The Last 3 Days

I started mi clases en espanol con Alonzo. My uncle Dan set me up with Alonzo. He grew up in Los Angeles and has family in Jerez and his wife and own a cell phone store downtown and he teaches english at the tech school. He speaks perfect English (complete with slang) and prefect Spanish so he’s a great guy to learn spanish from. He also grew up with punk rock and Hip.Hop, which helps ’cause I can actually talk to him about music and the culture of Hip.Hop and Punk and their similarities and differences and all that.

So Alonzo called me the day before our first lesson to give me directions to where his classroom was. The directions weren’t bad and I set out to find the classroom, which he said was located in the back of a Dentists office. So following his directions I found a Dentist’s office. I walk in and try to tell the Dentist that I’m here for my class and if I can go in the back.

I said something like, “Buenos Tardes, me llamo Nah-tan, estudio espanol con Alonzo in la officina de dentista, es eso la officina aqui?” And he said something like…”si, es la officina dentista, pero, yo no meaestro de Espanol y me llama no es Alonzo.” and I said “Si, yo no penso tu es Alonzo, pero, yo estuda espanol en la derecha (which i meant to say back but I dont think derecha is back, i think its the word right) en la officina de Dentista” and he said something like “No, es me casa (in the back)” and then he said somethings i couldnt understand and I found out he was a little confused as why I would want to go in the back of his office which was his home. After more confusion it was apparent this was not the right office and that I was just a lost pocho, but I gotta say he was very kind and told me of 2 dentists office both down the street, one across from el parque and the other about a block over. So I then exited and stood on the sidewalk pondering which direction I should go to see if either was the office i wanted.

As I was standing thinking of my next move, Alonzo said “hola, Nathan!” and I was mad surprised to see him standing next to me. It turns out he was on the way to the office to start our lesson and it was across from the park not far from where we were. Everything worked out and the first day was spent basically just goin over what I knew and how we wanted to go about me learn some spanish. Rather then do text books and assignments we decided to do things like structure of spanish…as in if I want to say this put verb here and vocab here. Were also workin on some vocab and alot of situational stuff.

After class I used what I learned to un cuaderno y una pluma negra. I got through the whole conversation until the girl who worked at the store asked if I wanted a plastic bag. then I was lost, but after a while I figured it out and she was nice and laughed as I stumbled over it and tole me its okay and that my spanish was muy bien. I will be studying spanish 5days a week from noon to one for 30 pesos an hour ($3.00 usd) thats so cheap! After about 3 or 4 weeks the lessons will go down to 2 or 3 times a week to allow me to travel some.

Second day of class, but before I went to class, mi primo Ingrid and I wen’t to El Mercado in el centro de la ciudad. En El Mercado, Ingrid y yo, compran platanos, tomatillos, manzanas, maiz, lechuga, queso y Uvas. I love that Grapes are called Uvas. I could say it all day. I then went to class and we worked on verbs more and irregulars as well as going over how I would go about buying Huraches. My flip flops are pretty worn now, the sole is commin off, so I may put this one into practice.

That Afternoon Ingrid, Daniel who is a Luthern Minister in Jerez, and I drove to the house of the other pastor in his church, Doug, and went with him, his wife and kids to the outskirts of the city part of Jerez to a barrio that is considered one of the worst parts of town and is usually home to the clash between the Trece and the XV3 gangs that dominate Jerez and near by Aguas.

Here we helped run a “Kids Club”. The Kids Club is something Doug and his wife Barb started to teach kids about Jesus Christ and God as well as playing games with the kids and getting their kids (who are home school) some exposure to other kids. The Kids Club takes place in an open carport with a dirt floor and little of a roof. The eighboorhood kids all came out, all of them were very young and in elementry school and were super excited to see Doug and his family and even more excited to see us new people. I talked to mi tio about the material we would be teaching them before we went. All the things they teach them are basic things about Jesus and God and praying to god with good and bad things in your life. The teachings are based in christianity and not luthern or catholic specific teachings. This was a concern to me because I didnt want to tell a child to become a luthern or a catholic, that I feel is a personal choice and as a child that is more the responsibility of a kids family.

We started out playing a game where we would just toss a ball in a circle which quickly turned into the kids throwing it to the person who wasnt paying attention and then laugh as the ball just hit them. it was really funny. All the kids were so great. One kid didn’t know how to catch, a lil boy name sammuel. So I told him “usa dos manos, vey a futbol” and he kinda figured out what i was sayin along with my hand gestures and he used both hands and watched the ball and he learned how to catch! I felt so good. He may not remember it an hour from then or in a year or ever but I felt good thinkin’ that tought him how to catch.

Then dougs wife barb asked the kids to find sections of the bible, like psalms and mateo (and other things I have no idea about) and they did it so fast. these kids knew the bible. it was amazing. one child was even reciting some verses in Spanish abotu jesus. then we did some coloring in a packet about jesus and a hypothetical story about a kid named juan developing a relationship with jesus and taking him into his heart. the kids were all very well behaved and all took the packets home.

At first the parents of the neighborhood were pist that white people were comming in and playing with their kids and teaching them stuff. one little boys mom beat him because he would go to the kids club until another mom in the neighborhood talked to her about the material her boy brought home. when they realized it was about jesus they had no problem with it and then it spread and more kids started comming to it.

The things they teach them can just as easily apply to christianity as they could luthern or baptist stuff. thankfully that kid dosent get beat up for comming to the kids club anymore. and one parent even walked her kid to the kids club. which is nice. So the thing ended in prayer and all the kids said bye and went home. the kids club was really fun and they seemed to take a liking to me and Ingrid though Dan seemed intimadated, he says he has a hard time with kids. The kids spoke alot to me, likely assuming I know spanish because I’m Mexican and brown like them, so I tried to keep up and when I messed up words they didn’t seem to notice.

An interesting thing about Jerez, and possibly the rest of mexico (not sure), is that the urban and suburban parts of town are different then the usa in that the urban parts. In Jerez the city is very dense and the buildings are old, many of them need love and restoration. But this is supposedly where all the people with money live. Most people own business and live above their stores and such. But the outlying suburban parts of town, where new houses are being built is where all the poorer people live and where most of the rimes and gang activiy is. most of these people work on ranches or factorys. even further out is the ranchero communidades en las montanas and the people who live and work out here are supposedly even further.

In the usa all the people with money want out of the city and away from noise and up on the hill overlooking everything. And the suburbs are the supposedly safer less gang ridden towns while the inner city is the hood and has the gangs and crime. things seemingly backwards. I found this interesting. I personally have always had a thing for being in the city, it makes me feel as though I am amongst action and people. I like noise.

Lets see…I woke up, went to class, and then walked around downtown a bit and tried to talk to some people carrying conversations with any topic I could pertaining to whatever they were doing. most of this involved stores, but I talked to a guy in the park in downtown who was part of a group of older men who meet miday and play dominoes. I guess he said they do it every day and they call themselves “El Groupo de Los Dominoes”.

I also made it to the Edificio Muncipal, where I talked to a woman and she told me the mayor or govenor or whatever of the city was a borracho and spends all day in the cantina. I guess he was a guy from Jerez who went to the US and picked tomatoes eventually he made alot of money and became a millionare. I couldnt figure out how he made all that money, but he came back to Jerez and got the vote of all the rancheros in outlying jerez and won office. She said another big reason they voted him in is because people are tired of being dicked over by politicians and hoped somebody actually from the community could bring about change, even if he didn’t go to law school or what have you. This conversation was in some english but mostly spanish.

I then went home and hung out for a bit, reading a little bit. Me and Dan then went to a hotel in downtown across from the park where the Dominos play which across from where I take class and had dinner. At the hotel the lady who runs it was trying to get a fish out a big tank with other fish so she could move it to a small bowl because it was eating the other fisheys tails and shit. but she was so short and could barely reach in the tank and not deep enough to get thefish. Dan then tried to catch the fish but couldnt, and then next up, me being the tallest person thus allowing me to look down into the tank, I wound I ended up being elected to give it a shot and I for about 20mins I chased this damn fish with a net, elbow deep in the tank and I couldnt catch the fucker cuz he was so fast.

Fuckin’ fish.


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