Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our time in Oaxaca has come to an end.

cross at the aqueducts

It has been a busy four weeks with our usual array of new friends and good memories. As always I find this last blog to be more fragmented as I try to organize unorganizable events. Cultural differences and similarities fascinate me. Some of it has do with how they interpret etiquette and responsiblity. Proper manners such as never coming to your restaurant table with the bill until you ask. Don't get up from the dinner table and leave without asking permission. Their desire to please is very Eastern, therefore if you ask for directions they will give them to you . . . even if its incorrect. Its better to see you smile with happiness than to see that lost frustrated look on your face. The solution is to use a map. 
Another strange thing wasn't so apparent at first (but now I finally get it), has to do with language. One day during class, the teacher corrected me because I wrote "I forgot to put gas in my car yesterday." Hugo said "No, your car forgot to put gas in itself." He laughed at our incredulous expressions. I asked my conversation partner (a Mexican lady who is an English teacher) how do you say "typo"? You know, like an error on a menu or something. She said "Error del dedo", which literally means "error of the finger". Hugo says this is common in suppressed cultures where being at fault could be painful. He pointed out that Americans tend to take credit for everything; "I broke my ankle." Really? Did your take a hammer and break it yourself? I guess all language has its idiosyncrasies
The street band during the day

I remember walking with Joe downtown on one of the pedestrian cobblestone streets. It was dark and somewhat crowded. We heard Santana’s ‘Black Magic Woman’ playing. A band had set up on the sidewalk, so of course we sat down on the opposite sidewalk and enjoyed the little concert.

A couple from our school, from Canada, have been traveling around the world for two years! Can you imagine that? Liz writes a travel blog that is very interesting. They started in Asia and worked their way to Mexico. They have two more months and they go home.

We discovered a hot dog cart by the cathedral. We staked it out for about a week. The guy always had a crowd lined up waiting for their dogs, so we finally mustered up the courage and got our dogs for 13 pesos apiece. They were fantastic! Loaded up with all the goodies like salsa, relish, mustard, and catsup. We ate there every chance we got.

cross at a hotel
 A major issue here is the lack of water. The region reminds me of Yreka, California. It is a high mountain valley, about three or four thousand feet. They have a reservoir, but they bring the water for human use to the houses by trucks for some reason. Apparently the amount the city is able to provide through the pipes isn’t enough, so people have to pay the trucks to top off their huge rooftop cisterns. The water for the house (remember, this is a very nice house), stinks to high heaven. No one drinks the water from the trucks or the pipes. They only drink bottled water. When we took showers we always put a bucket under the water as it warmed to save as much as possible for the garden. This morning, on our last day, the water just stopped. Not a drop came out, so to use the toilets we had to go outside, fill our buckets with dirty water from the garden barrel, and fill the toilet tank in order to flush. Ironically, it rained so hard two nights ago that the streets turned into flash flood rivers. We got completely drenched.

Our Mexican conversation students
 A frequent sight was the parking police walking around with license plates under one arm and a screwdriver in the other hand. We questioned this oddity at school. They said the police simply took your license plate if you parked illegally. So then what? They had to go down and buy new plates for about 150 bucks. The ticket for driving without plates was even higher. People were always trying different tricks to avoid this. Some welded their plates to their cars. Joe suggested making them magnetic so you could just remove them and take them with you. Devious mind.

Well I’m signing out until the next adventure. It’s been fun traveling with you as always, Heidi and Joe.

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