Hola from our second destination in Mexico and trip. We are currently writing from our second and vastly better hostel. Unlike our first hostel, this one has an outdoor courtyard with trees in the center, balconies, a fresh breakfast made by the staff that consists of eggs, cheese, (meat that we do not opt for), beans, coffee, fruit, bread and pie filling (used as jam). The bathrooms are clean and there is drinking water always accessible! But the hosetl is the least of the excitement in Oaxaca. But first…to finish our Mexico City adventures… Our last week, we did homework in our (new) favourite park, admired the inexplainably gorgeous grounds of Museo Delores Olmedo, explore the zocalo, a did a lot of walking and snacking on pastries and fruit and finished the week with craft Mexican beers with our classmates and a couple teachers from the school (in total representing 6 different countries…and of course spoke English). The grounds and various buildings of art at the Delores Olmedo museum were so beautiful…there were, what seemed to be prehistoric cacti, peacocks wandering the grounds that would walk right up to us, the almost extinct Xoloitzcuintli aka Mexican hairless dogs and amazing architecture. Delores was a patron of Diego Rivera and we got to see many sketches and additional works and photo of both he and Frida in addition to other Mexican art. Best of all, we went on the free day!
This brings us to our current residence in Oaxaca. The colors are brilliant, the people are friendly, and the streets are clean. After our 6.5 hour busride passing mountainside homes, possible slums, a lot of clothes drying in the air, and some of the most incredible cacti covered mountains I’ll ever see, we arrived amidst a Mexican holiday! Our first meal out was streetside to a church with a brass band, a ton of people and loud fireworks. This town is known for it’s markets and crafts and we have certainly not lacked exploring! We have seen everything from colorful hand woven clothes and home decor to whole pig heads, chicken feet and the (in)famous baskets of insects. I am working on the courage to actually put one in my mouth! Additionally there are a lot of ceramics and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Sunday we watched our first American football game of the year…the super bowl! But in Spanish and without the puppy bowl or the million dollar commercials. We watched it at our hostel and enjoyed an 8 pack of beer for just under $7USD!
Again, we are surrounded by people from every continent and…everyone speaks English. Today, however, we got to use our Spanish when we spent our afternoon volunteering at Oaxacan Street Children. There, we met the only two other Americans of our trip so far. We drew pictures and helped them with homework and, in turn, they helped us with our Spanish! While Meg was helping one little boy with his math, I learned that his father was an alcoholic and his sister was just sold into marriage and that the meal he eats at the center might be his only for the day.
Tonight we will catch a free movie at the local art house and attempt to figure out our stupidly expensive flights from Guatemala to Colombia!
Oh silly us. We forgot to add the ruins we have attended. In Mexico City we climbed the 3rd largest pyramid at Teotihaucon with Victoria and yesterday we traveled to Monte Alban which is the first group of people to have used written language and we saw structures dating back to 300-100 BCE! Incredible!
We will try to post photos, but not having a laptop is proving the task to be difficult so keep up with our instagrams or facebook photo posts!
We thought we made a mistake our first night in Mexico City. I´ll be frank, the hostel was a disappointment. All we saw in our future was a series of bare mattresses, fluorescent lighting, and terrifying bathrooms. And while I´m sure we do have some of those things in our future, we learned that at a certain point, you get too tired to care. Fortunately, for us and our bestie from Portland, Oregon, Victoria, it only took us one day of touring the incredible pyramids of Teotihuacan to be too tired to care.
50mgs of benadryl each was all it took to wake up refreshed and ready to visit Casa Azul. Victoria had specifically pilgrimadged to Mexico City to see Frida Kahlo´s dresses, which were on view for the first time ever. The collection was very inspiring. Frida definitely had an eye for fashion because when I see similar shirts and dresses hanging in market stalls today, I am underwhelmed. Somehow, she made the dresses pop.
Last Sunday, Rachelle, Victoria, and I visited Bosque de Chapultepec. Many of the museums there are free on Sunday, so we visited the Museo de Arte Moderne. We all enjoyed the exhibits of Fernando Garcia Correa´s repeatative patterns and Hector Garcia´s black and white photography of Mexico in the 50s and 60s. It seemed like all of Mexico City was enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air. Chapultepec definitely has a carnival atmosphere on the weekends. Victoria bought coconut ice cream covered in chili powder. Now if that doesn´t say party, I don´t know what does. Later that day, we checked out of the hostel in Roma and walked our huge backpacks down to our homestay in Col de Valle. I had told Rachelle that it would only be a mile, because that´s what I thought it would be. Two plus miles later, we arrived at Thelma´s (pronounced Tellma) wonderfully clean and comfortable apartment.
Thelma´s apartment is just a few Metrobus stops away from our school. Rachelle was placed in the high beginner class and I am in the beginner beginner class. Rachelle is learning things like future, future progressive, and past tenses. I am learning basic grammar and verb conjugation. Strangely, its really bringing me back to 8th grade English class. Thank you Mrs. Ross for your under appreciated work! We are really enjoying our teachers and our international classmates. Thelma serves us a full breakfast every morning before school. Coffee, juice, bread and jam, fresh fruit with coconut sprinkles, and eggs with nopales (cactus) or cereal with coconut soy milk! What?!
After school, we usually treat ourselves to a pastry or a fresh fruit cup with lime and chili and walk all over town. We´ve covered the Centro Historico, the Zona Rosa, the Reforma, the Roma, the Condesa, Insurgentes Sur, and Obregon Avienda.
This weekend we were really ladies of leisure. Yesterday, we took a 2 hour subway ride to Xochimilco where there is a 180km network of ancient canals. We teamed up with a friendly Canadian couple, Nancy and John, and hired a private gondola for a one hour tour of the canals. A one hour tour. It is definitely not the huge beer that Rachelle and I shared talking, when I say that Xochimilco is a truely unique experience. The gondolas are colorfully decorated and equiped with a table and chairs enough to seat 20. Smaller boats float around selling beer, grilled corn, tacos, and mariachi songs. It might have been the most relaxed hour of my life. When we returned to the Salitre embarcadero, the 4 of us rode the colectivo to the artisan market. It felt like everything went our way in Xochimilco. It was beautiful day and fortunate to meet Nancy and John.
After dinner we went to a ¨Twin Tones¨ show and met up with new friends, Arden, Jacobo, and Jamie. We highly recommend that you check TT out.
Today we spent most of the day in Parque Mexico. It is maybe our favorite park in the world! From our bench the sounds of the Dixie Jazz Band drifted over to us, children made crafts and rode their bikes, vendors sold food, people walked their well behaved dogs off leash. We feel very happy, healthy, and lucky!
If you read all the way to this point, thank you! We will try to post more often.
Thank you for your love and good thoughts,
Meg and Rachelle
Stay Tuned for Mexico City and Oaxoca