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Title: Spanish School - Day one Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Day one - Espanol Interactivo
My school - Espanol Interactivo
My school is right downtown, about 2 blocks from the Zocalo, or main plaza.
It doesn't look like anything from the outside. Like many of the buildings here, it presents a blank face to the street, but inside is ful of life.
You enter the school through a big wooden door that swings in to plant-lined corridor to an inner courtyard. The walls are decorated with those colorful tin animals artisans make here. The walls are painted yellow halfway up, with a stripe of bright blue, and white the rest of the way. Very pretty.
The courtyard has white wrought iron tables and benches, and there are about 5 small classrooms, each with a wooden table and chairs, a few typical regional wall decorations, not much else.
Senora Luz, the school director, runs things in a pretty casual fashion. I came in and introduced myself. I was nervous about how I would fit into the classes, but on the other hand I was eager to dive in and get started.
I ended up just sitting on a couch for a while, and eventually she decided what group to put me in to learn. I was with Sra. Luz and one other woman, Nicole, a lawyer from San Francisco.
Apparently many of the students return year after year. The atmosphere seems very congenial. I only met about 6 other students, one from Germany, most of the rest from California and Texas, overwhelmingly women, mostly teachers.
I am not sure I understood completely when Sra. Luz was talking to Sra. Gloria, but apparently Sra. Gloria wasn't exactly sure I was coming, and it was only a good thing that I called Dr. Rodriguez' office yesterday, because then they figured out that they were supposed to meet me at the airport. No wonder they had to take me to a wedding with them - they hadn't planned for me because they thought I was coming in August, not July. They mainly thought that because I TOLD Sra. Luz that in an email...silly me, I got the months confused. Attention to dates has never been my strong point.
I am sure glad I called, because I would have had kittens if no one had come to meet me at the airport!! I can't imagine what I would have done if no one had come, since the school is closed on Sundays.
Sra. Luz is very patient with my butchery of the Spanish language. She laughs a lot. At about 11 a.m. announced she was hungry, so she, Nicole and I went next door to "La Flor de Oaxaca," a really great little cafe with traditional Oaxacan foods.
Breakfast - again
I made the mistake of ordering both a Chocolate Oaxaquena and pancakes. Both were huge. The hot chocolate must have been 2 cups and it came with a loaf of soft bread to dunk in it. Then there were 3 huge pancakes. Senora Luz must have thought I was nuts, ordering all that food, but I didn't know what I was in for.
So I finished about 1/2 of one of the pancakes. The food was all very good.
Sra. Luz and Nicole both got tiny quesadillas, deep fried and filled with local fresh cheese and epazote, an herb. Apparently chiles rellenos are very popular too.
We took an hour-long break at 1 p.m. between mangling verb forms.
I took a walk around downtown, checking things out. There were a lot of people out on the streets. There were tons of police behind barricades, carrying long wooden sticks. I heard there was a planned protest of La Guelaguetza. The cops all looked young and bored, a lot of them only about 5 feet tall, not at all menacing.
I gathered up my courage and made my first outing into a store. I bought a bottle of water and a phone card, my first purchases with my new Mexican money, which looks so funny to me and doesn't seem quite real. One peso is worth about 9 cents, so a 100 peso bill is around $9.
My next adventure was going to an Internet cafe. I spent about 20 cents for 15 minutes. Hilarious. I think it was something like $6 for 15 minutes in Hawaii last November.
I e-mailed Greg and the family to let them know I was alive. The internet connection is a bit slow and the computers a little funky (I never could find the @ key...) but I was happy to be able to contact the folks back home.
There are a lots of galleries and artisans down near the Zocalo (the town square), some with beautiful weavings, jewelry and embroidery. It's a pretty touristy area. Before I got here I had imagined a Mexican village from a Western movie - little southwestern buildings like in Santa Fe, New Mexico on dirt streets.
In the Zocalo itself, there are balloon and toy vendors with huge colorful bunches of inflatable toys. There are people selling the usual tourist stuff - t-shirts, knock-off CDs, jewelry, cheap pottery.
I had 2 more hours of class. This time my fellow student was Linda, a 50-something woman from Napa who has been in Mexico 4 times and works with ESL students. She doesn't seem be able to learn Spanish very well.
A young man named Joe, kind of a hippie-looking kid, joined us for the class. He had been at La Guelaguetza all day, arriving at 4 a.m. to get a good seat and sitting out there in the sun all day. He seemed remarkably fresh at 3 p.m. I don't think I ever had that much energy, not even when I was 20.
After class I went to a trendy cafe called "Italian Coffee" near the Zocalo for a latte and studied a bit, then made the long trek home, only getting slightly confused once. I do have a pretty good sense of direction.
My first trip to Chedraui
I stopped on the way home at Chedraui, the local version of WalMart about 3 blocks from our house. Dang me.
It was huge and I wandered disoriented a bit by all of the different labels and colors and my lack of peripheral vision (because of wearing my glasses. I had to try and figure everything out in Spanish. They have a taco stand inside and a bulk area that sells mole and chiles from those plastic 5 gallon buckets. Then I went home.
posted by Sue at 5:07 PM 1 comments
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