"Kati, everyone that comes here leaves us so soon" In the Oaxacan city mornings, the haze and smog lingers around the city like a longing lover, theres no way to avoid it, it hangs off of the rooftops and leans on the streetlamps, draping it's long arms down over the tops of the heads of the bustling sidewalk crowds, bumping and pushing, perdon perdon . . . and I attempt to romanticize the pollution and the noise so I can live in it and through it each day, but it is getting to me and I'm missing the mountains and beaches. The gas truck dragging large metal scraps attached to chains behind it's bumper and playing music over a loudspeaker in our neighborhood at 7 am and the buses spewing visible diesel fumes behind them as they putter and totter up the hills and through narrow streets...are now... a bit much.
The day antes ayer my friends picked me up to go to the mountains (away!) for a special comida. Alicia picked me up with Luis and Pablo in her car, brothers I had met at Cafe Bar Central my first week, and we caravanned with Beatriz and her
new roommate, Crystal- a tall, pale blonde from Greenwich, who seems to enjoy both computer games and camel cigarettes in equal measure. She balances trend and beauty well with a tendency towards the awkard, the geeky. Like the girl all the dungeons and dragons or magic card kids were tripping over themselves to get to in high school. Needless to say, her personality was refreshing relative to the serious and oversexed male-female hyper-hetero-dynamic in which I find myself unavoidably floating.
The group of us parked and headed up a hill on a dirt path that weaved past round raised ponds built of stone and filled with diverted water from the stream ten steps away. Giant trout swam around in the cold clear water and as I ducked my head under one of many weaving clotheslines, I was informed "Thats lunch!" with a gesture towards the dozens of dark shifty bodies flipping through the water.
The best part about eating fish in Oaxaca, I have learned so far, is that it is served heads, eyes and all. The last time I was served a fishhead, by mi casa mama, I tried to divert the attention away from myself by
offering up the head as a gift to my German housemate, Ursula, ("Tengo un regalo para ti, Ursula!!") who already thinks I am the strangest thing that she has ever witnessed. She often stares at me, watches me hang my clothes, pick at my pollo
, stretch on the lawn - with funny inquiries "You don't like the sauce?!"- "It's just chicken fat, Ursula." -"Why are you doing that there?" "Why are you saying that now?""Yoga?" ---"You don't like chicken fat?!?"
The pescado mountain meal was fun and delicious, we spent over an hour at the table, talking and laughing, sipping coffee at the end.
We headed to a lake that was held together up in the mountains by dikes. This adventure led to a 15 -minute explanation of the big differences between dike
in American English.
We spent a couple of hours on the banks of the lake. Crystal and Pablo at one point stripped down to their "knickers" for a swim. We watched hideous colorful geese, paddleboats and horseback riders, gossiped, snapped photos and laughed until the sun began to set.
We bought colorful coconut and tamarind candies, split them up among us
and headed back into the noise and hum of the city.
I arrived home to find Mikel had arrived back to our casa from his ten-day trip to the mountains to teach a documentary workshop. The poor guy ate something funny that afternoon ("at a super clean restaraunt, the last
place I would have questioned") and looked like death. Last I checked he was wobbly but healing, not intereseted walking past our driveway gate, and really looking forward to being able to eat yogurt. I keep hearing about the sick gringos...I'm just waiting my turn... Ayer
I learned the present future, future, and dabbled in the preterite past tenses. After class, the woman from the front office came up to me to tell me that my teacher thought I needed to move up to a higher level. I felt like I was in first grade again, administration deciding I need to be shuffled over to the G.A.T.E. program. Realizing what really mattered, more than the level, was the difference in speed of apprehension between my classmates and I (and what a waste of $8 USD/hour), I took off to a cafe by myself. In my time alone I
picked up far more than I had in class, and decided that group study is presently pointless for me. Today I put on a modest skirt, threw on some makeup, but a ribbon in my hair, and marched on up to my teacher : "How much for private lessons? Me and you?" --"Shh!! Don't talk about it here, I'll meet you at 1:15 in front of Santo Domingo- we'll work it out, very expensive through the school, you're going to get me in trouble here!" --and so it is that today I am meeting Arturo today at 1:15 for loophole lessons, behind the schools back, how very Oaxacan.
I am feeling confident with the language, but evidently I need to work harder because I swear I just ordered ONE piece of toast and ONE egg at this cafe and yet....they just brought me three pieces of toast, two containers of jelly, two packets of butter, two eggs, avocado, tomato, beans and cheese.....
Yesterday I finished Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
In the last section of the book, she repeatedly mentions these amazing people she met in Bali- incredibly interesting expats who speak some 6 different
languages and had started a successful business before they turned 25 and on and on. People who accomplished so much before the age I even made my big life-decision to leave the country. At the same time, these are people who have somehow been hurt, who have fled to find solitude, to pretend they are on a temporary hiatus, for decades. I wonder to myself if I really am working towards something here. Sometime I feel lost.
Why am I here, specifically here? I feel as though I need to justify everything. Whether it's to learn Spanish or to produce an analysis of the commodity chain of coffee from the Oaxacan countryside to the Humboldt table (hah! I've been a little too busy running off to lounge at the beach for that plan), or to figure out where to go to school or what to do with my life or how to "save" the world or and or and on and on. Christopher Warren is only 27 years old and he's dancing around here somewhere in Mexico after copping to the world that he participated in a investment scheme to amass a $100M fortune for himself before jetting out
critimasssssssss X 15 people
biggest group of bicyclists since ive arrived
of the country, untouched. What am I
doing with my
So I was sitting in the garden under a big beautiful decades-old tree dropping fruit blossoms on the table in front of me, and on my shoulders and bare feet. I was wondering this all to myself, reading along slowly, "What am I doing in Oaxaca? What am I accomplishing right now?" And in that moment, I swear, in answer to that question, I read "I suppose Bali's just as nice a place to run away to in solitude as Key West, Florida or Oaxaca, Mexico."
And I put down the book, walked straight into my bedroom and didn't leave until I had practically melted my brain from memorizing tenses.
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