Hola! Bueno! (Hello! Good!) These are the two words I’ve really got down since we arrived in Mexico two days ago.

Did you ever step out of a Starbucks and find yourself swept up in parade among towering 20ft. tall puppets? I think that is what really happened to me last night but it’s hard to tell reality from fiction at the moment due to complete culture shock.

A parade through San Miguel de Allende, Mexico included giant puppets.

Giant puppets on parade in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

San Miguel is a little bit Emerald City and a little bit rustic Old Mexico. The colors here are more vivid than anything you’d find on Van Gogh’s pallet. Around every corner I find a lovely little¬†surprise. And maybe the most surprising of all is how San Miguel has overturned all of the misconceptions I had about what it would be like here. It’s cleaner, friendlier, and safer than I could possibly have imagined.

Spanish Immersion, on the other hand, is a LOT harder than anything I had imagined. These people are hard core. I was hoping for a relaxing, educational experience but Maria Guadeloupe, our wily old housemother, has been speaking to me only in Spanish since I arrived and my head feels like an overfilled helium balloon about to explode. As you can guess, we haven’t gotten very far with “hola” and “bueno” as our only means of communication. She’s a sweet woman though, and every so often she throws me a bone and says something in English so I can follow the conversation.

My Spanish-immersion buddy, Rena, was apparently studying her Spanish for Gringos book a lot harder than I was. The first night at dinner she shocked me when Spanish started spewing out of her mouth rapid fire. It reminded me of Linda Blair’s scene in the Exorcist sans the green bile. Mama Lupe is trying to get me to talk but, it’s the strangest thing, the German words I learned in elementary school are the only ones that come to mind when I try to respond.

One more day until school officially starts. I am terribly afraid they will take Rena, my Chatty Cathy Translator doll, away and put her in a more advanced class.