Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oaxaca, Oax

[Backlogged from May 31]
Julie and I have been in Oaxaca city for more than a week now. We are almost finished with our two weeks of Spanish courses at the Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca. My Spanish is better than its ever been and I am so glad that we took this time. Julie´s Spanish is also really good. She´s asking questions and taking care of business here all by herself, something she didn´t think she could do. Our first week in Oaxaca was really nice. When we arrived it was such a relief to escape to a completely different environment without my cell phone or computer or books. We had no troubles finding our posada (family owned hostel). The city is really easy to navigate and many of the cool places to go are within walking distance from out poasda. We went on a tour of Zapotec ruins, called Yagul, with a great guide, Pedro, who described the site and its history with Marx and Foucault, awesome! When our classes started I found my class with only three other people, this was really nice. The course work was pretty tough but my teacher, Tanivet, is super cool and moves quickly through material. Learning Spanish is exhausting. Everyday after class Julie and I went back to the posada for a siesta. We then returned to the Institute for workshop classes on Mexican cooking. This was great, we learned how to make mole verde and other yummy treats like Arroz con leche.
At the end of the week, Julie and I were sitting in the Zocalo, the public area with a little park and I found some old friends from AZ: Todd and Lauren. They moved to Oaxaca to work for an organization called Witness For Peace - check them out, pretty cool stuff. Anyways, that was a random encounter that was very nice. We have been
sharing some time with them. Besides those things, I arranged for an intercambio: a person that is interested in learning English from another Oaxacan school. Omar is
my intercambio and he´s cool. He is an engineering student and we have a fun time. most of the time, I speak in Spanish and he speaks in English and we talk about everything from X-Men, to Stock car racing, to politics in Oaxaca and in the States.
Our Second week in Oaxaca was completely different. three things, the teacher´s strike, the massive wave of high school and college students at the institute, and the new workshop in the history of Mexican music.
First, the teachers´s strike was such a surprise. I´m still trying to figure out what the f is happening here but all of the public teachers in Oaxaca are on strike and have blocked more than 50 main streets in downtown. They have brought the city to crawl. They demonstrate everyday with huge marches. They take over Pemex Stations for days at a time and have converted the Zocalo, tourist area into a massive urban street camp for striking famillies. The organization and carry through for this strike is enormous and I am very impressed. My homework for my spanish class is to write a one page report based upon interviews of striking teachers. I´ll let you know what I come up with. every other day they shut down the Pan-American highway right outside of the Institute for the enitre day. It has been really educational.
Second, the institute has received truck loads of new students from US highschools and colleges, now my class is maxed out at 10 students, this is not so good. I don´t like the school now so much. I´m still learning though and that is good. Third, I´m having a blast in my new workshop on the history of Mexican music. there are only three students, julie, me and Ming from Boston. this is so much fun and I´m using different vocab and learning cool stuff about mexican music. Now Julie and I are finishing up our last week and planning our next phase, the beach phase. more later. Julie and I are both healthy and safe, we have sufficient money and
are having a great time.

Mazunte, Oax

[Backlogged fron June 9th]
Julie and I have left La Ciudad and headed south to the coast. we are in a small town called Mazunte. It is the off season and most things are shut down and turned off. We made an initial reservation at a posada that had a website and a phone number so that we knew we had a place to stay when we arrived. This place was inevitably owned by up-state New Yorkers (new agers at that). They used the verb ¨to share¨ for everything, ¨we would like to share something with you, you owe us 80 dollars for the room.¨ We have since moved to a new place overlooking the beach with an excellent hammock placed just right to view the coast. The new age place was great too but difficult to get to with long staircases and wierd people.

Julie and I are attending to our emails in the only internet place in town. The sticky keyboard is a challenge. Above my computer on the wall is an advertisement for work in the US as an ice cream truck driver. 600 to 1200 dollars in 7 months! There{s a phone number and email address if your interested. Does anyone know where the 803 area code is for?

Anyways, we are here in the heavy heat of the coast. We are mainly just trying ways to fight the humidity, sun, and mosquitos. We are also surrounded by cool birds I{ve never seen before. Yellow throated cacique, trogons, and western tanager. This town reminds me of the little towns I visited in Costa Rica in the northwest.

I am trying my best to be a beach bum but its so hard for me to just sit, Julie and I so anxious to explore and check things out. But we are retiring frequently to little cabañas for 2 for 1 drink specials. These refreshments mainly just make me want to take a nap. Which is completely out of the question without a mosquito net.

The ocean is fairly rough right now so many of my dreams of snorkling all day are dashed by the ominous waves and threatening red flags on the beach. hopefully I{ll get a bird tour in one of these days.

Got to go now. we are happy and safe thus far. A little sun burned, only reinforcing the desire to relax and stay out of the direct sun.