Lessons Learned: April Edition

As most of you know, we were able to take some vacation time to Costa Rica this past month. Neal lived there as part of his study abroad experience back in 2006, and he has been raving about it ever since we met. It has been a dream of ours to go back together and I have to say… We had the best time! Since we were in Mexico for a short about of time this month, this month’s lessons learned will be abbreviated as well. Forgive us!


  1. Always be ready to meet the double check glance with a smile. People will make regular eye contact in passing, then upon realizing how different you are they will take a second glance at you. If you can be ready with a smile, it can make all the difference in their perception and acceptance of you. Of course, there are people who just skip the second glance and stare at you from the moment you step into their gaze.
  2. Calling within Mexico is strangely difficult. It could simply still be confusing because no one has explained this to us in English yet. However, I believe it’s genuinely difficult. When we first arrived to Mexico, there was a whole sheet of page in our welcome documents about how to call around Querétaro. Unfortunately, that document is now obsolete since we live in a different state. So now we just try about a bazillion combinations until we get a dial tone.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time when flying out of Mexico City. For us, we have to take a three hour bus ride into Mexico City and then need to connect to the airport. The traffic is unpredictable and the metro, which is below ground, is typically the fastest means of transportation. Next time, we will definitely give ourselves about another hour for our sanity.
  4. If there is a secure taxi service available, use it. Let’s just say that we learned the hard way since we did not give ourselves enough time flying out of Mexico City (see lesson #3) so we could not wait in the line to get a proper taxi. We negotiated a price before getting in the taxi and then he raised it $50 MXN once we told him we were flying internationally. Ugh! Let’s just say we were happy to get to the airport that day.
  5. Don’t worry too much when you turn on the faucet and nothing comes out. This just means that you

    An example of the typical tank system in Mexico

    have run out of water and your landlord has probably set up a pump from the well to fix the issue. For us in fact, all we had to do was flip a switch and wait 10 minutes. Just like magic, you have water once again. For some other volunteers in Mexico, I know it’s not that easy. We have only run out of water a few times, but thankfully there is always more water for us in the reserve tank.

  6. Not all tortillas are created equal; finding the right tortilleria is absolutely worth the extra effort. Sure we may have become tortilla snobs, but how can you avoid such a plague when there are 10 tortillerias in your neighborhood stating that they have the best and most fresh tortillas? You try them all and decide which one really is the best. In fact, we actually prefer the tortillas in a neighboring town. Don’t worry, we have yet to make a trip there just for the tortillas!


Hope you enjoyed this edition. We will post pictures of Costa Rica at some point (Note: I did not promise soon, but I will do my best.) And if you are interested in coming to visit, please let us know! I am pretty sure I plug the whole “Come and visit us” thing every time but I hope you know that I mean it whole heartedly! Even if we haven’t spoken in awhile, it would be great to have you here even for the weekend.


Mucho amor,



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