This has been a rather interesting penultimate week here in Mexico. Monday (9/16) Was Mexican Independence Day. As such the CCM let us have some fun. Saturday night they had a local youth group come (I believe they were all members) and they did some traditional dances. It was quite simply amazing. They had authentic costumes and the colors and skill shown by the dancers was mesmerizing. At one point there were four guys who did some cool tricks with short little metal sticks almost like swords. There was flint on the swords and so when they’d hit the swords together sparks would go flying. It was all very, very cool. I won’t be forgetting that for a while.
On Sunday night was when the big event happened. First a little history so this will make sense: Spain had been oppressing Mexico for several centuries and was treating them about as well as conquering countries did at the time. Then in 1810, Father Hidalgo had had enough of the oppression and poverty and started a revolution. On the night of September the 15th there was "un grito" (a cry) where they chanted ¡Viva México! 3 times before the revolution started the next day. Eleven very bloody years later they finally won their independence from Spain and established a constitution much like our own. Fast forward almost 200 years later, every September 15th the President of Mexico holds a national cry commemorating Father Hidalgo's call for revolution. He chants ¡Viva Hidalgo! and the rest of the country (yes - the entire country; its televised) chants back ¡Viva! He then does a couple more things culminating in ¡Viva México! three times. It was actually a really cool experience. Even though I’m only here for 6 weeks it was cool to be a part of something very special to them. If you all would like, I’m sure a quick YouTube search of "Mexico El Grito" would probably yield useful results so you can see what I am talking about.
So thus far in the CCM the food has actually managed to become somewhat tolerable and dare I say good? For example, today we had barbecue chicken that actually tasted like barbecue chicken. We have also managed to work out what works well together to make the meals more desirable. For example, the pancakes when covered in mango or blueberry yogurt (yes, yogurt) are surprisingly quite good. Having said that however, I feel like some serious desensitization to the food has happened and I can’t wait to get back stateside and have an actual taco.
So here’s a cool quote we were told this week. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, but you can put salt in its oats." I was told this in context to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ but I still thought it is a great quote that can be used for a lot of stuff.
After six weeks and talking with "greenies" or newbs, beginners, what have you, I can pretty safely say that I have learned more Spanish in the past six weeks than I did in three years at High School. No offense to the teachers, but with the help of the Lord and the fact that I’m in Mexico speaking with natives my ability to speak and comprehend has improved a million times over. For example, we had a devotional speaker (they give talks about different spiritual subjects) who started his talk in English but slipped into Spanish and it took me (and my district) a minute to realize he had changed. Obviously there are still light years to go but it’s been amazing to see the progress. I can actually hold a normal conversation in Spanish. It’s great.
So during one of our classes we were talking about different conjugations (I am, he is, we are, that sort of thing). When talking about a single person, there is the personal, you (informal - talking with friends, young kids), and you (formal - like talking to a king or an elder)/he/she/it form. In Spanish they are (respectively) the “yo”, “tú”, and “él/ella/usted” form. Long story short so this doesn’t turn into a grammar lesson I always thought English just had the first and last but apparently I was wrong. In English, (I’ll use “to have” because that’s the only one I know this in) it is “I have”, “thou hast”, and “you have/he (or she) has”. Who knew that all along Shakespeare was talking to us like a bro? Definitely would have made English class a bit more entertaining.
And now a funny story to end today. Every other week, we get to drive to our temple that’s about 45 -60 minutes away (this is unrelated but we did it in 30 today; we think our bus driver was just exceedingly hungry). As I’ve explained before, traffic laws I am sure do not actually exist in Mexico and everyone drives like mad men down here. But I would have to say that the most entertaining (and most horrifyingly frightening) thing to happen during a bus ride was when we got cut off by nothing other than a backhoe. Yes, a giant yellow construction backhoe. It just decided that it would drive across the street to the construction site. I was too busy freaking out about running into it that I didn’t see where it was coming from but we did indeed get cut off by a backhoe. Fun times down in Mexico.
And thus ends the update for today. I leave early next week for Washington to start the main part of my mission. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn and grow and will let you all know what it’s like (mostly because I fear the wrath of my mom should I stop emailing).
Until next time,