I realize that lately our updates are becoming less and less frequent. I guess the main reason for that is… we don’t want to “bother” (for lack of a better term) our readers unless we have something interesting to share.
I am still loving life in Oaxaca, but lately I haven’t thought of my life as all that interesting – aside from the fact that I’m currently living in another country. My life isn’t boring, but now that I’m not traveling, it has become much more routine than exciting. I haven’t yet spent any significant time outside of the city, so my days are occupied with normal things – probably not terribly unlike the things everyone else does as well. I spend plenty of time with friends and acquaintances as we try to help each other improve in our efforts to learn a foreign language. I attend a language exchange every Saturday morning where I coach wanna-be English speakers who, in turn, help me master Spanish. Then during the week I meet some of them informally just to chat.
I am regularly teaching a local woman English as well. She didn’t even know the English alphabet when we started although could count to ten and knew some basic words, like the names of some colors, etc. I also have a Oaxaqueño friend who is studying to be an English teacher, so he has written his thesis – in English, of course – and he and I are working hard to edit it. It’s not as simple as my correcting his word order, spelling, and punctuation. Sometimes I genuinely don’t know what message he is trying to convey because it has been lost in translation. This project is taking a fair amount of time.
But otherwise, my life is pretty routine. I usually cook for myself at home instead of going out because it’s cheaper. I used my oven for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and the only reason for my relative success (if I may be so immodest) is because I was a fairly competent baker at home. Well, it’s more like half an oven and the temperature dial goes from - to + which isn’t too much help. From now on I’ll just use it for roasting vegetables, but no more baking. I still go to free concerts in the park and walk a lot. The guy in the mercado from whom I buy my produce recognizes me, the guy from whom I buy my quesillo and butter recognizes me, the woman at the laundromat knows my name… I know where to get the best street tamales, I know where to find the cheapest comida corrida (with beer specials!), I know which ATM charges the lowest fees, I know where to buy actual plain yogurt (instead the stuff that has sugar as its second ingredient), and I know which bakeries to avoid if I need a cake fix.
Even though it’s only temporary, it’s nice to feel that I “belong” somewhere for awhile, which is something you can’t achieve when you are always on the go.
Oaxaca really still is one big party after another. But the biggest one most recently (aside from the week-long Danzon Conference and the three-day Ice Cream Festival) was the celebration for Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16. Since September 1 the zocalo has been adorned in red, white, and green lights, and although it’s pretty much a waste of energy and money it looks spectacular. Also during this month in the zocalo there is a big ceremony complete with music, speeches, and military personnel every morning to raise the flag and every evening to take it down.
On the night of Saturday the 15th, there was a big celebration in the zocalo with concerts, fireworks (of course!) and activities. Then, at 11:00 p.m., the people gathered for El Grito – the ritual in which someone in authority recites a list of things, each of which begins with “Viva…” (“Long live…”) and is then answered by the crowd crying, “¡Viva!” (El Grito kind of translates to “The Yell.”) It is based on the declaration of the Mexican War of Independence cried by a Mexican priest on September 16, 1810.
Sunday featured a parade in the morning and then some various activities, but by mid-afternoon everything around town was mostly quiet because people gathered privately for their own celebrations at home. The parade (un desfile, which is different from una calenda) was interesting but not that exciting. Mostly just a lot of people, from school children to covert military personnel, marching directly towards the sun in heavy, sweaty uniforms. (And no one was running around from marcher to marcher with squirt bottles. That’s for amateurs.) This is not the occasion for marching bands, floats, throwing candy, or those tall gigantic people with the swinging arms. Just marching and displaying. Pictures of parades usually aren’t very interesting, but you should to check mine out (click here) – I saw some things (mainly weapons) that I’m just not used to seeing.
Hmm… that’s about it. Erik and Apollo arrive in less than a month to see for themselves all the reconnaissance work I’ve been doing for them in Oaxaca. I’ve always maintained that one of the things I enjoy most about Oaxaca is its walkability. But the ease with which I can around the city may be irrelevant for someone with a large leg brace and cane. So we will take it as it comes. Erik may need to spend more days at home than I usually do, but that will be just fine. But – the great news – is that finally I will get to open the bottles of mezcal that I bought at the Feria de Mezcal back in July specifically to share with Erik. Can’t wait!