28 August 2007

Aug 27 – MX Training, Day 1

All the students gathered at the hotel restaurant at 7am for breakfast. That’s where I met the rest of them. I wasn’t really hungry but I had some papaya, watermelon and some sort of granola stuff with yogurt. All told, it didn’t amount to but a small bowl. I also had several cups of tea to get my caffeine kick going. My thinking was that if MX was like the Central American countries I’d been to, there would be no tea available at the office. It’s coffee country.

We got into vehicles and headed to the office. It was about a 25 minute drive from the hotel. I asked Mark (driving the vehicle I was in) why they don’t use a hotel closer to the office. Usually, when I’ve gone to other locations they pick a place that’s convenient for the office. Mark said that there were hotels near the office but…um…they charge by the hour…and he didn’t think that would be a good place for us to stay.

The part of town we drove through getting there was definitely not as upscale as the other parts I’d seen. Some of it looked kind of seedy. It was an eclectic mix, en route…we passed a Walmart and a little further down was a lot that had cows and goats on it.

The office may not be in the nicest neighborhood but it’s a really nice facility. Mark said it was built back when the MX operation was flush and doing very well. The outside has tiled sidewalks and an adobe façade with a fountain outside the entrance. Inside, it’s all stained glass windows and cerulean tile. Even the warehouse and cold storage facility is upscale.

Mark walked us around the building, pointing out the break room, bathrooms, reception and the conference room where we’ll have class. It was probably 8:30 or quarter to 9 by the time everyone got collected and set up.

It was a very challenging class. There were 10 students, 2 of them from Venezuela, the rest scattered across Mexico and Central America…3 of the students had never used the program before, 2 of them speak little or no English (one of those neither speaks nor reads a word of it), one of them is translator for the group.

Somehow, we got through the day, pretty much on schedule.

In the car on the way to the restaurant after class, I was trying to converse with Géronimo. He’s the one who speaks no English. I asked him how the class was going for him. He said he thought it was good but the language issue is a big problem. Not just for the class…none of the documentation I provided does him any good and since the program itself is all in English, he’s really working at a disadvantage.

Mark said he thought the class was going well, but he was really kicking himself for not getting some training from me while he was still in the U.S. He said, if he’d realized how complicated the program is, he definitely would have.

I didn’t get a chance to check with the other students. There’s still a couple days left, though…

We left the office about 6 and went straight to Los Arcos…a seafood restaurant in the Mexican style typical of the northwest coast. It was a colorful restaurant with a plethora of waiters all dressed in white with either white or blue vest/aprons.

Cesar and Mark had been here many times before and I was happy to turn the ordering over to them. Cesar did most of it. We didn’t really order a ‘meal’…what we got was lots of plates of appetizer sorts of things that the whole table shared. There was a shrimp salsa sort of thing…it sounds kind of weird but it was diced shrimp with lime juice, diced onion, and cilantro. Basically, like fresh salsa only with shrimp instead of tomato.

There were shrimp tacos and marlin tacos, grilled shrimp, grilled octopus and ‘cucarachas’…which Mark explained was not really cucarachas, it was a type of shrimp. I faked exaggerated disappointment at not being able to sample authentic cucarachas.

It was all the best seafood I’ve ever had in my life!

I also had a glass of wine from the Baja region of Mexico…a cabernet sauvignon that was very good. After the meal, a number of people sampled the region’s tequila but I’d had enough. Maybe tomorrow.

When he brought the bill, the waiter also delivered a red rose to me and little glasses of the house specialty drink…some sort of coffee liqueur with milk and chili powder sprinkled on top. It wasn’t bad.

Some of the others thought we were going out to eat way too early, and we did have the restaurant almost completely to ourselves. But I was personally glad to get back to the hotel at a reasonable hour and have some time to decompress before crashing.

Especially since I’d been up since 4am… don’t ask me why. All I know is I woke up then and couldn’t get back to sleep. At breakfast, Cesar asked me if I’d heard the huge storm in the night…it hit about the time I woke up. Maybe a big crack of thunder woke me up but didn’t register…all I know is I had no idea it had even rained.