|The courtyard |
a.k.a the early Saturday morning football court for the landlady's 10-year-old
So this is the story of my great move from one small Oaxaqueño university town to another. Both universities bear five letter abbreviations and lie in towns ending in 'àn', so being more specific would just add to your confusion.
|View from the 'shanty town' |
on the Orange House roof
Message: The Vice Rector of the university has raised a personnel problem with Human Resources. As you were recruited from a university within the same system we can't offer you the job.
So read a wonderful email that I received at midnight the DAY BEFORE I was due to leave town. It was actually about 10 hours before I was due to get the bus!
Needless to say I spent the weekend frantically calling family, friends and looking at other job opportunities to avoid myself becoming a man with no residence, no job, no visa and a cat to keep in tins of Whiskers!
Gadson cooking up a storm
to the dulcet tones of Freddy Mercury
The Orange Revolution
I arrived to my new home, The Orange House (those that know me will see the irony here), and was shown around two rooms by the landlord's 30 something daughter. She was fairly humorless at that late hour and not particularly welcoming.
"¿Còmo se llama?" I asked, trying to be polite.
"No sè" (I don't know) she replied.
How can you not know your own name??!?! I thought, but it transpires that she thought I was asking about another cat. When I did finally discover she was called, I remarked that my sister has the same name. "Uuggghh" she grunted (not inquiring after my name), and then proceeded to remind me to turn off all the lights for about the fifth time.
With three of the five rooms already taken by incumbent English profs in the Orange House I was left with a choice between the Rape Dungeon and the Doll's House. I'm sure you can imagine which one I plumped for
. . . the Rape Dungeon, obviously! I mean, I'm not exactly small, so the Doll's House with its 5' high ceilings isn't exactly ideal.
The Dungeon in all of its glory
By the way, the only orange part of the house, is the front (not pictured), but taxi drivers seem to understand where you mean when you ask for La Casa Naranja, it's fast becoming one of Miahuatlàn's key landmarks.
My new housemates include:
Guy - a furry faced, well read, deep thinker from somewhere fake-sounding in Hertfordshire. He likes G&Ts and talking about his stripy blue t-shirt.
Kate - a seemingly semi-professional cook from Colorado into escaping Miahuatlàn at the weekend who is usually wearing a bemused look on her face as the three English idiots quote line-after-line from Alan Partridge scenes.
Mel - A Croydonite new starter who is new to Mexico who's moving out as she's not a fan of the Dolls House room. You could have told us that before we dismantled your bed, moved it downstairs and reconstructed it! ha ha.
Lola - A fat furry Jezebel who seems intent on riling up all of the neighborhood's male cats and breaking into my room to eat my cat's food.
Total non-stop action:
Thursday day was spent buying essentials, meeting everyone on campus and frantically assembling paperwork for immigration the next day.
We went out for pizza that night with some of the other profs which was a good way to meet people. I was sat next to Steve, the retired husband of an older teacher from the states. His passions seem to be fishing and talking about logging (he couldn't help but mention whenever a timber truck rolled past the restaurant). He seemed to be loving life visiting his wife for a few months in Mexico so fair play to him! After the pizza we waited to try and see some other apartments and would have been waiting until midnight had we not packed it in and gone home.
I was a bit preoccupied as I was anxious to pick up a suitcase I'd left with another prof, and try to find a solution to the fact that I'd been locked out of my room (and the cat locked in). I eventually managed to get into the room, get into my curry odored suitcase and compile a bunch more paperwork for immigration.
Love at first sight?
Orange house cats on the prowl
We had people round to the Orange House on Friday night which was fairly low key until someone introduced a play-your-cards-right style Tequila drinking game. Getting a bit competitive and also being too tired to move out of my kitchen chair meant that I was the protagonist in making sure that the bottle was finished before sloping off to my dungeon bed.
You may have won this round Jose Cuervo, but I feel like we will have many more battles in the future.
I was awoken in the middle of the night by a returning cat jumping on my head (I think he had been hiding in the shanty town on the roof), and went to get a glass of water. I discovered a kitchen that looked like an atomic bomb filled with crisps had been detonated in its center, with a half-finished lone bottle of gin standing on the table like a solitary desert cactus. This led me to believe that Guy had not been successful in his pursuit of the HR girl who he'd been flirting with earlier.
|The best tacos in San Francisco . . .|
well barrio San Francisco in Miahuatlàn anyway
It has a few decent bars, shops and gyms within a 15 minute walk. There is a big regional Monday market, and bonuses such as good pizza, tamales and pool tables in town. Apparently there is also a burger stand near my house that serves "Big-Mac-ahuatlàns" - a hamburger with three additional tacos squeezed into the bun. Must . . . not . . . Super-Size myself.
Whilst it is smaller than Juchitàn, the town seems quicker, more concentrated and younger (lots of schoolkids and students here). Our closest supermarket is has even been nicknamed 'rapido' because of the pace of service there. I must admit, I didn't enjoy the pace and thorough nature of the questioning from the 'rapido' team when buying Saturday morning supplies was not so welcome with my splitting headache.
View from the office
There is a good mix of teachers (mostly English and American) who have some good experiences to draw on. I'll be teaching pre-intermediate students from Nursing and nutrition, so it's not too much of a change. A lot of people have been talking about how cool the robotized nursing clinic on campus is. I'll be honest, when I hear the word robotized, I want to see Craig Charles suspended from the ceiling shouting "3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . ACTIVATE!" just like on BBC2's Robot Wars.
A more likely scene is a group of giggling uniformed students pointing at a metal arm making an incision on a plastic mannequin. I'll let you know if I catch any glimpses of St. Bash, Matilda or Sir Killalot.
|Working hard or hardly working?|
I hope they don't use our fingerprints for crime scene investigations on late returned library books or to find out who ate the last cookie in the teachers lounge. And yes, I understand that the last statement doesn't make sense because the cookie would be in my stomach . . . err I mean an unnamed teacher's stomach.
That's all for this time. Here's to a new semester!
BONUS TALL STORY: When I went to get a medical certificate for work, the three nurses who were taking my measurements were rolling around laughing when they saw my height. They couldn't work out how to extend the measuring stick high enough to capture my full altitude. Finally, one of them scaled a chair and held the stick higher in order to get the measurement.
P.S. It was 'hardly working'