Sunday, August 30, 2009

Welcome Back to Teizcali

We've begun our third year at Colegio Teizcali, so you would think we'd start to feel like old pros, but there is still the first day of school nervousness and confusion. The principal, maestro Daniel, sets up a path of flowers for children to follow as they enter school. I was pleased to see Geni chose not to throw herself down on the flowers and succumb to sobbing like she did last year. Instead, she just hid her head in my shoulder.

I was prepared for this year to feel different, like maybe I'd lose a little bit of the wide-eyed newcomer's wonder in things, but nothing beats having the kids at school all day to bring back some of that everything-is-new-again excitement. My walk home, past the bright concrete buildings, hidden gardens, rusty metal signs and women cooking on comals in doorways, was like meeting old friends. I stopped by my juice lady for a cactus smoothie but, due to my slow meanderings, got there only after she had run out. She promised me, "I'll set aside a green one for you tomorrow." Which she did.

I set to spending the day writing like a demon, finishing up an article on telenovelas--soap operas--for Aishti, and a bunch of web writing that wasn't nearly as interesting, all the while kicking myself: never plan a packed work day on the first day the kids are back in school. The first week, really, because you need to be flaky.

Geni's teacher at Colegio Teizcali is Maestra Alma, a teacher so wonderful that Steve was inspired to say, "She just might be as good a teacher as you are." I think she might be better...a bit more patient than I ever was. Max has Maestra Clara, a teacher who earned fame for transforming her classroom into a haunted house last year. We can only hope for such grand permutations this year.

But I believe the highlight of all the changes and the returns this week has to be what happened today. We discovered another neighborhood street market. Nothing pleases me more than a tianguis, an open-air Mexican market that extends for blocks upon blocks.

This market, in the Infonavit neighborhood, had many of the standards--a couple ladies ladling tejate, my favorite drink; booths of piratas or bootleg DVDs and CDs; the newly-popular Indian clothing puestos; croc knockoffs; and Tokidoki-like purses of Japanese cartoon characters. There were a few surprises as well, such as a crepe stand, a manicure booth, a waxing booth, modern paintings, a guy selling exotic leafy plants out of the back of his pickup truck, and a practical joke and magic trick stand.

It was a Fellini movie moment as the man at the magic stand did trick after sleight of hand to advertise his wares. We oohed and aahed and purchased three for Camillo's birthday present, and then Max got a container of moisturizing cream with a fake snake coiled inside, ready to spring up at any sucker who took up Max on his offer of hand cream.

The magician puffed on fake cigarettes packed with talcum powder and I felt the market watching us watch him. Who gets to be this lucky?


The Buzz said...

absolutely beautiful, serena. thanks for sharing.

Serena said...

Thanks, Buzz! Come visit sometime.

Chris said...


We are thinking about sending our daughter to this school. What is the best way to get in touch with you so that you can answer some of our questions. Thank you so much Holly and Chris

jenniferlynn said...


Is there a way that I could contact you for more information about Teizcali? I'm thinking of enrolling my daughter there this winter, and there's not much information available online. I don't know that we'll be able to make another trip out there prior to our move, so I would love it if I could hear some of the details of your experience.

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it!


Serena said...

Of course, Jennifer! You didn't send me your email, but here's some basic info:
Teizcali is loosely based on developmentally appropriate, child-centered curricula, like those by Vygotsky and Piaget. Children do self-selected multimodal research projects three times per year. One highlight of Teizcali is that they bus the kids every week to swimming lessons at Acuarela. Some people find the downside to Teizcali is that it is very unstructured. The facilities are also lacking, with a concrete patio for the outdoor play area and no play equipment. However, the community environment and special events (kite day, Day of the Child, Guelaguetza dance performance by the children) make up for some of this. Here is the info on the school: Colegio Teizcali, Eucaliptios #104, San Felipe Del Agua, Oaxaca 68020. Phone 951 52 00 545 The principal Maestro Daniel, speaks only Spanish, but is very accessible. His email is Please feel free to ask me anything else you might like to know.

jenniferlynn said...
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