Hello from Guadalajara. It has been a tremendous two weeks here in Mexico. It is a beautiful place with many kind and wonderful people.
I am staying with Gloria and her son Silverio. They are truly good hosts and very patient in my trying to communicate with them in Spanish. Gloria speaks no English and Silverio speaks some. We have interesting conversations at meals and in the evenings. Gloria´s daughter (also Gloria) is married to Herman (who speaks pretty good English) and they have a son, Herman, who is about 18 months old. They live in another part of town but join us for lunch on Sundays. I will be cooking hamburgers for the group in a week or two to share some of the American cuisine with them.
The school I am attending is quite a beautiful facility and good training grounds for Spanish. It is run by two nuns who have this as their apostolate. Sr. Caridad is very outgoing and loves her country. She explains the history behind the people and the culture very well, and knows a lot of people of importance in the area. With her and other students I have visited the Cathederal area, a couple of towns with artisans and shops (the towns are called Tlaquepaque and Tonala), a glass blowing facility, a fine ceramic shop, and met many of the artists who make these beautiful and unique crafts.
I awake around 6:30, shower and get ready for breakfast around 7:15. Then I walk to Mass at the Church of our Lady of Guadelupa (not the major shrine in Mexico City) for Mass at 8:00. I walk a few more blocks to school and attend class from 9:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon. This class is one on one with Rosy who is teaching me the language (nouns, adjectives, prnouns, verbs, sentence structure, etc.). Having a one on one tutor is very helpful as we can move quickly or very slowly depending on my comprehension. Then I walk back home (about 20 minutes) for lunch (their big meal) at 2:00 and a short nap (viva de la siesta) before walking back to school. From 4:00 to 6:00 is conversation with Maria Elena. Since I am just beginning to learn the language, she is helping with verbs and pronouns, sentence structures, and basically helping me learn and understand phrases I need to live life here. Both Rosy and Maria Elena are excellent in English, but we speak mostly in Spanish. I walk back home and a light dinner is served around 8:00. We visit, watch television, or I study until I go to bed.
A little about the city and the area. Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico, approximately 7 or 8 million personas. I live in an area that probably would
be classified as middle class or so. The traffic is very busy, the people are nice, and it is a convienient location for many things. There are many little shops along the way to school, tres bancos, and a couple of internet cafes, which is where I am at now typing this posting. There is a Walmart about 3/4 of a mile away and a mall close to that. It has been mostly dry, but the rainy season starts in June and it will most likely rain a little every afternoon or evening, hopefully keeping it cool. There is no air conditioning in any homes (except maybe the very rich) but it cools off a little at night and I have a ceiling fan. I have seen, but not visited, some very poverty ridden areas of the city also. Mexico has a vibrant economy for some, but for many there is no way to make money, that is why they come to the US.
I have visited many churches in Guadalajara and the surrounding area. The Cathedral is about 400 years old, one of the churches in Tonala is the oldest in this area of Mexico, almost 500 years old. A lot of history here. I have met a few indigenous natives and some of their craftwork has been awesome. The Catholic Church is very prevelant in the culture and that is very refreshing.
I will be attending the Ordination of 33 new priests for the Diocese of Guadalajara tomorrow, Pentecost Sunday. I am very excited about this once in a lifetime opportunity to attend an Ordination in a foreign country. I pray the Lord blesses each of these men an their ministries.
Well, this is probably enough for now. I have to pay for internet access so I may not be updating a lot, but who knows. The best way to reach me is through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I don´t check it but a couple of times a week, so be patient with a reply.
Blessings to all and keep me in your prayers during my stay here.