Category Archives: travel

Lies I told my students

imagesActually, I don’t believe either of these count as lie–more like things I didn’t tell my students because it was better that they not know.

Many years ago, when I was really young and taught Spanish at Hays High School in Western Kansas, I took 25 of my students to Mexico in a bus.  We stayed two weeks.  At one of the first restaurants we dined at in Mexico, I was talking to the manager about payments, etc.  I gotimagesto the dining room after most of the students has finished their soup.  I sat down, looked into my bowl and noticed that there were tiny worms in the soup, wiggling in and out of the chunks of chicken. I felt nothing would be gained if I shouted, “You all ate soup with worms in it.”  So I stopped eating and pretended this never happened.  Fortunately, no one got sick.

Before the celebration of el día de los muertos, we made crafts that Mexicans would have images
used for decorations.  A popular craft is to decorate sugar skulls.  I decided to use this with the 4th and 5th year Spanish students.  Because the skulls were sugar, I broke up a chipped skull–they were a little smaller than a fist–and passed the pieces out to the fifteen students to sample.  They tasted like sweet, thin cardboard.  After two days, we finsihed the decoration and painting.  As I was putting the material back, I read the side of the box that contained the skull.  There was a warning on the side:  These skulls are not meant for human consumption.

I never told them this either.  No one died.

Did aliens set my listening choices?

I don’t know why but I seem to attract weirdness, odd events, strange actions.

Last week, I took my Mazda to the dealer’s for its yearly check up.   When I got the car back, I drove off and turned the radio on, expecting my normal NPR programming.  Static.  I punched a button to change the station to my NPR music station.    More static.  I tried my country station and my oldies station.  I have only four stations saved because I’m old and I know what I like.  Yes, static on both of those.

So I hit some other buttons and discovered the only stations that had been saved were Christian music.   I have nothing against Christian music but it appeared after my tastes were set and it’s not the music of my choice.

My thought is that the mechanic working on my car noticed the stations I had saved and thought I must be a godless commie because I listen to NPR and decided to save my soul by adding five Christian stations to the dial.

Perhaps I’m paranoid.  I’ve been known to be.  However the change seems a little suspicious to me.   I deleted the stations someone set for me and found three of my favorite four.   Sadly, I can’t find the NPR music but, hey, I don’t drive that much anymore and I can always listen to Garrison Keeler CDs.

Next week, I’ll blog about the little girl I found standing completely alone in front of my apartment.  Another weird event.  And, sorry, no pictures.  My iMax won’t let me add any.

What great parents

Many years ago, during an obvious lapse in judgement which turned out to be lots of fun, I agreed to take a group of my high school Spanish students to Mexico.  We all survived.

Diego RiveraWhat I’ll never forget from that trip–made, of course, when I was much younger–was the art.   Everywhere we went were murals with obvious political statements about the government and politics and history of Mexico painted on the walls and ceilings of many public buildings.  The paintings transcended the political message in their artistry and beauty, the vibrancy of the colors, the glorious scope and vision of the muralists.   I immediately became a huge aficionada of the work of them all, but most deeply of Diego Rivera.

For that reason, I was reading about his life in Wikipedia and came upon this wonderful story.  It seems that Rivera was born one of a twin.  His brother died when he was two.  A year later, Diego began his career in art.  “He had been caught drawing on the walls. His parents, rather than punishing him, installed chalkboards and canvas on the walls.”images

How cool is this?   Most parents would probably have punished a three year old, at least discouraged him forcefully from drawing on the wall.   Did he become a great muralist because he was allowed to draw on the walls? Or did his parents recognize his talent even when he was so young and encourage him?  Or were they just the kind of parents we wish we all had and could be?

Do you have a story about how your parents or a friend or relative encouraged you?   Or have you encouraged another person to fulfil a dream.  I’d love to hear.


The day a ship almost ran over me–a HUGE ship

I was incredibly lucky growing up.  My mother loved to travel and took  me to Europe twice while I was in high school.   I believe this changed me, made me a more open person, realizing that Kansas City, Missouri–as much as I loved growing up there–was not the center of the universe.  I also had several very funny incidents there.  Here’s the first one.

When we got to Lucerne, we visited all the great spots, my favorite the 170-meter-long  covered bridge.    Then we went to our hotel which was not in Lucerne but on the lake with beautiful views of the lake and the mountains from our rooms.    We saw paddle boats on the lake and decided to get one.  Mom and I pedaled out and away from the shore, the wheel our pedals turned rotating strongly and quickly behind us.  We enjoyed the breeze and the view, laughing and having a great time–until we both looked up and saw a huge ship bearing down on us.  I have googled “ships on Lake Lucerne” and don’t find freighters listed but this is my story and, as I remember,  that ship was an enormous freighter.   And it headed directly toward us!

Aware that the ship didn’t slow or turn, Mom and I started pedalling backward.  When that didn’t move us fast enough, we turned the tiny boat around and pedalled until our legs were weak and barely made it to shore.  But we survived, didn’t even get wet.

Many years later, George and I headed from West Texas to Denver.  He wanted to take the “scenic” route which means bad roads and few filling stations, but it was scenic.  At noon, in the middle of a broad valley with no town or businesses in sight, we saw a rustic restaurant.   Once inside, I discovered a picture of the covered bridge in Lucerne on the wall.   The owner/cook came from Lucerne–I have no idea how he ended up in this barren part of Colorado–and told me the bridge had burned down but was rebuilt.  Then I told him about my adventure on the lake to which he said, “Lots of tourists get killed that way.”

I’m not sure he was kidding.