Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Birthday

Nopal, ¿Quizás?

Woohoo, I'm one year older today. It's weird spending most of my birthday alone, in a foreign country, but whatever. Silvia gave me a bag of chocolate (I really like the Mexican chocolate) and a pair of dangly earrings. Yesterday I had no danglies, and now I have two. ;)

I had signed myself up for a tour of el jardín etnobotánico, next to the Santo Domingo church. Free tour, yay. It's an ethnobotancial garden because the guides also talk about the uses people have for the plants. Rather interesting. I took 50 pictures and, afterward, jotted down notes about each as well as I could remember.

If you're ever in Oaxaca and looking for Italian food, stay away from Pizza Nostrana, across from the Santo Domingo. Slow service, even for a Mexican restaurant. Also, their open front door is right next to a smelly sewer grate, so that lovely odor wafts in while you're trying to enjoy your food. And the food itself is very... matter-of-fact: I got a small plate with just my piece of lasagna and nothing else. No bread, no salad, no sprig of parsley in any attempt at restaurantiness.

Fence Post Cactus

After I returned to the house, I knocked on Colinne's door. I was feeling a bit lonely, what with being by myself for my birthday. But she had her big debate tomorrow to prepare for, so I left her alone.

I went over to el patio mexicano to chat with Ann. Apparently she had friends who live in Oaxaca, and she's been visiting them off and on for the past ten years. She says it's been interesting watching the pueblos grow, mostly from tourism.

After the chatting (Colinne did come out of her room for a short smoke break), I went to the internet café. But even though it was only 8:30 and they should have been open for another half hour, they'd closed. So I was a little bummed walking back, figuring I'd just read by myself for the rest of my birthday in Mexico.

But then I ran into (almost literally) María Elena at a corner. I asked her, "¿Cómo estás? Adónde vas?" She was off to her salsa class, she said, and she invited me to join her. Woohoo! Dancing and company.

We chatted on the walk to the class. Turns out she's 25, to be 26 on the 20th. (Eek, five days. I'd like to get her something...)

The salsa "classroom" was fairly small — maybe 15 or 20 feet square — but it was big enough for the number of people. Two other women there had never done salsa before, but after they talked to the teacher, they left. Dunno what was up with that.

One of the two teachers showed me el paso básico, el cubano, el <algo>, y el Susy Q. Hehe. But I don't have down the skill of spotting, so all the spinning made me pretty dizzy after enough of them. I sat out the second half of the class on the steps outside (much cooler there) and watched everyone else. Salsa looks pretty fun.

I told María thatI knew Swing, but she didn't know the style and I couldn't think of how to describe it. It actually seems rather similar to salsa in general style. Like, salsa : Latin music :: Swing : jazz. María says I have to show her how to do Swing dancing. We'll see.

After the class, we went to this one bar for shots of mezcal, to celebrate mi cumpleaños. She says she'd actually like to practice her English, especially her pronunciation. She figures I'll be able to help because of my phonetics knowledge. Hopefully! And maybe this Sunday she'll show me how she makes her earrings. Should be fun. :)

So my birthday ended up being enjoyable after all.