Oaxaca, Mexico: farewell for 2015

Looking back on 6.5 weeks in Oaxaca

The day I arrived I thought I might have made a mistake. I didn’t like the look of the town. 

After a sleep it had improved!😏. Funny that. Since then I’ve been sure it was such luck I selected this town, the Casa Murguia and the Escuela Interactivo. Together they have made this a great break.

Escuela Interactivo has a small space, a few rooms, in behind this door.  The rooms are around an open air, sunny courtyard.   
This photo of Casa Murguia makes it look dark and uninteresting. 

You’ve seen the photos from out the back, the pool, the gardens around the apartments and it’s clearly very different. 

Like so many houses here what you see from the street does not represent the house at all. Public faces of properties are often unassuming.

  
Non tourist season is best time to travel here for many reasons.

Mosquitos are a problem at present, possibly because of the garden where I live but they are everywhere. I reek of DEET and equivalents and have just a few spaces left for hungry mosquitos.😏. I look forward to a mosquito free few months coming up.

History and Mexicans 

History here seems to be one of division: tribe against tribe. As ‘tribes’ grew bigger the underlying struggles continued. Then with the Spanish, finally evicted in 1810. Differences over territorial ownership were settled with the USA in 1910. And since? 

Mexicans often speak of themselves deprecatingly, on radio and in person. Wry jokes at their expense about it being a wonderful country but populated by Mexicans. Very harsh but I heard it my first time here in 1997 and again this year. The government is seemingly always viewed as a joke here as well. 

There is a current focus on resolving corruption and ensuring human rights. The volume and magnitude of offences successive governments have committed against the people is astounding. Remembering ‘government’ has had people come and go but the one party has carried the game for a long time now. It’s hard to forget the military and the police disappear people and blatantly massacre others. This is expressed in strong anti government sentiments. Hmm, still not sure how you get sewerage that works, schools, health care, human rights and roads without at least one level of government but it has to be benign! 

Police

One of my enduring memories of here will be of police spending day after day hanging around the movable barriers at corners in the Centro. Highest count yet? 18 at one barrier on Wednesday. Yes, 18! No, just hanging about on corners in the Centro. But 18! No signs of marchers or other people of possible formal interest were lurking nearby. So, why 18?  Change of shifts perhaps. The sad thing is they don’t act bored and they just stand around day after day after day! Or drive around looking fierce.

  
The guy on my side of this truck is deliberately looking to his right. As soon as I got out a camera he turned his head. 

Brief panic at start of my last week

Enjoying my pre school coffee at the best cafe here, Brujula in Acala, and went to check my wad of cash. I needed it to pay the school for this and last week. No wad! Aggghhh. 

Raced back home as I thought I’d left it on the table while getting ready today. Sure enough. Phew. And then had to race to school to be on time, especially since all the new students were expected today.

So, who turned up? Remember I said a heap of students was expected but… just one. Oh happy day. I was still in a class of 1. Remedial 101? No! But a lower level of intermediate than her. 

Student #1 attended this school a couple of years earlier, with her partner. This time it’s alone for a month, the longest time they’ve been apart for more than a few days in ?10 years. Her partner has just changed her job as has she. I only met her before classes started and at the end of the break so didn’t get a chance to speak to her. Well, the 5 of us: her, me, Marco, Alfonso and Luz (the owner), discussed modern art and when a tomato on a chair is art, if ever. Luz’s daughter is a curator in a museum of modern art. 

Not a topic I can contribute to well in any language. 

And then another student started later in the week. The two were put together. Oh happy day! ☺️

Radio

A big advantage of waking by 6am is that I don’t miss the guy spruiking medallions for San Bernadino of the cross each day. As I’ve learnt more I’ve finally understood more of what he’s offering: so, if your animals are dying without explanation, your business is not going well, you should get one of these medallions too. Help keep away various bad spirits even, I think, witches. It will help ensure your success and prosperity. And it will do something for your sexual vigour. Definitely worth trying. No, sorry, I’ll never have time to go to his offices.

You are right. If I understood Spanish well this is probably not a station I would have chosen but, there’s enough chatting on it plus, the purveyor of the medallions is not on all the time.

Time to finish here

Yes. Last day of school was Friday 10th October and I’m tired. I want to learn more but now seems a very good time to stop. Ok. It’s true. I changed my ticket and am going home earlier. Well, sort of, jp sorted it out for me very late one night my time. 😊

One more weekend in Oaxaca: 1 massage, a few swims in 30.5C water 😄, a couple of markets to attend, possibly a museum again, more coffees, cups of chocolate and horchatas (a local drink) and …. I don’t know what else. I know that I am happy school has ended. 

Future? Yes, more Spanish school somewhere but for no longer than a month at a time. Escuela Interactivo was an inspired choice of school.

Finished school

So, I’ve finished my last class in Mexico for a while! Yes. I enjoyed almost every minute. At first my brains were scrambled. Later ‘they’ found a rhythm and I was gradually much more comfortable in a range of situations with people with different accents. Still only intermediate level but with some of the previous gaps filled a little better. 

Off for a good lunch. Choice: a market or lunch? Easy. Both as the market will still be open in an hour. Don’t want to cook tonight and haven’t been eating well. Unfortunately it shows 😏.

Oh well. Home to fresh salads in mere days now. I’ll miss buying freshly prepared pomelo or watermelon on every corner. 

And I’ll miss the nice coffee at Cafe Brula off the Acala with its quirky view of life. 

  
   
   
And I’ll miss my other favourite coffee shop, Black Coffee Galleries, with its beautiful murals. One provided a background for a bit of a tv interview today while I was in there. 

 
 And of course , the rich life on streets here: from the girl speaking her lines as on a stage:

   
 
To the frequent and colourful parades

   
    
 
And of course, the Day of the dead. I’ll miss that. Signs the town is getting ready include images of ? Carmencita outside shops and more skulls and sets of pottery images of skulls and bones.

  
I will NOT miss the very loud explosions. Just had a set of 10, very nearby, in the past 10 minutes. If I live through tonight I hope never to hear them again. Thank heavens poor Jim isn’t here. Other dogs hate them too. Mary Jane had a ranch dog here the other night as the explosions were even worse up at her ranch. Poor dogs! And poor me! 

Summary

If you are thinking of Mexico: come to Oaxaca.

To improve your Spanish: Escuela Interactivo is great. Excellent system, good teachers and it IS interactive. Not sitting just filling in conjugations of complex verbs or copying stuff from the board. No way. You will be sitting facing lists of connectors, verbs etc that you will be using. With the verbs in different tenses.

I’ve enjoyed being here and am now very ready to go home. Yes, tomorrow, a flight to Mexico City of about an hour 40′. A 4 or 5 hour wait and then off to the airport in Dallas Fortworth. A few hours wait and a nighttime flight to Sydney.

So, taxi from here at 0645 local time and I’ll arrive in Sydney at about 6am Wednesday. Yeah, it’s a tough life being a traveller! 

Penguin

And the penguin? Still backing up the shark. At the rate their connection is going it looks as though it’s in perpetuity. 

  

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