Friday, December 28, 2007

apart again...

I'm guessing it's not normal for a newly married couple to spend nearly 2 months of their first 7 in separate countries, but such is our reality.

Anyway, it hasn't been terrible. I (Amy) have had the chance to see all the family and friends I've been missing over these past months. Carlos has been able to hang out with "just the guys" without anyone having to worry about leaving me out.

Christmas was an incredible adventure filled with food, food, and more food, along with the joy of being with family.

So far every time I drive, it's in typical Chicago winter weather involving high-velocity winds, freezing rain/ice/sleet/blowing snow, etc. For someone who hadn't driven in 4 months, that was initially a shock but after a few minutes you get back into Chicago Driving Mode. Carlos told me that driving here was going to seem like driving in a park after what happens on the roads in Monterrey. I thought he was exaggerating, but boy was he right. Even in extreme Chicago weather, it's so easy to drive here.

I had a great reunion dinner with Dennis, Tania, and Ashvin (the crew from the final week in Barcelona). Ironically, we went for tapas at a pretty great little place called 1492 Tapas near State and Superior downtown. We were not disappointed. Big fun, Ashvin was the first to notice that all of the prices ended in .92. Clever. Also, the food was good.

Carlos has been busy holding down the fort (or house) in MTY, paying the rent and bills and all that menial stuff. I think he's been happy to have the house all to himself, although he also claims to miss me. I definitely miss him.

A few more busy days of weddings, downtown adventures, and coffee with friends before I head back. I don't think I've ever appreciated a break as much as this one!

Maybe next year, with some divine intervention, we can be here together with everybody for Christmas.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Still getting adjusted...

So even after 2 months, there are things that still take getting used to...

1)Wearing short sleeves and sunglasses in December

2)Green GRASS in December! Pic taken during my leisurely walk home from work the other day...

3) Monterrey's fascination with soda (Exhibit A: best-selling cola, Big Cola, which tastes like Coke and sells for cheaper. And also comes in a 3.3 Liter bottle.)
4) The amount of meat and unhealthy agents they manage to pack into a single dish here. Take the innocent baked potato. Here we present a Monterrey variation that includes three cheeses, cream, steak, and I don't even remember what else. (Don't worry, this was the first and only time Carlos tried it) I'd say the tray weighs about 5 pounds.

5) The way that people from here are really FROM here. This city is a labrynth of unfamiliar streets, incomprehensible traffic, and hard-to-find services. Those from here find no trouble navigating all this. But even Carlos, born in this city, never experienced it as a grown-up, and finds it just as perplexing.

For me (Amy), it's been a little difficult being the outsider, especially at work, as they can't get over the fact that the lifestyle here just doesn't come naturally to me. My closest acquaintances at work are the other "outsiders" who understand this: Alexandra the French teacher, who really is from eastern France, and my teammate Marina the 4th grade Spanish teacher, who is freshly arrived from the nearby state of Sonora. In the case of Marina, I find it incredible how even SHE feels so out of place - she's from another northern Mexican state! It would be like moving to Chicago from South Dakota or something like that. Anyway, at least the kids understand. A large number of them have visited the US, love to ask me questions about Chicago, and they say they're lucky to have 3 teachers from such different places (and they're right!) :).

Today at work they literally laughed out loud at me and Marina when we mentioned we had not yet seen the Puente Atirantado (one of Monterrey's most famous landmarks). It's in a posh part of the city people like us only go through if we have high-end shopping or business to do. We've just been busy getting settled in our section of the city and haven't had time to get there yet.

Anyway, tomorrow we will see it on the way to the school Christmas concert which is in San Pedro, the section of the city that boasts the famous bridge. Maybe I'll feel less like an outsider then... :D

Monday, December 03, 2007

We have Mexican money now!

This post is just to celebrate that after a month of working in Mexico, our bank account is loaded with Mexican pesos. We are now buying groceries, paying bills, and living off money made right here in Mexico, so now our US savings can grow good interest and we don't have to keep paying international transaction fees to use it.

We find that very exciting. We are finally settled.

In other news, 19 days until Amy lands in Chicago for Christmas!!!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Where We Live

While living in a still-developing nation has its challenges, life in a section of the city like ours gives us almost all of the comforts and conveniences of the US. Below we proudly present some photos of our neighborhood. For more, see the whole album at http://picasaweb.google.com/carlosandamyg/OurLatestHome



the view from one of our bedroom windows

Standing on the bike path in the middle of the boulevard
that goes in front of our neighborhood


Amy's school

Sunset, as seen looking north-ish from the boulevard

Amy

Carlos and our present vehicle

Sunset view from the top of the boulevard

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Europe Recap

We never really got around to it, but for those interested, here is the account of our last few weeks in Europe.

Firenze
After all the glories of Rome, we were a little overwhelmed and exhausted, and Florence was the perfect place to land next. Sunny and slower-paced, we got to enjoy a city where you could walk literally EVERYWHERE without even requiring the use of public transportation. Carlos' highlight was the bistecca fiorentina, which is definitely a culinary marvel. Amy fell in love with the gelato, which was the best we had in all of Italy. Being surrounded by so much renaissance art was also incredible. All the photos can be found [here].

Milano
We only allocated an afternoon and evening in Milan. This was because 1) it is a ridiculously expensive city, and 2) We wanted to maximize our time in Paris and give ourselves some down time in Brussels before the transatlantic flight to Mexico.

The first challenge to our adventure came when our train out of Florence was delayed by several hours. We ended up arriving just before sunset in Milan. Then, to make things worse, the moment we set foot outside the hotel, a gentle rain began to fall. We did not let this stop us, however. Our main goal in Milan was to see the Castello Sforsezco, and then possibly the shopping district. We set out with our umbrella and a map and made the most of our 15 hours in Milan. The castle entrance was closed by the time we arrived, but we gave ourselves the tour of the impressive outer walls, and truthfully the rain and nightfall made it even more surreal.

After that, the rain stopped and we ventured into the shopping district, which totally blew our minds. We spent the shortest time in Milan but it was there that we maxxed out our camera's memory card in the fastest amount of time. We both adored the city, but also discovered that it could be a very hazardous place for our bank account. The shopping is astounding. The architecture was impressive. We would love to go back and thoroughly explore someday. All of our Milan photos are [here]



Paris

No first-time trip around Europe would have been complete without visiting the City of Lights. We generally have a rule that to stay in any part of the world, we must be able to manage basic conversation in the language. This rule held up pretty well in Barcelona with Catalan/Spanish, and then in Italy with our combined knowledge of Italian, which put together was something to reckon with. However, we were so determined to go to Paris that we put aside our total lack of basic competency in the language and figured we'd just go for it. A pretty risky decision to make in the one city where people are least likely to speak any other language.

It was completely worth it. Despite the change in climate to a colder temperature, plus some rain, we got out and saw the essentials: Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and a gorgeous fall afternoon walk for several miles along the Seine River. On top of this, we were able to witness firsthand the frenzy that swept into town for the Rugby World Cup, being hosted by France. It was evident everywhere, most notably at the Eiffel Tower, where a giant inflated rugby ball was stuck into the center of the tower and a massive TV screen on the outside broadcasted all the updates.

Not only were we absolutely taken aback by the utter gorgeousness of this city, but we really enjoyed the diversity, the elegant culture, the intricate but reliable metro system, and the food, of course.

As far as the language, the stereotype was true in our case. Most Parisians had little patience for tourists or anyone else with minimal French. However, this turned out not to be a problem for us.

First of all, we found refuge in the predominantly Muslim immigrant neighborhood near our hotel. Along the main street, it seemed nobody actually spoke French, nor did many of them seem to have a language in common. This resulted in a lot of hand motioning and nonverbal communication, and Carlos and I blended right in, at least in terms of language. Second, you pick up a language fast when there's no choice, because otherwise you don't eat, get on the subway, or accomplish any other essential activity. After four days in Paris, we were already managing the basics of ordering fast food, buying metro tickets, and general politeness in French. And the Parisians, in turn, rewarded this with courtesy and even a smile and correction when we got it wrong. They're very careful guardians of their language, and we would be too if we were fluent in the beauty that is French.

Anyway, if we could master the language, Paris could quickly become one our most desirable cities. [here] are the rest of our Paris photos. Below is a short video clip from the Eiffel Tower in all of its gilttery glory.
video


Brussels
We came full-circle. Our arrival to Europe ocurred in the northern European city of Dusseldorf, Germany, and we were now only a few hours away in Belgium. In the geographic and political center of Europe, we found that with language, it was anything goes. French, Flemish, Dutch, German, English, and who knows what else were spoken everywhere, including on TV. We were not particularly charmed by this city, which also seemed to be the most socially unstable of all the places we visited. However, Brussels will hold a special place in our hearts for this reason:

DÖNER KEBAB!!

For those not familiar with this delicacy, it was our fast food of choice in Europe. It's a Turkish dish, essentially the mother of the gyro more familiar to Chicagoans, and it includes lettuce, vegetables, sauces, and special secret ingredients. Every city we visited had dozens of places serving döner sandwiches, and in each region, the döner took on a different character, adding in the local ingredients, but no matter what, a good döner was almost guaranteed to be the cheapest and most fulfilling meal around. For the entirety of the trip, Barcelona held the prize of most delicious döner, but Brussels swiftly changed that with a visit to The Sultans of Kebab next to La Bourse. It was so amazing, Amy had to take a picture.


After that, it was a lot of rest and relaxation and then....Mexico.

In general, we are dying to return someday. Amy favors Rome for the food, culture, history, and down-to-earth sensibility (believe it or not). Carlos prefers Milan for the elegance, size, and shopping choices. Both of us agree that Paris is a place where you could spend years just trying to scratch the surface. All three top our list of places we must return to. No matter what, it was the trip of a lifetime, no doubt. We will never forget it.

To finish this entry, we'll post some photos from our last few days in Barcelona with Chicago friends Dennis, Tanya, and Ashvin:


watching the Bears game at 2:30 am



Magic Fountain


pregame tapas and sangría


This guy was a bit liquored up and convinced
that Carlos was Barcelona's veteran Mexican
player Rafa Marquez, despite the fact that it was
two hours before game time and Carlos was
devouring a steak.


postgame!


beach

Monday, November 05, 2007

Our New Life in A Wealthy Latin American City

It has been a little more than two weeks since our arrival in Monterrey, Mexico, and we’ve been through a nonstop whirlwind adventure trying to re-incorporate ourselves into normal, non-vacationing society. The biggest frustration has been the difficulty in getting Internet access, and we really regret the lack of connection. Thankfully, recent developments have made it so that we will soon have Internet in our own home! Read on...

First Days in Monterrey
Crossing the Atlantic again was a trying experience. Our extremely affordable tickets took us on a Belgian vacation airliner from Brussels to the Caribbean with a one-hour stop in Montego Bay, Jamaica, followed by our arrival in Cancun. This flight lasted approximately 14 hours altogether. Then we waited three hours for our plane from Cancun to Monterrey, which was a two-hour test of patience as we had the fantastic fortune of sharing the plane with an entire high school football team. By the time Carlos’ brother Danny picked us up from Monterrey International Airport at 2 am local time, we were exhausted and struggling to communicate in any language, after nearly 24 continuous hours of traveling.

We began our lives in Mexico living with Danny, his college friend Andrés (a.k.a. Tripa), and Tripa’s loveable one-eyed boxer dog Maclovia. We had our own room in their rented house, which Amy describes as a male undergrad dorm room in house format. Things like heated water, air conditioning, properly working stove, or combat of “friendly resident ants” were not a priority there. However, we enjoyed the setting, near neighborhood businesses and not far from giant shopping centers where we spent days in refuge from the 100 degree heat. Carlos’ dad generously let us borrow one of his vehicles so we could get around, and he continuously helps us out with everything, from job and housing leads, to general advice about how to make a living as an adult in this city.

Amy’s First Mexican Job
The job search got underway, and Amy happened to find a rare opportunity – a teaching position at an exclusive private elementary school. The hiring for this kind of school generally wraps up in March before the school year begins, but a situation with a teacher required a sudden job search. Amy figured she’d just take a shot, despite not having a work visa. After all, this is a school that teaches half the day in English and half in Spanish, and her qualifications were identical to what the school was searching for. After a grueling round of interviews with administration from all levels of the organization, she was offered not only the job, but sponsorship for the visa! She thanked God for the opportunity and accepted the job at Instituto de Educación Naciones Unidas, where she is now employed as the English teacher for 4th grade. (Click this link if you want to explore the school’s web page). This involves teaching the English subjects to one class of 4th graders in the morning, and then a switch after lunch to teach the other class of 4th graders. These students come from homes with lots of resources and very educated families; most of the students speak and write with more well-developed English than the students Amy used to teach in the U.S. The school is extremely organized and has consistent, established procedures for everything, While some teachers would find this restrictive, Amy is relieved to be working in such a structured environment where everyone knows what’s going on (especially after several teaching experiences in the US that were quite the opposite). It’s a challenging but exciting situation.

The school is located in Cumbres, arguably one of Monterrey’s best sectors, a beautiful mountainous suburb above the city. The commute from Danny’s house was brutal and involved an hour of driving around the outskirts of the city to get around the obstruction of a large mountain, heading into the desert and then back into the city again before ascending the mountain where the school is located. (Amy still hasn’t figured out whose idea it was to build a city in the middle of a bunch of mountains nowhere near a body of water). Carlos has been a huge help, waking up to pry Amy out of bed in the morning, making her coffee while she gets ready, and then attacking the commute to Cumbres to take her to work. Which brings us to...

The House On Olmos Street
Finding a house near the school was the next priority, because Amy refuses to drive in this city – the roads are the definition of chaos and police corruption, and she’s not interested.

We found that housing in Cumbres is lovely, affordable, and fairly new, as the whole area is still just beginning to be built and populated. While Amy started working, Carlos spent days scouring the ads and visiting neighborhoods. He found a house just down the road from the school, being rented by a couple whose son just vacated the house to work as an architect outside Cincinnati. They liked us, we liked them, and we adored the small two-story house, which has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and all the necessities (including HEATED WATER and climate control). It’s fabulous and the rent is nearly half of what we’d spend on a typical apartment in the Chicago area. We’ve got an office/workout room, guest room, living room/dining room, and one room on the ground floor we don’t even know what to do with yet! Thanks to everyone’s generosity from the wedding, we’ve begun equipping our new home. We’ll post pictures of everything soon.

Settling In
This past week was a busy one, since Amy began teaching full-time and we moved into the house. Carlos has been making runs around the city retrieving all our belongings from Danny’s house and taking care of details while Amy works. The evening of Halloween was dedicated to fully cleaning our new home.

It was interesting to be here for Halloween - these kids are of the fortunate northern variety that gets to enjoy the Mexican celebration Day of the Dead along with the American festivity of Halloween (Halloween doesn’t exist much further south into Mexico). Here, evidently, kids celebrate by taking to the streets in small groups chanting “Hal-lo-WEEN! Hal-lo-WEEN”, which they believe to be an English word for “candy”. Then they show up at the door and expectantly wait for goodies. “We want Halloween!!!” greeted one preschooler. The first bunch got lucky, since this is all Carlos and I brought with us for our first several days at the house: small suitcase of clothing, toiletries, inflatable bed, coffee maker and accessories, and for some reason, a bag of cheap but delectable candy we bought in Rome. After the candy ran out, Amy was surprised that the kids took off pretty quickly and without a fuss before she even finished telling them we were out of candy. Then she took a look in the mirror – hair all crazy, black shirt with pointy lace bell sleeves, broom in hand. The poor kids probably were convinced they had encountered a real live witch.

Anyway, we are in love with our location. Our neighborhood (named “Real Cumbres”, Royal Cumbres) is similar to a typical suburban subdivision in the US, quiet but friendly, with its own 24-hour security patrol. It’s located just off a tranquil boulevard that takes us to Amy’s school in under 2 minutes (walk-able if necessary!). A quick walk down the boulevard lands us at a brand new shopping mall that includes an H-E-B (Texas chain like a Super Target with even more groceries). A 10-minute drive uphill gets us to another new shopping mall with many of the higher-end retailers we grew attached to in the US, plus dining favorites like Chili’s and Applebee’s. Meanwhile, we can walk around the neighborhood to find regular cornerstones of Mexican life: family-owned corner stores, video renters, and our favorite, a place that deliciously grills a whole chicken along with tortillas and grilled onions for under $5.00 US. Carlos describes this as the best of both worlds, and we both agree that it’s the best place we’ve lived together so far. We are so excited and blessed to be living here, and we can’t wait to have visitors!

So come stay with us! You're welcome any time!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Quick Update

Hi everybody!

We just wanted to let you know we're now in Monterrey, Mexico. We're currently living with Carlos' brother Daniel in a pretty nice house in the suburbs of the city, and we're pretty happy to be minutes away from a major shopping center, several multiplex movie theaters, PLUS a separate brand-new outlet mall. Amy is slowly adjusting to the diet (heavy in meat and Coca-cola), as well as the heat, which generally hits 100 degrees each afternoon. Reportedly this will decline into fall and then a mild winter starting later this month. Amy is praying this is true. Meanwhile, both of us are pursuing some strong job leads, we'll update on those when they're secure. Also, we will ideally have our own abode relatively shortly, as safe, new housing here is very affordable.

Next time, we'll post our photos and descriptions of the marvelous European destinations we visited. Florence, Milan, Paris, and even Brussels were absolutely exceptional places to stay, and we hope to go back again someday in the future!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A change of plans, and TONS OF FUN

Sorry for the VERY long gap in communications. We were without internet for a good while, which was very frustrating because we've been having a great time and wanted to let everyone know about it. Here's a summary of what's been going on:

Change of Plans
First of all, without getting too deeply into detail, an explanation. We decided that Barcelona wasn't necessarily the place where we should invest our time, money, and resources trying to establish a future. While Barcelona is an incredible city, you realize after living there a short time that it's a very transient city - everybody passes through for a short time, but eventually moves on to life elsewhere. It's a city focused on tourism, and soon you start feeling like you live in a giant theme park. Barcelona is almost isolated from reality, and it becomes exhausting after awhile. Plus, Carlos and I realized we hadn't yet seen other parts of the world. Therefore, we decided to halt the plans to live in Barcelona, and instead visit some of our other dream destinations in Western Europe before moving to Carlos' hometown of Monterrey, Mexico to regroup and come up with a new plan. We sent our big suitcases back to Mexico where Carlos' brother is taking care of them, and set up a dream itinerary of Italy, France, and Belgium before we fly back across the ocean. SO, here is what we've been up to and what's next.

Final Days in Barcelona
During our final week in Barcelona, we had three giant things to look forward to:

1 - La Mercè (one of Barcelona's biggest city festivals of the year) [photos, etc]

2 - the highly anticipated soccer match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla, [photos, etc]

3 - the visit of Amy's college friend Dennis Espinosa and two of his friends, coinciding with both of the previous two events, and causing us to get out and do the rest of the touristy stuff we hadn't done yet [photos, etc]

None of these was a disappointment; it was one of the most fun weekends in our lives! One great benefit to having friends around was having people to take pictures of Amy & Carlos together! Click the links above for all the details and photos. Below is a taste in video form (taken with our digital camera, excuse the poor quality):

Correfoc (fire run)

Barça game
Messi scores a penalty kick and the crowd goes ballistic


Birthday in Rome
The night before Amy turned 25, we landed in Rome (total cost of flight: € 20 for both of us, thank you Vueling Airlines). Amy's birthday [photos, etc] was an incredible day spent visiting the Vatican, eating amazing food, and walking along the Tiber river at sunset . Six more stunning days in Rome followed. We had a chance to see almost all of the major destinations, most memorably the Colosseum [photos, etc] and Trevi fountain among other places [photos, etc], and mostly we fell in love with Rome - the people, the language, the culture, the fashion, and most especially the FOOD! One observation we had in Rome is that it seemed like the sky was always a work of art - dark looming stormclouds, or big, white puffs with beams of sun shooting out, etc. A great background for all of the splendor of the monuments and buildings in Rome. In summary, we had a fantastic time in Rome, see our photo pages linked above for all the good stuff.


Next up...
Today we took a train (about an hour and a half) to Florence. It's a nice little city so far, where life is slower and more relaxing. Our hostel is INCREDIBLE, centrally located, with a gigantic bedroom, huge wardrobes, floor-to-ceiling light, a beautiful patio, satellite TV, free coffee and tea, a kitchen practically to ourselves, etc. Obviously we'll get out and explore, but when we don't, we'll be in total comfort.

On October 6th, we plan to head to Milan, where we will only stay for two nights most likely (Milan is a very expensive place, but we really want to see it). Then we'll be off to Paris for 5 days, and finally Brussels, Belgium for about a day and a half. From there, we fly to Cancun and then catch a late-night flight to Monterrey, Mexico where we will attempt to re-establish a sense of reality. The trip of a lifetime, wouldn't you say? And hopefully this is just the beginning.... :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

El Grito


This weekend we celebrated Mexican Independence (from Spain) IN SPAIN. Which was very strange. To make things stranger, the city of Barcelona actually sponsors the festivities. We celebrated on the night of the 15th in a plaza with tons of Mexicans and miscellaneous other people. The 16th, we ended up in a British pub watching Barcelona play soccer (disappointing scoreless tie), Spain's basketball team play (and lose) the final game of the European Basketball championships, and then thankfully the Bears win over Kansas City. Pretty much a solid, fun weekend. Here are the pics:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/losguerra/sets/72157602045038596/

Este fin de semana, celebramos El Grito en España. Fue un poco raro porque la ciudad de Barcelona patrocina las festividades. Empezamos la noche del 15 con El Grito en una plaza con muchísimos mexicanos y varias otras comunidades. El 16, fuimos a un bar inglés para ver el partido de futbol de Barcelona (empataron a ceros), el campeonato europeo de basquet (perdió España), y luego el partido de los Chicago Bears. En total, un fin de semana muy divertido. Las fotos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/losguerra/sets/72157602045038596/

Saturday, September 15, 2007

More Adventures in BCN / Más Aventuras en BCN

Some things we have done since the last update:

  • Saw Sagrada Familia
  • Rode a suspended cable car up a mountain
  • Visited a castle from the 1600s
  • Went to the beach, several times
  • Attended a packed-out concert for independence on the day Catalunya commemorates the loss of its independence to Spain

Photos and comments:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/losguerra/sets/72157601970501746/

Algunas cosas que hemos hecho desde la última actualización:

  • Vimos el templo de Sagrada Familia
  • Montamos en un teleférico a la cima de una montaña
  • Visitamos un castillo del siglo XVII
  • Fuimos a la playa, varias veces
  • Asistimos a un concierto para la independencia, el día en que Catalunya conmemora la pérdida de su independencia ante España

Fotos y comentarios:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/losguerra/sets/72157601970501746/

Sunday, September 09, 2007

New Pics / Nuevas Fotos


We visited Camp Nou, the stadium of FC Barcelona. It was a dream come true to both be there together, walking the same halls that Messi, Ronaldinho, Henry, Eto'o, Marquez, Dos Santos and the rest of them walk. Click here for photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/losguerra/sets/72157601924142888/

Visitamos el Camp Nou, el estadio del FC Barcelona. Fue un sueño hecho realidad estar allí juntos, caminando por los mismos pasillos donde caminan Messi, Ronaldinho, Henry, Eto'o, Marquez, Dos Santos y los demás. Haz click aquí para ver todas las fotos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/losguerra/sets/72157601924142888/

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Checking in.

Hey! We're doing great here, we have been doing a lot of sightseeing and shopping. Pictures will go up soon. We are now living in a beautiful flat in the "posh district" (according to a local friend of mine) with an older lady. Thanks to those of you who have sent emails or even called by phone, it's great to hear news from the other continent! We'll update soon with more details and of course, pictures.

Hola! Estamos bien por acá, hemost ido de compras varias veces. Las fotos llegarán pronto. Por ahora estamos viviendo en un lugar bonito medio elegante (o fresa, según un amigo de aquí). Gracias a todos los que nos han mandado correo y hasta llamado, nos gusta saber sus novedades del otro continente. Más detalles y fotos próximamente.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

in Barcelona

We're a little bit exhausted and frazzled, but doing just fine. We are staying in our hostel/apartment, which is actually the very same room they show on their website, so we got the best deal. Currently, we're in the process of getting settled here - our phones are activated, we're getting closer in our search for an apartment, and then we begin the job search.

We left Cancun a few hours ahead of the hurricane, so that was a relief. Nine and a half hours on a German transatlantic airliner was a different story. I find it extremely disconcerting to be spoken to and have NO CLUE what is being said. After this there were 6 hours in the Dusseldorf and then 2 more hours on another German aircraft into Barcelona. The German immigration officials in Dusseldorf made a big deal and tried to give us a scare upon seeing Carlos' Mexican passport - we were aware that lately the EU has been making it harder for Mexicans to enter, so we experienced this firsthand. However, we were patient and got through in the end. Barcelona was a zoo when we entered the airport, but what a relief to finally understand the languages being spoken!

That's it for now. We have all kinds of pictures, but we'll upload them later. Thanks to whoever has been praying for us, we definitely still need it!!! Adèu!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cancun: The Honeymoon II


A.K.A. "The Real Honeymoon" (Carlos). We had a great time here, everything worked out perfectly, we hope someday we can go back. Our resort was awesome and it's so great to finally be together again. We're in the airport in Cancun right now waiting on our flight to Germany, and Carlos is pointing out that air travel is so much easier when done with a companion. This is very true. No more lugging stuff into the bathroom and constantly struggling with all the papers, etc. I'm so glad we're together. :) Next update will be from Europe, hopefully. Love you all!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What Became of the Dress

Perplexed about what to do with my dress after the wedding (storing it in a closet just seemed so useless and not fun at all), I stumbled upon Trash the Dress, a newish trend growing worldwide. Basically, a talented photographer documents the bride frolicking around in her dress doing things you wouldn't ordinarily do in a wedding gown. It's a chance to have worry-free fun with the gown and create some memories at the same time.

By a stroke of wonderful fortune, my talented high school friend Amy Aiello started mentioning plans to do a Trash the Dress shoot. When I found out, I asked her if she would do one with me, and she was glad to spend an entire afternoon/evening with me, my mom, and my dress, having photographic adventures around the downtown Chicago area. The results were awesome, and here are the first shots she's released. See her website, http://www.amyaiellophotography.com for more of her work:







Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Update: We have a place to stay now.

OK, for those who were concerned about the idea of Carlos & me landing in Barcelona and wandering around looking for a place to stay, we are now officially booked into a hostel/apartment type deal where we get our own bedroom in a 4-bedroom apartment shared with other travelers. Some pictures from the place (obviously, these are their best rooms & shots, but still...)




Friday, August 10, 2007

FAQs about the Upcoming Move to Barcelona

For all of you wondering about this whole thing we're doing, here are some of the things we're asked most often:

1. When are you leaving?
I'm out of here on August 17th (next Friday!!!). That's when I go to Cancun to meet up with Carlos and then from there to Barcelona on August 20-21st (overnight flight).

2. Are you ready?
Not even close. Seriously. Panic hasn't set in yet, but it could. I'm trying to deal with one thing at a time, but there are SO MANY DETAILS! I'm grateful to have friends and family around to help me keep my head together and get everything done. Thanks, guys!

3. So do you have an apartment there?
No. We could have secured one through the internet, but I'm old fashioned, and I need to see the place in real life and I can't stomach the concept of sending someone 950 € through the internet. In other words, we'll probably do the hostel or cheap hotel thing until we lock down a place, once we're actually IN Barcelona.

4. What will you be doing there?
Me - teaching English. Mostly to adults. Possibly to children. Either way, in the private market, where there is a lot more freedom and huge demand. Carlos - doing translation work, possibly working towards medical translation

5. Do you have jobs lined up?
No. But before you start wondering if we're completely detached from reality, keep in mind that September and October are the months when private language schools start searching hard for decent candidates to teach English. And with the certificate that I earned last year, I will be in the small percentage of people who are actually QUALIFIED to teach English. So there's pretty good hope there. And for Carlos, while things might start out slow, translation is essentially a freelancing job that, with the right connections, career development, and hard work, can turn into something pretty lucrative. We have high expectations, but they are attainable.

6. How long will you be there?
We honestly have no idea. We plan that no matter what, we will stay for a year. After that, it's a matter of what our finances and immigration situations will allow. We'd love to stay forever. We must face the reality that this might not actually pan out, though. Whatever the case, we'll be grateful that we had the chance to do this.

7. Why Barcelona?
We always dreamed and semi-joked about someday living in Europe. Then one day we realized, we were actually serious about it. We started brainstorming places to live, and Italy was on top of our list. However, upon reviewing our collective Italian skills, we decided we'd be better suited in a place that speaks primarily Spanish or English. So we diverted ourselves just around the Mediterranean Sea, and landed in Barcelona, a fiercely independent city full of culture, history, incredible architecture, fantastic food, a huge variety of people, and our favorite soccer team ever, FC Barcelona. We wanted a place where you can work and yet enjoy your free time, and we found it in Barcelona, especially when I lived there last year.

7. Can we come visit?
YES, PLEASE DO! ....once we have a place to live... just give us a heads up, like a month before.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

only 1300 miles apart...

Carlos is now in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico where it is frequently 100° Fahrenheit with 100% humidity. So for those of you wondering why I'm not with him, there is a big part of your answer. I was not born in the desert, and I have no desire to live in a steaming, dusty, mountain-enclosed bowl of smog and pure heat.

Anyway, Carlos is living with his brother and his mom, who is currently spending some time in Mexico as well. He's been assembling paperwork, preparing for Barcelona, and generally getting shocked at how fast money drains away in Monterrey.

Meanwhile I've been working as a "Personal Assistant" to my aunt & uncle, helping take care of loose ends so they can focus on running the medical office. So I pretty much get to spend my days doing what I love: driving around the Chicagoland area in my Mazda3 and shopping!

Things are going OK considering that we're separated by a whole country only two months after our wedding. It'll still be nice to see each other though. :)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Here we go again

The tickets have been purchased, the plans have been made, and it all gets underway in a few weeks! Here is our summer itinerary:

July 6Carlos and Amy go to Michigan to attend Dan Godoy's wedding to Meagan Cammenga!
July 10Carlos flies to his hometown Monterrey, Mexico to assemble documents for Barcelona.
Amy remains in the U.S. for logistical purposes.
August 17Amy leaves Chicago and flies to Cancun, Mexico!
Carlos fies from Monterrey to join her there.
August 17-19Carlos and Amy enjoy a brief honeymoon in Cancun!
August 19-20Carlos and Amy fly overnight to Dusseldorf, Germany and spend the better part of a day there.
August 20Carlos and Amy fly to Barcelona and settle in for a wild adventure!