Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 1 in Oaxaca.

I fell in love with Oaxaca the first time I visited, so it was an easy choice for 5 weeks of language school. Now, one week in, I know I made the right decision!

I've settled into an awesome routine...
Breakfast and coffee in my cute apartment (usually while scrambling to finish my homework), then a 30 minute walk to school.
9:00-1:00, class with a genuinely skilled educator and a handful of new friends.
1:00-3:00, wander around until I find a (relatively) indulgent restaurant for a leisurely lunch.
3:00-4:00, "intercambio," conversational language exchange with a super interesting woman from Oaxaca.
4:00-6:00, cooking class (in Spanish) with a friendly and talented woman who even lets us eat the yummy food afterward!
After that, too full for dinner and too brain-fried for much more Spanish, I've either been going out with classmates and/or locals, or going straight home to rest my brain.


I'm having a great time, and hopefully I'm even learning some Spanish while I'm at it! Some other things I've been learning and/or remembering about the way I like to travel, that I hope to take with me the next few months...


1. Always overbudget. It's easy to control certain parts of the budget, like food, for example. I can eat street food or cook for myself if I want to pinch pennies here and there. But when I realize that I misread the website and the language class is $150USD more than I thought, or that I should have booked earlier and the Cuba flights are now $100USD more than they used to be, I'm kind of stuck. Of course, I could forego language school and/or Cuba, but I much prefer building wiggle room into my budget so surprises like these don't ruin my fun!
2. Don't move too fast, and don't move too slow. I've long recognized that I dislike the one-night-here-two-nights-there kind of travel. I like giving myself plenty of time to relax, get to know people, linger in cafes over good books, and feel totally ok about watching Netflix every now and then.  So staying here longer than a few days was an easy choice.  But this year-long travel opportunity afforded me a new option: I actually could have stayed here for many months. And I'm realizing I wouldn't have liked that either. I'm so enjoying Oaxaca, but there's something special about knowing I only have four more weeks here. I am constantly trying to soak up everything I can about this city, hyperaware of how lucky I am and how quickly the time will pass. I feel grateful pretty much all the time. I love San Francisco, but it's become "normal" enough that I rarely feel this way at home anymore, and this has been a really special opportunity to get the feeling back.


3. Don't judge tourists. I've been meeting great people, tourists and locals alike. But I've noticed myself feeling really judgmental toward certain tourists who act super gringo-y. When it comes to locals, I know I'm the ignorant one, and it's easy to be humble about all the mistakes I'm sure I'm making. But when it comes to other tourists, I sure can have a chip on my shoulder. The thing is, though, when I've had the opportunity to get to know people after my initial judgements, I've almost always come to realize their hearts are in the right place. And regardless, I'm sure I'm being just as obnoxious of a tourist in ways I don't yet recognize. I sure hope locals and other tourists give me a chance despite my ignorance, so from here on out I choose to do the same.


4. I am so lucky. Lucky to have the sabbatical, obviously, but also really lucky to have such amazing people at home. In the weeks before my departure, I said a lot of really hard goodbyes, but each one reminded me how lucky I am to have the people I have. Thank you for all the meals and hangouts and hikes. Thank you for welcoming me into your homes when I had no place to stay, and even your beds when you were out of town. Thank you for letting me play with your adorable babies and kitties. Thank you for running errands with me. Thank you for commuting across town to see me. Thank you for understanding when I got overwhelmed and canceled, even though I love you and miss you so much. Thank you for bringing cakes and snacks and drinks and your very busy selves to my birthday party to say goodbye. Thank you for trying to come visit me somewhere in the world. Thank you for caring that I'm safe and sound down here. My people are really the best people!

8 comments:

  1. Sounds awesome! We just signed up for a similar language/culture class in Ecuador but would love to do it in Mexico, too. Congrats on beginning your big journey! Can't wait to hear more!

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    1. Oh how cool! I'd love to hear about your school in Ecuador if you end up liking it! I'd definitely recommend this one if you end up in Oaxaca and want a recommendation! Happy travels! :-)

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  2. Glad to hear your having a good time.

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    1. Thanks Marina! Open invitation if you want to come hang out somewhere! :-)

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  3. Glad to hear your having a good time.

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  4. Awesome Lindsay! Sounds like you've settled right in! Have you been to Hierve del Agua yet? You must go! :-)

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    1. Thanks Jenny!! I went when I rushed through Oaxaca last year, and I absolutely loved it! Don't think I'll go again this year, but it's definitely one of my top Oaxaca recommendations too!!!

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