Monday, October 26, 2009

Veracruz-Mon. 10/26 '09

You'll notice that I've been able to add some photos to my Sunday post and a few today. Many thanks to our host, Eric for the use of his cable, which fits my needs just fine. Yeah-h-h!

I was up in time for a simple breakfast of rolls, fruit, coffee and the peach yogurt I'd bought yesterday to help keep my digestive system in shape. We students were joined in the open-roofed courtyard by about the same number of teachers—all young women.

Weekday morning classes begin at 8:15 and run until about 10:00 when the daily "out & about lab" (i.e field trip) heads out. (Actually, it's many field trips since each student chooses his/her area of interest for their stay and the program tries to accommodate them as much as possible. Like everything else at the school, the groups seldom comprise more than two students each, along with a charlante—roughly translated as "someone who chats a lot.") Then lunch, afternoon classes from 1:15 to 3:15 and free time the rest of the day to seek out further help from the charlantes, venture out exploring or just unwind. We students tend to spend a fair bit of late afternoon time in our air-conditioned rooms because they're the only refuge, inside or out, from the cloying heat and humidity.

My one-on-one teacher this morning was Anna, who spent the first half hour or so trying to size up my skills so she could plan what we'd work on. Most helpful of all was just getting to talk with her about the language, her family and whatever else came up.

For the field trip, fellow student Nancy (from Prescott AZ) joined me and charlante Margot for a blue-bus ride downtown to el centro, where we headed for the central market. It's the usual huge building packed with hundreds of puestos, or little booths, selling everything from cheap trinkets to medicinal herbs to cow stomachs. A seasonal touch was the smattering of masks, costumes and decorations for Day of the Dead, starting this weekend. I'd heard that some of the U.S.'s Halloween customs have been infiltrating the centuries-old Dia de los Muertos traditions, and this appeared to be the case here.

After lunch, Nancy and I shared a teacher, Rebeca, for our afternoon class. She did a nice job of finding a middle ground between our respective abilities and injecting fun into the exercises— including barking out very big numbers very fast to see if we could write them on our little 10"x12" dry-marker boards. Nancy did a great job of drawing on her obviously good, but out of practice, skills.

Tonight, having missed a few students who'd already left for dinner by 6:45, I again headed out on my own, hailing a taxi for el centro and the zocalo. On the way I had another of my by- now- expected wonderful chats with the driver— this hombre coaching me, rather surprisingly, on the finer points of departure between marked and unmarked (which he called prosaic) accents.

The zocalo was beginning to hum with its nightly activities. Even an hour after dark, the air was thick and still. People of all stripes were sitting here and there on stone and wrought iron benches. The open-air restaurants' pitch people (mostly attractive young women) started collaring passers-by. And about a dozen musical groups were warming up on side streets just off of the plaza. In some places they were so close together that their competing tones and rhythms clashed raucously.

I picked the restaurant of the Hotel Imperial and enjoyed a seafood-stuffed fish dish and a cheap glass of wine. Between one bite and the next, I experimented with different ways of showing my disinterest in the nearly-unbroken column of vendors and beggars that wove its way among the tables.

I'd have loved to stay later and experience the even- greater array of bands and people that supposedly shows up later some nights. But, wanting to finish this entry and get a better night's sleep than last night's on my jury- rigged bed, I headed home for my cozy, cool room.


Hubbs Center said...

Yurub says she would like to shop in a vegetable market like yours. The ones here have closed.

murciƩlago said...

Yurub -- Thanks for your comment! Yes, the fresh fruit and vegetables are wonderful. No cold winter here.