The view west from the homestead

The view west from the homestead

Sweet Chance

Sweet Chance

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oaxaca, February 18, 2008

We are getting quite accustomed to this new pace of existence in Oaxaca. We start to stir between 7-8:00am and wander outside to the open veranda to start the water for coffee and tea. Cassidy usually sets up shop with the binos and scope, watching the morning antics of the Yellow- rumped and Wilson’s warblers that are plentiful here and the different hummingbirds that are very into the purple flowered tree above us. We make our breakfast in the open kitchen and then it’s off to school for Anny and the kids around 8:45. They have a 15 minute walk to school (about a mile in distance)via a combination of small streets and cobblestone alleyways, passing under the centuries old aqueduct that supplied water to the town in colonial days. Daddy cleans up the place and writes emails to send later at the school when we have internet access and then walks to the school around 11am for internet surfing, emails, and future trip planning online. We all visit during the 15 minute breaks every hour and a half and then the kids check their own email sites at 1pm before walking home.

We normally stop at a small café for a “Comida Corrida” which is still found in much of Mexico though not often in resort towns. It is a lunch special of sorts with a choice of hand-made drink, a soup or boullion, a salad course, a main course chosen between 3-4 options ( chile relleno, pollo, enchiladas, mole, cecina o bistek) and a small postre or desert-usually rice pudding or cookie. The price varies café to café but we usually pay 35-50 pesos or $3-5.00 per person and get 3 meals. Then it is home to the Posada for a siesta which is spent reading, sleeping or doing homework. We all walk back to the school at 3:45pm for the Backstrap weaving class that Anny and the Kids are doing and daddy does more internet downloads of places to go see, birding advice for Chiapas and the Yucatan, and updates on news and sports. The afternoon session is over at 6pm and we all walk home for daddy to make supper and then usually spend 2 hours doing homework. Some week nights we will walk down the mile to the Zocolo for a meal and to enjoy sitting and people watching but we usually reserve this for Fri, Sat and Sunday nights. We end the day with some book reading, star gazing or Harry Potter video game challenges if the kids are in the computer mood.

Weekends bring time for choices. We always go to the “Centro” to sit on the Zocolo at one of the open air cafes, drinking “Limonadas con Agua Mineral” and eating the free “botana” that comes with all drinks and meals-usually nuts soaked in chile and salt with limon to flavor it with. We will wander to one of the close markets to look at handicrafts and fresh fruit and vegetables. The kids like to take the scooter everywhere here so will take turns scooting around the plaza, taking in the street scene with musicians, street theater and strolling vendors aged 5-80 sharing the space with them. We try to do an adventure as well- going on birding trips, visiting ruins and may even visit some smaller villages in the mountains around this large city.

We have decided to stay in Oaxaca until around March 10th when we will head out for Tuxtla Guttierez and Chiapas though we haven’t decided on the route yet. We may take a 2-4 day detour through tropical jungle north of Oaxaca closer to the Gulf coast to make it a more interesting trip and are talking to a great local guide about accompanying us for this stretch of the trip. We hope to take in a lot of nature experiences in Chiapas over 2-3 weeks with stops in San Cristobal, Palenque, Bonampak and other jungle sites before continuing on towards the Yucatan. We’ll see how we feel upon arriving on the beach before deciding how long to stay on the peninsula. We are open to any ideas for rendezvous in the jungle or on the beaches of the Yucatan so write us anyone if you want to come for a visit and adventure!! Some friends of ours from Massachusetts (Amy, Pat and Bailey) are seeing whether they can come to see us in the Yucatan south of Cancun in mid-April which would be great.

The family talks continue as to where to land eventually-it helps to talk about it as we are encountering less absolutes such as “I will not live in __________ unless we have_______ and _________ and I can do this type of school or homeschool”. We finally arrived at a point recently where we have no ties to any particular place or absolute rejection of any particular place-including back east in Mass.—which actually has made it easier to discuss. We have had great offers of work in Tucson and northern NM and we know we could go back to western Massachusetts and return to some version of our old jobs there. It’s good to have options though the array of choices is a little mind-boggling. We believe that it will become more clear to us over the next 2 months- it has to as our bank account dwindles down lower and lower. We do love this little adventure we have been blessed with and would love to keep it going as long as we can (Cassidy would love just one more year and Teslin said she would continue if we have a house to go back to!). We’ll see what the new day brings.

Peace to all.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mid February already???

February 13, 2008

Ooo it’s hard to keep up with this blog stuff while we are in SCHOOL!!!! Cassidy, Teslin, and I are in our third week of Spanish classes. Class is 4 hours a day with a 2 hour workshop in the afternoon (4-6:00). Chris meets us at school at 1:00 and we go out to a nice big mid-day meal, and then return to our Posada for a serious siesta. Spanish is going great, but by 8:00 I’m toast (the kids still have zip at this hour however). We all feel that the afternoon class is a bit too much, but now we are learning back strap weaving and can’t resist.

Cassidy and Teslin are doing great with their Spanish. They are speaking in sentences and asking for things at restaurants and markets. Over the weekend we all went to the market at Tlacolula, a small town 20 minutes from Oaxaca. Cassidy bought his first treasures and did a great job bargaining for them. I’m quite impressed. I find myself sitting in class feeling a lot like I am a first grader in an 8th grade honors course. (Actually….I’ve gotten better…I may just be 2 years behind now). We just found out it is actually a 5 week class this time, so we will be here longer than we thought.

One of our Posada buddies, Ron, returned today to Tucson, and we are all sad to see him go. We look forward to seeing Ron and meeting his wife when we get up there ourselves again. The Posada can take 3 more people, but I don’t think anyone is scheduled to come this month. Another woman, Jennifer is out traveling around rural markets in Oaxaca for the week. She’ll be back for a bit, and then she too leaves. That leaves us and Dan, the long term renter from Canada. This is Dan’s 3rd year here and he considers it his second home. We’ve gotten to know the sweet family that runs the Posada and the kids are getting quite friendly with the 7 year old, Africa. In fact on Saturday, Chris, Cassidy and I went out to a nearby village (San Felipe) to bird, and Teslin stayed with Africa’s family. The 3 year old, Amir, likes to scare Chris with his dinosaurs. The two are quite a pair. Efrin, Africa's dad, works 2 jobs to make ends meet. He works at the school during the job, and then on Friday and Saturday nights works at a bar until 5am

The weather has been amazing….in the high 80’s each day and 50-60 at night. We have our fans and soft sheets and just about everything else from the Pop-up with us at the Posada. It’s only sprinkled once since we arrived which is a bit dry for this time of year. There was a 6-4 magnitude earthquake the other day that woke everyone else in the city but the Ruges. We all slept like babies through it. Evidently Oaxaca is very near a fault and they have tremors every day. This was the biggest they’ve had in a few years, but did not damage anything.

Here’s Cassidy for a two sentence bird update:

I’ve seen lots of interesting birds around our posada including Gray Silky-flycatcher and Bridled Sparrow. We are going to a place in Oaxaca called Teotitlan this Saturday and I bet it will be great birding! So….this is what I’ve seen: Vermillion and Tufted Flycatchers, Rufous Capped Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Rump warbler, Berylline and Dusky Hummingbirds, Orchard and Bullock’s Orioles, House Sparrows!, Nashville Warblers, House Finches, and Great-tailed Grackles, Inca Doves, orange-crowned Warbler, Turkey Vultures, Robins, and 1 black and white warbler that mom saw. That’s all! Cassidy.

Feb 16th, 2008

It's Saturday and the boys are on an all day birding trip with Roque and us girls are having one big long siesta. Another home schooling family arrived yesterday with a 13 year old girl and will be here for three weeks. That should be a lot of fun for everyone. Yesterday morning there was a huge demonstration of the teacher's union. I was told that there were 20,000 people demonstrating, from the city of Oaxaca and outlying villages. They started at the ministry of education on the edge of the city and walked down the main street to the Zocalo. They were going past the school for almost 2 hours. Demonstrations are very common here and an accepted way to express sentiments. We talked quite a bit about it in class and my teacher (who is quite liberal) feels that it is an outdated and ineffective form of protest. There are not a lot of options it seems, and it is a welcome change to what seems like collective passivity in the States. There is much frustration with the government here, but very few way to express it and even fewer ways to affect change.

Teslin and I are on the veranda at school. It is a huge garden area with palm trees and flowering plants and trees I am not familiar with. One side is on one of the busiest roads in Oaxaca, but you rarely notice once you enter the school. It is surrounded by a high wall with ivy and plants on it. However, when the traffic gets stopped for some reason folks just lay on their horns. It's even worse than NE cities! Even when they can see the reason for the stop, people honk and honk. That coupled with the lack of pollution devices on any cars makes walking on busy streets very nasty. for the most part you can avoid them and there are many pleasant parks and small streets to wander through. The school is the only place we know of that has any stretch of grass to it, and we always bring a frisbee with us for breaks. Oaxaca's main plaza or zocolo is beautiful, with gorgeous large trees and seasonal flower beds (now they are all poinsettas). It is a large pedestrian only space, but all cobblestone and pavement with lots of places to sit and enjoy things. An enormous cathedral borders one side of the zocolo and has its own beautiful open area. The rest of the zocalo is edged with cafe's and shops.

Well...the school is shutting so we have to go! more to come! Anny

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Aha! We are sitting in a fancy bar in Oaxaca on the plaza sipping cerveza y limonada and watching the Super Bol in Spanish. It's actually much more enjoyable. Teslin is playing solitare on a computer and I am well....watching tight ends. Silly men, hitting heads like that. The crowd in here is sparse.... most are very American with one Mexican table that seems to be Patriots fans.

We are having a great time here. Walking everywhere is making more room for all the great food and makes for a good nights sleep. We have slowed down, but the school schedule keeps us hopping. Chris and I continue with 2 left feet in Salsa class, but Roberto is trying his best. Talk about a tight end! He's great....he arrives on his motorcycle in his sweats totally LISTO. Cassidy and teslin are the only kids in the class and catch on quickly. Since there are many more women than men, the men have to dance with a