Friday, July 10, 2009

Oaxaca Observations

OK......a quick grammar lesson.

In Spanish, just like in English, the prefix "re-" before a word means "do again."
For example: re-type, re-think, re-live, etc.

So, walking down Pino Suarez Street here in Oaxaca, I see this sign on the street for a snack shop, lunch place, "Roy's." As the sign says, he serves tacos and RETACOS. What in the hell is that? A taco that's been served once before? Or worse, eaten once before? I have no idea.
More in the funny name department--
A main street here, north of downtown is Jakobo Dalevuelta Street. That's a man's name. But his name is Jake Turn-Around (or Turn-Over).

A pastry shop chain here is Quemen Pastelerias. "Quemen" is the third person subjunctive form of the verb "they burn it." Really! That's the name of the shop.
And in the culturally lost-in-translation department:
I signed up for 2 summer workshops at the Casa de la Cultura. One in choral singing, the other Life Drawing. I went to the information table, and they insisted that I have identification. Don't know why they need to know my identity, but, OK. I went home and got my passport. Brought the passport back to table #2 with computer, where staffer is entering data in computer. His first question was, "What's you blood type?"
Since my Spanish isn't perfect, I thought I'd misunderstood the question. Nope, "What's your blood type?" I said I had no idea...and why in the world would they need to know my blood type for an art class? He said, "because it's on the form." He said he absolutely HAD to enter something, so we went through the options: A postive, A negative, O, B, etc. He said to just pick one. I did. He was happy.

Mexicans are very big on bureaucracy and forms. My understanding is that it's a make-work deal and helps with greater employment. So, the NEXT step in registering for this 2 silly little classes (notice the attitude change?) is that THEY DO NOT ACCEPT CASH. The registrant has to take the slip of paper from the Blood Type Man over to Bank Norte 5 blocks away. I stood in line for 1/2 hour waiting to get to the cashier. At that point I was thinking, "to hell with it. I don't want it this bad." But just for grins and giggles, I got to the head of the line, paid my $30 to the cashier, and got two forms in triplicate. The reason for taking the registration money directly to the bank is that the managers of the school realize that their staff WOULD STEAL THE MONEY. Ergo, circumvent the staff, go directly to bank.

Then--of course--I had to walk the bank receipts back 5 blocks to the school. And there...lo and behold...another line for the school registrar. I finally got to the head of the line and got my 2 multi-part forms which actually allowed me to enter the classes. Oh, yeah. One last line, separate desk. For the class materials lists.

I was so proud of myself! I stuck it out. And, I've done a full week of both classes. Talk about stretching one's comfort zone! Obviously, the classes are in Spanish. My brain is working overtime to comprehend. And I'm not the world best artist or singer. But I AM learning and enjoying. And that's what its about.