Skip to main content

How to Not Look Like an American Tourist in Europe

My sister on a Belgian parkbench

I don’t really like being a tourist. At least I try to avoid the term, even if I am travelling and taking pictures of commonly visited sights in foreign countries. I guess the main thing is that I want to experience the culture more, speak the language, and get deeper than the superficial experience enjoyed by most other tourists. So when I went to Europe, I naturally wanted to try to blend in as much as I could. I did some preparation before the trip, but much of what I now know I discovered in my travels. If you are planning to go to Europe and you too want to avoid looking like a tourist, this post is for you! Here are some things that I’ve learned: Read More

Return from the Rainforest

sunsubiro

As a child, many things fascinated me, and one of these things was the rainforest. For one thing, rainforests teem with exotic wildlife, a feature which attracted the attention of this boy who kept a zoo in his bedroom. That fact, combined with the lush green foliage and the potentially hazardous insects and crawling things, made the rainforest an amazing topic for research and discovery. The rug covering most of my bedroom floor was brown, so I decided that would be the dirt floor of the forest. I had a poster showing the green leafiness of the rainforest, so that went on the wall, with hopes of more such posters to complete the effect. And then I worked my creativity to fashion multicoloured rainforest animals out of construction paper, to place around my room. It may not have been quite realistic or convincing, but it was the product of inspiration and creativity! Read More

Bucket List

A while back, I made a list of things I would like to do or accomplish before I kick the bucket. I don’t know how long ago this list was made, but today I happened upon it again, and was pleased to find that I could cross some things off. Here are the things I have done:

  • Go to Europe
  • Make deviled eggs
  • Learn to cook other things besides dessert and breakfast

Evidently this list predates my time at university, since I did all three of these during that time. And what about the rest of the list, you ask? Here it is, with a few additions I just made:

  • Make peanut butter
  • Play a harpsichord
  • Buy land
  • Translate the Bible into Nahuatl
  • Have a pet firebelly newt
  • Spend more than a week in Mexico
  • Go back to Texas (apparently a more recent addition)
  • Publish one or more books of poetry
  • Record another album of music (you can hear the first one here)
  • Attend an international Esperanto congress
  • Visit the Kennedy Space Center
  • Ride in a blimp

So there you go! I accomplished the first three in my first twenty years of existence, so if I continue at that rate, I should be done by the time I hit 100. An exciting life, eh? What sort of things are on your bucket list? Leave a comment!

Oxford, England

oxford

Go to photo album

Once upon a time, in faraway England, there was a spot in the River Thames that was shallow and convenient for oxen and carts to ford. A settlement grew around this ford, and thus Oxford was born. In the following years, a university was established there, which grew to be a quite prestigious institution. And many years after that, a travelling Texan visited its ancient halls, and took some pictures there.

I quite enjoyed my stay in Oxford. We slept in the dormitories of Keble College, and broke our fast in Keble Hall, feasting on eggs and bacon (although I must say that the British do not know what true bacon is). A kind guide showed us around town, and I had fun trying to decipher Latin inscriptions over doorways. Our guide said only the brightest and best scholars are accepted at Oxford, and even though I was only there a short time, I can truthfully say “I went to Oxford!”

Our next destination was C. S. Lewis’s house in Risinghurst, just outside of Oxford. Unfortunately Mr. Lewis was not at home, but we were shown around the house, and marveled at the history it contained. Apparently Mr. Lewis likes the Eragon series (I noticed the first book on his shelf), and my sister and I sampled some plums in his garden outside, and found them very tasty.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Go to photo album

Nahuatl Mission Accomplished

huastecaMnts

Another language mission has come to a close: Conversational Nahuatl in Four Months!

I was travelling in a Nahuatl-speaking part of Mexico during the last week of November, and based on how well I met my goals, I would say it was a success. I wasn’t too sure before the trip–my plans to speak Nahuatl with my neighbours every other day fell apart as more pressing duties commandeered my time, but nevertheless I can say that my experience in Mexico was very much enhanced by my speaking Nahuatl.

One of my goals was to preach a sermon in Nahuatl, and that was accomplished in La Soledad, Mpio. Tamazunchale, S.L.P. I relied quite a bit on my outline and notes, but when I think about it, it was comparable to the first time I preached in Spanish, and I believe that the message from God’s word was heard and understood.

I had a few minor goals as well, and one was not met, but the main one, although nebulous, was to be able to speak Nahuatl at a “conversational level.” I define this as being able to carry a conversation beyond “Hi, how are you?” I did this, and I was able to visit with several elderly people in Nahuatl. Although I did not understand everything they said, it was enough to carry on the conversation. Some of these people spoke very little Spanish, and all of them were more comfortable speaking Nahuatl, so I say that that part of the mission was accomplished. Read More