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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
I move south from Puerto Escondido on a beautiful sunny day like countless others I’ve had in Mexico. I get stopped by the military guys who want to search my Jeep, this time they do a very through job taking about twenty minutes. The guy in charge of the whole show starts asking me something in Spanish and just doesn’t leave it alone, he really wants something. Soon it is apparent he’s talking about my headlamp and five minutes later he eagerly points to the word “gift” in my dictionary. I use my headlamp all the time so I’m pretty determined not to give it to him. He doesn’t want money and he doesn’t want to “take” it from me, he wants me to give it to him.
I stick to my guns and he eventually lets me and my headlamp go on my way.
I meet Victor, who has a small English school in the busy little town of Tehuantepec and we quickly become good friends. Victor taught himself English because of the advantages it makes available and is now passionate about teaching others. His students pay whatever they can, all he asks in return is their hard work and dedication. I start out by introducing myself and observing a few classes, and then move up to running 90 minute classes. The students have excellent vocab, they are just uncertain on pronunciation and sentence structure.
Hanging out with Victor in his town is great, he knows everyone and everything cool we need to checkout. Some of the events in random order are:
- Attending a wedding, huge sweet 15 party and a traditional Bella party where people in traditional dress dance until 5am. I’m not sure why, but a requirement of all these parties seems to be music at a volume that rattles the teeth in my head.
- Eating traditional Mexican food for every single meal, always cooked on an open fire by Victor’s mother and grandmother. They have a stove and oven, but prefer to use the fire.
- Going out on a Saturday night and drinking our fill of Corona for all of $15 USD each.
- My guitar gets stolen from the back of the Jeep – it’s been sitting there the whole time and I expected it to go long ago, so I’m not at all surprised. I’ve been playing it a lot in recent weeks, so I’m going to miss it. Now I’m glad I didn’t buy a surfboard and risk losing it so soon.
- While at Victor’s house we feel a very small earthquake, similar to a heavy truck driving by.
- I fall out of a hammock onto concrete when the supporting hook bends open under my weight. Everyone including me can’t stop laughing for ten minutes.
- Many of the students in my English class go to university in Mexico City and it’s really exciting to hang out with them and learn so much about Mexico and it’s history. Many of the students have exciting ideas as to how Mexico can improve it’s many problems, from pollution and unemployment to corruption and stray dogs.
- On Christmas I meet a friend of Victor who moved north to a border town to work in a factory making flat-screen TVs for the US. The town is regarded as the most dangerous in Mexico, but the pay is comparatively very good so he continues to live and work there, along with thousands of other Mexicans from all over the country.
- I get flat tire number four repaired, a very slow leak on the bead on the spare.
I really enjoy teaching English and with Victors help, my Spanish improves ten fold.