I suppose there is a first time for everything, and this includes blogging too! I´ve never been prone to blogging or my thoughts on things but this is a great way to share our study abroad experience(s) and really document what's been going on in Oaxaca this summer!
I arrived in Mexico a week before most of the other students, to visit family that I have living in Guadalajara. It isn´t frequent that I take a trip down to Mexico, although I´ve now been down here a good amount, so my Mom and I decided to visit them before I started the program in Oaxaca. First of all, if anyone gets a chance to visit Guadalajara, I highly recommend it. It is akin to Mexico City in that it is one of Mexico´s biggest and most popular/populous cities, as well as the capital of the state of Jalisco, but it is also the cleanest and safest large city in Mexico today. My aunt and uncle (technically my Mom´s cousin and her husband, but I was informed that in Mexico, most family members of that nature can be referred to as aunts and uncles, just as I would be regarded as their niece) live in an amazingly beautiful "family compound" that has been in the family for years and includes multiple houses all inhabited by brothers/sisters and their families. My uncle's father, who passed away a few years ago, was essentially the patriarch of the property and almost all of the 8 brothers and sisters now live in the various houses with their families. Once I am able to upload pictures without too much hassle, I will put the pictures here.
Like most cities in Mexico, Guadalajara also has a rich history and great parts of town to experience true Mexican art and culture. My mom and I visited Tlaquepaque, a beautiful place to find truly amazing pieces of art and souvenirs by many different artesanias. Once I have a house of my own to decorate and style, I will definitely be making a trip back down to Guadalajara to buy furnishings and artwork there!
There are many more things to share about Guadalajara, but for now I just wanted to say that 1) I recommend it if you have a chance to visit and 2) It was great to spend some time in Mexico before the start of our program to get accustomed to speaking the language again (after many years) and easing into a completely different enviroment from our own in the United States.
Now on to OAXACA!
I arrived in Oaxaca in the afternoon of June 12, just in time for a torrential downpour that left me and my bags soaked and the streets a little flooded. I was greeted somewhat hesistantly by Laura and our program leader, Oliver, who weren't exactly sure who they were looking for, but we spotted each other pretty quickly. Laura and I also spotted Oliver´s personal safety device, a.k.a. the ninja machete sword that he keeps in a sheef (sp?) in his car and immediately took a liking to our new teacher! So badass.
Casa Arnel (our hotel) was such a sweet looking and quaint place, with a courtyard filled with plants and animals and is just one example of why I just LOVE Mexican architecture. Love the courtyards, and the tiles, and the stucco, and all of that. (Will insert pictures here soon to explain what I mean). Oh, and they had hammocks. Love those too.
We spent the weekend getting to know each other and exploring the city a little bit. A brief rundown of what we got to see/experience on our first weekend: lots of rain, new food (tacos pastor, mole, etc.), 15 parrots and one scary looking dog, bathrooms with showers in between the sink and toilet, el Zocalo and tent city filled with los maestros protesting/staking claim to their territory, pirated DVDs galore, and some more rain. But all in all...a great first weekend and on Monday, we met our host families and started class!
Blogging is kind of exhausting and I will continue the story of Oaxaca Summer 2010 soon!!