Our second day at the NEH Mesoamerican Institute is off to a wonderful start. I will share pictures and stories from our excursions to Monte Albán and Atzompa, but first, a quick story about my encounter at lunch today. After our long day of excursions, and due to the lack of kitchen in my apartment, I took myself out to eat at a local restaurant. My lunch was quite the deal, in fact, at 35 pesos (roughly two US dollars) for the menú del día; a drink, a first dish (hot vegetable soup), a second dish (rice, salad and fried Oaxacan cheese), and a dessert.
I sat down at a small table to eat my lunch, and just as I had ordered my meal, a woman walking with two work colleagues approached me and asked in Spanish if my table was free. I said “yes, besides me!”, and just like that I had three new friends to eat lunch with at my (very) small table. So small, that our plates were touching.
No matter! We had a fantastic conversation, Maribel, José Luis, Elliot and I, and it was my chance to ask about the teacher protests and political unrest that is so present throughout the city of Oaxaca. I shared stories of the unrest, protests and riots that had taken place in Baltimore, and my new friends had heard of Freddie Grey and the unrest in our city, and were able to relate. They were surprised to hear that I had taught social justice topics in my classroom, and that my students were incredibly attentive to the story of the 43 missing student teachers in the state of Guerrero. I also got tips on where to find the best markets, and help with the pronunciation of the festival of Guelaguetza (it took me about four times to pronounce it correctly!) A wonderful chance to practice my Spanish and meet a few new friends, all while gaining a bit of perspective on local political movements in Oaxaca.
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