Mexico’s Seguro Popular–Back for more–Round 1

Regional Hospital in Uriangato.

Regional Hospital in Uriangato.

Six months after my last doctor’s appointment, it was time for another blood workup for hypothyroidism. That’s what I was scheduled for, that’s what I did, even though I had been out of medication for nearly a month and felt awful!

So Sunday morning, I was up and ready to go at dawn, even though the office wouldn’t open until 8 a.m., it being Sunday and all. Having learned from experience that it is a first come, first serve basis for EVERYTHING in México. I marched myself in, without having eaten or had my morning cup of coffee like a good girl, asked who was the last person to arrive, took mental note that I followed the guy with the blue cachucha (baseball cap) and sat down to wait.

At 7:40 a nursey-type person came into the waiting room and told us that we needed receipts from the payments office before we had our blood draws. What? I sat and pondered that a moment and then asked the lady next to me. She showed me a yellow receipt and said I could get it from the office behind us without much hassle. Well, since I didn’t have the receipt, it was a hassle. I had to get up and get in line at the window for the receipt along with about 20 other people.

The lab opened around 8:20 and those with receipts lined up. The payment office was still closed. I lost my place behind the blue chachucha. The security guard kept telling us we were blocking the aisle and that important people couldn’t pass. So someone asked when the payment office would open so that we could get out of the hallway. The guard said sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on Sundays. Gee thanks!

Some of those in the receipt line tried to hop back over to the blood draw line, but were sent back, tails between their legs. Now it was 8:40 and the lab started calling out patient names and here I was still in the dratted receipt line. Finally, someone arrived, but didn’t open the window until he finished his morning coffee and bolillo (bread). So we waited.

The man behind me commented that it seems the whole purpose of this process was to get us to lose patience and go to a private doctor for our health needs since we (nearly all of us line) had seguro popular no contributivo (no co-payment public health insurance) and therefore there wasn’t a reason to check to make sure our “insurance” would cover the lab work and get this receipt. I commented that if I had the money to go to a private doctor, I certainly would not be wasting my time standing here.

So we continued to wait. Eventually it was my turn. I handed the clerk my seguro popular paper and the lab work authorized by Dr. J. He looked at the paper and looked back at me and determined I would be the spouse, not the primary beneficiary, nor the child. Good thinking on his part. Then we went through the “my last name is F not E and E is my second name” rigamarole. He typed it in and printed out a yellow receipt for me saying that Seguro popular would cover the lab work.

So I went to stand in the lab work line, which was much shorter now. When it was my turn at the window, I was pleased to discover I was nose level with the feces and urine samples lined up there. We went through the “my last name is F not E and E is my second name” rigamarole again here. The lab tech guy gave me a paper that didn’t have a date stamped to pick up the results but said that I should come back in 15-20 days for them since the TSH test was “special”. I pointed out that my doctor’s appointment was in 2 weeks and he said that maybe it would be in before then. Okie Dokie.

Then I sat down near the other door to wait to be called.

Meanwhile, my long-suffering husband had been waiting outside. He snuck in, past a distracted security guard, to see what the hold up was. I gave him the seguro popular paper and his little pink cita (appointment) book and told him to get himself an appointment with the surgeon who did his hernia operation a couple years ago and a physical appointment for our son who needed a medical release form to start secondary school in August. My husband trotted over to archivos (archives) to do just that.

All good things come to those who wait and eventually I had waited enough to be called into the blood drawing hallway. The normal seats were taken so I was herded to the way back part next to the freezer full of samples. The guy looked at my arm and seemed taken back. He squeezed and prodded and couldn’t seem to locate a vein he liked. He asked where blood was usually taken–well my arm obviously. Did he think the jugular would be a better spot? More poking and prodding. He wrapped a rubber glove around my upper arm and jammed that needle in. Then flipped off the rubber glove tie which smacked me in the face. I had a bruise for a week from that prick.

He asked for the labels and I told him I didn’t have any and that the vial should be marked “especial” which he did. Then I was free to go.

Cruz Roja in Moroleon

Cruz Roja in Moroleon

My husband also accomplished his mission and had an appointment the following week with the surgeon, however archives said our son’s physical would need to be done at CAISES. (See Seguro Popular –getting started )That did not happen. We took him to the Cruz Roja, paid $100 for the physical and $50 for the blood type analysis instead. The process took less than 15 minutes. The amount of time we saved was well worth the money.

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Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México-DHL

DHL

As I mentioned in a prior post, passports are now sent via DHL rather than requiring a return trip to the consulate or embassy. (See Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México–Trip 1) While on the surface, this may seem like a streamlined process, for us it required a bit of extra effort.

As we have no address in La Yacata we made arrangements with the local DHL office to have the passports sent to the office and they would call us to pick it up. At the beginning of September, I received a phone call from an apologetic worker that said if we did not pick up the package that contained my son’s passport before 1 p.m. that day, it would be returned to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. He explained that the package had been at the office for 30 days. I asked why no one had contacted us before now. Seems he had been on vacation and no one else thought to call. I assured him that we would be there pronto (soon). He reminded me that since the passport was for a minor, I would need to present not only my photo I.D. but my son’s U.S. birth certificate. I sent my husband with the documents immediately and all was well.

Only the parents or tutores (guardians) with valid official Mexican identification may pick up a package sent via DHL for a minor recipient. The parent or guardian also must present the minor’s original U.S. birth certificate along with a copy.

After I submitted a new passport photo in San Miguel de Allende (See Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México–Trip 3), I waited a few weeks, then checked the web site with the tracking number. I couldn’t figure out what the locations and shipment details meant, but thought it a good idea to go in person and check whether it had arrived. I was concerned it might be sent back and my passport would be seen no more and the process would need to be repeated–that’s how my luck tends to be anyway.

So during my lunch break towards the end of September, I headed to the office. In order to pick up the document, I would need to present a valid IFE (voter registration card), my passport or my driver’s license. Well, since I am a permanent resident, not a citizen, I am not eligible to vote and therefore have no IFE. (See Getting Legal–Residency at last) Then, since my passport had expired and the new passport was inside the package, I wouldn’t be able to present that as identification. Fortunately, I had made the special effort to get my moto license this summer, so I had valid Mexican identification. (See Getting Legal–License to drive) I am not sure why my Mexican Permanent Residency Card would not be acceptable for identification purposes, but it hasn’t been accepted in any place that I have tried to use it. Not at the bank, not at the driver’s license place, and not at DHL. What’ s the point in having gone through the effort of getting the card if it’s not considered valid I.D.?

If I wanted to send my husband for the package, since he does have a current IFE, he would need to present a carta poder simple (letter granting permission) signed by me, the person the package was addressed to, in addition to his own IFE, passport or driver’s license and a copy of my own IFE, passport or driver’s license. Seems simpler to go myself.

So I went to the office still with the uncertainty whether it had arrived and presented my tracking papers and I.D. My package had arrived and after a bit of searching, the clerk handed it over. You can not imagine my relief. I’m now good passport wise for 10 years, my son for 5.

Along with my passport where some brochures from the U.S. government. I was interested to note that I can now register with a STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and the U.S. government can track my travels. No thank you. I can now also register my minor child in the CPIAP (Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program) in the Department’s Passport Lookout System. Seems that if a minor registered by one or the other parent makes an application for a passport, the parent that did the registering would be contacted and informed of possible plans for international travel. Again, no thanks. The U.S. government also kindly provides daily updates on Facebook and Twitter for travel alerts and warnings. No thanks! And there is a free application for Apple devices (Smart Traveler) for your traveling pleasure. Not on your life! But thanks just the same for the information. Have a nice day!

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Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México–Trip 3

U.S.-passport

The following Monday, I received an email from the U.S. consulate saying that I wouldn’t need any other documentation with the photo and that the office hours were Monday thru Thursday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Gee thanks.

As for my change in immigration status, I decided to wait until the next paycheck before making the trip again. It was more than 5 days later, but I didn’t want to be making a trip in vain if the paperwork wasn’t processed yet. I checked the web page every other day for news. Ten business days later, I received an email that told me to check the web page. I did and it said “Se emitió oficio”. I wasn’t sure what this meant since the status of my application still said “sin resolución” but I was hoping it meant that my change of status from dependent to wage-earner had been added to my file.

Kiosk in front of the U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende.

Kiosk in front of the U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende.

Wednesday morning, we headed to SMA yet again. We arrived just after 9 a.m. and found the kiosk still closed. Well, we are in México after all and starting time is relative. So we sat down on the bench to wait. The consulate was open. The hard-working secretary behind her glass wall was working diligently. Around 9:15, the kiosk owner arrived and began setting up. I told him what I needed and he nodded. When he was ready, I stood in front of a white wall and he took my picture. He showed it to me for my approval. God I looked old! Well, my eyes were opened and the background definitely was white, so I guess that would be good enough.

McDonald's at the strip mall in San Miguel de Allende

McDonald’s at the strip mall in San Miguel de Allende

In less than 5 minutes, my photo was ready, however the guy didn’t have change for a $200 peso bill. The only other place open in the strip mall, even though every single store front had a clock that said they would open at 9 a.m., was McDonald’s. I sent my husband for a coffee so he could get change and headed into the consulate with my photo. I didn’t have to wait any time at all. I handed the secretary my photo and the letter the flunky from the embassy had sent me via email. She stapled the two together and that was that. I was outside before my husband had come back with the change and coffee.

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

We then headed to SEGOB. The wait was longer, about 30 minutes, but we passed the time docilely watching dachshund racing on Animal Planet and listening to the drone of this nearly hysterical 50-ish hippie woman who had misplaced her permanent residency card, had it canceled to receive her temporary residency card, then found the card and was begging to to have it reinstated and the 70-ish gentleman who wasn’t sure he wanted to proceed with the permanent residency card because he owned an American vehicle. Soon enough, it was my turn.

The clerk at the entregar documentos window asked what I needed, although he could have gotten that information by looking at the paper I presented. I explained that I was hoping the email where it stated “Se emitió ficio” meant I could get my residency card back. He said he would check in the computer, which he did. Then he went to the filing cabinet and pulled out my file. He had me sign that I have received the oficio and my residency card and I was finished.

This letter had a paragraph of immigration law references, then said that my status had changed from dependent of my husband to being gainfully employed at JJR. My address was wrong and my husband’s name was in lowercase, but I suppose it was official enough.

When we arrived back in Moroleón, I took gave a copy of the letter to my boss and asked about the progress of my application through SEP that had begun nearly a year ago. She looked embarrassed and told me that the woman who received the copies of my documentation at the SEP office in Guanajuato had “lost” them. So when the lawyer representing the school had gone last week to check on my status, it was if I had never applied. My original documents that took me so much effort to have apostilized and translated (See Getting Legal-The Paper Chase and Getting Legal–Perito Traductor) where still in custody of the lawyer and the process of SEP approval will be begun again.

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Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports–Trip 2

U.S.-passport

A few weeks later, I received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The Spanish speaking flunky on the other end of the call informed me that my photograph was unacceptable. Apparently, he judged the background too gray. I suppose my ink was running low when I printed that picture. So he told me I should take a new picture meeting the acceptable size and color guidelines to the consulate within 90 days. I told him I didn’t live near the consulate and asked if there was some other way I could deliver the picture. He told me I could deliver it directly to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City if I liked. Not that we live any closer to Mexico City.

Later that day he sent me an email that outlined the procedure for a name change on my passport. I wrote back asking for clarification of the email since we hadn’t discussed a name change on the phone. He sent another email with an apology and an attachment (all in Spanish) with the requirements for the passport photo. I printed the attachment out and asked again if their was another way I could deliver the photo, like through the mail, rather than making another trip to San Miguel. He didn’t bother to respond.

Since we were going to have to make the trip again, I gathered all my paperwork for working papers together in order to try for a two-for-one deal. I requested a letter of employment from the school secretary and the director stamped and signed it. I dug out the paper that listed the requirements for the change of status through immigration that I had gotten on a previous trip (See Working Papers). I also packed up any documentation that I thought might be requested (my residency card, my birth certificate, my canceled passport, and my marriage certificate). I also sent an email to the U.S. consulate asking if I would need any additional paperwork when I brought the new photo.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

And we were off.  We arrived in SMA and parked in front of Office Depot. My son and I trotted to the consulate and discovered that it was closed on Fridays. The kiosk where I was planning on having my picture taken was also closed on Fridays. Well damn!

Of course, this fact was not found anywhere on the official web site. (See Hours for US embassy offices in Mexico.) So as not to waste the trip, we headed over to the SEGOB office at the other end of town.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

We went to the lawyer’s office next to immigration and I explained what I needed. The secretary filled out the on-line form for me and the lawyer called me into his office. I gave him the letter the school had given me. In the letter, the secretary had written that I would be the English coordinator beginning August 18. As it was only August 15, the lawyer said this would be a problem as I was only to inform immigration AFTER I started working. Since I hadn’t shown the letter to immigration, he said he would write in the letter bajo de protesta decir la verdad (swearing to tell the truth) that I had begun on August 13. He said this wouldn’t be lying since I had attended teacher meetings during the week, but that I shouldn’t present the school employment letter unless asked. He also said the letter was invalid on another point. The director had signed and stamped the letter, but I needed a copy of his IFE (voter registration card) to prove the signature was his. Well, I didn’t have that either. I asked about identification, since my current passport had been canceled and the new passport was waiting on a new photo. The lawyer assured me that the only identification I would be asked for was my permanent residency card.

For the letter and on-line form, it was $210 pesos. I took these two documents, plus my permanent residency card and a copy next door. I took a number and waited less than 5 minutes. I nervously explained what transaction I was applying for and gave the clerk my documents. After he looked them over and stamped them, he told me to check back in 5 days. He printed another document with the web address where I could check on the status of my application and told me that I would receive an email as well. Much to my surprise, he kept my residency card. Back home we went, but wait there’s more!

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Getting Legal–Renewing our U.S. passports in México–Trip 1

passport

It just happened that both my son’s minor U.S. passport and my own U.S. passport were up for renewal within a month of each other. (See Applying for a U.S. passport from outside the United States) Checking online, I discovered that my husband and I would need to go personally to renew my son’s passport and that the office in Morelia no longer processed passports for minors. (See Renewing Passports for minors) Therefore, we would have to go to either Mexico City or San Miguel de Allende. Having been to the U.S. consulate in San Miguel before, we decided to head there.

I printed out passport pictures that I believed met the appropriate qualifications, even using the handy dandy online assistant. (See Passport photos) The size is different from Mexican passport photos. I printed out the appropriate forms and filled out the appropriate parts. I asked for a small advance on my salary to cover the passport and trip expenses. My husband didn’t want to take Myrtle as we are still discovering her quirks and therefore, we gassed up Butch the truck for our trip. (See Getting Legal–License plates). We bought some fruit, packed some sandwiches and filled our water bottles. We even managed to get a verificación (inspection) sticker since we always get stopped in Celaya. (See Getting Legal–Trip 1).

I emailed the consulate in San Miguel de Allende and was told I could have an appointment at 10:30, which would give us plenty of time to get there. Having thought of everything (or so I believed), we were ready to go.

The trip to SMA was completely uneventful. No emergency repairs by the side of the road, no attempts by the policía for mordidas (bribes), we weren’t even stopped in Celaya for a sticker check. Unprecedented! We arrived in SMA and parked in a pensión (enclosed parking lot) and asked direction to the U.S. embassy. We were about 2 blocks away.

The official guard at the parking lot.

The official guard at the parking lot.

So we strolled along, it being well before 9 a.m. We arrived at the building and sat by the pigeons in front of the church. We sat there a few minutes, then doubt began to creep in. What if the office wasn’t where it used to be? What if it was closed for vacation or some other reason? It would be better to go in and see, we reasoned. And well reasoned we were. The office was no longer there. We asked the sales clerk in the store by the front door where the office was. She told us that after having been in that building for years, the office had been moved to the strip mall next to Liverpool.

This is where the U.S. consulate used to be in San Miguel de Allende

This is where the U.S. consulate used to be in San Miguel de Allende

Sitting with the pigeons in front of where the passport office used to be.

Sitting with the pigeons in front of where the passport office used to be.

Umm, ok? No reason for panic. We walked back to the truck and talked to the security guy at the parking lot. He tried to be very helpful (even though he regretfully had to charge us for the full hour of parking) and drew a little map on his hand to help us on our way. The key points in his map were the statue of Pípila where we would go around the glorieta (traffic circle) and the statue of a caballo (horse) which meant we had gone too far.

The statue of Pipila at the glorieta (traffic circle).  Turn right here for the U.S. consulate.  The immigration office SEGOB is left here.

The statue of Pipila at the glorieta (traffic circle). Turn right here for the U.S. consulate. The immigration office SEGOB is left here.

And we were off. It was pretty straight forward. My husband remembered that our first year doing transactions in SMA we had to go to the Bancomer bank at this strip mall to make the immigration payment and he was right. Of course, now there was a Bancomer closer to the immigration office and the strip mall had tripled in size, but it was all good.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

Strip mall where the passport office has been moved to.

Best of all, parking was free. So we got out and asked a security guard where the U.S. Consulate was and we were directed to the food court. I was flabbergasted at the luxuriousness of the area and wanted to stop at Starbucks for a cappuccino just because but my husband said he certainly wasn’t about to pay $30 pesos for a cup of coffee. I had to admit he was right, so we walked on.

Kiosk in front of the U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende.

Kiosk in front of the U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende.

We passed an enterprising kiosk that offered to get your U.S. visa for you. After reading the sign on the consulate wall that said visas could not be applied for there, I had to admit the kiosk was extremely well-situated.

The "new" U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende

The “new” U.S. consulate in San Miguel de Allende

We walked into an area that reminded me of DMV and I jumped in the line. I figured at least I would have to check in, but felt sure that having an appointment would take care of everything. Even though the person at the counter in front of me was speaking in Spanish, when it was my turn, I spoke to the receptionist/secretary in English. I was in the U.S. consulate and by golly, I was gonna use English. I also remembered that the secretary was perfectly fluent in English from our last visit.

She seemed surprised that I had an appointment. Hmm. Well, I explained why I was there and gave her my documentation and then my son’s documentation. She asked whether I would be paying in dollars or pesos. When I told her pesos, she did the currency exchange and gave me a figure I could live with. I paid her and she gave me a number and we sat down to wait.

The ambassador or notary or U.S. representative or whatever he was, arrived at 10. He looked like he was ready for a day at the beach in his guayabera shirt and khakis. It might have casual Tuesday at the office but the secretary was dressed (from what I would see through the window) in formal business wear.

He spared not a greeting for the now crowded waiting room, but passed through in a flash, leaving us to cool our feet. We spent some time looking at an awful painting of a Mexican taxista (taxi driver) looking in a rear view mirror and wondered if the U.S. ambassador painted it himself because surely no one would spend good money on it.

Then he was back and flashed a number at the window. This was the sign that the group with #1 should enter into the side door where he presided much like a bank teller. The door between the waiting room and the teller office did provide some privacy, or so I thought until we saw that the back wall was glass and everyone and their brother could observe the proceedings from the food court.

U.S. consulate privacy wall in San Miguel de Allende.

U.S. consulate privacy wall in San Miguel de Allende.

We were number 9 (so much for making an appointment) and waited about an hour. During that period, we were surprised to see Stifler’s mother and the world’s oldest fairy princess, complete with flowered crown, in the waiting room. But I suppose, everyone needs a passport these days.

Then it was our turn. We entered and swore that the information on the application for my son’s passport was correct. I swore in English and my husband swore in Spanish. We were told that our passports would be sent to us through DHL but that we could pay at the office in Moroleón. If there were any problems, the embassy in Mexico City would call me.

Taking the scenic route through San Miguel de Allende

Taking the scenic route through San Miguel de Allende

And that was that. We left the food court and the parking lot, but leaving SMA was a bit more difficult. We must have missed the road we came in on when we went around the caballo statue because we ended up taking the historic tour of SMA. Then we went one further and got lost yet again in Celaya, adding an additional hour to our travel time.

A typical yonke (junk yard)

A typical yonke (junk yard)

We stopped a a yonke (junk yard) or two in search of parts for Myrtle and even had a little cash left to eat at our favorite roadside buffet in San Pedro. Chiliquiles, nopales, frijolitos y arroz! YUM!

One of the delights in traveling is eating at little roadside stands like this one.

One of the delights in traveling is eating at little roadside stands like this one.

We went to the DHL office in Moroleón and paid the special discount rate of $200 per package a few days later. To our relief, we could pick up the documents at the DHL office since we have no address out in La Yacata. In order to pick up my son’s passport, we would need to bring his birth certificate and photo identification of the parent. I panicked a moment since I would not have my passport, but then read further that I could use my driver’s license as id. Whew! Now nothing to do but sit back and wait.

But of course, things are never so easy here in Mexico.

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We are Educated by Our Intimacies –Otherwise known as what we did this summer

on the path to learning

Sometimes I worry that my son isn’t getting the education he deserves. We live in a rural area, he attends public school but the education system is not the best, we don’t have regular access to the internet or public library etc. But then he surprises me by discovering his passions on his own and I look for ways to enhance his learning along those lines, some formal, some informal.

For instance, this summer my son was able to attend both a music and art class as part of a program I was coordinating for a school. While he didn’t learn to play an instrument in the music class, he did learn to listen. Now two months after the class ended, he still mentions how much he enjoyed it. He has me listen to songs the teacher introduced him to in class and talks about their music, meaning and rhythm.

chalk and pastel drawingcrayon batik

In his art class he learned how to create a chalk pastel and glue drawing, something I never would have thought to teach him. (To see how it’s done–Chalk Pastel and Glue Drawing.)  He also created a crayon batik drawing. Such interesting and fun art techniques!  While I don’t believe he will necessarily become an artist, art is definitely part of a well-rounded education.

cool rock

As for informal learning, we had several geological adventures this summer. (See Las Cuevas en Cerano and Picking Capulines) My son found some incredible rock formations. Our little home library didn’t have much in the way of rock and mineral books, so I sent the pictures via email to an old college buddy who happens to be a geologist. He did an incredible write up, complete with diagrams and highlighted areas, about the pictures.  He sent links to geological studies of our area.  My son was fascinated, also incredibly impressed by my friend’s rock knowledge, and learned something in the process.

food prepcookingfinal result

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son also expressed an interest in learning how to cook this summer. He asked if he could make something by himself, which was ok by me. He spent 2 days leafing through cookbooks until he found a dish that he felt he could make and that we could also find the ingredients for in our local market. He chose spaghetti carbonada.  He asked that I supervise, but not help.  I was happy to oblige. We all enjoyed the result!

 

 

 

hatchetterabitha

Reading has always been an interest of his, however his new phone, and subsequent game downloads, distracted his focus a bit this summer. I had to change my tactics somewhat when I encouraged reading over games. If there was a book I wanted him to read, I would read it through first and he would see me reading it and ask questions. I would only tell him the bare minimum, piquing his curiosity. When I finished the book, I left it in his room, seemingly by accident. Sure enough, he would pick it up and read it, usually in one long Sunday afternoon out with the goats. Two of books that he especially enjoyed this past summer were Bridge to Terabithia and Hatchet.

heron

My son also nursed an injured heron back to health. Our little guest stayed until its wing healed and then was on its way. Take about hands-on experience!

garden 1

Then he wanted to plant a flower garden in a little area that we haven’t had much luck in sowing. Again, he didn’t want any help, just the seeds and spent a happy afternoon planting. Unfortunately, the few plants that did sprout were quickly eaten by escaped chickens. Think it’s time to redesign the chicken area!

in training

He and his young mare Shadow began their joint schooling this summer as well. My husband worked with my son and the two of them began light training for his horse. While they both are up for it, it’s still a long way to Wordsworth’s
‘proud to curb, and eager to spur on, the galloping steed'; and then, the home-coming:––

First day of first grade!

First day of first grade!

First day of Secondaria!

First day of Secondaria!

All too soon, the summer ended and formal schooling began again, this time at what is known here in Mexico as secondaria (secondary). His hours in a structured classroom have increased from 4 to 6 per day. None of us are happy with the current schedule and have looked for alternatives, but have yet to find any that will work for us. Meanwhile, he does enjoy his biology class that is currently learning about the study of genetics (See Goat Genetics) and a woodworking class where so far he has made a complete set of stone-age tools and a doll’s table.

Learning, whether in a formal or informal setting, is essential to growth. It goes without saying that I want my son not just to grow, but to flourish. Sometimes that means creating an atmosphere for learning, and sometimes it means capitalizing on the atmosphere that presents itself. And as Charlotte Mason writes …We know that parents and teachers should know how to make sensible use of a child’s circumstances (atmosphere) to forward his sound education; should train him in the discipline of the habits of the good life; and should nourish his life with ideas, the food upon which personality waxes strong.

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Mexican Independence Day

September is an especially patriotic month for México.
salute
It begins with the commemoration of the Niños Heroes (Boy Heroes) on September 13th. Our little school had “la mañanita Mexicana” on  the 13th (which is also the anniversary of the Congress of Chilpancingo or Anahuac when México declared itself independent from Spain in 1813) and in addition to the typical traditions, honored those cadets that died defending the flag at Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle from invading U.S. forces in during the Mexican–American War in 1847.

In the call and response manner commonly found in the Catholic Church, each teenager’s name was read and the attendees responded with “Murió por la patria”. (He died for our country.)
The Niños Héroes were:
Juan de la Barrera (age 19)
Juan Escutia (age 15–19)
Francisco Márquez (age 13)
Agustín Melgar (age 15–19)
Fernando Montes de Oca (age 15–19)
Vicente Suárez (age 14)
Each town does things a little differently. In Moroleón, in the afternoon on September 14, there is a caminata (mini-parade) of local horsemen from Moroleón to El Ojo del Agua Enmedio (where we go to get our water supply). This year, my husband participated with Beauty.

The tail end of the caminata from Moroleon to Ojo de Agua EnMedio

My husband all ready for the caminata.

My husband all ready for the caminata.

El Grito de Dolores (The Shout from Dolores–a small pueblito where Hidalgo made his call to arms speech) on September 15th, marks official beginning of the Independence day celebration at around 11 p.m. The church bells are rung and the presidente (mayor) of Moroleón recites El Grito (the shout) with attendees responding with “Viva” to indicate their support. independance day
¡Mexicanos! (Mexicans)
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron la patria y libertad!
(Long live the heroes that gave us our liberty)
¡Viva Hidalgo!
(Long live Hidalgo)
¡Viva Morelos!
(Long live Morelos)
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!
(Long live Josefa)
¡Viva Allende!
(Long live Allende)
¡Viva Galena y los Bravos!
(Long live Galena and the Braves)
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
(Long live Aldama and Matamoros)
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!
(Long live national independence)
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!
(Long live Mexico)

The church bells are rung again and the pyrotechnic show begins.

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In Moroleón, there is a civic parade in the morning on September 16. The members of the presidencia (City Hall) lead the march with la reina de Moroleón (sort of like the homecoming queen) and her escort of charros (horsemen) finishing it off.

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The horses, in my opinion the best part, are at the very end so that marchers don’t have to swerve around poop piles. Most of the civil organizations of the town are represented, from the Down Syndrome club to those of the tercer edad (elderly). Students from the secondarias (high school) and tele-universities and their drum and bugle members also march. It makes for a long and tedious procession.

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There is a second parade on either the 27th or 28th of the month to mark the day of the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire which happened September 28, 1821, 10 years after the historic “grito.” I’ve mentioned before, things here in México take much longer than anticipated, including the fight for independence. This parade is open to the primaria (elementary) schools in addition to those that participated in the first parade, therefore an even longer and more tedious procession. Last year my son was chosen to be part of the escolta (honor guard) for his school. As Los Niños Heroes (see above) died defending the flag, in their honor the members of each school’s escolta (honor guard) are the best and brightest with the highest promedio (grade average). Needless to say, I was one proud mama cheering him on!

Each school has an esculta (honor guard) in the parade.

Each school has an esculta (honor guard) in the parade.

The kinders (kindergartens) also have a parade, but it is much shorter. It involves no more than 3 times around the plaza but even that is tiring for little legs.
Dressed as heroes of the fight for Indepedence, the kindergartens also have a parade.
The best part of the parades is the dousing with confetti. Parade marchers that are not honored with the confetti hasta los chonies (all the way to the underwear) experience are those without attentive family or friends in attendance. Bags can be bought for the low, low price of 5 pesos for 2 little bags. I imagine clean up is a drag for the street sweepers though. confetti

If you missed the patriotic events this month, don’t fret. You’ll get another chance in November with the commemoration of the Mexican Revolution!

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If you are interested in learning more about the complicated events surrounding the Mexican fight for independence, you can start by watching Morelos: The Rise of a Hero and Hidalgo La Historia Jamas Contada.

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Filed under Mexican Holidays