Oaxaca, Oaxaca

I’ve been here a week now. It’s been a pretty good week, other than the fact I still can’t speak Spanish. Sign.

My day has developed into a pretty good routine. I wake up about 7:30, grab a quick shower and head downstairs for breakfast. Normally I don’t eat breakfast, but it’s included in the price of my room and board. I think it’s the board part. My hostess (Carmina) is a pretty good cook, and we have a traditional mexican breakfast, which includes a big plate of fruit (papaya, banana and apples) cut into bite sized pieces, eggs, tortillas and some type of juice. Usually it’s not orange, and usually hand squeezed. I assume it to be a traditional breakfast, but I don’t know for sure.

After breakfast, I head to school, which starts at about 9 a.m., Mexican time. That means somewhere between 9:10 – 9:20. Next to the school is a coffee bar. The first couple of times I had coffee there, it was great. I’ve since learned that they use local, Oaxacan grown coffee. It’s amazing, and the raw beans are cheap. If any of you coffee lovers want some, let me know in the next week.

I’m taking classes atBecari Language School. Lessons were broken up into two sections. First was a grammar class, where we learned the syntax, and how to use the language. The second part was conversational. On the first day, we had a teacher who spoke largely in Spanish, but would explain in English. The second and third day we had a new teacher who pretty much spoke only spanish, quickly and without any English. That was a big problem, well, because I don’t speak spanish. When he would try to introduce a concept, I’d spent time trying to figure out what he’s saying, and by the time I got to the concept, he was on to the next idea. I didn’t learn much from him. I eventually said something to the woman who runs the school, and we got the first woman back. I felt kind of bad, because I don’t think he was a bad teacher, but I do think he was a wrong fit for the level this class was at. I would have felt worse had I not learned anything.

The second part of the day is our conversation teacher, Arturo (Arthur.) He’s a really interesting guy, but I get the feeling that he’s the casanova of the language school, or at least wants to be. He had a great personallity, so he was the perfect person for the conversational part of class. That part of class always went quickly, and I learned a lot. I was glad to have met him.

The first week of school was OK. One of the people in the class was a City Planner in Evanston, Il. On the first day he didn’t have pen or paper. Normally I wouldn’t have thought much of that, but, um.. he’s a City Planner. His job, or so I thought, was to plan for things. The other woman was a German girl who had been travelling for a couple of months. She spoke something like six languages, which amazed me. I looked at her notes one day, and she was taking notes in both English and German for her Spanish class. How I am going to cheat off her!!

School gets out about 1 p.m. That leaves a couple of hours to wander around the city, either heading to an internet cafe, or just going to a museum. Regretfully, the sun is directly overhead, so you really can’t take pictures. I love taking pictures, and I need to if I want to get better at it, but there is what I call the photographers curse. The best time for taking pictures is either the first couple of hours after dawn, and the couple of hours before dusk. I’m sleeping in the morning, and in the nightime, I’m either eating, drinking, or working. OK, not working, but still busy.

After goofing around for a few hours, it’s time to head home for a late lunch around 3 p.m.. It’s the big meal of the day, and the only time the family is together. After lunch, quite a few businesses are closed, so people that can take a siesta. I’m one of those people. Then in the afternoon, I wake up and either go to an internet cafe to make a few phone calls or update my computer, or else I go take pictures for a while.

Usually, the other guy staying here wants to get something to eat about 9 – 9:30 p.m., so we grab a few tacos. Two or three tacos, and a soda or beer run about $3.50/US. It’s a fair deal if you ask me. I don’t like eating that late, but it’s not a lot of food.

I’ve decided to stay another week. I need it for my language skills, since my trip is going to get very interesting once I leave here (many border crossing in Central America.) I was thinking about taking private lessons next week, but I’m the only one in the class, so there isn’t a point to paying extra. That might change, but it probably won’t. I think they may have created a special “slow” class for me, but that could just be my paranoia. I do like living with the family I’m with. I’d probably rather have a hotel room to myself, but the cooking has me captivated.

Some of the meals we have are very interesting. Nothing to grandious – it kind of reminds me of food my mothers mother used to cook. It was done with an eye on economy, but always plenty of it. Sometimes though it’s a bit odd, like the chicken noodle soup with the chicken foot in it. I was praying it wasn’t given as an honor, and I insulted them because I didn’t eat it. I’ve had my chickens foot in a Dim Sum restaurant in Bellevue years ago. Once was enough – there’s not much meat and a lot of joints. Even with the foot, I’m still glad to be eating here. My parents got divorced (or else started) when I was in my early teens, and I’ve been cooking for myself ever since. Frankly, I’m tired of it, so anytime I can get someone else to do it through trickery or payment, I’m happy. Here I get two meals a day without having to marry anybody. Score!!

The other guys staying here is Cyrus. He’s 17 and an eating machine. He’s about 6’2”, and I think he said 130 lbs. And he eats close to non-stop. It’s been good having him around, since he helps me with spanish, and with what the family is saying. (One daughter that doesn’t live here speaks pretty good English.) We’ve done a few thing together, which is nice, since it gives me someone to hang out with. Though, there is a but. A big but. A couple of places we’ve been, people assume he’s my son. I don’t like that one bit. Not that he’s a bad guy, but I’m just not ready to have a son. It makes me feel old And I can only assume it hurts my already slim chances at meeting a nice girl, or a girl willing to be nice [for the humour impared people out there, that’s a joke.]

One Comment

  1. Hi Greg. It sounds like you are happy to be in school again. It must be nice to remain in the same place for more than a night. Kurt was in town and we saw “Zatoichi” which is translated as the blind swordsmen. It is a good samurai-type movie.

    Good news… I got a job at Speakeasy! I begin September 13th. Your TV misses you too.

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