I am back in Culiacan visiting with my family right now. This is where my adventure all began with my first teaching job in Mexico. The plan was to teach for only one school year. Yet here it is, almost five years later, and I am still teaching in Mexico. When I left Culiacan, I taught briefly in Irapuato. But I have spent most of the past four years in Guadalajara. I lived in San Pedro, a quaint colony in Tlaquepaque. This was like living in a small Mexican town, although it is only minutes away by bus from the hustle and bustle of El Centro.
Culiacan is in the state of Sinaloa. The climate here is much hotter and humid. But the air is so much clearer here than in Guadalajara. There is no ugly cloud of pollution hanging over the city. Traffic is lighter and the streets are cleaner.
I lived in Las Quintas, and that neighborhood hasn’t changed much over the years. But what has changed is ME! Here is a photo of me in my school uniform taken five years ago. I hardly recognize myself!!!!!
When I lived in Culiacan, I taught with Juan at Instituto Senda del Rio. He helped me with my Spanish and I helped him with his English. He and his wife Lucila literally adopted me into their family. At the time, they had one child, Juan Carlos. Their family has grown and I now have three amazing nietos.
Juan and Lucila were already at work when I arrived on Wednesday, so my friend Juan Pablo picked me up at the bus station. We went to his house where his mom made an awesome breakfast of machaca, tamales and frijoles. His sister stopped by and we all went to Forum, the big mall here in Culiacan. We browsed, had coffee and then it was time for lunch. Here is a photo of Juan Pablo and his mom at Via Verde.
Later on in the afternoon Juan Pablo drove me to Juan and Lucila’s. We barely had time to unload my luggage and it was time for Juan Carlos’s soccer practice.
We stopped for raspados after. When we came home I finally had a chance to give the kids the bags of candy, toy cars and bubbles I had brought them. Here is a photo of Juan Carlos and Jose Agustin blowing bubbles.
Yesterday I went back to visit Instituto Senda Del Rio. This school will always have a special place in my heart. It was nice to see former colleagues and catch up. And a great deal of the conversation was in Spanish now. While I am not yet fluent, I have definitely come a long way.
The time here is flying by all too quickly. On Monday I leave for Mazatlan. I treasure every moment I spend with my family and friends here in Culiacan, and always look forward to coming home.
When I first came to Mexico almost five years ago, people cautioned me against sleeping in the nude and told me to keep a bag packed by my bed at night, just in case. I had forgotten all about that warning until just after six this morning when I found myself out on the street clad only in a beach cover-up and crocs, with my cell phone and keys in my pocket. Yes, the beach cover-up was the first thing I grabbed when I heard my housemate thunder down the stairs screaming that he smelled gas and that we had to get out of our house.
A loud crash had awakened my other housemates, although I had slept through it. Apparently a driver had lost control of his vehicle before crashing into this house.
The sleepy occupants climbed over the wall to get out into the street. Meanwhile the truck spun around and continued down the street where it sheared off our water meter, struck the main gas line and then came to a stop on top of a hydro pole. The driver sat bleeding on the sidewalk until an ambulance showed up twenty-five minutes later. Rumor has it that the man has since died.
The above photos were taken later in the morning when it was light out.
Back to 6 am now. I sat there on the curb with my neighbor Carlos and his two dogs. I thought of my laptop, my life, back in my room. I thought of all my identification and my bank cards left behind. And I tried not to think of the worst case scenario in which everything would be blown to bits by that gas leak. So many items that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to replace. And I silently vowed that I would have a backpack with these items by my bed at night from now on.
I’m a people watcher by nature. I noticed that residents were quite animated and more concerned with their homes being looted by the police than they were with their homes being blown to bits by a gas explosion. And in our haste to flee we had left our doors open! Fortunately for us there were some honest police near our house. One even went back to lock our door.
The street was like a war zone — a blur of flashing lights, debris everywhere, downed power lines, water in the streets, the putrid odor of gas.
Later in the morning, I snapped more photos of the devastation. In the following photo you can see some of the downed power lines requiring repair.
In the photo above you can see the damage to our house where the car hit and sheared off the water meter.
Late in the afternoon, the gas, water and electricity were restored. So apparently things can get done efficiently and quickly here in Mexico, although it is a rarity.
There just never is a dull moment on Calle Zalatitan!