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MailTribune.com
  • at home in Mexico

    Ashland family transplants itself to Guanajuato for two months
  • Micah and Gretski Lieberman of Ashland and their two preteen girls recently spent nearly two months in a city where mostly Spanish is spoken, lived in a small, one-bedroom house, had to have their drinking water and cooking gas delivered, carried their garbage to a collection point about 10 minutes away and walked everywhere — up and down steep, narrow alleys.
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  • Micah and Gretski Lieberman of Ashland and their two preteen girls recently spent nearly two months in a city where mostly Spanish is spoken, lived in a small, one-bedroom house, had to have their drinking water and cooking gas delivered, carried their garbage to a collection point about 10 minutes away and walked everywhere — up and down steep, narrow alleys.
    They can't wait to do it again.
    "As long as it's Spanish-speaking," Gretski said of their No. 1 criterion for choosing destinations for the family's adventures.
    They immersed themselves in the culture and lifestyle of Guanajuato, Mexico, Ashland's sister city, which has a population of more than 150,000 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
    They went prepared. Micah, 44, had been improving his Spanish. Gretski, 43, is nearly fluent. And 10-year-old Maya and 7-year-old Asia already knew some Spanish before the trip.
    Neither parent is a stranger to traveling.
    "I lived in Spain for a while," Gretski said.
    "And we've spent a lot of time in Mexico and Central America," Micah added.
    "We always wanted to travel with the kids," he said. "The main obstacle was taking them out of school."
    A chance meeting at Zoey's Cafe in Ashland with Asia's reading teacher provided the impetus for the trip. They learned that the teacher and her husband had spent six months in Ecuador with their two school-age children. After grilling her with lots of questions, they decided an extended trip wasn't so impossible. Micah knew he would be able to get some work done by telecommuting.
    Maya and Asia, who attend fifth and second grades at Helman Elementary School, took homework with them on the trip. And their parents, both former teachers, home-schooled the girls in the early mornings.
    "I took math and writing assignments," Maya said, "and I did a report on the Aztecs."
    Asia took math and spelling homework with her and kept a journal about her experiences.
    School in Mexico
    While in Guanajuato, the children attended classes four hours a day, five days a week at Escuela Mexicana, a Spanish-immersion school. It was a five-minute walk to school, but a 15-minute walk home because of the steep incline.
    The family took a side trip to Mexico City, about four hours south of Guanajuato, where they saw Aztec ruins.
    "Then we went to Teotihuacan, where there are still big pyramids, and climbed to the top of one," Maya said. It was a thrill for her after studying the Aztecs at school in Ashland.
    The Liebermans rented a small, one-bedroom, multilevel house they found through the Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) website. Later, they were surprised, when reading the guest book, to discover that friends of theirs — and several other Ashland residents — had stayed at the same house.
    "It wasn't cheap," Micah said. On that note, Gretski offered some advice.
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