Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Final Thoughts

It's hard to imagine that I take off for home tomorrow. Feelings are mixed as it has been fun as well as not easy! Then again... :-)

OUT AND ABOUT aka odds & ends! or as the Brits say - bits & bobs.

Converting to cobblestone - The street on the north side of the Zocalo (several blocks east) is being redone to be cobblestone - get those wonderful tourists further east !

Seriosuly though it is amazing to walk past.

Many, many men are hard at work with minimal tools. Before a pile of stones, a man selects a stone to be further trimmed - like from 6 x 8 to 4 by 6. All hand tools here.

Next men carefully lay out a grid pattern. The next men carefully place the stones (reduced in size) into straights lines - using a piece of loose concrete that must be just the right width.

Next group checks with a level; finally pour cement, work in, brush off, finish.

ALL within one block.

It is past 7 p.m.- completely dark, and all are still working. On other streets, men labor under flash lights. I have watched these scenes for weeks & have yet to see anyone taking a break - amazing workers.

  • Oaxaca is definitely a wonderful city to visit - very safe, incredibly beautiful, unreal weather 24/7 - ¡Más o menos! BUT watch out for the pitfalls!
    There are all kinds of permanent objects to trip you up. 4 steel posts sticking up about an inch for future lamps!
  • Steel hooks about the size of a size 10 shoe - firmly ensconced in cement and sticking up vertically - right at corners!
  • Streets that are dug up with two parallel trenches about 5 feet deep. At the corners and in between to cross - ¡Cuidado! Walk across a board to cross the street.
  • non-union hours? Workers in the streets work well past 6 p.m.
  • Pedestrians have no right away here - ZIP, nada, rien!
  • Indigenous people who do not read Spanish, older who cannot see - want to take the bus. No problem. Los gritones jump out of the front door as the bus stops & yell, loudly the various locales that the bus passes through. Fare please is 4.5 pesos = 34 U.S. cents OR .21 pounds (British) or .23 Euro.


Teaching is uneven. I think it's time to take private lessons. All schools seem to make the assumption that you are ready for pluscuamperfecto when yours truly is still struggling to understand the spoken word.

Lots of info from fellow students about interesting schools in Guatamala, Spain etc. Not that I wouldn't come back here!


The Oaxacans in the street are very pleasant & one never feels uncomfortable etc. Some of the students are unique! The homestay people are ok. Not much of a family experience like Costa Rica. The lady who does most of the work, lives there etc, and is quasi family - seems to be enthralled with the attitude of The Merchant of Venice! A little more soup, por favor? ¡No! ¡Soy de servir la cantidad exacta!


My Spanish has improved. Understandably to become fluent takes a lot of work. As I will be returning to Europe in February to see my wonderful friends & volunteer, (gosh while I'm already over there!) I hope to go to Granada for 1 or 2 weeks. Pero, first work to pay or it!

There are several interesting schools in Guatemala. One is taught by former guerillas! Another has a program of free classes for volunteering with the local people. I will likely be back here as it is a gorgeous city. I also hope to go to Chiapas (Mexcian state) to San Cristobal.

Happy Thanksgiving all in the U.S.

A group of us just had dinner out - not quite turkey & all the trimmings! But fun. Flight home tomorrow, Friday. Expect to catch up by Monday & do some subbing. Then the 7th of December, I begin 6 weeks of full time substitute teaching at Loch Raven High.

Hasta luego!

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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.