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 12, 2009

Oaxaca 11/12/09

From There To Here

Some interesting people on the 12 hour journey from D.C. to Oaxaca.

I met a very interesting lady around my age who has similar interests & expectations at this point in life! We talked the entire way from D.C. to the 1st stop – Charlotte. Of course, she lives in Texas & I in Md. Pero, hopefully I can visit her when I am volunteering in San Antonio within the next year at the local Catholic Worker House. I got her email address.

I met a man who along with another man has just invented or created a new vegetable – a combo garlic & onion. It will soon be marketed by a major corporation.
At the airport in Mexico and on the ride to my home stay in Oaxaca, I talked with a young lady who is a working artist. She is here in Oaxaca to study with a resident artist. We are meeting for dinner over the weekend.

One of my suitcases got left behind in Oaxaca, & I did not know if it would arrive until the next day. I was concerned as it had my meds. Mercifully it arrived the next morning.
I was surprised to not be tired at all after 12 hours in flight & the activities after. BUT, the next day (the 1st day of classes), my mind was exhausted from trying to keep up in Spanish!

The Homestay

The homestay is very pleasant. The hostess is a middle school teacher & my host in a semi-retired architect. The house is a 5 minute walk from the language school. I walk right past a large hospital. Ok, except the 1st day I saw a doctor in a white lab coat on the street in front with a mask on. Perhaps a bit loco on my part, but as there are many people who appear ill, I walk on the other side of the street! What with H1N1.

My room is fine except they do not believe in table or floor lamps. All lights are ceiling lights. Not particularly warm. I was struck by how firm the mattress is. I have slept wonderfully!

Breakfast comes with the homestay – all for $ 16 a night. Supper, a light meal, is an extra $ 3. So 7 days at the house w/ breakfast & supper costs $ 130.

There is an interior courtyard – small- but pleasant. The weather has been wonderful – 70’s in the day & 50’s at night. Bright sun.

This week there is one other student at the homestay – an older lady who is ok, but a tad persnickerty.

Next week there will be a 2nd lady. The can hold 5 students.

La escuela – a five minute walk

The school, Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca is in a lovely old home with an interior courtyard and plenty of outside grounds. It is fenced in by a concrete wall about 8 feet tall. Flowers are in bloom and there are many tables & chairs available on the various porches or should I say verandas.

I was very surprised with the Level they put me in. There are 3 levels, each with two sublevels. For example beginner is 1A & 1 B, then 2A & 2B, and finally 3A & 3 B. I am in 2B. Now how did that happen! The 1st hour & ½ I thought my mind would explode! My ability to understand spoken Spanish seemed far inferior to the class level. So after consultation, I went to 2 A for the 2nd 90 minutes. Ok, that was a tad too easy!!! SO, what happened?

Well, in Costa Rica, I began my 1st experience with Spanish instruction in the beginners category, of course. In my 2nd week the teacher spent much of the time flirting w/ the only other student, a young lady. Consequently, though it was only an intermediate beginner class, the teacher covered 4 tenses completely + the infinitive & participles in four class periods. WAY TOO MUCH. She wanted it that way. Result: I had been exposed to many very forms, but with no practice.

THEN, this fall I watched the DVD series 24 which Aman & Mao got me into while in London. At home, I watched Seasons 2 thru 7 with Spanish subtitles taking many notes. Consequently, I am somewhat able to read many very forms but have little ability to hear them or speak them easily. So I’m not really 2B but then again a tad beyond 2A !!

Given the choice, I decided to stay in 2B. Further result? Last night after supper, I began my back etc, stretches lying on my bed. I could not stay awake. I gave up around 8:30 p.m. & slept well until about 6:30 a.m. My poor brain

Posts to come: (hopefully more interesting!)

· A program sponsored by the son of the school’s founder – the program provides micor-loans for Oaxacan women to allow them to become financially successful. It’s a day trip in which we pay $ 50 and visit the women at work (various crafts etc.). The $ 50 goes to loans for the women.

· Intercambio Experience.

· Oaxacan Cooking class – making tortillas from scratch etc.

· Enjoying the evening after supper while watching a group of young people practice their dance steps. They are good!

· Discovering a wonderful restaurant for salads beyond one’s imagination. Keep in mind that in most of Mexico, one eats lettuce etc. while taking a major risk of illness.

· Many wonderful students in the school (many my age) AND some real idiotas!

· A very beautiful and walkable city – Oaxaca. Sunny all day every day in the 70´s F
or 21 to 24 C

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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.