Today was geography day. I was up and working first thing this morning, looking up photos and updating a report that was written several years ago. The plan was for us to talk about Canada, the United States, and Mexico today. We were going to start by taking a field trip to our local Mexican grocery store, where we would buy lunch. Then we would come home and eat our authentic Mexican food while watching a geography video.
Now, I knew that both of my non-related students were vegetarians, and in fact one of them is a vegan, but I was confident that they could at least get rice and beans at the Mexican store. Well, guess what? The rice and beans are not vegetarian friendly. They contained lard.
So, I sent the three girls to the produce section of the store and told them to pick out some veggies to make a stir fry with when we got home. Meanwhile, I attempted to order the food that I wanted. The process is a little cumbersome. You have to go to a cashier and tell her what you want, and then you pay and get the receipt, which you take to the cooks. They serve up your meal and then you bring it home.
I was getting some tacos for someone else and some fajitas for me. So I told the cashier I wanted three tacos and a plate of chicken fajitas. She nodded, but I saw on the screen it said “6 tacos.” I explained to her that I didn’t want six tacos; I wanted only three tacos and some fajitas. She assured me that I would get that very thing, so I paid and took my receipt to the food counter.
I was very concerned that I was not in fact going to get what I wanted, so I explained to the lady at the food counter that I did NOT want six tacos. She was very puzzled since my receipt clearly said “6 tacos.” She sent me to talk to a cashier who was working at the food counter there (the first time I’ve ever seen them use this cash register). I explained the situation to that lady, and she could see that I was having a problem, but neither she nor any of the other ladies I had spoken to could actually speak any English, so they weren’t sure how to resolve my problem.
The second cashier called out to everyone in the area to ask if anyone could speak both Spanish and English, and a young man stepped forward. Fortunately, he was fluent in both languages and he very kindly offered to serve as a translator. I explained my problem to him, and when he explained it to them, I saw the light go on at last. We were far from finished, mind you. A manager had to be called to ring up the order correctly, I had to pay more money, and a lot more translating had to happen, but in the end I got the food I had asked for, with lots of smiles and happiness all round. I thanked my translator profusely for his help.
The girls had picked out some drinks and veggies, and I was delighted to see that they were willing to be adventurous. In addition to bell peppers, they had a hot pepper, some prickly pear cactus, and mangos. They had also each selected some bread and pastries for dessert.
When we got back to the house, the girls took over the kitchen. We had some rice left over from last night that they could heat up, so all they needed to do was cook their veggies. After plenty of chopping and peeling and seasoning and frying, they had an amazing medley to eat with their rice:
By then of course, it was much later than it would have been if we had just bought ready-made food and brought it back to eat, but I am pretty good at going with a new plan, so we watched our video while eating our food anyway. The girls loved the food they made and I admit it looked fabulous! They had so much fun doing it too.
Afterwards, we talked a little about geographical features and then I showed them how to make their own maps with tracing paper. Because lunch took so long, we never actually got to talk about the countries of North America, but I’m still calling it a win because we definitely had a cross-cultural experience at the grocery store, the girls had a blast making new food, and they learned how to make maps. And now, I’ve got most of the preparation for next week already done!
I had a little breather after class ended, and then I took Jasper and his friend Ben to the bee meeting that meets an hour’s drive away from here. The meeting was all about varroa mites and I actually learned a lot. When we got back home, Jasper went across the street to spend the night at Ben’s. Now I need to get back to geography planning. The vegetarian/vegan situation has added several magnitudes of stress for me, but I’m going to treat it like any other culinary challenge. Remember that anything I eat has to also be gluten free and low carb, so it really is a challenge! I don’t know what I’d do without the internet . . .