Thursday, 31 May 2007

Exuses, Exuses.

I dont want to be an olympic swimmer anymore.

I think I could set my sights on something of more prestige and power than a pathetic swimmer. On the subject, I am now, much to my surprise - you will hear about that soon, substituting 3 lessons on Monday. So it seems I am well on my way to prestige and power.

A good day today! Started off with helping out in a maths class (or as they say over here math class. Whats that about? Your not just going to learn one formula, bust out the plural!) but the kids went out for photos about 15 minutes into the class. So that was that. The classes at the school I work in are 47 mins long. 'WHY?', I asked. The teacher didnt really know. It seems that most of the school is like this, people not really knowing what is going on. All the time kids are walking around the school and setting up tables to sell stuff from. After buying some lemonade from a conveniently placed table, I saw my friends setting up the vollyball nets so I joined them and started to play. We wanted a match so we challanged some students to a game. We won every game and I tell you what, we sent those girls home crying. There is no such thing as a gentleman in Mexico. It was the first time I had played vollyball, and I dont think I did to bad. Professional Vollyballer? Nah, no power and its hardly a prestigous sport.

After schooling the girls, we went over to play some American Football with the 7th grade. Re-reading this blog I can see that I was obviously a bully today, just taking on people that I knew I could beat. BUT, we lost the game of American Football... I got two touchdowns, but we lost. The sun was in my eyes, I am still a bit jet lagged, I need the toilet and that kid on the other team poked his tounge out at me. It wasnt MY fault we lost. I am always going to write the full 'American Football' because Football is ours and the name Soccor just dosn't cut it! It was my first game of American Football to - two new sports in one day, perhaps I should be a profesional sporterer?

Walking back from Football we had a little talk about Englishness. Somehow we got onto the subject of cockney language, an American friend had never even heard of what we were talking about. Some classics that came up were, Dog and Bone, Apples and Pairs, Noah's Ark, Oily Rag, Bees and Honey. I'm not going to explain them, if you are proper Brits then you will know. We started making some up - a favourite we made up was 'You aint got no Dollar Bills'.

The second half of the day I was back in the resource room, where I ate 3 ice lollies. Not bad for a days work. The best part of it is that I just spoke some english real fast to the guy selling them and I managed to get them for cinco pesos instead of seis. Blagged it my friends, blagged it proper.

Now, about the substitute lessons. I was in the resource room doing my work, mostly cutting out loads of laminated dollar bills, Im being put to extremely worthwhile work, one of the teachers came in. He spoke in Spanish first and when my face continued to stare blankly back at his he muttered 'Oh, English' and spoke to me in English. He asked if I could cover his lessons on Monday. My thoughts went something like this,

"What did he say, oh right he is talking in English, thats good. Now, what did he say... WHATTT substitute lessons? But I dont speak any spanish and this school is chaos. I cant control them! Its ok, maybe he wasnt talking to me. Nope he is looking right at me, ok think Phil think. Say i'm allergic to teaching? No that wont work. Close your eyes Phil and pretend you are asleep. No thats stupid I have already talked to him... dammit. How many windows in the room? Could I dive out the window? Nope! There are bars across the window. Errrrmmmmm, exits? Just one and thats behind him. Ok its been about 5 seconds now he probably needs an answer. Cough like you have something in your throat, now look into space like you are thinking. Good. Bought yourself a few more seconds. Work on some exuses; "Im going to be sick on Monday", "Im having my haircut", "Im flying home on Monday, short notice". No they are all rubbish. Get out your phone and pretend that Mum is calling me. NOO left my phone on charge, which is stupid really - I can't even use it in Mexico. Actually I wonder how my family is doing, come to mention that I wonder how the UK is doing. I havnt seen the news in ages. Wowa, back to the problem in hand. Ask him to speak in English, and then make a quick exit? He already spoke in english, right. Whats that? He said something again. OHHH, i'm only showing the kids a video."

"Ok, sure I will take your classes."

I did another 40 laps again today. Some little Spanish girl kept asking me something, I dont really have a clue what it was - I just kept nodding and swimming past here. The swimming all felt a bit empty today seeing that I have given up my life long ambition. Well, at least today I got some exercise!

I have been invited to a teachers breakfast tomorrow morning to celebrate the end of the school year. Apparantly it is an amazing breakfast served buffet style. Maybe I will not eat anything from now until then in preparation. I am hoping, nay praying, that when they say breakfast they mean English breakfast. I wont hold my breath.

It has been a long blog to day, which goes alongside the long day. Im tired, so I will probably go and watch some TV. That should do it. So, I will say my 'apple pies', and send you my 'white dove'.

Love always,


Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Suncream, Hands, Hair and Hi's.

I think I should be an olympic swimmer.

Perhaps thats what I should be aiming for - what better training than to swim back from Mexico, right? Well, maybe I am exagerating just slightly - I DID do 30 lengths of the pool here, but it is hardly an olympic size one. It isnt even a half size. Merely a quarter size, BUT the 30 lengths I did might count for 1 olympic length... 'might'. The reason I mention this is because today I helped out with the 'Mini Olympics'. Sounds impressive, yes? No. I was a referre for the vollyball games. No, not even that, I counted the score for the vollyball games. A million miles away from the medal podium, but hey, small steps right? I had to stay and pack up all the equipment and naturally there werent enough seats to get us all back to the school. I ended up, quite literally, sitting out of the window driving down the main roads. The only reasoning for this act of desperation was 'Well, its the Mexican way'. I didnt have the heart to disagree.

This morning I realised that it was that time of the week when I feel half like a man. I needed to shave. I was quite impressed with the one today - nice and smooth, like a baby's bottom? Perhaps. I dont think I have ever felt a baby's bottom, so im not really sure. And this time I didnt even use shaving foam. Stop what you are doing. Breath. Dont get too excited. Most men might use some aftershave. Me? No. I found something alot worse. From my previous holidays my family and friends would know that I am not what you call a 'tanner' more of a 'lobster wannabe' and so I slapped on the suncream, and plenty of it, straight away. Word of warning: Dont do it. Its a killer - it takes aftershave for a run atleast. BUT atleast I stayed nice and Britishly white.

Between the intensive counting sessions at the games I had quite a lot of time just to think, again people all around the world (or oxted) cry out in disbelife... mostly because I can't spell disbelife, but some because im thinking, and I came up with 3 different subjects, all of which are happenin' H's.


You learn something new everyday. Today I learnt some good old hand gestures, of which I am good enough to teach to you so that if you go to Mexico you might get a little respect from the locals, as you take pictures of everything that moves of course. Firstly the 'Thank You' gesture. This is one that feels a bit weird. Basically you show the back of your hand to someone. Simple - but us Brits are used to the 'thank you wave'. So it feels a bit odd. Next is the one for 'Yes'. Its just one finger waggling with the back of your hand to you. If you can't imagine what that is as soon as I am back I will say Yes, mexicanly, to everyone. What good is 'Yes' if you dont know 'No' (you know?) it is just as simple. Just wave one finger from side to side like the 'No dont do that' kind of thing. Lastly is the 'In a moment', im not really sure how common this bad boy is, but heck, I have enough time to tell you about it. This one is just like you are showing someone how small something is, using your thumb and first finger (Im never really sure on the names of the fingers, so if thats wrong I meant the one next to the thumb.) There you go, you are practically Mexican now, just go outside and get loads of people to ride in the back of a pick up truck and you are there.


The temptation to grow a beard or a sneaky little moustache is huge. Everywhere you look there are beards and moustaches - Men, Boys, Dogs, Women... It feels like 'If you want to be one of us, get some facial hair' The only reason I had that shave in the morning was because I was going into a school, and I thought I should look at least a little bit presentable, but i tell you this, as the 7th graders couldnt get the serve over the net I was regretting it.


Something I miss loads, I realised today, is that I can no longer say hi to everyone in the street. Back in sunny Oxted I knew quite alot of people, so there was always some comfort in walking down the highstreet being able to have your place, to communicate with people wandering around. Not so much in Mexico, I either annoy some Mexicans in the ways that only a foreign person could, or wave at the wrong person and have a nice friendly gang after me.

Finally, a quick burn ratio update. Im pretty sure that, after the day in the sun, the ratio has shifted in favour of the burn. It dosn't help that when I finished swimming I went to town on drying off my neck. Raw is the only word that fits the moment, but at least I am now a delightful shade of pink.

Thank you for your time in reading this blog, I hope you have had a pleasent stay. You may leave your luggage at reception for the remainder of the day, if you wish.

Love always,


Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Dream on.

Hola, another day another dollar and all that... Today was BUSY! Got up at 7.30 and I have only just got back to the Suarez home. Its now 10.11 pm, and that is going to be my regular day when things get sorted.

The day began with a nice cold shower, again it got warm as I was getting out. Then off in the car to the local school. 'The Abraham Lincoln School'. What did that guy, no hooligan, do to deserve getting a school named after him? It was back into the resource room, but only for 3 hours. Then it was off to learn how to use the local buses! A trip to Arenalus and back to see which bus I need to get to go play football with the street children, number 51-A if you are interested, and then a bus to the oasis project. This is a house that someone set up to take in children on the street, they have 9 kids living there on a permenant basis, and others who can come in to get meals and somewhere to stay over night.

At the end of the day I had to go to the church and wait to get a lift home - hence being so late back at base camp. (Not quite a camp, but im being languistically risky. I dont know if the spelling is right, but that is a fresh term you can use) The thing is, I like it when I have lots of things to do in such a busy day. It means that I sort of have a place in Mexico, im not just floundering about in someones shadow.

It looks like my Spanish will improve in the near future - I spoke to someone today who knows a contact who can teach me some Spanish! Good stuff! What they usually do is a 'language trade' - I teach them some English, they teach me some Spanish. Seems fair to me!

I think the Burn-to-Tan ratio has turned in my favour! Im pretty sure I am SLIGHTLY brown now. This might all change because tomorrow im helping to run the 'Mini-Olympics'. That is pretty much like our day of sport, so it will be alot of standing around in the sun waiting for something, anything, to happen. 'Mini-Olympics' such an inspiring title, but I bet every single kid there gets one of those medals you KNOW has come from Argos, no matter how well they do.

I have noticed today that even though I know thank you in Spanish, Gracias - just to prove it, the little I know, I have to take pride in, I am still just saying 'Thank you' this moved on to whenever I got in someone's way I said 'Sorry' instead of 'Lo siento'. I just find it stupid that im not even using the little bit of Spanish I do know. Things are going to change right about NOW. So, gracias for reading my blog. Lo siento if its not good enough for you.

I have been having some weird dreams lately. One was me watching my self asleep, then I wake up and say, in Spanish, something to Oscar and then go back to sleep. I think I said something about a shoe. Its weird that you can't remember dreams the second you wake up... The next was someone stealing my ipod, but Mrs Hawley was there and all I can remember was explaining to her that it was my ipod, and that I wanted to get it back. This got me thinking ('Oh No' I hear you cry) do you think we have any choice in our dreams? Or is it just a movie that we have to watch from a first person perspective. There you go, something to think about through your day! The only thing is you are never really going to get the same dream twice, and so you are never going to have the option of going 'the other way'. Oh well, thinking is good. I like think.

I did promise to fill you in on the evening activites from yesterday. I helped build a treehouse. Happy now?

It dosnt really seem I have covered much in this blog, even though I have had a real busy day. Thats just how things go I guess. I am real tired so maybe that is the reason, exuses exuses. I had a really good idea on how to finish blog... but I have forgotten it, SO I will just finish it off in the regular way,

Love always,


One other thing, just to ruin what would be a beautiful ending, the computer that I use to go on the internet dosn't want to let me read the comments. So if you have written a comment of praise (if it is hatred somehow I will delete it) , and I know I have millions of fans out there, im sorry if I havnt replied. Someday soon I will get there, maybe tomorrow, but probably, possibly and definetly not.

Monday, 28 May 2007

A familiar sounding Spanish sneeze...

Welcome, I will be your blogger this evening. In the event of an emergency the exits are here, here and here.

Another day goes by and yet my spanish is much the same as before. I did learn one new phrase, ¿De Donde Eres? - for you english folk - Where are you from? Maybe if I keep learning one new phrase every day I will be able to have a nice little conversation with a stranger. Talking to strangers... sometimes you get to talk to the nice Mexican people, always dropping in the odd 'Amigo' into conversation to keep you smiling... and then there are the stressed out Mexicans which arent so willing to bother with Amigoness.

Now, you might be intrigued by the title of this blog... Yesterday someone sneezed and I actually thought 'Wow, spanish sneezes sound just like english ones'. For that moment I was back at home, one of my family sneezing near me... but then I was snapped back into Mexico, the sneeze no longer lingered in the air but was replaced with the random words comonly known as Español.

I went into a school today to help out. It was my first day there and I was just shoved into the resource room, photocopying things for teachers. There is a little window where people can come up and ask for us and people kept coming to the window and saying something to me in spanish, then realising I was an english idiot... moved onto the next person. But all in all it was a good day, I actually quite enjoyed it in that little room. The people I worked with were really friendly and it was a laugh. They tried to teach me some spanish words for things in the room, but I cant remember a single one.

We had taco's for lunch today! Result! BUT, things turned nasty pretty quickly! Nacho (If you are going to have a Mexican name, what better name is there than Nacho) was eating a chilli, but he thought it was too hot. He asked if I wanted some, and naturally I took a huge bite - I thought thats how you ate them. Apparantly not. He was taking little nibbles of the chilli and he found it too hot. The only way to get away from the pain was to leave some water in my mouth for ages! My mouth still tingles now.

So, thats my day up till now. Its only 5.00 pm here so no doubt something will happen between now and the next blog, but I promise I will fill you in about that in the next one. For now, my love goes out to all. Espeacialy the lady of the notebook! I'm missing you loads me lady, and as soon as I get back get out your walking boots!

Hasta mañana,
Well, not so much SEE you tomorrow, but write to you tomorrow. I dont know that in Spanish...


Sunday, 27 May 2007

Missing home and a home missing half a home.

Good Afternoon. Well, for you people in England (and im guessing it is only people in England that are reading this. I dont think anyone else would stumble upon this by chance) it is about 3.00. So, good night to you. If you are reading this as I post it you are stupid and should be sleeping!

Blog number 5 already! Im not really sure if I will be able to keep doing these soon as I will be moving to a different house soon and im not really sure what his computer situation is... oh well, lets hope he speaks at least some English! If you are a frequent visitor to my facebook then you will know by now that not much happened today, and the little that happend - I took alot of photos of it. Mostly photos of myself, but hey, who else would you want to see more of?

I think I started missing home abit today. It was mostly because I feel like an outsider trying to push there way into the circle here because I cant speak much Spanish at all. It means I cant really talk to anyone - and then when I do talk to someone it is the same conversation every time,

Hola, Buenas Dias. ¿Como estas?
Hola, muy bein, gracias. ¿Et toi?
Muy Bein. Adeious.

Im not even sure if that is spelt right (testiment to my spanish language skills) but thats what it sounds like in my head...

We did go out for a meal at lunch time, I had yet another big hamburger! After the meal all the adults talked for ages, in spanish, so me and the boyz (ghetto, I know) went to a local store to stock up on Arizona and candy. 'Candy' the americans are getting to me, my britishness is slipping away! I called football 'Soccor' the other day... not good.

After that we went up one of the huge hills to see a house that isnt quite finished yet (head over to facebook for the photos) and that was almost fun. The views from up there looking over the city were amazing so I was trigger happy once again.

Just one other thing... I just noticed it. I can always tell when they are saying something they dont want me to hear, they say it really quietly - I dont know if they know it... but I cant understand Spanish, so its all gobbly-de-gook to me anyway!

Well, that brings you up to speed with my Mexican world. There is a match on tv which is the final between two local teams, so I think I will watch that - after some food of course.

Love to all,


Saturday, 26 May 2007

¿Que vas alli hoy?

What ARE we going to do today? As soon as I wake up I have no idea of what is to come in the day ahead. This one turned out to be a packed day, but I didnt know that until half way in.

A nice lazy wake up at 9.00 and a freezing cold shower that got warm as I was getting out... typical! A good start to the day. Then the family had gone for a walk so I had breakfast on my own, this wasnt so bad - they would be speaking spanish anyway. There wasnt really much cereal left, so I got the crumbs at the bottom of the pack... niiiiice.

After this we went to watch Yiyo and Stevie practice in a band, they were awesome... but I wasnt doing anything so was a little bit boring - I busted out the guitar and they seemed impressed for about 30 seconds, at which point I realised I didnt have anything else to show off... so I just repeated stuff again. Went round to the shop and got an 'Arizona', now that is a drink I would take my hat of too. Talking of hats I need to find and buy a sombrero - not a single Mexican will take me seriously without one.

Lunch was amazing. We went to some burger restaurant and I got the biggest burger I have ever seen! The medium size meal was bigger than the large size meals we have in England! A comment on the wrapping summed it all up, something about using more than one napkin... I cant really remember - so I am no use at all.

Groaning after the meal we stumbled into the park and played football with some of the kids who live in Arenales. That was a good laugh, but they tired me out! Following that we drove to a friends house, ate some more mexican food, made a few videos and then came home - where you find me now, updating facebook and writing to myself as I dont know if anyone is reading this.

¿Donde estan baño, por favour?



Friday, 25 May 2007

Twist and Turn. One little busy bee.

"Not being able to have what you want when you want it only makes you want it more'er"

I thought I would give the 'Absense makes the heart grow fonder' a little twist. Mission complete. My one sounds ALOT better. The reason for this is because I miss Oxted. Today I saw 5 rats, apart from in my family (cheeky) I wouldnt see that even in 6 months. Its not that I dont like them... its just because its all different. I miss seeing all my friends and family, all the ladies and the lads. I miss being able to call you guys up to see what you are doing over the weekend, well, I could still do this... but I dont think it would achieve anything. If you are one of the crew you are always in my thoughts.

Im picking up bits of Spanish here and there, Manzana = Apple, Hoy = Today, but none of it really seems to help. I really like the language though and if I had the patience then I would definetly want to learn it properly. Shame I left my patience in England...

I went into the local school, 'Lincoln School', and it looks like I can start to volunteer on Monday! I will be working alongside teachers in PE, Maths and in the Resource Department. So that should be interesting! I dont know how much they expect me to know of Maths, but we will soon find out! Then again, im not exactly a sporty guy... lets hope the Resource Department has low expectations!

After going to the school I went on to a group of people running the Oasis Project. This is a building that they have converted into a sort of hostel. They take in children off the street who have been kicked out by there parents, or just dont have any parents at all. They are such a happy group it makes you think twice about how we live our own lives. Playing football on the roof was a real pleasure with those boys.

So, that took up the most of the day, and before I knew it I was munching on some KFC as the rest of the Suarez family talk spanish over my head, the few words I do know keep cropping up in conversation and I tell myself that I can almost understand them. There is one last thing we did, we went into the town centre of Guadalajara where we got some pizza and a donut type thing, oh and a can of Arizona which is a really nice drink to get next time you are in Mexico!

Well, there concludes another amazing day in Mexico, and that is not even the end of week one! Still have another 5 to be inspired, amazed and get on with learning the language.

Much love always,


Thursday, 24 May 2007

The Mexican Way

Here it comes, blog number two. Are you ready, because its coming to you. Well... enough of my ghetto skills and more rambling nonsense that usually sounds ok when it is in my head, but on paper is a load of rubbish. Oh well, keeps me happy.

Today I was able to tick of some of the typical Mexican activities! First was a ride in the back of a pick up truck. I tell you what - if you want to feel the most awkward you have ever been in your life - jump in the back of a pick up truck with a load of Mexicans that dont speak a world of English, then try and discribe something to them, but they just dont understand you - which in the end just trails off into a gentle mumble and a new found interest in the sky. Of course, im not speaking from experience....

After this we went to buy some wood, not quite so typically mexican - but a good experience all the same. What some photos? Head over the facebook... there are plenty there!

After a quick game of basketball with some Mexican friends we head over to a Taco restaurant for my initiation. They are good, small, but very good. I only ate 3 today and I have heard that that is a pathetic amount. Oh well, small steps eh!

There is a house just around the corner from where I am staying that was seized by the police because it was owned by drug lords. Crazy stuff is happening around here. Whats more crazy is that I spent about 15 mins in the sun and my arms have gone a delicious pink colour, and that was after slapping on some 50+ suncream. Perhaps I am TOO British?

I think that about sums it up for today, it is quite late and I am still sort of running on UK time. Anyway, my thoughts and love goes out to the English, brap tiggy brap.

Buenas Noches,


Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Thats one small step for man, A mexican step for Phil Clarke

Hi All!

I have arrived, engulfed into the world of Guadalajara! The weather is amazing, around about 32 degrees today! And boy am I happy Tom gave me that 50+ suncream for my birthday! The family I am staying with have a pool, so I have just had a dip and now I have retreated into the cool of the house to 'geek it up' a bit - photos are being uploaded, blog created and facebook comments sent. A job well done.

Tonight I am going to the cinema with the family - im am not sure if it is going to be dubbed Spanish or just have Spanish subtitles - but im going to soon find out!

Im still pretty tired having flown over here yesterday! Last night I got into bed at 6am UK time, when it was only about 11 here!

Well, now that this is set up and running as it should I will leave you there. Dont worry, your not missing anything today, all I have done is go to an office and a bank! Im sure soon I will have something more substantial to say - for example on Friday im going into a local school to help out. Im sure I will have plenty to see when the day is done!

I am missing all of you loads, friends and family alike. But you will be happy to know that I already love Mexico and am having an amazing time - and its only been one day!

Much love to anyone who reads this,


p.s. Happy Birthday Gabby!