Thursday, May 31, 2007

Second half of the semester

Yet again it’s been a long time since I’ve written. I’ll try to fill you all in on my life this second semester before I head off to Puerto Rico in a week and a half. It looks like the last time I wrote I was getting over my sickness that landed me in the hospital. Fortunately, things have much improved since then, though this semester has offered more ups and downs than the last one. I’ll see if I can remember at least the most important events of the semester.

Right before our spring break, our program hosted a literature conference called “Palabra y Género” or “Word and Gender.” I wasn’t involved in the planning due to a large amount of physics homework right at that time, but I did enjoy going to several of the events. Elena Poniatowski came to speak at the opening of the conference, and for those who know about literature in Spanish, that was really exciting. I didn’t know much about her beforehand, but I enjoyed her speech and am now trying to read one of her books, though I admit I’ve started others without finishing hers. Another highlight of the conference, this one being big even for me, was that Sandra Cisneros, a chicana writer, came to read from her books and answer questions. That was truly fabulous! I hope to get my hands on the book from which she read. It sounded fabulous! The most amazing part about her coming was that we invited her to come out to dance with us, thinking for sure she’d say no. To our surprise, she said she’d love to!! We organized an outing to a bar/dance club and had a fabulous time dancing the night way with Sandra Cisneros. It was pretty incredible.

Merilie and I with Sandra Cisneros dancing in the background (in black).

After a huge push at school came our glorious spring break: two and a half weeks of vacation (well, it was vacation most of the time). During the first week I went to Oaxaca with most of the girls from Smith. We first went a quiet, funky beach called Zipolite, where we paid $6 a night to stay in a simple hotel on the beach and about $8 a day to eat/drink.

Me on a cliff over looking the beach.

It was fabulous. The ocean was beautiful, though the waves were a bit too big to really be able to swim.

The beach and huge waves

We had hammocks in which to relax when the sun got too hot, and there weren’t too many people. The food was also delicious. We took a 5-hour boat tour (for about $20) to see marine life and got to swim with a sea turtle, snorkel and see TONS of dolphins and two whales. It was pretty amazing.

Swimming after snorkeling on our boat tour.

After a few days at the beach, we headed to Oaxaca City where we stayed at the house of a friend of ours from our history class.

My Smith friend, Merilie, our Mexican friend, Elizabeth, and I in the zócalo of Oaxaca.

We cooked our own food, which required us to buy supplies at several food markets, always an experience in Mexico. Wandering around Oaxaca took us into several churches and to a chocolate shop… multiple times. Oaxaca is famous for their chocolate and in the store they actually make the chocolate before your very eyes. It was neat to see them measure out the quantities of cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, almonds, and other ingredients to make the type of chocolate the customers request and then to see them actually grind everything up and make the chocolate.

The ingredients for a batch of chocolate.

Making the chocolate.

We also visited two ruins sites, Mitla and Monte Alban, went to see odd cliffs whose faces were long ago worn away by water from cold natural springs so that today the rocks look like waterfalls, and tried lots of mescal, the local alcoholic beverage made from cactus.

Our little Smith group at Monte Alban: Hayley, Lauren, me, Merilie, and Meara.

After a week in the state of Oaxaca, I left my friends and went to Mexico City. Ben (my brother) flew in to Mexico and our adventures began. He was here for about a week. We started off in Mexico City. Gerardo and Julio took me to the airport to pick up Ben. The first day we bummed around Coyoacán, a nice area of Mexico City that used to be its own little town. It’s known for having been and being the home to artists in Mexico. We visited the Frida Kahlo museum at Ben’s request, danced to some drummers, watched a clown do his act for quite some time, and drank delicious cold chocolate. We also visited downtown Mexico City, seeing the main attractions that were still open late in the day. At night we drove back to Puebla to Gerardo’s house in Chipilo.

We woke up on Saturday for the “Saturday of Glory” celebrations in Chipilo. Saturday of Glory is the day before Easter and in Chipilo the townspeople still practice the old Mexican tradition of throwing water on each other on this day. In most parts of Mexico, this is now banned because it’s a waste of water, but somehow in Chipilo, the tradition lives. I think it once had something to do with cleansing, but today it seems everyone’s forgotten the original significance. In Chipilo the tradition has morphed into a huge town-wide water fight that lasts for hours. It’s a day you can’t go outside in Chipilo without getting wet and the more important the person is in the town, the more determined people are to soak them. No one, not even the priest, is safe. And poor unsuspecting passer-byers, such as bicyclists, are in for quite the surprise when young people with buckets of water surround them and mercilessly drench them. Ben, Julio, Gerardo and I had a blast dowsing each other and the rest of the town with water and receiving the same treatment from everyone else.

On Easter, we played Chipilo’s traditional egg rolling game with a group of older women. It’s similar to marbles. You roll brightly decorated, hardboiled eggs down a ramp constructed from a clay roof tile. The object is to hit the other eggs that have already been rolled. If you succeed, you take both eggs and can roll again. It’s really quite the strategy came, as we discovered. You have to pay attention to how each egg rolls to know which one to select after the first round in order to hit your target. Neither Ben or I were any good at the game, but some of the older women were. Everyone got into the game, shouting and cheering, which made everything more fun.

Afterwards, we mounted bicycles to ride to Cholula. There Ben and I visited the pyramid and the church on top of it while Julio and Gerardo rested in the shade, guarding the bicycles. We went to the zócalo to eat the typical Mexican snacks of potato chips with hot sauce and sorbet-like ice cream of odd Mexican flavors. After watching the sunset over the alfalfa fields and volcanoes, Ben and I headed back to my house in Puebla.

We spent Monday trekking around Puebla, seeing the sights, and then had a delicious meal of mole poblana that my host mother prepared. Tuesday brought a real treat when Gerardo, Ben and I hiked up la Malinche, the hikeable volcano on the edge of the Puebla valley. The Malinche is 14,639 feet high. It is the highest mountain I’ve climbed and was great fun to hike, though Gerardo got blisters on the way down. The weather was fabulous. The sky was clear and the temperature perfect. We could see all three of the other volcanoes that mark the boundaries of the valley, including the Pico de Orizaba, which I’ve only seen once from Puebla. The only bad thing, besides Gerardo’s blisters, was that we forgot the camera. What a bummer. Oh well, we all have the pictures in our brains, which will just have to be enough.

We spent the last day in Mexico City, visiting Ben’s college friends, Tim and Alana. They’ve opened a fashion store in one of the ritzy neighborhoods in the city which we got to see. After work, they took us to their large house in Coyoacán and we spent a pleasant evening there.

(Note: Ben took all the pictures during his visit and has yet to pass them on to me, so I unfortunately, don't have any to put here)

After Ben left, I had to get down to work. Our modern physics professor left us a monster take-home exam to work on during break. I managed to squeeze in a couple days of work around Gerardo’s birthday, which also fell on the last weekend of vacation. When it came time to turn in the exam, I was ready to be rid of it, but hadn’t finished all of the problems. The exam didn’t end as scheduled because the professor extended the deadline and then didn’t come to class on the new deadline. All of this gave us more time to work, which meant we all finished more of the problems, but it also made my life 100 times more stressful. The exam ate all my free time and was constantly on my mind. I, along with the rest of my class, didn’t study as much or as well as I should have for an exam in another class because of the modern physics exam. This resulted in an extension to finish the second exam. That meant more time stressing about physics, which was less than desirable. When the exams finally finished I was exhausted and burnt out on physics for the semester, but still faced another three weeks of school. Yuck.

Fortunately we had a program trip to Guanajuato to help shake my mind from physics. It was the first time the program had taken a trip there, so we had free time almost the entire weekend.

My two best friends, Lauren and Merilie, and I at a look-out point over the city.

Guanajuato is an interesting place. It is an old mining town and the Spaniards and later the mestizos got quite rich from the mines. The layout of the city is different from any other. There isn’t much space above ground for roads, so most of the large arteries of the city are underground in old mining tunnels or newly built tunnels specifically for the roads.

Some of the tunnels.

It’s a very pretty town, with winding streets, colorful buildings, and lots of small parks and plazas.

Merilie and Abby in a little park.

It’s also famous for its mummies. Bodies that are buried in Guanajuato are mummified in a matter of years (5, I think) due to the lack of oxygen and the composition of the rocks (or something like that, I didn’t really understand very well how it happens). Anyway, their bodies are preserved almost exactly as they were buried. There is a lack of space in the Guanajuato cemetery. If families can’t pay for the upkeep of their family member’s tomb, the government removes the mummified body from the cemetery. The family has a certain amount of time to claim the body. If they don’t the government decides whether to cremate the body or to put it in the mummy museum. It was pretty weird to go and see all the mummified bodies. The strangest ones were those that still had their clothes on. It was odd to see a body in clothing from decades ago.

One of the older mummies with his clothes still on.

Another highlight of the Guanajuato trip was an evening stroll with minstrels, which is also a Guanajuato tradition.

The minstrels.

Upon our return from Guanajuato, I had to write several papers to finish off my international relations classes, which for some reason, always end two weeks before the official end of the semester.

My parents arrived the first week of May. We had a nice, though short, visit. Between my remaining classes and an exam, we went around Puebla, had some nice meals, visited Cholula and Chipilo, and they met my host family and some of my friends.

Julio, Gerardo and I in front of a church outside Puebla during my parents' visit.

We also saw the 5 de mayo parade in Puebla. Puebla was the site of the famous battle between the French forces and the Mexican peasants during the French Intervention in the 19th century. Puebla is named “Heroic Puebla” because they managed to beat the French in the battle. It was one victory for Mexico in a line of defeats as France took control of Mexico. The parade was huge and lasted for hours. First came the military forces of all types, followed by tanks and other military vehicles. Then came the schools, thousands of students and teachers marching. Each school had their own marching band, flag or tambourine girls, and float celebrating some moment or place in Puebla’s history. After the schools came all the medical rescue teams, the ambulances, the water rescue crews, the wilderness rescue crews, etc. Finally, to end the parade were probably about a hundred men and women on horses in the traditional charros costume of Mexico.

Photos of the parade:

Men dressed as Puebla peasants to represent those who came to fight against the French.

Representation of the French forces.

Some modern military brigade.

Tambourine girls.

A float commemorating a famous family of Poblana revolutionaries in the Mexican revolution.

A marching band.

A clown type figure.

A cowboy in a the charros costume.

Women on horseback in the traditional "china poblana" costume from Puebla.

The last couple weeks of school proved to be a combination of stress about my physics classes and having fun at end-of-the-year events. We had a pool party at the small, sulfur-spring fed water park a block from my house.

At the pool party.

Cooking hotdogs at the pool party.

We also had the end-of-the-year program party with mariachis, a dance performance by the students in the folkloric dance class, a dinner, and dancing to a live band.

Folkloric dance.

me, Max, and Lauren, the three students that stayed for the year.

Corinne, the assistant to the director, and I.

My host parents and I.

My friend Merilie’s parents came to visit in the last weeks and Gerardo and I accompanied them around Chipilo and on a trip to Atlixco.

A flour in a greenhouse in Atlixco; the town is famous for its temporate climate and beautiful flowers

Gerardo and I in the zócalo of Atlixco.

School finally ended, and to my surprise, I did fine in both my physics classes.

The last official day of classes, my friend Meara and I left for a 10-day trip to the Yucatan Peninsula. We visited Campeche, Mérida, Valladolid, Holbox Island, Tulum, Cancun, and the ruins of Chichin Itza,.

Campeche is a quiet, small town on the gulf. It was one of the first Spanish settlements in the peninsula. After many pirate attacks, the government finally built a huge wall around the city. It was cool to climb up the towers around the wall. We also witnessed a catholic revival at the cathedral and watched as two men put caulking on the church towers. One climbed up with a harness and a rope and the other stood in the bell tower and handed things down to the hanging man. It was a usual thing to see. Another joy in Campeche was seeing the sun set over the gulf, watching it slip slowly away into the blue.

Sunset over the gulf

Me at fort looking over gulf in Campeche.

Zócalo of Campeche at night.

Mérida actually turned out to be less interesting than we’d hoped. It was beautiful, no doubt about that, with tons of grand old mansions along a nicely restored avenue. It also had delicious sorbet and sorbet and milk floats. However, it didn’t seem to warrant the two days we’d planned to spend there, so we moved on early to Valladolid.

Beautiful mansion in Mérida.

We spent the first evening exploring the little town. We went to an old monastery and read a notice about a conflict over a cenote, a natural cave filled with water formed by fractures around the crater from the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs. The cenote in question is under the monastery, the adjacent road, and a private home. Apparently the owner of the private home had blown a hole in the ground to access the cenote and was setting up lines for scuba diving. The owner didn’t have permission to do it and the local agency for protecting the cenotes wasn’t doing anything. Interesting.

We visited the Chichin Itza ruins in the morning the next day. We were surprised by how much we liked them; we thought our interest in ruins had been about spent from all the ones we’ve seen this year. However, it was actually really neat. The site has more surviving stone carvings than most and is just really BIG.

Me in front of the main pyramid in Chichin Itza.

A really building totally covered in cool carvings.

A HUGE lizard in Chichin Itza. We saw lizards of all sizes all over the place in the peninsula.

After getting all hot and sweaty in the almost-summer Yucatan weather, we rented bikes and rode to an underground cenote outside of Valladolid. It was weird to be swimming in clear water in a cave among stalactites. Not an experience I’ve had before.

Meara and I in the cave of the cenote.

Our next stop was the Island Holbox, at the tip of the Yucatan, just barely still on the Gulf. We witnessed two beautiful sunsets over the water and spend our two days lazing around on the beach. The sand was white and fine like flour. The water was incredible. It was lukewarm and a lovely blue green. The waves were gentle, especially in the mornings when they were almost inexistent. We could walk into the water for a LONG way without having the water over our heads. In fact, we never did go in far enough to not be able to stand. It seemed like too much walking! The beach was also totally covered in shells. I’ve never seen so many shells in my life. It was fun walking along looking for treasures and I actually found quite a few nice, intact shells.

Shells on beach of Holbox Island

Fisherman feeding unwanted fish to birds at Holbox.

After a long day in the bus, we arrived in Tulum, south of Cancun on the Caribbean. It was my first view of the Caribbean Sea and it was beautiful! The water was a light blue, and again the sand was white and the waves gentle, though not as small as on the island. We stayed in a cabin with a sand floor and hammocks for sleeping. The first night was a bit rough as we were getting used to the hammocks and because we didn’t think to put on bug spray. The next night we were careful to cover ourselves as much as possible and spray ourselves down. I slept much better.

My first view of the Caribbean with our cabin on the beach below.

Meara and I on the beach in Tulum.

We visited the ruins of Tulum, which astonished us with their groomed grounds and American-museum-like signs. These ruins are definitely more visited than many we’ve been to, we assumed for their closeness to Cancun. The archeological site is small and the ruins themselves aren’t very impressive compared to others in Mexico. The beautiful part is that they’re on a cliff next to the sea. They were abandoned 75 years after the Spanish arrived on the peninsula, which makes them different from other Mayan ruins. It was kind of incredible to think of the Spanish explorers sailing by and seeing this walled city on the cliff, brightly painted and with fires in the watchtowers.

Me at the ruins of Tulum.

Besides visiting the ruins, we spent a lot of time on the beach and jumping waves. We also ate some delicious international meals: one of homemade pasta with a delicious 3-cheese sauce and homemade bread and another of crepes filled with goat’s cheese and spinach. Yum!

We spent our last night in Cancun because we were to fly back to Puebla from there. We got the taste we wanted of the place without overdoing it. We took a bus ride through the ridiculously ritzy and commercial hotel zone, got off just long enough to take a peep at the ocean, and then got back on to go back to our hotel in the center of town. The ocean was an incredible light blue, but the waves looked too rough to swim comfortably and the beach space was highly restricted by the hotels. The most incredible part of Cancun was the price for the hotels. We saw some that cost $360 a night. I’m sure there are others that are less expensive and probably others that are even more expensive. Crazy! We entertained ourselves by having a tasty organic dinner and watching the Mexican soccer finals between Pachuca and America. Pachuca won to my delight!

Now I’m back in Puebla, trying to get things in order to leave Mexico. This weekend Gerardo and I are going to the beach in Oaxaca to spend a week together and when I get back I’ll only have a day or so before leaving Mexico. I’ve been saying good-bye one-by-one to my various groups of friends.

My friends from my math class last semester: Carlos, Bob, and Luis Daniel

The office staff: Poly, the secretary, Patricia, the director, and Corinne, the director's assistant.

Lauren, my track coach Miguel, and I

Yesterday I had to say good-bye to my best friends from physics. Some promise they’ll come visit and the others say I’ll either have to come back or they’ll have to learn to swim well in order to cross the river to the States. Hopefully I’ll come back to see them before too long.

My best friends from physics: Adriana, (me), Claudia, Lorena, Carlos

As always, I’m excited for the next stage of live, but am sad to leave this one behind. Next time you hear from me, I’ll probably be in Puerto Rico!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

summer plans & three-day weekends

So the biggest news of the month is that I finally decided what to do this summer. I sent an email about this, so most of you have probably already heard, but just in case, here’s the scoop:

I applied to 10 astronomy research programs in the states and found two positions here in Mexico. Six of the US programs, three of which were national observatories (!!), accepted me in the first two weeks of March.

I've decided to go to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. I'm very excited to work at the radio observatory, surrounded by professional astronomers in the jungle of Puerto Rico. It should be an experience of a lifetime!

The radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory. (photo from the Arecibo webpage:

I’ll be working with two professors on the following project:


The project will be to reduce neutral hydrogen data taken in the Taurus region of the Zone of Avoidance survey for galaxies behind the galactic plane and to search for galaxies in the data. Galaxies that are found will then be analyzed and cross-checked with existing catalogues through tools such as NED and the Virtual Observatory to see if they are new discoveries or previously known galaxies, and if the latter what is known about them. Optical and infrared surveys of the region will be examined to see if they give further information on the galaxies found, and galaxies properties will be cross-correlated to see what trends emerge.

Here is the PROGRAM DESCRIPTION we were sent:

We have made offers for 10 student positions at this time, of which 1 or 2 will be graduate students rather than REU per se. In addition, there are often a few other students from Puerto Rico universities that work on site outside the REU program. Housing is available at the observatory, complete with kitchenettes to prepare your own meals. Shopping trips into town will be organized, along with some weekend activities. There are regular seminars on a wide range of scientific research topics pursued at the observatory.

The Arecibo Observatory is set in tropical forest, limestone karst country, and is approached by a winding road along a valley between small conical hills. These isolate the site from radio frequency interference from domestic appliances, and much of that generated by population centers: a necessary protection for a radio observatory to function. The nearest residential area is 10 minutes away by car; the nearest town (Arecibo) about half an hour away.

Most REU students opt to stay on site, in Observatory visiting scientist's quarters (VSQ) accommodation. This provides them with the same experience as visiting observers to the site. You should think of an Arecibo REU internship as being a sample of the life led by a radio astronomer when he or she visits the site. Other examples of on-location REU experiences are (i) one run from the University of Puerto Rico for botanists in the jungle reserve of El Yunque, where students live in a typical base-camp for botanists on-location; and (ii) the program run at the US optical observatory of Cerro Tololo in the Andes, where conditions are broadly similar to those at Arecibo, but more isolated.

There are consequences. An Arecibo internship offers a lot of scope for a serious student to dig in to a project, and see what they can make of it. Many of our students are in their third year, and so may also use part of their time in the evening preparing for grad school exams. The point here
is that the Arecibo Observatory is not in an urban setting, and is not primarily setup to cater to students per se or to provide them with entertainment: it is a working facility for observers and engineers. And some of these will pass through the Observatory during the summer, and a few may offer talks.

We are aware that most students will be younger than 25, and so find it difficult to rent a car, which means that they cannot move freely about the island. At present (for the first time during an REU summer) the on-site cafeteria is not likely to be open on weekends, and may offer only a limited dinner service. Students may then need to use the kitchenettes in the VSQ to prepare meals. Some shopping trips will be arranged every week for necessities. We will also organize or facilitate an event about every other weekend to allow students to get away from the Observatory, and sample the life and sights of Puerto Rico. The students every year have some choice about these activities, and can, in addition make their own separate arrangements.

For example: many past groups of students have bonded together to share their summer at Arecibo. This has often resulted in many of them deciding to use their time in PR to get scuba diving certification, as there are accessible coral reefs at several comparatively nearby locations.
Their summer is then completed by a three-day diving trip to the nearby, unpopulated island of Mona. That is often the social highlight of the REU summer.

If you want to learn more about the Arecibo Observatory, check out their homepage at

Some of the TRIPS planned for this summer are:

- Visit to Culebra Island and its famous Flamenco beach, one of the most beautiful in the world,
- Visit to El Yunque, a tropical rainforest that is pretty much as it was before Columbus. This involves several hours of hiking, and swimming near beautiful waterfalls,
- Visit to the beautiful Camuy caves, where we can appreciate the underground river system of Puerto Rico
- Visit to Vieques Island, and its bioluminescent bay. If you swim there at night, the water glows. It is an amazing thing.
- Go to the great beaches of the Guanica dry forest and Cabo Rojo
- Visit Old San Juan, with all is nice Spanish architecture, cultural activities and (if you like it) great dancing places.

In addition to all of these perks, the REU program will pay me $4,500 USD for the ten-week internship (minus the $625 for housing and whatever I spend on food) and provide me with a plane ticket to and from Puerto Rico.

This is an amazing deal for the US, but comparing it to people’s opportunities in Mexico, puts a whole new perspective on it. The pay is unreal in Mexican terms. With the money from the summer and the money I’ll make during the school year next year doing work-study, I’ll make more money than an educated, Mexican adult with good salary. As an undergraduate student, I’m going to earn about what my university professors here earn in a year!! It’s incredible the huge difference in incomes in the US and in Mexico! Just to add a bit more to the idea, in my history class a couple weeks ago, we were discussing the minimum wage here in Mexico. We learned that it is close to $5 USD a day for a 10-hour day and many employers don’t pay the minimum. This means that a Mexican worker being paid the minimum wage, which is more than many receive, is making less money in a DAY than a US worker makes in an HOUR. That’s incredible! It’s true food and commodities are less expensive here, but not more than 10 times less!

With this perspective, it’s easy to see why so many Mexicans immigrate to the U.S. Even if the employers in the states don’t pay them as well as a U.S. worker, they’re still going to make a lot more than they would in Mexico. Building a wall or increasing border control isn’t going to change this situation; it’s not going to control immigration. If we really want to curb Mexican immigration into the states, we need to do something to improve the lives of the people in Mexico, help their country grow so they have good opportunities here to prosper and more forward. That’s the only way we’re going to stop them from going to the US in such large numbers!

* * *

In other news, the season of breaks from school is starting here. Last weekend we had a three-day weekend due to the university workers’ day. This weekend is another three-day weekend. We get money off to celebrate the day the Mexican government took the petroleum industry out of foreign hands and made it a government business.

Last weekend I thoroughly enjoyed the long weekend. On Saturday, Gerardo and I went for a LONG bike ride. We rode for about two hours to a small waterfall. We did the trip back in an hour and a half, pedaling really hard at some points. We arrived exhausted at his house. After a short nap and dinner we went to visit our friend Lauren who had just gotten back from Acapulco. Afterwards, somehow, we had enough energy to go out to dance for about an hour.

Sunday we went with Gerardo’s parents to Tepoztlán, a small town near Cuernavaca in the state of Morelos. Tepoztlán is situated among craggy mountains and is still quite a green area; somehow it’s been saved by the deforestation that has taken place in almost all of central Mexico.

My favorite tree in Mexico, called jacaranda. I love the purple of its blossoms.

The highlights of the town were wandering the Sunday market and, the biggest highlight, climbing one of the mountains to arrive at a small pyramid at the top.

The mountain seen from the the town below. You can just make out the pyramid on top. It looks like a small white box on the left side where the ridge dips down and levels off.

The hike to the top took Gerardo and I about 45 minutes (we heard it would take about an hour unless we were young and fit, so we were pleased to do it in less). It was basically like climbing stairs for 45 minutes. When we arrived at the top, we had a beautiful view of the valley and surrounding mountains.

The view from the top of the mountain.

The pyramid was small, but still impressive due to its location.

Me on the pyramid.

Me on top of the mountain with the pyramid behind me.

Gerardo’s father also hiked up. His mother started to but after about fifteen minutes, she decided to stay behind. While Gerardo and I fiddled with our backpack and tried to decide what to leave with his mom, his father went on ahead. I think we were with his mom about 10 minutes before starting up again ourselves. The whole way up we were passing people, not a single person passed us, but we never caught up to his dad. When we arrived at the top, his dad was there waiting on top of the pyramid. He said he’d been there for a bit. He must have hiked just as fast or faster than we did! We were impressed…and glad he’d started first so we were saved the possible embarrassment of him leaving us behind in the hike.

This three-day weekend hasn’t been nearly as fun. I woke up Friday with a fever of 100.4. I didn’t go to any classes and spent the day in bed taking Tylenol and drinking lots of fluids. My fever didn’t go down all day, fluctuating between about 100 and 102.5. At night it reached 103.4 and I decided I’d better go to the hospital. It was the first time I’ve had to go to the emergency room for a fever and only the second time in my life I’ve been for me (the first time was when I had appendicitis in high school). It wasn’t a bad experience, but I still hope I never have to do it again. We got to the emergency room, they took my temperature, did a quick check up, took a blood sample, and immediately hooked me up to an IV with antibiotics. I was there for about three hours, with an IV in my arm and a cold towel on my head, waiting for my fever to come down and for the results to come back from the test. They let me go at about midnight. In three hours my fever came down from more than 103 F to normal, thanks to the antibiotics and fluids they pumped into me. I learned I had a serious throat infection and a urinary tract infection. I was sent home with antibiotics and a fever reducer, in case my fever came up again.

I woke up Saturday feeling much better. I was congested and had more of a cough than before, but hardly had any fever and the whole-body-ache from the day before, especially strong in my head and neck, was gone. I spent the day sleeping, watching movies, and relaxing. A couple friends came to visit, which was nice. We also have two Smith girls staying in the house this week on a visit. They were here last year and are back for their spring break and a conference we’re hosting at the end of the week. I haven’t spent much time with them, but they seem nice enough.

I think the rest of the weekend is going to be spent pretty much in bed, trying to recuperate. Tonight several of the girls in the program have a folkloric dance performance, so I’m planning to go see that. It may be my only excursion all weekend. I’m trying to take advantage of the time in bed, while I’m awake with energy, to do little things I haven’t gotten around to, such as writing in the blog, filing my taxes, etc. Now that the worst is past, it’s not so bad I guess. It’s lucky I have a three-day weekend to recuperate.