Tag Archive: humour


‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello! Admittedly, this was a while ago, but here’s the story about my second (and final?) run-in with the Mexican police. My experience this time was very different to what happened the last time. This vlog includes some video footage of what happened at the time. And yes, it did end up with us being escorted somewhere.

Enjoy! 🙂

Hi! Welcome back, guys and Happy New Year! In this episode, I talk about my experience with Mexican flirting rituals that I’ve experienced… before I met my boyfriend ;-D. This is episode is actually entitled, ‘Mexican Men, part 1: So do you have a Mexican boyfriend?’ But that’s a rather long title, wouldn’t you say? Even so, in this vlog, I’m just mainly recounting some stories about some things that my friend and I have experienced in Mexico, so this pretty much specifically relates to me. However, if you’ve been in this situation in Mexico, then you may recognise some of the phrases.

More general information about Mexican flirting/dating rituals will be given at a later date, in Mexican Men, part 2. Enjoy, folks! 😉

 

Sea Lions

Hellooooo!!! This vlog is about my snorkelling trip to San Pedro Island to see sea lions! I also talk a lot about my sea sickness, fun times. Just click on the picture to watch it. Enjoy!

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************************UPDATE********************

My friend, Martin, alerted me to two pieces of information that I missed out. So thanks Martin for letting me know.

So firstly, apparently, I don’t suffer from sea sickness; I suffer from motion sickness.

Secondly, (now this is apparently “the best” part of the story) while I was sick and generally feeling sorry for myself, I was lying down on the boat by the water’s edge. Then suddenly somebody popped up from the underneath the water. It was Martin (Mar-teen in Spanish). “Hi Monique,” he boomed energetically. He asked me if I was ok. “I’m ok, I’m just feeling…” Then I couldn’t finish my sentence. I vomited right in front of him. Nice. The end. I didn’t even remember that happening, to be honest. I was just pretty zoned out. Who knows what other golden nuggets of information I missed out just because I was sick. Oh well.

My first weekend!

My first weekend in Mexico was pretty eventful. I met up with the school’s other English teachers, Martin and Sara, who were already there and we decided to go out. Someone who works at the school, Gloria, very kindly and warmly invited us to her house so that we could all go together to a beachside restaurant/club called La Salsa in San Carlos, Guaymas.

La Salsa, which is about a 20-30 minute drive from central Guaymas, is a very popular place to go out at the moment in the area; one Mexican described it to me as a “boom place”. I later discovered that there aren’t actually that many places to go out where I am, and that Friday nights are pretty low-key with the locals, but I don’t really like going out on Friday’s, so that actually suits me just fine.

“This place didn’t exist about 10 years ago or so,” muses Gloria’s husband, Adan. He told us that there was nothing on the beach front where La Salsa now stands, and that he went to that beach most weekends with a friend and there was hardly anyone on there. They started to invite people to come with them and have parties there, then those people invited other people, and then it just kind of snowballed from there.

What I quickly discovered once I arrived in Guaymas is how little information there is on the internet about events and activities that take place there. For example, I had been searching high and low online for a capoeira club in Guaymas, among other things, and had been coming up with absolutely nothing. All that kind of information is usually spread by word of mouth through your connections.

“What sports do you guys like to do?”Adan asked the three of us. For each activity, his response was, “ Well, I have a friend who…” and then bingo, the connection was made, for most of us.

The night out in La Salsa was so much fun and was a great way to celebrate my move to the country; Mexicans definitely know how to have a good time! And instead of having a kebab, or something similar, as post-club food, Gloria and Adan took us back to their house and gave us some homemade tacos, which were bloomin’ awesome!

       

The next day, we spent the day at the beach, which was bliss, despite the fact that there were quite a few rocks and shells on the beach. This was because a couple of weeks before, the area was affected by a hurricane. This was the same hurricane the my manager alerted me about before I came, which sent me into panic-mode before I arrived, but it had obviously impacted San Carlos more than it had central Guaymas.

      

      

On Sunday, we went snorkelling. I was nervous about going snorkeling anyway. What made it a thousand times worse was the fact that I read that there was a hurricane in the area. Being out on the open sea with the storm was definitely the last place I wanted to be.

We arrived at the boat rental shop, and the owner said that they would have to turn the boat around while we were out there if the storm got any closer to our location. I was petrified of the storm, I was terrified about swimming, I was anxious about snorkeling for the first time; it was just all too much for little old me and I began to have heart palpitations! However, upon hearing about the nearby storm, Sara squealed and said: “Cooool, a hurricane!!!!” Gulp!

“Does everyone know you can’t swim yet?” a friend so helpfully asked via WhatsApp. I can actually swim, I’m just not a strong swimmer, but I assured him that I had told them that and I thanked him for his encouragement.

I was panicking and I unintentionally made my friend worry by mentioning the storm through a WhatsApp message and then leaving my phone in my bag, without relaying a message back that everything was actually ok.

As it turned out, as with most of my fears, the storm didn’t come anywhere near us, thank God!! So that was one less thing to worry about. However, I was still apprehensive about swimming.

We arrived at our location and Sara and Martin effortless jumped into the water and began to happily swim around the cove. Even though I had a life jacket on, I was too paralysed by fear to jump into the water. In my head, there were too many things to remember: spit on the googles then wash them in the sea so that they didn’t fog up, jump into the water a certain way so that the flippers don’t come off, jump in without putting the mouth guzzle into my mouth and then position it into my mouth once I had surfaced – it was just all too much!! So I just stood on the edge of the boat for what must have been an eternity. The two crew members tried to count me in so many times that they just gave up in the end, laughed so hard at me and went about their boat duties. To be honest I really don’t blame them, I must have been a pathetic sight. I’m pretty sure I saw one of them get out his camera phone to take a picture of me, but he denied it when I asked him to send me the photo.

I eventually plucked up the courage to jump in. Ok, so I actually slid into the water from a seated position at the edge of the boat, but that was a proud moment for me, even if it didn’t look so graceful. I initially panicked with the whole breathing-through-the-snorkel malarkey, but once I calmed down I actually genuinely loved it, even though the picture of us in the water below, which was taken at the end, tells a different story. The water was so clear and I could see a variety of fish. The boat crew even had to call me a few times to swim back to the boat as I didn’t really want to leave. It was such a great experience and it was definitely something that I wanted to do again!

From that day, we made a pact to do something active every weekend… It hasn’t quite turned out the way that we hoped, though. Us English teachers aren’t quite paid enough to have that kind of luxurious lifestyle; but we initially gave it our best shot!

         

Let’s talk about Alba…

Hey guys!

So here’s my latest Vlog on my experience in Mexico. This episode is about my landlady, “la jefa/the boss”.

Enjoy! 🙂

First steps

My first day of school got off to a brilliant start on Monday morning. Either I was too jetlagged to hear my phone alarm, or it didn’t go off at all; maybe it was more the former rather than the latter. Either way, I woke up the time I was supposed to be there, so I was in panic mode.

I got washed and ready in record-breaking time and power walked all the way to the school. Well, almost all the way as I quickly discovered that it definitely was not power walking weather; I was sweating bucket loads!

Once at the school with my sweaty self, I was given some time to acquaint myself with my classroom. Now remember this; it was completely bare. No materials, no books, nada.

    

    

This was definitely in stark contrast to the neighbouring classrooms with their appealing, colourful and thoughtful displays and lay outs. I was given a while to read through a load of rules and regulations.

‘I really have a lot of work to do,’ I thought to myself.

Then entered Elsa with her beaming smile. She answered the many questions that I had.

“Right,” she said, “are you ready to start with your kids tomorrow?”

‘What?’ I screamed in my head. I did not feel comfortable teaching at all, not in the slightest and my classroom hardly encouraged the kids to want to learn English. That question was starting to become a regular occurrence. And I’d later find out that I would ask that question on at least a weekly basis.

In the end, I was given an extra day to decorate my classroom and to familiarize myself with the children’s syllabus. I can just about draw a stick man, much less make a variety of art displays for a classroom, so that was a huge challenge for me, but I was quite proud of my efforts in the end. Even though I was given an extra day, I still didn’t feel ready. Nevertheless, the next day was show time, regardless.

The first day with my first, second and third grade kids was quite nerve-racking, but it was a lot of fun. I was introduced to them in Spanish, I guess to make sure that they behaved. I distinctly remember their beaming faces and how quiet they were as they listened intently to Elsa’s every word. And I definitely remember how quickly that stillness disappeared by the end of the week!

Anyway, so I had them for one period instead of the timetabled two, so that we could get to know each other through games and activities. They loved the games – score! And they were angels, well in the first lesson anyway, but that declined a bit (ok, quite a bit) during the second week.

But anyway, as I was told not to follow any curriculum for the rest of my first week, it was a little difficult to just think of games and activities to keep them occupied for the time that I had them. It definitely is a lot harder than it seems, believe me, but I managed it in the end.

It was over the following week where I had to be a lot more creative with my activities and displays, because of a distinct lack of resources…

‘Ello, ‘ello!

I thought I should start doing some Vlogging while I’m out in Mexico as well, so here’s the first of what I hope to be quite a few.

Enjoy!

Monique 🙂

 

My epic journey

Phew! So after a very hectic and action-packed few weeks, I finally have enough time to pen my thoughts and to let you know that I’ve arrived safely in Mexico – huzzah!!

For those of you who know the story, I stupidly thought it would be a brilliant idea to finish work, including having work leaving drinks, on Friday 26th September and to fly to Mexico the very next day. Considering all the things that were going on in the background with my visa etc., I thought it would be best not to delay since I should have been in Mexico about a month beforehand.

Even though I packed my suitcases a week early (that was a huge feat for me, so I’m patting myself on the back right now) I didn’t quite factor in how much of my life I would be able to pack into two suitcases weighing no more than 23kg each. As you can probably guess, I didn’t quite manage to do that despite my best efforts even up until the airport car park, and I had to pay an extra £60-odd British whole pounds for the pleasure of having 7kg worth of overweight bags.

After saying my goodbyes to my family and friends, I jetted off on my 20-odd hour journey to Mexico. At around £800 (not including paying for extra luggage and for my overweight bags), I chose to fly with AeroMéxico – the cheapest flight I could get. Since I was expecting it to be the Ryanair of international flights, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. I had my own TV, which compared to Air Europa when I went to Cuba, was a luxury! … That was pretty much it, to be fair; I had a window seat, which was ‘ideally’ situated right above the wing, and a TV, so I was fairly content.

Besides having to pay extra for my bags at the check-in desk, in cash, everything went by fairly smoothly. Well, somehow I spent a lot of time in the shops looking for headphones as my sister conveniently took mine, but then I had to run for the plane and I managed to lose my travel pillow along the way. Oh, and at the security check point at both airports, they wanted me to fit all of my nail varnishes into a ’little’ transparent, resealable plastic bag, as the litre bag that I provided was apparently too big. I was expecting everything to be more problematic to be honest, because I worry, a lot. Do not tell me facts that will potentially scare me into thinking about the worst possible outcome, because I will take on board everything that you say and then multiply that by a thousand. Such as the morning my manager told me a couple of weeks before I was due to fly that there was a hurricane in Mexico. After a quick Google search, I found out that the hurricane passed by my region and that it was preceded by earthquakes – plural!! Although I must say that ‘my town’, Guaymas, was not really affected by it. On that same day, I read about how some Americans were scared about ISIS terrorists entering the USA through Mexico, and I was particularly worried because my request for a halal meal on the plane was rejected and my mind raced through all kinds of terrible scenarios. But my fears proved to be just that – a product of thoughts I had created.

I arrived safely in D.F. (Mexico City) at stupid o’clock in the morning on a Sunday. I walked around and found somewhere where I could nap for four hours until my next flight. The odd thing about that experience was that even though I had a connecting flight, I had to take my luggage from the conveyor belt, go through customs, then go to a connecting flights conveyor belt to drop off my suitcases. Very strange. It was at this airport where I encountered my first language barrier, when I had to ask where my terminal was.

My journey continued on a flight to Hermosillo, where I quickly found out that AeroMéxico domestic flights were more like the vision of a budget airline flight that I had in my head. But the good thing was that the flight was not full, so I didn’t have to sit next to anyone, and it only lasted a few hours.

I arrived at a small airport at around 7:30am, then I had to take a taxi to the coach station. This was straight forward enough, I guess. Apart from the fact that my ‘Latino’ friend said I should never get into a taxi with a stranger. Well, the driver was lugging my luggage into a van full of strangers. I panicked and was slightly unnerved. But then I realised that everyone else was going to the same bus station, so it was fine.

Once there, I had to get the coach to Guaymas. I had been practicing my line for this in Spanish during the flight to Hermosillo; I was ready. The lady at the ticket office seemed to understand me, up until I got to the name of my destination, “Guy-yam-as”!

“¿Qué,? she asked, with baffled look on her face.

“Guy-yam-as,” I replied even louder, making sure to pronounce every syllable.

“¿Quéééééé?”

I showed her the spelling of the place on a sheet of paper that I had.

“Ohhhh… Gwhy-mas,” she said. I had been pronouncing it the wrong way for months, and even now, I’m not sure if I’m actually saying it properly.

Anyway, a worker who spoke English came to the rescue and sorted out everything for me, and I was comfortably sat behind the driver in seat number one.

As we drove through Guaymas at around 10am, my first impression was that it didn’t seem like much at all; it just seemed quite run-down and bland.

As soon as I sat down at the bus station, a hustler came over to me and tried to sell me something. “Ah, Monica…” he would always exclaim and he kept hovering around me.

I was instructed to call someone called Elsa, whom I later found out was the coordinator for the primary school and the director’s wife.

“I’ll be wearing jeans and a blue top,” she said on the phone.

A lady walked into the station with that description, and I was about to get up and greet her, until I realised that she wasn’t actually looking for anyone, so I sat back down, deflated.

Elsa finally arrived to pick me up and drop me off to my new home, arriving with her signature smile that I have come to know. She really is the embodiment of happiness, but I can also imagine that if you cross her, she would destroy you.

We arrived in a matter of minutes, but we had to recruit some guy to carry my heavy luggage up some stairs to my apartment above some shops.

I walked in and it was really dark and dusty. To my left was a room with bunk beds in it. Then as you walk through, the kitchen is located on your left. If you take a couple more steps, then the bathroom is on the left. Taking a few more steps forward, I saw another bedroom, this time with a double bed, and I immediately claimed it for myself even though I had no one else to compete with. In hindsight that room was a good choice, because the flat is located on the main road and the traffic is quite loud and can even be heard from my room at the back.

Once I dropped off my bags, Elsa took me out to eat and she offered me some options. I’m ashamed to say it, but I wanted something that was familiar to me, especially as I was super hungry after my epic journey, so I opted for Burger King. It was so strange to see that the price for the food started from about $70, but it’s about $20 to £1, so it’s not as bad as it seems. What’s even more confusing is that the sign for Mexican pesos and the sign for American dollars is exactly the same, and some shops, particularly in touristy areas, show their prices in dollars rather than pesos. Confused.com

So, once I received the food, we sat down in a booth and talked business. We discussed what was expected of me in the role, blah, blah, blah and then my ears pricked up with the words “start tomorrow”.

‘What!!!!?????’

Getting out of bed at this time of year is a real struggle. No matter how many times you press that snooze button, again and again, you. Just. Can’t. Get. Up!! You would rather hibernate in your bed until spring than venture out into the darkness on a perilous journey through the blistering winds, in the cold and the rain, to get to work.

Well, at least the Christmas holidays are coming up very soon, but not soon enough. You’re anxiously counting down the days where you can finally eat, drink, be merry and sleeeeeep!!!

But until then you’re tired, and when you’re tired you do stupid things.  Very stupid things. In fact, I don’t even think it’s because the days are darker. For some reason these days, I don’t know – maybe I’m getting ‘old’, but I just feel so tired. Like, ridiculously tired – stupidly tired. I do the most stupidest things, ever.

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“I must be overtired’, Buttercup managed. ‘The excitement and all.’ ‘Rest then’, her mother cautioned. ‘Terrible things can happen when you’re overtired. I was overtired the night your father proposed.” ― William Goldman, The Princess Bride 

As I’m yearning for my bed right at this minute, I’m writing this post to highlight how dangerous (to your dignity) tiredness can be when you’re doing the most mundane and automatic tasks.

So in no particular order, here’s a selection of stupid things people have done as a result of fatigue. Ok, maybe this was mainly myself. Have you ever:

1. Used your Oyster card as a key fob to enter your work building?

2. Used your mobile phone as an Oyster card at a tube station?

3. Slurred your words on the phone so badly that the receptionist asked how you were feeling? You said fine, and then out of politeness asked them the same question. They replied that they were better than you…

4. Used a fork as a spoon to eat your cereal?

5. Sent the wrong cover letter for a job application?

6. Forgotten to send a CV with your cover letter?

7. Attempted to put a tub of butter into the cutlery draw?

8. Used hair lotion as body cream?

9. Used hair lotion as face cream?

10. Poured lemon juice into your cup of hot chocolate powder?

11. Attempted to pour cold water into your powdered porridge instead of the hot water that is needed to make it?

12. Searched high and low for your glasses only to find that they are already on your face?

13. Opened the dishwasher to put butter in it?

14. Called someone you know very well by a completely different name and prayed to God that they didn’t hear you?

15. Had a conversation with the wrong person? This is something that can easily happen on something like WhatsApp for instance, especially if they share the same name, i.e. Michelle.

16. Attempted to use nail varnish remover as a facial toner?

17. Made a whole bowl of couscous for breakfast when in actual fact you wanted porridge?

18. Ran into a large mirror as soon as you woke up because you heard a knock at the door, but you woke up in such a panic that you thought the mirror was another door?

19. Desecrated the English language with sentences like: “She took too slow”?

20. Spent half an hour looking for clothes you were already wearing?

21. Woken up suddenly on a train and realised to your horror that you were halfway through a conversation you were having with yourself out loud? As the only people around you were sitting right in front of you, you decided to pretend to be on your phone and tried your very best to carry on with the conversation that you didn’t particularly remember the details of…

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Remember, tiredness kills, or it at least makes you do stupid things. Rest well, or if you can’t do that then you can purchase a walking sleeping bag like my friend below. Feel free to share your tired/stupid stories. Sharing is caring and all that malarkey. Peace.

sleep-walking-bag

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I performed at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony in front of millions. Since then, I’ve made a video of my section’s routine in the actual performance, as you wouldn’t have seen the intricate movements on the screen that we’d spent months preparing for. I’ve also given you a blow-by-blow account of our secret rehearsals that we weren’t allowed to talk about at the time.

I don’t really have a ‘one year on’ story. Instead, my story takes place around five months after the momentous event, because… I was too ashamed to write it at the time. Ok, I actually just couldn’t be bothered to write about it, until now.

So my story goes simply like this:

I was still buzzing from my 17-minute performance months after the event. I was itching to carry on dancing somehow and my love for contemporary dance was rekindled by Akram Kahn’s haunting piece that was performed after the ‘Thanks Tim’ section when Emeli Sandé sang. So from then, I wanted to be a contemporary dancer.

After testing the water at the infamous Pineapple Studios in August, where I tried a taster burlesque class (I know, it’s not quite contemporary but that was the only class that had spaces left, unsurprisingly), I thought that I could ‘fit in’ with the dance crowd there.

I read the description of their contemporary classes and it sounded right up my street. The only ‘problem’ was that I couldn’t make any of the beginners’ classes, I could only attend the intermediate classes.

‘Puh’, I thought, ‘I can handle that class, I’m an Olympic dancer now, don’t you know AND I danced at Sadlers Wells as part of a Rambert Dance Company project. I can handle it.’

Ha – in my dreams! Those words came back to haunt me, big time – with a little reverb and everything.

Anyway, so on one dark, miserable December’s day I decided to go to the class. The weather didn’t have an effect on me – I was super excited, I was hyped up, I was glowing.

While we were waiting for another class to finish, I stood outside the room and watched a hip hop/ jazz funk class. The routine was quick and sharp, and all of the dancers were goooood! I started to become a little nervous. I would never have been able to pick up those moves so quickly, but it didn’t matter, because I would be in my comfort zone in the class I signed up to.

When we finally walked in and put our bags against the wall, it was time for our warm up.

Everything was going well, for about two minutes. Then the teacher did some abnormal stretches. Everyone pretty much struggled, to be fair, except I struggled visibly more than everybody else. Luckily I was at the back, although there were mirrors, I was partially hidden by limbs. We were told we should practice that exercise everyday. I told myself that things would get better in the class – it was only for 1 hour and 30 minutes, how much could we possibly do in that space of time?

Oh boy, how wrong was I? The routine became harder and more complicated with each passing minute, and I was having less and less time to pick it up. Every time I finally managed to learn a move, I forgot it again in an instant in an effort to retain something new – moving backwards and forwards, tumbling, rolling on the floor, a back bend here, a twirl there. The dancers picked it up flawlessly, but I just could. Not. Keep. Up!

GovernorsBallMusicFestival

‘Never mind,’ I thought, ‘at least I’m in the comfort of a group where no one is really paying attention to me.’

My heart suddenly sank into my stomach when I heard the teacher speak. To my absolute horror she announced that we would be ‘travelling’ across the room from one side to the next while we do the routine. In pairs. There was no hiding. I broke out into a sweat.

As each dancer elegantly graced the floor with their fluid moves to the other side of the room, I felt my heart beat faster and harder in my chest. I thought I was going to explode.

Then it was my turn *gulp*. I tried my very best to remember the routine. I must have looked as awkward as a dancing giraffe. I had a smile etched onto my face. And I laughed – a lot. But in my head I screamed: ‘Oh my dayyysssss. Oh my gosh. Help!!!! Oh no – that wasn’t right! Verdammt es! Lord, Jesus!’

awkward_turtle

Did I mention that there was a window where people could watch the entire class and everyone in it? Well, now you know. I was flapping around like an idiot for all to see. Perfect. ‘Hide me,’ I screamed in my head, ‘hide meeeeeee!!!’

To be fair, I marginally improved each time I repeated a move. But then this achievement was wiped out whenever I had to learn something else very quickly.

Towards the end of the class we had to put it all together. ‘Whaaaaaatttttt?!!!!’ I did the best I could but I have to be honest – my attempt was pathetic. I had to laugh at myself, and I did, in abundance. It was bad enough that the dancers didn’t laugh at me, because I knew they were smug about it deep inside. What’s worse were the looks of pity they gave me – PITY! As if I was a sick animal in pain and was about to be put down.

When the class finished, the teacher said: “Those who struggled today should think about going to the beginners’ class.” (i.e. ME – ouch!)

On my way out after bolting out of the class I saw some girls and the receptionist speaking excitedly and laughing about something. But as soon as they saw me, they stopped their conversation abruptly and stared at me in silence until I walked out of the studio doors. I’ll give you a penny for figuring out who they were talking about. It very much felt like a walk of shame! Time actually stopped as I walked past – oh the agony!

Well, it’s been one year on since I was re-inspired to do contemporary dance. This isn’t really a ‘look-at-me-and-see-how-much-I’ve-improved’ kind of story. I obviously haven’t been back to Pineapple Studios since. Well, at least, not yet.

I checked the Pineapple Studios website again and it’s the same situation as it was last time. Except this time, I can only make the intermediate or the advance classes – puh, yeah right! Maybe I’ll wait a little while longer.

Note to self: Take heed lest I fall – ain’t that the truth!