I Moved To Oaxaca

Friday, April 30, 2004

Had lunch with Judy yesterday, who gave me the scoop on Chicken Place: they moved! Somewhere down the street, still on Garcia Vigil, but we haven't quite found where exactly, and the cardboard sign they posted at the old location blew away in one of our recent rainstorms.

Tomorrow we celebrate Labor Day -- or Workers Day, or May Day. I don't remember what appelation Mexico applies to this most Marxist of holidays. I only know that they don't celebrate it in September. But like everywhere else, we're going to celebrate it by not working. Granted, I've been doing a lot of that lately, but still. I think we will widen our celebration to include a viewing of Zapata, which opens today down in Gringolandia. The trailer kicks ass, so we don't care that it will be entirely in (undoubtedly) rapid-fire Spanish, we're going!

Thursday, April 29, 2004

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Hey, in six days I'll be standing in Virginia getting ready to trudge another couple hundred miles up the Appalachian Trail. I've already asked my step-daughter Alisha and her husband Brian to mail a box of Humboldt County goodness to my last maildrop I'll hit; if you want to get in on the fun, send postcards, letters, or pandora's box via the regular old U.S. postal service (the post office in Waynesboro will not accept mail sent via UPS or FedEx) to:

Suzanne Courteau
US Post Office
Waynesboro, VA 22980
Please hold for AT hiker

And if you do I'll send you a surprise from Oaxaca when I get back.

I joined the Horn Club for Men!

I drove G to school because it was pouring rain this morning. So he had a second cup of coffee then we hurried across the street to our estacionamiento to get Little Jumbo ... who decided not to start. Great. Greg jumps out of the car to race to work while I pull out the cell phone to tell them he'll be late. Then the car starts. So I zoom around the block to catch Greg and ferry him to Berlitz. And on the way I got to toot my horn at some yahoo trying to make a u-turn. Greg said he made some vague hand gesture in return. Doesn't bother me; the power of the horn is mine!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Hoy, tenemos mucho color.

It was hot today, hot enough for us to pick up a couple of cans of Tecate and a 40-ouncer of Sol -- or, since Mexico is metric, a 940'er. Milliliters, that is. That was on our way home after eating lunch with Osvelia. I suggested the Chicken Place, and volunteered to trudge up there and buy lunch, but when G-man and I got there we saw that it's still closed. Chicken Place, why won't you open?! So instead we ended up going around the corner from Osvelia's shop and getting the comida corrida -- basically, your blue-plate special -- chicken mole for G and Osvelia, fried fish fillet for me, tortillas and a pitcher of agua fresca for all. Greg ate all the jello. (Greg also insists that I set the record straight about Johnny Depp: he says that he's liked J.D. ever since Crybaby, and that the only reason he saw Pirates was because Johnny D. was in it. And the only People magazine he really liked was the one with Johnny Depp on the cover. So now you know.)

Over lunch Osvelia told us that she had two people who both wanted to buy this antique cross; both promised to come in later to buy it. One woman, not realizing that Osvelia speaks English, was gushing to her partner about how if she could only get Osvelia to come down on the price, she could resell the cross in the U.S. and make a killing. The second woman, who said she wanted it for her own use, called to say she couldn't come in until later because it was the water day for the week in her neighborhood and she needed to stay and do laundry.

We're all hoping the woman doing the laundry ends up with it.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The Cinepolis/Multimax schedule this week is pretty poor: a bunch of European films, The Girl Next Door, and The Secret Window. Well, G said he wouldn't mind seeing Secret Window -- I think Pirates of the Carribean got him to come around regarding fun of Mr. Depp -- so we rushed home from class to change and drive out to Gringolandia. I could tell this morning that it was going to be a hot day (it ended up being close to 90), so I'd left the fan on for Miss Izzy, and when we came home we left the front door open while we got ready to go to help cool Moderate Shangri-la off a bit. Izzy cavorted around at Greg's return, and ran in and out of the house while G we changed. Only as she was running out the door the wind caught the front door and slammed it shut before her tail cleared the frame. Oh, did she scream. I would, too -- the door looked like it was fully shut. We both jumped for the door, and in throwing it open I smashed it into Greg's hand and jammed his thumb but good. The cat ran out, then ran back in and into the back room. I looked on the ground and saw a big tuft of fur with a piece of skin still attached. Damn! I ran my hand down her tail and she didn't say anything, so we left for the movie. When we came back she still didn't want to be picked up, but Greg coaxed her out from under the bed and sympathized with her for a bit, and when we left for e-mail she was on the bed and looking a little better. And her tail's not crooked, so I think she'll be okay. How would you splint a tail, anyway?

My joy at eating almost nothing other than Vitamin T (tacos, tlayudas, taquitos, etc.) turned to sadness when, about 24 hours after consuming some non-vitamin T strawberry yogurt, I got up to the sound of the alarm and rushed to get ready to meet Christine for a walk up the escaleras. (G and I met Christine down in Zipolite and gave her our number when she said she was headed our way.) I had walked up the escaleras, through the hills to the road and back the day before, and thought that maybe I was tired from the day before. I ignored the intestinal distress except to swig a mouthful of pepto-bismol, and hustled down to our agreed-upon meeting place. Well, we started up those stairs and I just felt so winded, and when we finally made it to the road, I pointed out that we could at that point take the bus back downtown, or turn around and retrace our steps. Christine voted for the latter, so we started up the hill. We didn't get too far before I paused and said I needed to sit down for a moment. Got up and started up the hill again but stopped after only a couple of steps and said I thought I needed to take the bus back. Then, excuse me while I throw up. I sure know how to impress! At least it was a pretty shade of pink.

So we took the Xoxo bus down to the Llano, where we got off and I showed Christine the Friday tianguis at Conzatti, and the organic market at El Pochote. I got some vegetables, but passed on the yogurt. Then I had to beg off and go home and lie down, where I stayed in my fevery, nauseous misery for the rest of the evening.

Today, though, I feel just peachy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Normally I don't condone swiping flyers off bulletin boards, but sometimes they're just too good to pass up:


It is the modality of climbing more sure that it exists to that the itineraries are completely equipped.
Different technologies (skills) of progression are explained in the all, the different knots like that as the material necessary for the practice of the climbing by total safety.
The one that goes of first (the guide) is assuring him to the assurances already installed in the wall, with which, in case of fall will be tie to the last assurance.
As soon as the guide, the pupil has raised subire with the rope (string) already installed with which in case of loss of the balance will be where it was, I hold for the rope (string).

Level: Low - average.
Material: personal Chattels, pic-nic, light
rucksack, advisable long trousers.
N° of Pax: From 4 pax.
You date: the Whole year.

If you're interested in going, let me know and I can e-mail you the phone number.

Ah, tlayudas!

G-man and I just ate lunch at a little sidewalk stand around the corner from this internet cafe. I've had my eye on it for some time, as the señora always has a crowd. She makes empanadas, taquitos, memelas, and tlayudas on a comal; folks eat standing around, leaning on cars or sitting in nearby doorways. G had a huge chorizo taquito and I had a gargantuan chorizo tlayuda, and I think it was one of the best tlayudas I've ever had. So now I'm set, because I know where to get a good tlayuda in this town from 11am to 5am. Can the breakfast tlayuda be far off?

Before lunch we were at the downtown market shopping. G was looking for canvas to use at CEVIAREM tomorrow; we wanted some plantas aquaticas for the cistern because the spider plants are rotting away; and it's magazine day. So we bought the magazines straight away, then went to three or four big fabric stores near the zocalo looking for canvas. Nada. On a lark we decided to stroll through the Juarez market on the off chance we saw someone selling canvas. Besides, the aquarium Greg wanted to go to was on the far side, so it was either walk through the market or walk around it -- which we really don't like to do since Greg's encounter with the random dangling pipe.

We walked past the ladies selling peppers and chapulines, past the stalls of soccer balls and jerseys, past the kids costumes. Hey, a fabric stall! We went over and (inadvertantly) woke up the tiny, elderly man sleeping behind the counter and showed him our sample. Yes, I have mante, he said. He showed us a bolt and, after fingering it, we decided it would do. How much? Eighty-five a meter. Eight dollars and fifty cents a yard for cotton canvas? Too expensive, we said. Oh, I have another bolt, it's cheaper, he said, and pulls out a bolt of identical fabric. Thirty-five a meter. Okay, we'll take two! And some of these way-cool bandannas: wild, multi-color paisley and floral prints and others with Juan Diego and the apparition of the BVM and nopales and her old church and new church in Mexico City. (If you want one, and if you like the BVM you know you do, e-mail me.)

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Last night we got caught up in the party mood in town, and decided to go looking for Mr. Papas, the potato chip guy. It's actually Mr. Cara de Papa -- Mr. Potato Face, aka Mr. Potato Head to Americans -- and he and his buddy sell fresh-made chips and fries out of a propane-powered kettle and deep-fryer. "Con todo" here means with salsa and a squirt of lime juice. I think it's a little weird to use an image of friendly if cranky Mr. Potato Head to sell potato chips; there's a place out on the periferico that sells Kentucky-style chicken, and its logo is a grinning chicken in a cauldron, and a shop over on Chapultepec sells pork, and their chubby pink mascot seems pretty happy about it.

But since Mr. Potato Face doesn't seem to mind shilling for hombres slicing and frying up his brethren, we didn't either, so we set off -- just in time to catch a parade going down Juarez. Osvelia told Greg earlier that it looked like somebody was setting up for a political rally in the plaza outside Santo Domingo. But this being Oaxaca, first you must parade! Fireworks, giant puppet people (though this time one of the puppets was black; that's a first), traditional dancers, and a brass band. Naturally. The people arrayed behind the band were all wearing red shirts printed with "MFC," "Encuento Nacional," and "Semilla del Reino." Some political party, I guess. This parade was different in that the MFC apparently has chapters all over Mexico, and they were lined up behind placards proclaiming their city or state of origin: Oaxaca, Campeche, Cuernavaca, Quintana Roo, Durango, La Paz, Xalapa, Saltillo, Huajuapan de Leon. On and on and on. I only recognized about a third of the cities, and only knew where maybe half those were, but for every group that went by I waved and shouted out "Hola (insert city here)!" And the marchers waved and shouted back. One woman in the parade even whipped her camcorder around to film us -- quite funny to have the tables turned. Folks were dancing and singing, and not very surreptitiously drinking mezcal out of bamboo shotglasses. We saw a group from Michigan go by and, I kid you not, tried to figure out where Michigan, Mexico, is. Then a Los Angeles went by, then a Detroit, and by then we figured out that these MFC people really get around. Pretty extensive as parades go, and after the marchers from Zamora had passed we went over to El Viejo Shaman to ask Osvelia who the heck the MFC are. She said it's some Christian party, and sure enough, on the stage where they were to speak later I saw a guy in a churchy kind of white dress.

The parade was winding through the zocalo as we got there, so we skirted the edge of the crowd and headed toward the downtown markets and Mr. Papas. And he was there! We got in line and said, heck with mini-maxing, and got two medium bags of chips con todo instead of one chips and one fries like we sometimes do. Mmm. We ate them as we strolled back to the square. It's been awhile since we've been down to the zocalo -- funny to think about since not too long ago we used to hang out there every weekend -- so we decided to stay and have a drink. We sat down and, just as Greg was about to wave the waitress with the menus away, I said No! I want to see a menu! because the table behind us was being served big fancy ice cream creations and that looked a lot better than a beer. I looked the menu over, and decided to try something called a floty: coke and lime ice cream. It ended up being lime sherbet and only okay, but still, now I can say yes, I have eaten a floty.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

1986 seems like a crazy long time ago, like it wasn't even me. Or maybe I just don't have a good mental picture of myself during those years. I was working at the savings and loan, and living in a basement studio in East San Diego, over on 48th St and Orange. I later moved to an apartment chopped out of a house trucked out from Colonial Williamsburg, on Florida St. in San Diego, just down from the F Street Bookstore, a clean, well-lighted place for porn. It was a ten-minute walk to Balboa Park, or my favorite udon restaurant in Hillcrest; the 7-11 and the laundromat were 10 minutes the other direction. But in the spring of 1986 I was living in a neighborhood where I didn't even walk to the car by myself after dark, where a coworker, who lived one block behind me and one block over, came out one morning to find blood streaks on the side of his truck where a stabbed delivery man had dragged himself away. And where my landlord, a short, solid truck driver named Sterling kept brawling gang members out of our backyard with his .32. The landlord was married to Jean, the mother of Susan, the girlfriend of my friend JT. It wasn't so bad. I had been in San Diego three years by then, and was living with Mike, my spineless boyfriend at the time, and taking classes together at Claremont Mesa community college. For fun I'd hang out in the park, sit under the Australian fig tree, or visit the model railroad museum or the zoo, ride the giraffe on the carousel and jam my fingers plucking rings off a wooden boom as the carousel went around, hoping for the brass-colored ring and a free-ride ticket. Or drive east on I-8 to Julian or Cuyamaca for a day of hiking, or west and a swim or stroll at Ocean Beach. Or to Kerie's for role-playing games.

One of my community college classmates asked around class for anyone who wanted a kitten; one of the cats at his house in Pacific Beach had had four, and he was looking for homes. Mike and I drove over one night after class and took a look, and I said I'd take one of the siamese ones when they were old enough. I had Fuzzy, but it had been seven years since she'd been a kitten, so why not? I said I'd pick her up when the kitten was eight weeks old, but as it turned out, that weekend my friends all went out to the San Diego hinterland for a weekend of live-action role-playing. I asked surfer dude to come by my apartment with the kitten, but he spaced, so it wasn't until the following weekend that I drove out with Mike to get the kitten. I looked in the nest box and saw only two kittens, both tabby. Where's the siamese one, I asked. Oh, my girlfriend wanted it so I let her take it, he said. Dude. Fuzzy was my fourth cat; all had been mack tabbies. Wanting something a little different, I chose the one with white feet and nose.

The first thing I remember about Izzy was her sitting on my shoulder in the car for the ride home. She's always liked riding around on my shoulders, or climbing up my leg. I used to stroll around with her stuck to my jeans. With her enormous ears and Barrymore chin she was awfully cute, but all I remember from her kittenhood are the constant attacks. Bite, bite, scratch, and always hard enough to draw blood. And not just me, or Mike, but anyone who came in the house was fair game as long as they extended a hand to pet her. Without abatement. And heaven help you if she found you indisposed, like on the phone or the toilet. Damn. I was all set to give her a cute name, Ysabeau, after Michelle Pfeifer's character in Ladyhawke, but I soon switched it to Izzy, the marine in Aliens who blows herself and Gorman up with a grenade. And the attacks continued. I tried not to take it personally. It's not like she ever did it out of hatred, the way an abused animal might. I really don't know why she had to choose the time and manner of petting, or why she'd lure people into petting her by rubbing on their legs, or even just leap, claw, and run away; the reason I keep coming back to all these years is maybe she's got some throwback wild gene. She was so bad in the Florida St. apartment that I seriously mulled over having her put down before she really hurt someone. But as she wasn't hateful, I decided not to. And, eventually, age slowed her down some. She still bites me, hard, but sometimes she gives me just a warning bite or slap. Mostly, though, she sleeps. She turned 18 years old this week. She's a pain in the ass, but all good relationships are, somewhere or sometime.

Happy birthday, Izzy Vasquez.

Friday, April 16, 2004

G-man stayed up way too late one night and cranked out a big ol' blog about our trip, sapping my desire to sit here and crank out a big ol' nother blog on the same subject. So before I read his, here's what struck me about our little jaunt. First off, we didn't want to come back*. I like being on vacation, even when I'm a lazy, part-time-working so-and-so as it is. For one thing, dressing up meant wearing shoes. For another, even though I'm not a smoker, it sure was hospitable for the posada's welcome wagon to roll up and offer us a couple of spliffs. And the water, even though it had a substantial undertow, was warm, warm, warm. And unlike warm southern Californian water, it was jellyfish-free. The cherry on top? Enough ex-pat Italians so that we ate and drank very, very well. Better food and coffee than we have in Oaxaca! (Mexican food excepted, of course. Nobody rocks like the Tamale Lady.)

Imagine taking your pet on vacation: finding a place that accepts pets, maybe negotiating for or paying a security deposit. Not here, baby! Daniel, the owner, even said she could have the run of the place as long as she'd leave his pet parrot alone. But between the parrot -- Izzy is a lousy hunter, but still -- and the dogs and the coatimundi, we left her in the room. Fine by her.

*We really didn't want to come back to a life of shoes and pants and underwear. You know, that's the first time that G and I have vacationed at the beach together. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that, being a California girl and all. And we had fun goofing off in the surf together. We also really didn't want to drive that road again, either. I think we're agreed, next time we go we'll take one of the numerous shuttle vans between the city and the coast. And when we got back and I checked my e-mail and cleared off the two-hundred or so offers for LOW, LOW RATES on my mortgage, I found a short message from work: my Wednesday morning class was rescheduled. And when I came into work to do a couple of things, I found that they got mixed up on the dates that I'd be out of the country, so I don't have any classes until Saturday morning. Ah, it's good to be back.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I'm back.

I only got a little sunburned. Pinked, really.

We ended up going to Zipolite, though we're telling everyone in town that we went to Puerto Angel.

I've never spent a vacation doing nothing before. I think the farthest we got from our posada was the stroll we took to the far end of the beach.

It really does take 6 hours to drive the 160 miles from our door to Zipolite. Nobody threw up, but we all got nauseous, and I took Dramamine on the way back, so Greg drove the whole 6 hours today. What a champ.

The cat likes to stick her head out the window.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Hey, time for one more entry before I go. We went to the movies today; Cinepolis refreshed its offerings early this week, I suppose because of the holiday. The theater was pretty crowded. Thirteen came and went pretty quick, so I missed it, and Peter Pan is still only showing dubbed in Spanish, so our choices were Ned Kelly, The Alamo, and 50 First Dates. As much as we want to see The Alamo sitting in a Mexican theater, the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were pretty harsh, so we ended up seeing 50 First Dates, or Como Si Fuera La Primera Vez as it's known here. I could tell right away it was a stinker, but I did laugh out loud twice, so that's something for this purported comedy, I guess. And it's not like I'm a miser with my laughter. So we're sitting there cracking jokes at the movie's expense, but at one point I look over and sure enough, G is crying. Damn. Sometimes he is just too sweet for words.

A little more about my recent flurry of social activity. I've met a number of people since I moved here in July, and while there hasn't been anyone I've disliked, I haven't really clicked with anyone, either. As a let's-hang-out-and-do-stuff-even-if-it's-just-talk kind of friend. I think that's why I was so excited when hanging out with Caroline and Ian was so much fun; maybe they'd be those kind of friends. But, like so many people I've met in Oaxaca, they were just moving through. But for lunch today I ate some tuna salad with crackers and cheese they gave to us before they moved on, and every time I walked through the door between our bedroom and the dining room today, I saw the calla lilies they left with us, and somehow that's enough. For now.

Whoo-ya! I don't have another class until next Wednesday morning. So, tomorrow a.m. the three of us are off to the coast for some sunnin' and funnin'. I don't plan to hit the computers during that time, but I do plan to have a huge blog blowout when I return.

(It may turn out to be panting and ranting about the heat, I don't know. Last night was the first night this year where we slept with only a sheet the whole night through.)

(And, a bit more about the past few days, because if I do this vacation up right, I won't remember what happened this week. I mentioned Ian and Caroline, and a bit of our activities. We took them out to El Tule to look for mescal and to form their own Northern Californian opinion on the size of that mighty cypress. After about half an hour of sampling mescals around town, Caroline spotted a sign, "Carnitas" -- we rushed over and took a sniff, then immediately plopped down and ordered a medio kilo of carnitas with all the fixin's. Oh, so very very good. Perhaps not the best Passover meal for all present, but our enjoyment of a mighty fine plate of perfectly prepared pork trumped any (minor) religious concerns. Tule is such a cute little town, with its manicured lawns, roses, and topiaries, and they have a pretty good selection of booze. One of the mescal vendors even gave us little bags of worm salt. Drink up!
We also introduced Ian and Caroline to Tamale Lady and her incredible tamales. We lucked out last night, as she had Oaxaqueño-style, wrapped in banana leaves. We spent several evenings sitting on their roof deck, watching the sunsets, the stars, the lights of the city, the full moon, and silent thunderstorms backed up against the mountains to the northeast. Such a Californian thing to do, watching the sky and drinking wine. So very, very enjoyable. They're leaving this morning, and I miss their company already. So long, guys!)

Monday, April 05, 2004

Wow. For the first time since we moved down here, I had a full social calendar this weekend.

After class on Saturday G and I had made plans to hook up with Ian and Caroline, friends of a friend, who were coming to Oaxaca for a couple of days. And earlier in the week I'd gotten an e-mail from Charlie the Albanian and we'd made plans to have breakfast Sunday morning. Whoo. So Ian and Caroline called, making me feel like the cell-phone purchase had indeed been worthwhile now that somebody was using it, and we made plans to meet down in the zocalo and grab dinner. We ended up going to Los Pacos, the place where Greg and I had gone for our anniversary dinner, and we had a really fun evening chatting and talking full-speed with fellow Bay Areans. (Ooh, that doesn't sound good, does it? Bay Areites? Barrians? You tell me.) We made sure they got a proper Oaxaca introduction to mole and chapulines. We then went cruising the neighborhood looking for and at live-music clubs, as Ian is a drummer and was looking into the possibilities. Yep, he and Caroline are considering The Big Move. Mostly we got a discouraging look at what passes for live music stages in Oaxaca, and if anybody remembers the stage at the Chatterbox in SF you get the idea. We also got to show Ian and Caroline what p'asses for directions in town; mostly, people not really knowing what we were looking for telling us we needed to go two blocks down (or up) then two blocks left (or right). Hey, they got to see a lot of the downtown area as a result.

Sunday we moved the clocks ahead, and hustled out to meet our friends from Albany down by Santo Domingo. As it was early -- well, early for here, 10am -- and a Sunday and Palm Sunday at that, we weren't sure what we'd find open and serving breakfast. We'd all read about and heard about a place on Garcia Vigil called La Brewja, run by an American and supposedly serving American-style breakfasts and coffee. It was open, so we went in, sat down and waited. We got menus but after awhile decided that we should probably go up to the counter and tell the one woman behind it (also the kitchen area) what we wanted. Maybe we should've taken that as a clue, because service was slow, even for Mexico, but we knew we were lucky enough to find something open at that hour so we just sucked it up.

Here's the breakfast report: regular and grande coffees on the menu, both served in the same-size mug. Terrible. I think cafe de olla would've been better, or even the Nescafe at Berlitz. Frittata was cool, and not very frittata-like, and the waffles, while they did have fruit in them and came with good butter and syrup, were more like thick pancakes than waffles. Charlie hit paydirt, though: his Earl Grey tea, instead of coming with just a little cup of hot water, came with a pitcher of hot water and an Earl Grey teabag from ... Trader Joe's! And he had an honest-to-goodness bagel with his scrambled eggs. Damn.

In any case the food wasn't the point, as I really enjoy hanging out with Lucy and Charlie. (Not only Albanians, but Charlie's the same age as Greg while Lucy and I are the same age.) They invited us to a bbq on Sunday but I hope to be on the coast, so I had to take a pass. Too bad! Mmm, bbq. And Charlie says he's a grillmaster.

That afternoon we hooked up with Ian and Caroline again and took them out to Monte Alban. I forget how big that site is. We had good weather, not too hot and with big puffy clouds to give us lots of shade. When we got there a guy and his wife, living in Tampico but down from Canada, asked if we wanted to go in on a guide together, so we said sure. Ivan over at Mitla had been great, and while Elvia knew her stuff, her spiel really didn't hold my interest, so I kind of wandered around the periphery like everybody's favorite planetoid, filling up the memory card in the camera and people-watching. We headed back into town after about three hours, stopped at Gigante for a cheap duffel bag (Caroline and Ian) and cat food (me) and beer (everybody) before going back to our house for tacos in the Llano and a cold beer on our patio. Then we went down to their hotel and enjoyed not only their spectacular roof deck but -- after almost a month of bucket bathing -- their shower. My oh my, that was nice. We ended up talking and sipping wine until pretty late, at least for someone who's got to get up at 5:30am for a Monday morning class.

Now it's Monday afternoon: I've taught the class, made some alphabet flash cards, gone to CEVIAREM with Greg to talk to Jorge, had memelas in the Llano, and checked my e-mail. I think we've got our reservation lined up for this weekend, which means finally, I will hit a Oaxacan beach and see my beloved ocean again. Until here, I've never lived farther than 20-odd miles from the Pacific. I'm ready for some ocean water, some hammock-time, a little color on my tummy, fish tacos -- basically, a Corona commerical.

Friday, April 02, 2004

A crabitat at last!

Two weeks ago G-man gave the go-ahead for a pet increase, and today that req finally got filled. For those of you with a hankering for life south of the border, have I got a business opportunity for you. No, not the early-morning espresso-and-bagel cart, or even the burrito stand. How about opening an honest-to-goodness pet store, complete with ... actual pet products.

Sure, I understand the people at Conzatti can't lug their entire inventory to the market every weekend; that's why we got their card two weeks ago, so we could go by their store. Greg and I went looking for it a couple of days ago. We had a store name, a street address, and a colonia. Still not enough. The card said, Priv. Eucalyptos 2004, but around here buildings often aren't numbered sequentially. House and business numbers on a typical block read: 314, 1009, 209, 1114, 213, 708. We gave up after about 45 minutes of looking, and took the bus to the Reforma Gigante instead.

While we waited for the crabs to show up at Conzatti, we cruised the pet stores we did know about, looking for a crabitat. The 50s inspired pastel plastic with palm tree bowls I had learned were not suitable as a crab could easily make a break for it, but the plastic port-a-pet cages and little aquariums we saw seemed awfully expensive. Relatively expensive. I'm used to going to Albany Aquarium and finding 10-gal. aquariums for $10, but down here all we were seeing was $100 pesos and up for 5- or even 2-gallon aquariums. With no lids. Just couldn't bring myself to buy one.

So today, the pet people said, come back in an hour or two and we'll have crabs, and hey! they meant it. So I bought four and carried them home in a plastic bag (naturally, this being Mexico -- can't buy anything without getting a plastic bag to go with it). I put the crabs in a plastic juice pitcher and G and I scooted off to Gringolandia. I'll tell you about Big Fish in a minute, but after the movie we ducked into Sorianas and headed to the plasticware aisles. We ended up buying a Rubbermaid storage container, with lid, a little bigger than a shoebox, for $23 pesos. We also picked up a plastic water dish and a sponge for the crabs. Along with their cut-up juicebox Crab Cave, their housing ran us about $39 pesos, or about 4 bucks. The crabs liberation fee was only 5 pesos each.

Big Fish. Was going to give it an A, then those last three minutes came out of nowhere. Wait, let me take that back. They came out of Hollywood, or maybe a test screening. But we still liked it a lot. Hey Stephen, there's a butt in this one, too.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I'm sitting in the computer room at Berlitz. It's free, and awfully close to work -- about 5 steps from the class where I just taught three nine-year-olds to parrot "How was your trip? It was fantastic! What can you do in Puerto Escondido?" A safer location than Playa Zipolite, which my adult classes prefer to discuss -- but right now I'm sharing it with three seven-year-old boys who are having a computer class. So while I type this the speakers on the other computers are shouting "Green! Yellow! Orange!" and "Seven! One! Nine!" or "Shoe! Sock! Sweater!" at about volume 11. What is it with boys and video-game noise levels? And they're all Windows 98 machines.

Miho, who teaches Japanese and English and could teach Spanish if this Berlitz ever decided to have a Spanish track, is currently in Japan and probably inhaling as much sushi and other tasty Japanese fare as she can. I know I would. (We have never gone back to Kyoto for a second go-round with the cronchy roll.) I'm teaching two of her kids classes, the afore-mentioned nine-year-olds, and a Monday-Wednesday class of five-year-olds. And yesterday out of a class of five students I made two of them cry.

"Brown! Pink! Yellow! Purple! White! Pink, pink, pink! Yellow!"

For the past two months or so the school has had these flyers and posters promoting Berlitz's Study Abroad program. For their English program students can study in the U.K., Canada, or the U.S. One of the featured U.S. locations is ... ready for it? ... Redlands. Vacation wonderland of the Inland Empire. Gag me with a two-stroke engine!