“tengo ganas” “I’m eager to/full of confidence”. That’s what my teachers here tell me. I’m quite proud of myself for that as I’m not normally quite so gung ho about throwing myself in to a language. I generally hold back until I feel I understand the grammar well. Not here, grammar be damned, I’m a gonna speak and speak and speak! My first teacher asked me if I wanted to move up a group as my vocabulary is pretty big. I decided not to as I know myself and know that I needed to ensure a firm grammar grounding (oh, ok, maybe grammar isn’t quite as damned as I thought). It seems to be working even if classes are a little frustrating when my colleagues spend hours asking basic questions and I just want to whizz on through. Today was amazing because the other two weren’t there so it was just the teacher and me so we went at my pace. Yay me.
The last few days have been really normal life. On Thursday we went swimming. We had the pool all to ourselves because clearly normal Oaxacans think it’s too cold to swim outside during the week. Not us, oh no! We had a wonderful hour in a pool and SB proved to us that he really can swim. I suspect he’s been able to swim for a while but because pools have always been fairly shallow we’ve never been certain he didn’t have one foot on the ground. Well we shouldn’t have doubted him because here, in the pool that is too deep for him, he really can swim. He swam a width all on his own. He was so very proud when I told him that would get him his first swimming badge in the UK. He wasn’t the only one who was proud. And SG proved to us that she knows how to react when she accidentally tries to drown herself by jumping in when no one is ready to catch her (whoops). She held her breath and came up (when Col grabbed her) and immediately informed us she’d held her breath! One bad-ass kid there. After swimming we found a really cool indoor play area. The woman womanning it was super kind and let the kids in for a free play even though she shouldn’t have. By then it was too late to cook so we went to the meat market and had 1/2kg of beef, some amazing spring onions, tortillas, guacamole and corn we’d bought elsewhere. Best meal ever. I love watching the kids chomping into the meat and corn.
You can buy two types of corn here: one on the cob (with mayo and chilli should you so desire) and one in a cup with mayo, lemon, cheese and salt (and chilli). I am in love with the second. I’m not convinced it’s entirely sanitary as I often feel a bit weird after eating it but, oh my is it sabroso (delicious) and super cheap!
Friday we, ahem, took the kids to school. Yeah, we decided that language school isn’t right for such small kids. So we have enrolled them in a Mexican private school. Most people send their kids to private school because the public system is so appalling. It must be really bad because I’m not that thrilled with what’s going on in this private school but hey ho, it’s only for two weeks, right? So on Friday we took them in for two hours. We stayed for an hour, Col with SB and me with SG. SG is in the 2 year old room, unsurprisingly. We went in and 14 kids were sitting at tables. OK, I thought, it’s breakfast time, they’ll move once they’ve eaten.
No. They didn’t. After breakfast they got down to ‘work’. These teeny kids were given crepe paper and told to make small balls for a big lion picture they’re making together. Yeah. You can imagine how excited the kids were by that. Especially my SG who has only been in UK nursery where they only sit at tables to eat or paint when they feel like it. The headteacher asked me if the UK system is similar to the Mexican. I explained the difference (‘cos, tengo ganas, innit). She asked me which I think is better. I may have been, politely, honest!
When the little ones go anywhere they form a line and hold on to the shirt of the kid in front of them. It was very funny to watch because SG had no idea what was happening and she was kid number three in line. So when she let go and wandered off to explore the play area on the way to the bathrooms, she took 12 other kids with her. Hilarious!
Then, as SB’s class came out for their exercise class we were told to leave for an hour. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, just to see them both crying. We left. It wasn’t ok. So we dumped them there again today. It went better although SB refused to eat lunch and hasn’t been very forthcoming about what he did. SG did eat (she generally does) and she told me she didn’t do anything today (I might believe that!). Hopefully everyday will be a little easier. They do both understand basic things and actually have quite a full vocabulary of animals, colours, numbers and foods. I asked SG, in Spanish, if she was tired today, and she replied, in Spanish, that she wasn’t. So that’s good, right?
Anyway, the weekend: On Saturday we went to a park, played, had lunch (Parque Colosio in the north of the city) and then tried to get a cab to my friend’s house. It took ages to find a cab up there at all and when we did the driver had no clue where my friend lives. Eventually we got there. Her house is so lovely. It’s really rustic and basically all outside. The kitchen is under a roof but has no walls, the living room appears to be the veranda and there are just bedrooms inside. Her garden was kid heaven, so much so that SG declared that when she’s grown up she wants to live alone and have a garden like that all for herself. While we were there the flower woman came by. She couldn’t believe how blond my kids are so she stayed a while. Then the local ice cream guy came by, yum.
On Sunday we went to a gigantic local market – Abestos – about fifteen minutes walk from our house. We really did get lost in it it’s so huge. We’d been warned to leave all jewellery etc at home and be super careful but actually everyone was incredibly friendly and kind, just like every other person we’ve encountered in Mexico thus far. No one has tried to rip us off at all. All prices are the same as others are paying (except maybe an extra 10 pesos on some cab rides) and people couldn’t be more helpful. After buying loads of fruits we came home for lunch before heading out for another swim.
This time we didn’t have the pool to ourselves as there was a big group there. They seemed to resent us being there as much as we resented them using our private pool! They insisted on playing a fairly rough game of water polo across the entire pool. So we refused to get out. Hah. Not sure that learned ’em but eventually they got out to eat and we got the pool to ourselves again. Balance restored.
We’re trying to sort out our accommodation for the next few months now, not so easy at a distance. Fingers crossed things pan out as we hope.