Friday, December 26, 2008

Tsang family Xmas 2008

The chapulines catches Joon`s eye...
Seriously considering it....

Eating the chapulines!
For the record, Joon is only the 2nd non-Oaxacan i have met so far who was brave enough to put a chapuline in his mouth. The Oaxacans love them- they are fried grasshoppers with some red stuff on them (chile?)- and I actually see people standing around with a ziploc bag just munching on them. Joon did not like them all that much, but he gets extra credit for trying it.
The family all arrived in these last few days, and we have been walking and eating our way through Oaxaca. Here is a shot of Joon, Derek, and my mom eating at a sidewalk stand on Christmas morning.
Lunchtime at the 20 de noviembre market- my dad and Derek enjoying menudo soup.
Joon after he finished his enchilada at Central de Abastos market.

On the way home from Central de Abastos, we stopped at the nieves area to cool off with some ice cream.
Then we all headed home for our daily nap/resting period while my mom, notorious for her endless reserves of energy, stayed out wandering the streets. This is our daily routine.
Christmas was weird, being in a different country and all, but wonderful. We went out for dinner and I had some really great soup.
I have a pretty awful cough that started this morning. It is a dry, itchy cough. So far I`ve been drinking tea with lemon and honey and using cough drops. If anyone has any other suggestions for remedies, I will be happy to hear them.
Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

oaxaca 9

Jenny, Juri, Nora, Erin, and Kaori at the fair.
The entire spanish school sampling ´nieves´ (translation: oaxacan ice cream) outside La Soledad church.

hello, once again i am having trouble with my camera. my other memory stick is arriving on wednesday with joon so for now i am holding out on buying another. hopefully it is just a memory stick thing. we shall see.
the family gets here tomorrow evening! i am looking forward to it very much.
also, gracie from the hostel back at home is coming to pto escondido with her family and we are going to try to meet up in the next couple of weeks. i am so lucky to get to be with loved ones on this trip.
the other night some friends and i went to the fair. it was a lot of fun. i realized that i don´t usually go on rides or play games at the fair, because everything always costs so much. but this time i have the exchange rate in my favor, so i went on two rides and played the best shooting game of all time. there are these glass cases, with little bands made of dolls in them, and if you hit the target, the band plays a song for you. i tried to take a picture of this wonderful invention, but that is when my camera decided it wasn´t going to cooperate anymore.
i am putting yet more fascinating stencils up. i don´t understand how there is so much! and it is all so cool i have to share it. i showed my pictures to nora the other day and she asked me where i see all of them. she grew up here and said that she has never seen it before. i guess i´m just on the look-out for it. she also enlightened me to the fact that in times of political turbulence, people tend to use the image of benito juarez (considered one of oaxaca´s great leaders). back in 2006 there was a lot of stuff going on in oaxaca, and maybe that is when all these stencils started showing up?
anyway, in the next few days you will be seeing a lot of photos of me and my family doing touristy stuff for the holidays. i hope everyone is doing well and that you have a nice holiday season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oaxaca 8/ Posadas

Hi! Tomorrow is my last day of class at Oaxaca International. I´m feeling pretty sad about it. I really like the people at the school and my classmates, and learning Spanish. I really want to be fluent one day and I think I will have to move to a Spanish speaking country to do it. The good news is, I found out today that I have learned all the verb tenses there are, so now all that´s left is perfecting my subjuntivo and beefing up on vocabulary and slang.
Here is a photo of the courtyard of my apt. building. I saw doña Lulu yesterday, putting up more Christmas decorations and she confessed to me that she loves to put them up, but hates to take them down. I understand completely. The building looks really nice with all the lights and angels and the 3 kings.My door is the open one on the bottom left.

Two nights ago some teachers from the school took us to the first posada of the year. It is a Christmas tradition where women from the community (las madrinas) get together and put on a little neighborhood party. They make food, drinks, and get music and piñatas going. They do all this out of the goodness of their hearts, for the community and for the sake of tradition. It is sort of like a SF street fair except no one is charging you any money for anything. Mexicans are so cool!Here´s a photo of my ponche. I hope I´m spelling that right. It is like a tea with cinnamon, sugarcane, and some unidentified fruits. Kind of like cider.
Here´s a picture of one of my teachers, Nora, and one of my classmates, Erin.

A shot of the madrinas passing out food. There was media tortas (half sandwiches) and tamales. mmmmmmm....

Krazy Kaori showing her media torta and tamale.

An action shot of grammar class. Kaori, Juri, me and our teacher Judith. We have grammar for 2 hours, a short break, then conversation for 2 hours.

Oops- this picture is supposed to be in the ´posters for simone´ post.

Oaxaca posters for Simone

Back in late Oct/early Nov when I was in Oaxaca the first time and I met Jake and Simone, Simone pointed out all the cool posters Oaxaca has. It seems to be the way they advertise music and political stuff here, and there are new posters all the time. They are mostly pasted onto the stone walls, but sometimes they are hung in shop windows. Anyway, I am putting some photos up here in honor of Simone so she can see what is up these days.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

oxaca 7

Haha- here is a picture that my friend Lucy Pickles took. She was fascinated by this man selling balloons in the Zòcalo and looking bored and pissed off. She threatened to sit next to him and strike up a conversation but we were able to talk her out of it.

Pictures 2-7 are of this amazing corner covered with all kinds of beautiful stuff. I think it has been changing, because one part looks different from the first time i saw it two weeks ago. I am going to make a habit of walking by to see if there is anything new.
Up, up, and away!!!! Hooray for ninjas!

Today i discovered that i am a slave to caffeine. I didn`t drink any coffee today because i slept in late and by the time i had a throbbing headache, it was too late to drink coffee. uuuuuuuuuuuugh. I feel like the picture above, minus the gun.
I didn`t do much today but last night i was walking around and took some pictures of more graffiti. Yesterday was the celebration of Noche de las Luces (Night of Lights) and there was a parade complete with marching band, of course, and they were passing out these cool candle holders with windguards shaped like flowers. Sadly, i did not take any pictures so you will just have to rely on my one sentence description.
Some classmates and I went out for dinner and i had the best wood-fired pizza ever. Thank god for wood fired stoves and goat cheese!
I went to the big movie theatre today and it was wonderful to watch a movie. I saw ´Web de Mentiras` or `Body of Lies`. It is weird because i haven`t seen any ads for movies in 2 months so i had to just guess which movie to watch.
Also something funny is that they guard the exits when the movie ends, so you have to go out of the theatre. I guess they really don`t want you to get a two-fer while you`re there.
Tomorrow I start my last week of Spanish class. It is a little bit sad because I really like the people at my school, and class has been fun.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

oaxaca 6

Hi! The virgen of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. Yesterday was her big day, and here in Oaxaca they had a giant fair in her honor at a park near my house called El Llano. The best part was the ´toritos´ (little bulls) and the giant tower of fireworks.
There is a torito in the picture above, right before it is set on fire. So, they light it and all those little white things start shooting sparks and someone holds it on their head and runs around (i guess you could call it dancing...) in the street with it as it shoots fireworks all over the place and the wheels on the thing spin around. It is pretty amazing really, and I got video of it on my camera but i can`t figure out how to post it on the blog (Albert Simply Put, please help!).
Then, they have this big tower thing set up with wheels and fireworks all over it, and they light that on fire and it whistles and spins around. It is deliciously dangerous and fun to watch. One of the wheels actually flew off and went spinning (on fire of course) into the crowd, between two fire brigade members, and onto the leg of an innocent bystander. We would never allow this to happen in the US and it is one of the reasons why we are no fun.

Before the fireworks, I went to my teacher Nora`s language academy to watch her sing in French for her school`s posada. Some of my classmates went too. clockwise starting with me, because you know who i am: me, Laura, her boyfriend Carlos, Alyssa, Nora.

A donkey at the fair.

These are two of my classmates. They are Juri and Kaori from Japan. They are probably the two cutest people I have ever met.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

oaxaca 4?5? can`t remember...

Hi! I am experimenting with the picture placement and i don`t know where things are going to end up. Sorry if it is unreadable later.
Today our language school set up a tour of the ex-convent Santa Catalina. It was a convent at one point, then when Benito Juarez became the president of Mèxico, he made all the Catholic buildings public and the convent served as Oaxaca`s City Hall and the jail. Then, years later they city decided to restore the building and today it is a hotel. The cool thing is that there are a lot of ghost sightings here, and although our tour guide was extremely nervous about talking about ghosts (for public relations reasons), we got him to tell us a story about a family who saw nuns with blood all over themselves walking around the hotel. The family thought it was a show of some sort, and wrote a letter to the mgt. that `the nun show was inappropriate for children`.
After the tour, some of us went to get a drink and we saw one of the many marching band parades snaking it`s way down the street. (There`s a picture above along with the angry line of traffic behind the parade.) This particular parade was to educate people about some sort of ritual cleansing. They were burning sage and splashing the sideliners with plants dipped in special herb water.
The top picture is me with some of my classmates (left to right:Jenny, Lucy (eng.), Shirley (hk), Chris (eng.), Kaori (jpn) and Juri (jpn).
Also featured is a fountain in El Llano, a cool park up the road from my apt., Lucy in a funky little coffee shop around the corner from there, and more street art.
There are sooooo many cool things to see in Oaxaca. I am discovering more every day. I`m really glad i decided to spend a whole month here. I`m also really appreciating having a routine with school in the mornings and hanging out with classmates in the evenings. It is also nice not to pack up every 3 days and move.
I found a neat little lending library that has a lot of books in English. It was a huge blessing becuase books in Mexico are really expensive (like 30 usd) because of taxes, but my book only cost 10 pesos (less than a dollar!).
Well that is all for today. There is a big festival for the Virgin of Guadalupe coming up on Friday- I will be sure to take some pictures and post them soon.
Hope everyone is doing well!

Cities I've Visited