Friday, February 29, 2008

Spanish classes & a movie 2.29.08

Wednesday we had a very exciting day! We started our Spanish classes on Wednesday. When we first looked over the curriculum we had decided we wanted the advanced class over the beginner class. But when we got into class and the teacher only spoke Spanish to us…we were worried we had bitten off more than we could chew. We struggled a bit through the class and were feeling a little overwhelmed, but pretty satisfied with ourselves once it had ended. And we felt even better when another couple in the class caught us afterward and asked if we were as shocked & scared as they were!! Luckily, everyone felt the same way, so it was a bit relieving to hear. This way though, we’ll learn more, we hope! I always learn better when I’m challenged so it’s good for me. After Spanish lessons, we decided we’d go to dinner & a movie. We didn’t have a movie schedule but figured we’d leave the boat around 5pm and would just see what was playing & the times when we got there. We walked to the bus stop and waited for about 10 minutes before we remembered that the bus we were waiting for….didn’t stop at this particular bus stop, but at another one just down the road. So we walked to that one, and jumped on the next bus that was going our way. We made it to the movie theatre about 6pm and found the next movie started at 7:25, so we had time to find dinner. We played a game of advanced frogger across 6 lanes of traffic to find an open restaurant!! We started on one corner of the street, realized we had to walk to the next street, then jay-walked (right in front of the police sub-station, we learned later) across the 6 lanes to one restaurant only to find it closed, then half-way across the street, walking the median, until the next 3 lanes of traffic were clear to another restaurant. It was really comical… We ate at an outdoor restaurant and we both dared the ‘house specialties’ – I ended up with a dish called a ‘Gringa’ – which was a beef dish with melted cheese (the term in Spanish is ‘banada’) and tortillas and Michael had the other specialty which was basically the same except he also had potatoes in his. Both were fantastic! We ended back up at the movie theatre at 7pm and purchased our tickets – it was ‘family night’ so both tickets were only $5 – and hit the concession stand for popcorn & a soda. Michael is the popcorn nut and was a bit disappointed….where he would normally find the butter to put on his popcorn, they had hot sauce & jalapenos! So needless to say, he didn’t doctor up his popcorn like everyone else. All of the movies were in English, with Spanish subtitles, which was interesting. There are 4 movie theatres in Mazatlan that we know of and they play movies that are approx 6 months old from those in the states. We watched an awful movie called “We own the night” (Dueno de la Noche) set in the 80’s about a police family & the black sheep brother that was mixed up in a club that housed some bad drug dealers and the police family was trying to catch them. It was not a good movie but was entertaining as I tried very hard to translate into Spanish with the subtitles.

After the movie, we went next door to the Gigante to pick up a couple groceries, then took a Pulmonia back to the marina. The rule here is that you must ask the taxi driver how much it would cost before getting in the taxi. The agreed on price, which can be negotiated (and is often brought down several dollars) is what you pay to get to your destination. Here in Mazatlan, the going price for anywhere around town is $5. Most will start out higher but you get them down to $5, agree, and you’re off on your way. So we asked the guy how much to Marina Mazatlan and he responded with $4….which was weird. Of course, we agreed though and jumped in and he took off, although slowly exiting the area. He got to the exit and turned around and asked us if we spoke Spanish….we told him a little bit and then he admitted it was his 2nd day driving the taxi and he needed us to tell him how to get to Marina Mazatlan. Hahaha!! So in our broken Spanish and the few driving words we knew, we navigated him back to Marina Mazatlan. We laughed as we told him to go ‘mas’ because we didn’t know the Spanish term for go straight…how many times would you ever say “take the u-turn”, “go around the circle and turn left”, or “just over the bridge” in typical every day conversation? So needless to say….we had fun getting him to the Marina and just marked it down as one of our many ‘adventures’ here in Mazatlan.

Thursday Michael felt very crappy so we hung on the boat and fed him lots of medicine & vitamins to make him feel better. I went for my usual walk along the malecon with Danni, stopping at a couple new spots in town. I will take my camera next time and will give you a ‘walking tour’ of Mazatlan, pictures included…stay tuned!!

Friday we got up & around, did a couple boat projects, then headed in town for some errands. We picked up some tickets, went to the Gran Plaza Mall, purchased Mexican cell phones, went to Wal-Mart, then back to the boat. The Gran Plaza Mall is very similar to regular American malls, lots of teenagers, and the stores & food court was the same. They had a fantastic arcade place that was nearly two stories tall and had tons of games & attractions. There was a two-story inflatable slide (like you would get for birthday parties, except bigger), a water area for boats, an area that looked like bumper cars, although they were shaped like bathtubs, lots of air hockey games & lots of video games. It was a huge place, very cool.

The other stores were normal mall stores – GNC, shoes, clothes, swim wear, book stores, department stores (kinda like Macy’s, called Fabrica de Franzia), suits & dresses, photography, etc. We walked around it and remarked that it was pretty deserted and were told that the Mega, which is a huge grocery store, had just moved out of the mall to just down the street. So the scuttlebutt is just how the rest of the mall will survive without the ‘draw’ of the huge grocery store.

Here are a few pics from the Wal Mart…you can purchase fresh seafood, on ice here….and the Mac –n-cheese box has a label over it translating the name, ingredients, & instructions to Spanish!

We were walking to the bus stop when we realized we were just next to the main TelCel distributor, which is the largest cell phone distributor in Mexico. Most of the time we can do without communication but there are times – when calling for an appointment or calling to order pizza (just as an example) when it’s hard to not have a phone. It’s not easy to make local calls unless you have someone else make them for you. There are two options for cell phones – pre-paid and ‘plan’ phones, although you have to sign up for an 80 month plan…yikes!! Anyway the pre-paid cell phones have great deals – free local calling within Mazatlan, free calls to any other TelCel phone as long as it’s less than 5 minutes, free text messaging between phones, 11 pesos for 20 minutes ($1.10 for 20 minutes) to call to the U.S., free incoming phone calls, etc. So we purchased a Mexican cell phone. We’ll use it mainly for communicating between the two of us and calling to local businesses, but it feels weird to have a cell phone again.

Time sure flies out here! I can’t believe it’s already the weekend!
More to follow...


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