Friday, February 12, 2010

i'm required to go there with her

There's a lot of things to miss about Jenny, and one is the easy way we talked to each other. I just read an old email she wrote me, one of the last ones, but I pretended I just got it from her. Here it is:

Serena I wish you were here because Gaudi is coolio, he is so cool, cooler than gelato, and I should know, because I´ve eating some.

I have never seen buildings like this. You are required to come here with me and see these buildings. You are to look Gaudi up on the internet right now and enter Casa Batllo, I think that is how you spell it. Or don´t look it up, either way, because i bought a little book and i´ll show it to you and you will cry.

The buildings! The spires are like ice cream cones (and i should know), and Casa Batllo has no straight lines, just curves and sea shapes and blue tile. Oh god, it´s cool.

Food is good too. We already have a favorite tapas place, right near the hotel. And we enjoyed our pizza at lunch, though we were surprised when, after we both ordered the menu of the day (salad, a bottle of water, bread, pizza and chocolate mousse), that we both got a pizza and in fact, we each got a large pizza. Then i looked around and saw that everyone in the whole place had their own pizza. Geez.

Very fun! I´ll try to write again soon. Kiss to Max.

I'm thinking up my reply.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Speak Zapotec

I've been on some adventures as I have tried to meet the goals of my new year's resolution to live more green.

The complete switch to cloth napkins and rags was nothing. They really work better and look better than their paper versions, anyway.

Recycling issues are another thing. There is no curbside recycling in Oaxaca. In fact, garbage is a whole different ballgame here. You do not leave cans out on the street for pickup. Instead, you wait for the lovely tinkle of a bell or, in our neighborhood, the blasting behemoth of a horn. Then, everyone in the vicinity runs out, most often holding old burlap dog food bags or buckets rather than full-on trash cans. They converge at the truck in one of those classic Mexican non-lines that everyone understands the logic of, except me. Some people pass folded cardboard boxes or bags filled with plastic bottles to the collectors, who sometimes hang it on the side of the truck and sometimes throw it into the back with the garbage. So that does not look like recycling to me.

I noticed that at the Casa de Cultura, a government building where the kids take art classes, signs about the environment. Soon, some receptacles showed up, labeled cardboard, plastic and tin. No one seems to use them. I started clearing out our kitchen cupboards so I could bring a load of recycling down. I sorted it all out and stuffed my things into the bins according to instructions. But, for some reason, I wonder...will they get recycled?

Which brings me to the great epiphany. I've begun asking the people at the street markets who sell yogurt, honey, juice and other liquid things if they want containers. Now, when I load my shopping bag with biodegradable plastic produce bags, I also pack in containers and lids of all sizes so I can give or return them to the various vendors. This act feels more powerful than the other green things I have done this year. It's only the cost of my time walking to the market, and it gives them something they need for free. It uses no energy, like recycling does, and it gets me embroiled in many conversations and situations with the vendors. I'm looking forward to trying to give back my honey container to the old woman in front of my neighborhood park who only speaks Zapotec and seems very suspicious of me. It's the re-use part of this cycle that's proving the most entertaining.