I Moved To Oaxaca

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Was I overreacting?

There was no talking-to, just a lot of last-minute scrambling on everyone´s part in the ten minutes before classes started at 11a. I even got a happy note in my file.

So what about the class? I only had two kids today, about 7 or 8 years old. One kid was talkative, the other was not. We mostly colored in our "Hello! My Name Is ______" sheets, listened to the They Might Be Giants "No!" cd, and played outside on the patio. Until little talkative Naomi fell and skinned her elbow. We ended class by reading "Green Eggs and Ham."

My Monday class got cancelled -- Greg´s too -- so we have two days off in a row. Whee! I´ll be sure to tell you what we end up doing in the tourist department.

After school today, our friend and fellow teacher Patti showed us where Gigante is. Anyone remember Zody´s? It was a smaller Zody´s, with food. But now I have tortillas. And beans. I bought one can, then bought a bag of raw beans -- I mean, come on: the can was $5.60, and the bag was only $7.80. And they´re not hard to make, just a bit time-consuming. We couldn´t stand the sensory overload, so we didn´t look around too much, but. The row of mayonnaise went for about 20 feet. Really. Mexicans like mayonnaise. Those corn-on-the-cob-on-a-stick vendors, or elotes, as Patti says, coat the corn with mayo, then chile powder, then lime juice. She says it´s really good. Because we had the car, Patti loaded up at Gigante and we drove her to her house in a colonia (or neighborhood) in Atzompa, on the outskirts of Oaxaca -- the village famous for its green-glazed pottery. She can see Monte Alban from her front door. Nice place, and a fun visit. It took us ten minutes to drive there, and her an hour on the bus. The streets are dirt, she has no indoor plumbing, and cooks on what is basically a Coleman-type stovetop. But her neighbors, who keep goats and turkeys, bring her food whenever they slaughter one of the animals, and the family across the way brings her food most every day, whatever the señora happens to have made. And people that walk by wave hello to her.

She lives way out there because she´s a sculptor and has built a kiln in her yard, and hopes to soon start producing high-fired ceramics. It was a very pleasant visit, and I have to say, I took a surprising amount of delight in the noise the turkeys made.

So, I´m chatting with Patti in her kitchen, and I ask her about cooking the beans. She said, "Oh, don´t buy beans from Gigante. They´re crap. They import them from the States, and they´re old. You could cook them for a month and they´d never get tender." Hmm. How about the Juarez market? "Oh, yeah, you can get half a kilo for a buck-sixty. Here." She then gave me two kinds of beans: tiny, black morelos with a white eye, and big ´n´beefy tri-color beans that she says are like eating meat. I´ll ask her again what they´re called. So I´ve got 'em soaking now, and I can´t hardly wait until tomorrow to eat them!


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