Aaron's blog

Big Papa

By aaron.axvig, 27 October, 2006

Today at 1:00pm all the international students took a picture together.  (Except for the one guy on my floor who partied too hard last night and slept though it.)  It actually went surprisingly fast, and afterwards I went to a new restaurant with some friends.  Their signature food is the "Papa Especial," or Special Potato.  So of course I got that.

It turned out to be huge--probably a liter of mashed potatoes mixed with two kinds of cheese, covered in finely chopped steak.  It came in a sort of tinfoil bowl.  I somehow managed to choke most of it down, and then waddled home.  I'm headed to the pool now to enjoy what may be one of the last days where it's warm enough to do that.

Tetra Pak

By aaron.axvig, 25 October, 2006

In Mexico there is an interesting little innovation called Tetra Pak.  In the grocery store there are cartons of milk sitting on the shelves, warm.  Evidently, they don't get old because they have been sanitized using the Tetra Pak process (which is owned by a company, also called Tetra Pak, which invented the first paper milk carton and is based out of Sweden).  This process involves heating the milk to higher temperatures than pasteurization, but for only a few seconds--much shorter than pasteurization.  It is then instantaneously cooled to avoid killing all the nutrition.  By killing all the bacteria at the high temperature, there is nothing to make the milk get old while sitting on the shelf.

They offer a couple of different flavors of this, in addition to the regular plain milk.  I've seen chocolate, strawberry, and cookies and cream.  The strawberry is pretty good; I haven't tried the others yet.

I don't know if this hasn't made it to the US yet or maybe I just never saw it there, but I think it's an interesting little thing.

San Jose questions answered

By aaron.axvig, 17 October, 2006

My mom left a comment with a few questions, and I thought I'd answer them for all of you:


Sounds like you had some fun activities for the kids. Do you ever see their parents?
What do they do?

Have you been to their homes, or at least past them? Do these children go to school
during the weekday, or perhaps they will when they are older? Are they needy, happy,
content? - Susan Axvig

Some of the mothers drop their kids off at school, but most don't.  There is one that usually chats for a few minutes with our supervisor, and she's pretty much the only one that we ever see much of.  I think that the mothers usually stay at home, and most of the fathers go to bigger towns or cities (like Monterrey) to work each day.

The town is not really in tip-top shape.  Some of the houses have roofs made of pieces of many different things (corrugated aluminum, wood, etc.), and they usually have rickety fences around them.  I think almost everyone has a few animals, like pigs, goats, chickens, and dogs.  The kids do go to school on the weekdays too - our mission is to improve the education level above what it would otherwise be.

I believe almost everyone is content.  Maybe the kids are just excited whenever they see us.  But the adults don't seem horribly depressed either.  It appears that there might be some problems with alcohol, as sometimes a pickup full of drunk men will drive into town, presumably returning from their "jobs."  I'm not really sure about that sort of thing though.

So there you go: some more details.  This weekend we have to pack our own food, so I'm planning to head to the grocery store and get some bread and croissants, and maybe some fruit too, just to make my mother happy.  :)

San Jose weekend 2

By aaron.axvig, 9 October, 2006

San Jose was lots of fun again.  The weather was beautiful--just a little too hot in the afternoon but nothing like the last time.  Here's a picture of me with some of the students:

Aaron and some Mexican children

And here's another one from last time when we were playing in the water (yeah, that's their drinking fountain):

Mexican children playing in the drinking fountain at their school

One of the activities we did this week was making picture frames using pictures we took of them two weeks ago.  They decorated them with glitter, confetti, and pipe cleaners.  Then I got to "engineer" the stand to prop them up (a bent piece of cardboard taped on the back).  After that, we made bubble solution using dishsoap, which the kids had a lot of fun with.

We also did a lot of coloring.  They colored animals and then had to decide if they should glue them on the ocean or in the forest.  And then they colored four cut-out people and four sets of clothes, dressing them in the clothes appropriate for each season.  Last, they colored some weird-looking thing that was supposed to be a ham with a face (it wasn't very convincing).

At the end of the day on Saturday we had a movie party for them.  They got some fake money, and we let them buy popcorn, drinks, and movie tickets from us.  The first movie was "Over the Hedge," and I promptly fell asleep at my desk even though the movie was interesting.  When I woke up they were halfway into "Ice Age 2."  It turned out that "Over the Hedge" was too boring for the little kids so they switched movies.  After all the kids were gone we walked to the neighboring town called Los Angeles about 2 kilometers away (the students that were teaching there rode on the same bus with us), and then walked back in the dark.  There were a lot of fireflies along the road.

Back in town, we stopped at a store to get drinks.  I was really thirsty and got a liter of milk.  Then we played Uno, and I learned a new phrase when the girl to my right told me "I'm going to make you little pieces" in a threatening manner.  It turns out that is a very literal translation of "te voy a hacer peazos."  I think it's about the same as "I'm going to destroy you."  So of course I let her win.  After that we ate tomales and watched Napoleon Dynamite.

It didn't rain the next day, so all the students showed up for class at 9:30 after we had our breakfast tacos (tortillas with beans and potatoes).  Class was over by noon, and we cleaned the schoolhouse for an hour and then hopped on the bus to head home.

Random craving: North Dakota highway

By aaron.axvig, 9 October, 2006

Alright, this one came to mind on the trip back from San Jose on Sunday.  All I could see out the bus window was about 1/2 mile ahead (when lucky) and about 20 yards to the sides.  This--and the construction-slowed traffic we were stuck in for 10 minutes--made me wish to be at the top of a big hill on I-94, with a wide open view.

And it would be alright to throw in an exit sign that says "No Services."


By aaron.axvig, 6 October, 2006

After being reminded by my mother several times that I should try chilaquiles sometime, I finally got around to it today.  My Bolivian neighbor walked in and asked me if I had tried them yet, and I said no.  About 15 minutes later we were at the cafeteria on campus.

This is a type of food very much like nachos.  The chips are little corn chips like Fritos, and covered in beans, cheese, and some sauce.  They are pretty good.  Apparently they consider them junk food here though.  I reckon they aren't any worse than pizza.

Random craving: frankfurters

By aaron.axvig, 3 October, 2006

The latest installment in this series features frankfurters.  I have realized that this is probably a name made up by someone in my family (just like "corn-flake bars" which a lot of people know as skotcheroos).  Frankfurters are approximately 3"x4" pieces of dough deep fried and eaten with jelly or syrup on top.  Very delicious, and not unlike homemade elephant ears (the circus food).

Climate difference

By aaron.axvig, 2 October, 2006

I was going through ideas of what to teach the little kids this weekend and thought about having them make a poster split into four parts--one for each season.  So I started imagining what kind of cheap things they could put on the poster for each season (leaves, flowers, etc) until I wondered what they would use for snow.  At that point I realized that they don't have seasons quite like I'm used to, and quickly moved on to other ideas.  Maybe some other time I can teach them about the North Dakota seasons.

Guadalajara: Friday

By aaron.axvig, 19 September, 2006
A church in Guadalajara

I had to get up at 6:00am on Friday to meet up for the taxi ride to the airport.  It was $5.00 per person, with 8 of us in a big van for the 1/2 hour ride.  I ate some donuts from 7-11 for breakfast, and some orange juice.  I traveled with only my backpack which ended up pretty full.  The plane flight was uneventful.

Then we took another taxi to the Quality Inn.  When we were about 2 blocks away, we almost all died.  Or rather, Matt, who was riding shotgun, almost died.  Our taxi was making its way through an intersection, and crept forward in front of a bus.  Of course he couldn't see around it, and was maybe going a little too fast.  Another bus was coming.  All of a sudden, we came to a sudden halt and the big, flat side of a bus was filling the entire front window.  I think we actually bumped against it's front tire.  (Matt almost died because the bus was coming from the right.)  After that, we arrived safely.

For a late lunch we went to a pretty neat restaurant, and I had some excellent tasting "arrechara," or steak.  It came with tortillas for making tacos I think, but I just ate the meat by itself.  When we left there was a big line outside, which we had luckily missed.

Oliver, who's from Austria and lives down the hall from me, then took us on a self-guided walking tour of the surrounding downtown area around the "zocolo," or central plaza.  There are 4 or 5 churches there, including one that's 500 years old.  The biggest one was built around the year 1700.

That wore us out, so we found a nice cafe sort-of-place and I had a beer and Oliver and Sonya had a coke.  Incidentally, a beer ended up being cheaper than a coke.  Then I had a nap, and we headed up to the rooftop terrance at the hotel for a buffet dinner.  The city was beautiful from up there, and the food excellent again.

Then we planned to attend the main celebration that would happen at midnight.  When we headed to the plaza at 11:45, we were informed that the celebration had already come and gone.  Apparently in Guadalajara, midnight is anytime between 11:00pm and 1:00am.  But I did get this nice picture from a newspaper.Picture of a newspaper picture of fireworks in Guadalajara  We were all pretty tired when we finally got to bed at around 4:00am.


By aaron.axvig, 18 September, 2006

Tonight I met with the actual students that I will go out to San Jose with.  They are all Mexican.   At the meeting they talked to the advisor about what sorts of activities they had planned.  I got assigned to a group with three other girls that will be teaching 3-5 year olds.  For this weekend my job is to get 50 balloons and write the 5 vowels 10 times on separate pieces of paper (one vowel for each balloon).  Then, the students will have to pop the balloons and match sets of the 5 different vowels.