildings surrounding it, and they often have cute little morals, stories, or limericks around them. Thankfully I went with Brion who managed to translate a lot more than I did (it wasn't exactly in Spanish, one of those other Spanish languages*) They can cost up to €120,000! Its definately instense! Theres also parades, they create a big Virgin (as in Mary) out of flower and change the pattern on her dress every year and she doent get burned ( P.S: Why is there always a Virgin in like every friggin catholic city, I mean I love Mary as much as the next girl, but I think other saints are appearing the the public just gets confused sees a lady and calls her the virgin)

They have music! People in costumes, fireworks...fireworks, and oh yeah fireworks, it was like fourt of july, on speed. I had to take a bus back on Sunday night for school on Monday (I am SUCH a good student) went to school gave a PERFECT presentation in my Prado Art class (as in the teach said he hadn't heard one that good in years!) and then (in honor of Jeff who reminded me to take advantage of everything I could while over here) bought another ticket back to Valencia right after school to witness the burning of the fallas. So worth the 36 Euros let me tell you!

OK, I am writing this in between classes so I shall end it here. Overall had a GREAT time would definitely do it again and am glad that it happened.

I hope everything is going well at home!

Muchos Besos,


Well it is 4 years later and I did go again! Still an amazing time and still glad I did it :) (though this time I didn't take pictures, so here are some from last time)

When they burn the stuff!
BIG fallas
An older one (clearly) depicting one of the more popular political themes at the time

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Well I have been in Spain since September now.

I have...

  • lived at three different places (not counting my first weekend in Alcala).
  • finishd 4 Masters classes.
  • taught at least a solid 4 months of class to 3, 4 and 5 year olds.
  • made amazing friends.
  • hand drawn about 15 workshets (yes, ME hand drawing!).
  • used wordreference about a million times.
  • mastered the art of dinner (or a I call it, "throw stuff in a pot and heat) .
  • been heartbroken.
  • remembered the heart is a fabulous organ that luckily continues to heal and function.
  • cried at a bank (twice).
  • lost a passport.
  • gone to Malta.
  • been inside some of the oldest ruins!
  • rocked Barcelona.
  • visited the the lovely gardens in Aranjuez.
  • hosted several lovely friends (and some strangers who became friends).
  • filed a police report on behalf of a friend who was here for less than 35 hours.
  • discovered you can board a plane without ID.
  • rocked the Madrid metro (just give me colors not numbers)
  • pretty much memorized the cercanias to Getafe frm Nuevos

and so much more!

I can´t wait to see what the next half of Europe brings me

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bad blogger

So, I've been in Spain for quite some time now and yes I stink at it.

Things are going well I am just SUPER busy

So that's Katie, Meagan, me and Juliet. They are all in my program and Katie, Juliet and I actually live together

Here's all of us for Halloween :) (Our other rooomie Chealsea is the one with black horns) and this is taken at our place.

We live near cuatro caminos and nuevos ministarios

This is us near Lauren (the curly haired blonde in the purple tights)'s place. She lives near Escorial which is where King's are buried and there's lots of great art! All the jumping lovelies are in my program.
ooo Views!

Sorry I am so awful at updates I'll try to catch up :)