Sunday, January 10


Yesterday one of my female students (there are 19 females and 4 males in the program),we'll call her N, reported a disturbing but unfortunately somewhat common experience. She had been exploring her neighborhood in broad daylight when the man walking a few yards in front of her suddenly turned around and pulled down his pants. She continued walking by him, squishing herself as close to the wall of the house on the street, and as far away from him, as possible.

I saw her soon after the incident. I told her that she had reacted in an appropriate manner, since responding in any way (yelling, turning around and running away) would have given the man an opportunity to respond as well, and shown him that he had affected her in some way. Having had a similar experience myself last year, I had felt confused, shocked, and then just really angry afterward. I asked her how she felt about it, and she said she didn't know how she was supposed to feel. Another student, L, said her first reaction would have been to throw punches, but N and I sincerely doubt she would have actually done so, since in the moment you're just so surprised and taken aback.

Last year, another student had someone try to reach up her skirt, and others were groped in public places like subways and just walking down the street, or propositioned in a lewd and inappropriate manner. A friend studying in Italy also had similar experiences, so it seems that this isn't just an issue in Mexico. In most cases, the men did not seem crazy or emotionally disturbed. They just seem to think that they can get away with this behavior with foreign women. I doubt they would ever try it with someone from their own country.

As for preventing this kind of thing, it seems almost impossible, since the events happen during the day, when other people are around and in busy neighborhoods and public places, and they occur with almost no warning. I suggested that N not walk down that street again, but that's about as much advice as I can give her, aside from providing a sympathetic ear.

Mayonesa con limón

Since the tianguis (market) in the llano (plaza) down the street has moved (apparently it was damaging the paving), I was directed to a local market on Murgia and calzada República for my fresh produce needs. I bought some avocados* and tomatoes from a mustachioed guy who called me "güerita," and some mandarin oranges and bananas from a nice older woman who actually accepted my 100 peso bill to pay for 15 pesos worth of fruit, without any comment. I definitely felt slightly out of place, since I was the only non-mexican there. But it's closer and cheaper than the market on 20 de noviembre. And the "güerita" comment is meant in a friendly way.

After my trip, I decided that I really needed some mayonnaise in order to make tortas de quesillo (cheese sandwiches). Ordinarily I despise the stuff: the taste, the slimy texture, and the fact that it's over-used. A sandwich that squirts mayonnaise when you bite into it is probably one of the most revolting food items I can think of. And don't even mention potato or tuna salad to me. One of my former students, in an essay about what the world will be like in 100 years, wrote that mayonnaise would not exist in the world of the future. I gave him an A.

That said, I was willing to make an exception in this case. I had once unwittingly ordered a torta de quesillo that came with mayo, and discovered that it actually adds something to the sandwich as long as it's used in moderation. (Also I have to admit that esquites are really lacking something without mayo.) Anyway, I stopped at the Piticó to buy a very small jar of mayo and discovered that it all comes with limón. You literally cannot buy a bottle of plain mayo. Which is fine with me; it's much tastier this way.

I also purchased a stick of unsalted butter for my morning toast. Any guesses on the ingredients in a stick of "mantequilla pura de vaca sin sal"? Salt. Yes, salt. My unsalted butter has salt in it. Also, water. In fact, water is the second ingredient after milk fat.

*Aguacate (avocado) means testicle in Nahuatl.

Tuesday, January 5

'Tiny changes that hurt' *

Some brief observations of what has changed in Oaxaca since last year:

The thoroughly gelled faux-hawk hair style has morphed into a stegosaurus head strip.

My two favorite markets have moved. No longer are they a 2 minute and 5 minute walk from my house; one is a 20 minute bus ride away down south by the mall and movie theater, and the other is farther north.

The major street closest to my house is under construction, which means all its traffic had been redirected to pass by my house. Until yesterday night, that is, when they tore that road up as well. So, much quieter, but much harder for taxi drivers to drop me off.

Unrelated note: Yesterday I was sitting at a cafe outside and a bird shat on my computer. Luckily it missed the keyboard. But I didn't notice it and closed the computer, which mashed it all along the top edge of the screen.

*Extra points for anyone who can identify the band and song the title of this post comes from.

Sunday, January 3

De vuelta en Oaxaca

I'm back in Oaxaca again and will be periodically posting to this blog. Meanwhile, until something interesting enough to merit a post actually happens, I am going to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and 77 degrees.