Friday, September 27, 2013


I didn't pack a watch.

That was one item that was listed on our packing list and discussed a number of times in our orientations. Pack a watch. You won't want to pull your phone out to check the time. You may not even have a phone. It was also a mission I had for myself for Chicago orientation and in-country orientation before arriving in Tepoztlan; find a watch.

Now, I haven't worn a watch in years. My reasons being that many watches are made with metal wrist bands. I have sensitive skin. Seeing as I balk at the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a 'nice watch' -because I don't wear them that often- I stick to the modestly priced watches. Usually from Target. These watches usually make my wrist quite itchy, so I stop wearing them. And since I never wear my watch, I don't want to spend a lot of money to get a better one. I see a pattern here.

My mission was to find a watch that didn't have a metal band, most likely a sports watch. Not the most fashionable, but something that would serve me this year. I never did find one I liked. Mission incomplete.

I didn't pack a watch.

And you know what? I've been fine without one. I do have a local cell phone. Given the number of smartphones I see everyday in our little, touristy town, I doubt checking my cellphone for the time would make cause me to stand out too much.
Though I do love this little guy.
And the surprising thing is I've not felt the need to check the time constantly. (And then check it again because you weren't really paying attention the first time.) The tempo of life is much different here. Often, time is more like a guideline. Relationships and people come first. The clock is secondary. I don't have to leave my breakfast, half-eaten, to rush out the door to get to work. (I would be more likely to leave it half-eaten because I'm not used to 2 or 3 course breakfasts, but that's a different story.)  If I stop to talk to a friend on the street, those few minutes won't make or break the rest of my day. It is a very freeing mentality to take life as it comes, in it's own time.

I didn't pack a watch. And I'm so glad I don't need one.

Addendum: I may have forgotten a watch, but I did remember to borrow my mom's travel alarm clock. (Thanks, Mom!). If I had any doubts as to its origin, it reminds me every day.
I have yet to turn the alarm "On" and yet it still goes off every morning without fail. 
Rise and shine!

I'm not sure if this is US time influence it has picked up or a bit of Mom Magic, but I have yet to be late to work. Thanks, alarm.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Naturalia is a non-profit organization that began in 1990 with the goal of saving the Mexican wolf. 22 years later they have expanded their goal to species and forest conservation. They publish a magazine, Especies, and have multiple offices in north and central Mexico.

I am working in their (small) office in Tepoztlan. On my first day (Monday) I learned about their current project, education about the importance of the local ravine to the local environment and cleaning the ravine. We started the morning by shooting some video that will be used in a promotional commercial and met with the director of the local elementary schools to get permission to hold a workshop with the students later this month. I spent most of the day watching and listening. (Side note: Junior year of high school, our Spanish class had a vocabulary unit on eco-tourism. At the time I remember wishing for more 'useful' vocabulary. Now I wish I remembered more of that unit.) I've spent the last two days looking at some of their publications and resources to find out more about the organization and what it is that they do. My dictionary has also been getting quite the workout.

I have already learned quite a bit and am excited to become more involved in the ravine project and more as time goes on!

For more information about Naturalia, look for the link at the top of the page, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter (En Espanol!) And of course you can stay tuned here and hear more as my year continues.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mexican Dinner

As part of my YAGM experience I am required to raise funds to help offset the costs of my year of service. To do this, and help answer then multitude of questions I've been getting, I decided to have an informational lunch at church to help explain the program, where I'll be, and what I might be doing.

The menu

First, I would like to thank my lovely mother for all of her help with the preparations and cooking for this meal. There is NO WAY I would have been able to do this without her. Love you, Mom!

Because, really, it was a lot of food.

And now the menu, so you can try the meal yourself at home.


Avocado, Tomato, and Cucumber Salsa

and from the wonderful Pastor Scott at Christ United Methodist Church, the newly dubbed "Guatelasagna" seeing as we were in Guatemala when we discussed this recipe.

We also had sides of rice, beans, and delicious bread from a local Mexican Bakery, Mama Inez.

All set up!

After lunch, I gave a presentation about my upcoming year in Mexico. If you would like to view the presentation slides, click here.

The meal was a great success. Many members of my congregation were very interested in the program and what I may be doing this year. I was nearly able to meet my fundraising goal, with the help of matching funds from Thrivent, and, quite importantly, there weren't too many leftovers!