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Journals from Oaxaca

2010-03-17 Oaxaca and spring break planning

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Emily Hopping and Ancient Mastodon jaws (!!) at the INAH research lab in Cuilapan de Guerrero

This is my third blog update and already we've been in Mexico for well over a month. Oaxaca is an incredible city with a ton of life, and we have all had fun so far exploring it. It's never quiet here. I wake up every morning to a loud jingle playing from the truck that sells gas for stoves, listen throughout the day to the sounds of car horns, parade music, and exploding fireworks, and fall asleep at night to the eerie sounds of the vapors escaping from a baked banana cart (think of one creepy ancient flute in the dark and you're there). I think one of the most surprising and interesting things is the city center, the Zocalo. The Zocalo is a large public space where children, adults, vendors, performers, and tourists alike gather to relax, walk, and discuss the day. It's easy to pass hours there just people watching. Along with our city exploring we've been taking classes at the Cultural Institute of Oaxaca. We were split into two different Spanish classes, but each one has been immensely fun and we've all improved our speaking (along with our knowledge of slang). We're also taking an archeology class with Professor Robert Markens, which has been very interesting and relevant, and we've been so lucky to have Prof. Markens along with us on our weekend excursions to ancient sites, because his knowledge is incredible. This last weekend we visited Monte Alban for the first time, where Prof. Markens works, and saw the famous Danzantes and the mysterious Building J. Our third class is a visual culture class with Prof. Ron Mills, and in the past few weeks we've visited several amazing galleries and museums around Oaxaca. Each one of us has a living situation different from the others, so we've all been adjusting accordingly to our new host family lives. My host family is beyond wonderful. There are a ton of kids and people over all the time, so the house is always full and noisy, which is a fun change for me (my family is small and fairly quiet). I got to go to a birthday party a few weeks ago for one of my host siblings who turned 1, and it was the most over the top kids' party I've been to! Also, this past weekend I got sick, and my host family was especially caring and helpful. Spring break is coming up, and I'm planning on traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula with three other students. The 20-hour bus ride is especially daunting, but it's going to be worth it to be at Chichen Itza for the equinox! We're also going to some other ruins, possibly some cool caves, and to the beach on the other side of the peninsula. It's going to be busy, but we're all excited. (And it was especially gratifying to explain our whole route and buy all our bus tickets in Spanish!) Update number 4 after break, when I'll have access to my computer again. Hasta pronto. For more photos: apate.tumblr.com

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