Lucas said today that our first day had been really long, and now everything is going really fast. Agreed! It’s too fast for this blogger to keep up with it, but on the other hand, we do so much every day, that Sunday seems light years away.
Mexico is the home of chocolate, but as Lucero explained Tuesday evening, Mexicans use chocolate primarily for drinking. It was the Europeans who invented bonbons. For celebrations like Dia de las Muertes or birthdays, Oaxacan families go to a mill to purchase freshly ground chocolate, which they take home to make their family’s special chocolate. We visited a mill to see how the chocolate is ground with cinnamon and nuts and to taste a few samples. Then, with chocolate in hand, we returned to ICO to make our own. Our two chocolate-averse students had a great conversation with Señora Christina while the rest of us literally got our hands dirty.
Following classes on Wednesday, we visited the gorgeous display of pre-Colombian art at the Rufino Tomayo museum and then the Soledad Church where we came upon the curious juxtaposed celebrations of Saint Joseph’s Day and the inauguration of a new garbage truck for the city. This is a city of surprises. The resulting traffic jam meant a shortened lunch and siesta before taking off for the soccer field and, as the temperature soared into the low 90′s, a hot game of soccer with our intercambio friends.
The heat and the exertion could mean only one thing: ice cream! We headed back to the Zocalo to enjoy a relaxing break in the cool of enormous old trees. Sitting in the cafes, we attract many peddlers, and our Ancona students do a tremendous job of remembering Señora Christina’s admonition to see the humanity in everyone. From the very young to the very old, indigenous people from the pueblos spend their days in the zocalo selling crafts and trying to earn a living. It can be tempting to feel annoyed by the constant solicitations, but treating everyone with respect is essential. We’re proud that our students have learned this lesson well.
Fortified by our ice creams, we headed back to ICO, doing a little shopping (and bargaining) along the way.