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Archive for January, 2007

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Learning Spanish Amid “False Normalcy”

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Have been taking Spanish lessons in one of the local schools…Amigos del Sol. Three hours a day sitting in a chair. Only one other student in my classes so I can’t space out. Present, past and future. I have memorized them but try recalling which verb ending you need in a conversation! Practice, practice, practice, Rojelio, the school’s director, tells me. So I am taking a couple weeks off to talk to Mexicans. One of my Spanish teachers says Miles Davis is his favorite jazz musician. He says it is very difficult finding jazz music here so I burned some CD’s of Miles and John Coltrane who he had never heard of. Will be interesting to get his reaction.

I am having the brakes checked on my car. Coming down out of the Sierra Norte a few weeks ago the brakes got hot and my foot hit the floor-board! Next, an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. Trying to get ahold of Josh and Amy in Beijing…and check up on Doug in Oregon. Greg usually returns my calls.

Finally found the right office to inquire about my car having to cross the border at six months. With Ana’s translating help I found out I don’t have to go to Guatemala by Feb 2 as I thought…as long as I have an FM3 year long visa I am ok. Still would like to drive through Chiapas to Guatemala but at least i can do it in my own time. An old friend is threatening to come visit but will believe it when I see it.

We don’t have TV, so often in the evenings when Oscar is in bed, Ana and Steve come over to watch movies with me on my 20″ flat screen that i finally got a connector for. “Does it have English subtitles,” I ask the kid on the street selling bootleg movies for $1.50 each. Oh, yes, he says with great certainty. So yesterday I slide the DVD of “Volver” into the computer and guess what…no English subtitles. Was excited to watch “Little Miss Sunshine” again and for Ana to see it. Dubbed voices! Won’t due having Robert Duvall “speaking” in Spanish! Most of these movies have been made with hand-held camcorders pointed at a movie screen and the audio is terrible. Then there is the problem of opening a case and the movie you thought you purchased is a different one altogether! I can rent legitimate movies at a rental store if I can figure out which titles go with which movies. They retitle movies in Spanish that often have little to do with the commercial title so you have to decipher the Spanish description and look at the names of actors to guess which movie you are renting. “Children of Man” has been renamed an unrecognizable “Sons Of the Men” (Hijos de los Hombres) which is a whole different connotation. “Pointe Blank” becomes “Punto de Quiebra.” Fine distinctions are difficult to translate into Spanish and the same goes for Spanish into English.

Then there is the almost daily fireworks. Yesterday, Sunday, fireworks at 5:30am. What’s the deal I ask Ana. St. Thomas Day she said. Oh.

In the meantime the daily news in the Noticias and La Jornada is not good. Since the APPO was driven out of Oaxaca City, it appears that the Governor’s battle has been moved to the pueblos around the state. It has been reported that about 250 schools are engaged in physical (and sometimes gun) battles over which teachers to allow in their classrooms, a fight involving the CCL, Section 22, Section 59, parents, PRI, etc. While the teachers were on strike, other people, often without credentials, were hired in some schools to take their places. Now there is disagreement as to which teachers should continue teaching. 59 and CCL are the anti-APPO forces.
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Abuses In Oaxaca Go To The Hague

Friday, January 12th, 2007

From Prena Latina
Outrageous actovities by Gov. Ulises Ruiz against the Oaxaca social movement will be denounced at The Hague International Court, leaders of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) said Wednesday.

PRD deputies at the First National Forum for the Defense of Oaxaca announced they will present the accusations the next week since there are elements to establish principles of crimes against humanity.

They want international judgement on the situation in that southern Mexican state and have summoned 40 witnesses.

Tuesday, attendees at the event heard testimonies of mistreatments, insults, death threats, unhealthy conditions and sexual abuse against those detained on Nov 25 by the Federal Police.

The forum gathers social activists, leaders of non governmental bodies, deputies, senators, relatives of political prisoners, ex-convicts, union representatives and members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca.

Chef Joshua Goetz

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007
Amy's (son Josh's wife) last blog post: "For the new edition of Timeout Beijing they listed the top 50 restaurants in the city. And, yes, you guessed it - One East on Third was on the list!! It was ... [Continue reading this entry]

New Year’s In Las Vegas

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007
Went to Las Vegas to spend a week with my son Greg over New Year's. Greg and I went to bed New Years Eve at 10:30...he got called in at 1:30am for an emergency...a four year old had gotten ... [Continue reading this entry]