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Journals from Oaxaca, Mexico

2012-03-21 Settling In

We have already reached our third week of classes here in Oaxaca - how time flies! We are already getting set into routines, it seems to me. Most of the group is figuring out their way around the city, we've been to the zócalo numerous times, some with Profesora Ramsay and some on our own, and everyone is learning how to get around on public transportation as well. One thing that takes some getting used to is the heat - it's in the high 80s every day here, and our families tell us that it's only just beginning to get hot. Hopefully we can toughen up our Oregonian constitutions before we get too sunburned.

The past two weeks have been filled with classes and trips as well! Our first Friday in Oaxaca, Feb. 10, we went to a market in the city, as well as Mayordomo, a chain of stores which produce chocolate for mole, hot chocolate, and everything else. Not only did we get to see how they make the chocolate from cocoa beans, but we got to sample as well! We explored the market that day, which was full of beautiful Oaxacan crafts, foods, and interesting sights - including butcher stands and seafood venders, something I haven't seen too much of that close up.

This past Friday, we went to a pueblo about 128 km outside of Oaxaca in the sierra norte, called Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec (quite the tongue-twister). It was part of Profesor Hernández's course in which we have been learning about the political systems in Oaxaca, some of which are based on indigenous traditions (as is the system in this pueblo). We had the opportunity to meet with the president of the municipio (the group of pueblos), who is rare in the fact that she is a woman. She gave us a lot of interesting information about their system of government and the principals of la comunidad, which can be found in many pueblos organized in this manner. Afterwards, we went to the local music school, which is well-known all over Oaxaca and Mexico for the fine musicians that are trained there. As this Friday was Mexico's Flag Day, we were able to see a special ceremony and performance by the band in the center of town outside the school. They played traditional music from Oaxaca and specific to the indigenous group living in the pueblo, the mixe.

In addition to our excursiones, we are continuing to meet with our intercambios and get used to our families. One student changed her host family last week because she felt she wanted a more interactive experience than she had been receiving, but worked it out with the Institute and is now settling in to a new family, which she likes very much. Other than that, everyone seems to be going along quite nicely. We are beginning to think about a service project in which we will travel to another pueblo to teach health classes, which will be planned by the students in the group studying nursing and health. Should be exciting and a great chance to give back.

That's all for now, hasta luego!


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