Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Chinese Food and School

A "Chinese" Mexican Restaurant

Shop owners here clean their patch of sidewalk every morning with a bucket of bleach and a mop. By the scent in my room sometimes after I come home and my bed's been made, I think Sofí does the same thing when we're off at school. So "clean" smells like a laundry room or a pool here.

Today I went to the Chinese restaurant that Josefina mentioned the other day. It's quite a few blocks from el centro. It's a "normal" courtyard builing like all the rest, with pointsettas and a Christmas tree to go along with the paper lanterns and poorly stencilled dragons. Very weird mix of Mexican and Chinese decorations. I ordered Kum Pa Chi Tin, kung pao chicken, which was very heavy on the onions and a soupy sauce. At least it was still recognizably "Chinese food." The restaurant (La Muralla) makes me wonder what "American" elements we have in our Chinese restaurants that we don't even notice.

One of María Elena's hobbies is making earrings. She showed me a boxful of them and convinced me to try some "small" danglies. I told her how when I was young my mom wouldn't let me wear anything but studs, so now I'm not used to danglies. ("¿No? Por qué?" "No sé. Tampoco me permitió llegar negro." "¿?" Heh.)

María Elena and I talked about the little words and phrases that you use to help the conversation flow. I also explained to her about "cooties," but apparently the dictionary translation piojos only refer to literal bugs, not what little boys have. (She was lending me her spoon to stir my coffee, is how "cooties" came up. ;)) Tomorrow, at my request, we're going to talk about how to improve pronunciation and sound less American.

My school, Amigos del Sol, offers English classes to Oaxaqueños, in addition to the Spanish classes I'm taking. Not-Marco, the other guy from school (who wears really weird contacts), says that he'll ask if I can sit in on the classes to see how it's taught. Could be cool.

Colinne's school sounds much more rigorous and school-like than mine. She's had to research Mexican politics, write up summaries of newspaper articles, and tonight she's preparing for a debate. But really, I think I'm happier with the structure of my school. I've had my fill of traditional schoolwork and classmates and worrying about doing things correctly on the spot. My one-on-one chats with my teachers about whatever specific concernsI have are really cool. It's nice to just be able to chat — they still correct me when I need it, but it feels much less formal.

Of course, the downside to all my one-on-one classes is that I haven't really met anyone outside of the house. Colinne and Nina were just leaving the house when I woke up from my siesta today, heading off to see some Mexican wrestling with their class. They didn't invite me along, despite my hinting that I had nothing to do and would like to go. Blah. I'm going to be taking a Salsa dancing class and a cooking class on Friday through the school, so maybe I'll meet people there. Or I could try the intercambio again, or ask María Elena what she's up to after school... *mutter*


Shelley: the Dread Pirate Rodgers said...

¡Feliz cumpleaños a tí!
¡Feliz cumpleaños a tí!
¡Feliz cumpleaños qerida Catarín!
¡Feliz cumpleaños a tí!

brazos y besadas,
la mamacita-pantalones