Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Shape of Our Lives

I'm not sure if it's living in Mexico or being retired.

The rhythm of my life has change noticeably. I'm voting for the Mexico thing, since when I've been back in the States, briefly, during the last 7 months, I fall right back into my old patterns. Like list-making. I don't do that here, since I would have nothing to put on the list. Back in Phoenix it was: doctor's appointment, pick up new charger for cell phone, take car in for service, stop at the store for groceries, go to the bank, etc., etc. It was endless.

A startling reality--at least for me: Here, I don't have much to do. Being a Type A personality in total recovery, I've had to slow down. Folks who know me thought I'd be bored to death. On the contrary. With less to do, you savor those things you do do. It's quite a lot like the "slow foods" movement (in reaction against fast foods). Shop for foods carefully. Be conscientious about your selections. Cook things slowly to capture all the flavor. And then savor them in the eating.

Many of you have asked, "So, what's your typical day like?" OK, here goes. Today. A very pleasant day. I got up around 8:30. I've been sleeping a TON. And enjoying in immensely. It may be because of the elevation here, my being outside all day in the fresh air and sunshine. I'm doing 9 hours a night + nap (more about that later). Then I make a simple little breakfast of home-cooked oatmeal with fresh bananas. I faithfully squeeze a big old glass of fresh orange juice. It's so good! And maybe a slice of toast. Interesting note--you can by pre-toasted bread in a package here. Don't need to own a toaster. I usually burn it when I'm doing it myself, anyway.

Then a shower and get dressed. Today, I had to be at the Estancia Infantil (Children's Shelter) for street kids at 10 a.m. There, I meet Eva, a girl from Australia, who twice a week brings in the most amazing craft projects for the kids. I just help with that, and do some individual tutoring and homework help. Also, I'm usually up for a bit of soccer with the boys. Now that's something funny to watch--a 50+ gringo and some 10-12-year-old Mexican kids playing soccer. Guess who's fastest?
I find working with the kids super rewarding. One boy, Osvaldo (about 11, I'd say), needs a lot of help with homework. We did math last week--long division and multiplication. He did surprisingly well, and enjoyed the positive feedback and individual attention I could give him. Today, we worked on spelling and reading (not so good). I asked him....begged him...to read me a storybook. The center has a big collection. He flat out refused. I made funny faces until he acquiesced. We made it a 2-man project. He got to pick the book. Very short, with lots of pictures. About sea animals (manatees). Then I understood why he didn't want to read to me. He could barely read. So we sounded out words together, me pointing to the pictures. Or physically illustrating the problem words. (How do you show the word 'flippers' for example?)

I'm really aware of the kids' short concentration limits, so we break up learning with a bit of soccer or helping out over at the crafts table. And sometimes, we just talk. Osvaldo knew the name of the American president. And he knew the name of the Mexican president, too (they've got local elections coming up here in a month).

I'm trying to organize an outing for the kids--an excursion to a local baseball game with the Oaxaca team, the Guerreros. None of the kids have every been to a ballgame (my Dad would be rolling over in his grave!). Kids under 12 get in free. So one of the men who works there, and the lady doctor and I are going to be the 'chaperones' and herd off a flock of kiddies to the ballgame Saturday afternoon. I'm expecting it to be like herding cats. But, at a Mexican ballgame, no one will care.

After the volunteer stint, I walked back downtown with my Australian friend and we had lunch in a local cafeteria/diner place. I always go for the 'comida corrida,' or meal of the day. At Tito's, it's 38 pesons...about $2.75US...and that includes a soup, main course, dessert, and fruit drink. Such a deal! Eva and I had a nice chat about her dream of moving to Canada with her boyfriend.

After lunch, it was time for a nap. I did 2 hours. OK, I'm embarrassed. But it sure felt nice, and I awoke 100% recharged. Then, I watched the U.S. news online, and had a chat with an American lady student who lives across the way in one of the other departments here. I walked down to the Mercado to buy some bananas for breakfast tomorrow....just as an excuse to go for a walk. Then, I had a bowl of soup for supper at a restaurant on the zocalo. And I splurged and had a cantaloupe popsicle. I like this pattern of eating with the main meal midday (around 2-3 p.m.), and a light meal in the evening.

And now I'm back home writing to you. I'll read a bit a go to bed. So--as you can see--nothing earthshaking. But it was a sweet and pleasant day, and that's all that any of us could ask for.