Monday, July 27, 2009

Naked Ladies and Other Things

First, the naked lady: As I mentioned earlier, I'm taking a Life Drawing class at the Casa de la Cultura. . .and enjoying it a lot. Last week, in our third week the instructor promised to bring in a live model, as the previous classes had been theory and anatomy lectures. Sure enough, last Thursday, we arrived to find a Naked Lady in the drawing class. Now, if you've never had a Life Drawing class, you can't quite picture how startling that is. Even if one was expecting it. What do you say to a Naked Lady model? Hi, how's it going? Mostly, we just kept our mouths shut (this is not a skill I've mastered) and sketched away like crazy. She was good (apart from being naked). The instructor gave us about 5 minutes per pose, then said, "Carla, change positions." And she did: armed draped over her back. Reclining. Seated on a stool. All de rigeur for art class, but a bit disarming for a 50-something traveling gringo in Mexico.

I had a fever that night (more about that later). It wasn't helped by the fact that--to protect the model's modesty--the instructor shut the door to the patio and all the windows. It was hotter 'n hell in there, with one Naked Lady and about a dozen aspiring artists. I was happy with my efforts. Surprised myself. My sketches don't look like assorted lumps; but more or less like a naked lady in various poses. At first, I felt bad for her having to do a job like that. But at the end, the students all chipped in to pay her fee, which was something like $14 USD/hour for 2 hours. Down here that's big money, and she didn't seem any too worse for the experience.

And now, the fever. Throughout last week, I felt progressively crumbier. Fever, headache, and what's fondly known as "Montezuma's Revenge." Except that down here in Oaxaca, the pre-Conquest Indians weren't too fond of the Aztecs, since the Aztecs had the nasty habit of capturing the local tribespeople and sacrificing them by ripping out their hearts. That always tends to piss people off. And so the Oaxacans fought Montezuma on numerous occasions. So we'll have to call my gut problem some other kind of revenge. I'll be polite and not go into details.

So I hooked up with a local doctor recommended to me by folks at the gringo library here. I'd had on my list of things to do to find a doctor and go in for an introduction so I'd have one to call "just in case." Well, the "just in case" came sooner than planned. He put me on a series of 4 horse-sized pills guaranteed to knock out a wide spectrum of buggies. Must be working, because I feel better today. Only that I'm still tired. But that's to be expected. . . no shit! (pun intended).

Coping skills:
If you come to Mexico without these, you'll be most unhappy. My own have been sharpened and exercised on a daily basis. Surprisingly, it makes me happy to know that I can manage life's daily challenges in a foreign country. It's different from being a vacationer or tourist. I'm not hopping a plane back north in a week. This is my home, so I really have no option other that to just "deal with it." For example, I recently tried to refill a different prescription I have from the States. I refilled it a month ago here, no problem. This month I went to the very same pharmacy and they told me, "Sorry we can't fill it. You'll need a doctor's written prescription." Understand that you can buy almost any meds over the counter here. I asked, "Well, I got it here LAST month without a script. Why do I need one now?" They couldn't really come up with a good answer except for that I needed one. So I went down the street to a different chain pharmacy. Nope, no prescription needed. They were happy to sell it to me over the counter. This is one of the many mysteries of Mexico. You just deal with it. When I saw my doc this morning about the stomach problems, he said, "No. Absolutely not. That med has never required a prescription." Go figure.

Another example is the other day I was sitting at the bus stop, minding my own business, waiting for a bus to go down to Sam's Club to pick up some stuff. I wasn't feeling too sharp that day. From out of nowhere, a young drunk guy plops down next to me: "You speak Spanish?" "No." (I lied. That works well in situations like this.) "You tourist?" "Yes." "I need money." "Sorry, I don't have any money today." He just sat there, getting right in my face, inches away. I thought he was going to get physical and hit me or grab me or something. But I stayed cool and 100% non-confrontational. It was just like "this is the way it is, buddy." I guess he thought better of it, and eventually stumbled off. I'm glad I didn't get mad. Coping skills stretched to the breaking point.
Tonight, I'm savoring the evening. I've got both doors open and it's pouring rain, a nice breeze flowing through the house. I'm writing this and having a bowl of fresh guacamole for supper. That's one of the great joys of living here. Fresh avocados that don't cost $1.50 each. Throw one of those bad boys in a bowl with some chopped ripe tomato, onion, garlic, and jalapenos. Umm, umm. As we say in Southern Missouri, "that's some GOOD eatin'." I've recently learned that even though avocados are loaded with fat, it's the good fat. One lady I know says her doctor recommends she eat an avocado a day. I'll take that as sufficient recommendation to do so. A guacamole a day beats "an apple a day" anytime in my book. Especially when paired with a nice jug red wine, as I have here. Cheers!