Monday, April 5, 2010

El vuelo a Mexico

I'm making a conscious effort to think in Spanish as much as possible, so bear with me if it comes off as pretentious -- not to mention wrong in some cases! For example, which preposition do you use to speak about travel "to Mexico"? In Italian, you would say, "Viaggio in Italia," but "Viaggio a Roma." I can't remember if it's the same in Spanish because the last time I studied that language was in 1975. Oh, well, I have a lot of reviewing to do and a lot of Italian to forget!

Anyway, I've made flight reservations on Aeromexico for The Husband and I to fly together to Oaxaca on July 4 where he will spend a week with me celebrating our 20th anniversary then return home the next Sunday right before the NEH's welcome reception at the Casa de la Ciudad de Oaxaca. I stay on for another four weeks until August 8th.

I'm currently investigating cell phones, Skype and other ways of staying in touch while I'm gone. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. All I know at the moment is that the cellphone I have won't work over there, but I will have internet access in my apartment and a Netbook with me. It should be a lot easier than it was in 1994 when I spent almost six weeks away from home and phone cards were the only widespread option.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Advance planning

After I read the information for the NEH in Oaxaca, I was so psyched to go that I did some research and found a place I'd want to stay "just in case." There were several bed and breakfasts that were stunning but did not offer monthly rates, so I found some apartments in a wide range of prices. I wanted something far enough away from the Zocalo that it would be fairly quiet but close enough to walk into town several times a day. The place I decided on wasn't the most beautiful, but it had several things in its favor -- owners on-site, a private garden space, a kitchen, and a big ceiling fan in the bedroom.

I could have saved money by arranging a home stay situation or planning to take a roommate, but I wanted a nice place where The Husband and I could celebrate our 20th anniversary before the institute starts and where I could have some "alone" time once classes begin. Having done an institute in 1994 in Florence in which participants stayed in the same hotel, had all classes together, traveled everywhere together, and ate most meals together, I know that having a place where I can go and shut the door once in a while will be the difference between sanity and madness!

I had some friends who are familiar with Oaxaca check out the apartment's web site and location, and they green-lighted my choice, so the deposit has been sent and I've secured the space. Check out Casa de Mis Recuerdos to see where I'll be spending five weeks this summer.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Okay, we're off!

I received notification the week before spring break that my application to participate in the 2010 NEH Summer Institute, "Mesoamerican Cultures and Their Histories: Spotlight on Oaxaca," was accepted. I'll be joining 29 other high school teachers from around the United States in Oaxaca for four weeks this summer and am honored to be among the chosen.

The application process was pretty grueling. Unlike 1994, when I applied for the Florence NEH in two days' time, I began gathering materials and soliciting letters of recommendation right after the New Year and was still tweaking my own essay the day I finally sent it off at the end of February. My recommenders were kind enough to let me read their letters, and I feel that I was successful on the wings of their praise. I'll have to work pretty hard to live up to all the nice things they said about me!