Saturday, December 8, 2012

Oaxaca week one

I’m currently in Oaxaca studying Spanish and eating my weight in delicious moles, tostadas, tacos, arroz con leche, helados, y mucho más. Last weekend, I took a day trip to a couple of sites in another part of Oaxaca’s central valley. We visited a huge, old cyprus tree in a nearby town, a calcified waterfall called  hierve el agua (the water boils) for the way that it appears to bubble out of the rock (though the water is not hot) and a Zapotec temple site, Mitla.

Mosaic work at Mitla
My life here is relaxed, with low-stress Spanish classes and plenty of time to explore on my own. The family I’m staying with is charming and the school (Amigos del Sol) director has been amazingly friendly and helpful. People on the street seem quite willing to speak to foreigners like me with broken Spanish (and are often keen to try out their English). There’s always something going on in the Zócalo; so far I’ve seen a physical activity fair complete with baton twirlers and overzelaous public Zumba classes, a seven(ish)-year-old singer with a band in spiffy uniforms, public chess, Paraguayan musicians, marimba players, clowns, and craft and food markets. When you get bored of any of these things, the people watching remains top-notch. There are lots of museums and sites of interest around the city, as well as some fabulous places to eat. I’d wholeheartedly recommend the city and the school.

One odd thing about living here is the surprisingly frequent noise from explosions that you hear in any direction at any time of day. My host family assures all is normal and that people are celebrating, and other people have called the explosions fireworks, but I’m a bit confused by the phenomenon. Fireworks at 10 AM? You wouldn’t be able to see them. Explosions sounding off at 11 PM on a Tuesday - why? Perhaps this wouldn’t be the best place for anyone coming directly from Syria or Afghanistan to learn Spanish. (I’m not exaggerating the frequency, I’ve heard 15 or so while writing this paragraph!)

Hierve el agua from above
Hierve el agua from below
And finally, to inspire a little salivating:

Duck tacos at Los Danzantes restaurant

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