Oaxaca, days 1 and 2 in language school

School, day 1

Interactivo, a very different school from Don Quijote, the company I’ve studied with in Madrid and Granada. Mexico offers a different system of teaching Spanish. I need it. I’ve not been improving enough in understanding and in being able to freely speak the language. 

This school in Oaxaca has a maximum of 2 in a class and uses a very different approach. Result: today, 4 hours one on one with Alfonso. It was exhausting. Four hours on a range of topics, free flowing but not the close, invasive discussions I’m used to having in class on everything about your present and past. Nor did we have exhaustive discussions of grammar. 

Instead, I was seated opposite various charts listing specific words and phrases across the table. He sat at one end. This meant I could refer to the specific phrases and conjugations when needed. He corrected my tenses, pronunciation, choice of words etc but in a very constructive way and not every error. (Yes, Muriel, if he corrected every one we might still be there!).

Tomorrow? Who knows! Apparently a third person is starting and I don’t know how classes will be divvied up. My fellow student is an American, a decade or so younger than me and, I think, is ahead of me in learning Spanish. 

Based on today, I am going to be more confident at speaking it and will be able to understand more. Hopefully a month is enough time!!

Paid for one week, have kept my options open but one or two days more I’m guessing I’ll be paying for another 3 weeks if it’s always like this. Yes, it is the most expensive local school I found but it also has the smallest classes. 

Tough life

Today? Walked to school frantically searching for a fruit seller for breakfast. Failed, fruit sellers don’t start before 9am, clearly. 

Second best option, a cafe con leche. If anything will drive me rapidly back to Spain it’s for their wonderful cafe con leche. Here, they added spoon after spoon of sugar!! Ugh. And the milk is UHT, I think. So, Spain, I’m coming back as soon as I can. Sydney coffee is always disappointing, usually cold unless you request it extra hot and in a take away cup. Fascinating how that town prides itself on its coffee. Melbourne is justified in doing so but Sydney? A resounding NO. Here, well, I’ll try again tomorrow.

A break – 15′ after 1.5 hours of class. I went outside and just stood. Waiting for the mental tumult to die down. Sometimes I envy smokers with their smoke to enforce a mental break. My fellow student came out soon after and we swapped nano SIM cards to see if her problem was her phone or card. Poor her, it was the phone. 

Back to class for 2.25 hours more. Yes, 2.25 hours. Chatter, chatter. Not once did Alfonso ramble on. He kept moving the conversation and so it felt as though in our 4 hours (minus the 15′ break) I spoke as much Spanish as I have in many other classes combined. Our focus is on the present tense and two past tenses plus on using certain everyday expressions. 😊 exactly what I need as I know the workaround for a future tense.

After class fruit sellers were out and I ignored Alfonso’s advice not to buy fruit on the street. Desperation today but maybe I’ll take his advice tomorrow. Time will tell if he was correct – she looked clean! I know, looking isn’t enough!

Street versus respectable cafe or restaurant food always reminds me of my first trip to India: yes, after weeks of street food and no sickness at all, one expensive restaurant later and I was very sick and, for weeks afterwards.


Bought some more quesillo, that wonderful stringy cheese that could double as white shoe laces, the cheese similar to mozzarella but with more taste and a lot more salt and sold in long strips wrapped into a ball. Worth it. Hmmm. Yes, my new addiction now I’ve figured the chocolate is mostly sugar and the nuts will make me fat and stink of garlic!  

Then home, left books and collected my shorts for the gym. Well, a different selection of customers today. Remember how I thought the name Colossus worrying and that it was possibly a big boys’ gym? Well, you should have seen some of the guys there today! The most amazingly well developed bodies. Amazing. More of them today than on Saturday plus 3 or 4 women. Nicely built women but not as spectacular as some of the guys. Hmmm the ratio of muscle development to height in the men was inverse, interestingly.  

Home, swim in the wonderful lap pool in Casa Murguia and exchange a few words (Spanish, of course) with Maria Antonio. See, a tough life and weeks of it to come yet. 😊😉

Thinking about school: it gives you everyday language, the sort of words I know I’ve not yet picked up like ‘should’ and ‘have just’. Seems obvious but it’s like so many things, it’s how you cut the cake. By types of verbs or by colloquial expressions irrelevant of the types of verb tenses required. Like learning anatomy: by region or by system or by a mix. Other options exist in anatomy too, as in language.

Bits and pieces

Interesting conversion of an older church near here into a library and coffee shop. It also had a small reflecting pond I had Monica look into. This was after I nearly walked into it. No, nothing I read said walking on water was only achievable by one.

Has started raining again. Most afternoons, no, every afternoon, since I’ve been here it rains after 3. Not unpleasant as it’s usually warm and, so far, not hard rain. A couple of times I’ve gone swimming at this time, deliberately. Mornings are sunny. Don’t know what the temperature is but a singlet and long pants suffices. And no, I wear shorts out only when walking the 1.5 blocks home from the gym. Would love to wear them to school but clearly it’s not the done thing. And, being my height, I tower above many of the locals anyhow. 

School, Day 2 

Sitting, on the edge of a ledge, waiting to go to inside the school. Heard some movement in behind me and suddenly, a very large rat banged into the side of my foot. Luckily it swerved and kept going. The thought of it running up me- agghhh.

After the break the teachers changed. I now have Marco, like Alfonso, a 20s something graduate in languages.  

Marco is so patient. He had me read complex sentences and repeatedly corrected my pronunciation. He incorporated a range of very useful words in our discussions and ensured we used them repeatedly. Exactly what I need, to gradually build up what I know. 

My class again today is me, just me! The new student is in the other class and I’m delighted. 

Homework: ensuring I can correctly use various useful expressions. Am I happy? Yes, so far, very.

Rest of the day: finding where I could buy eggs and more quesillo. Think I’ll arrange a tour on Saturday to the Monte Alban, an apparently very impressive, and huge, series of buildings near here.

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