This past Thanksgiving wasn’t a typical Thanksgiving Day, not even for me. The Mexican’s don’t celebrate it but they did manage to have some sort of mid-day parade for heaven-knows-what reason. I think I’ve mentioned previously that parades and celebrations are pretty common place here and there is almost always something happening in and around the plaza most every week.

I went to school and taught English for an hour and got taught Spanish for an hour. This time spent at school has been most enlightening. First, I am learning that teaching is real work. I gave my first test 3 weeks ago and the results revealed that I wasn’t a very good teacher and that my methods weren’t effective. I began spending about a third of the class doing vocabulary review. I gave a test yesterday and the vocabulary review is paying off.

I am slowly learning Spanish but the effects are mostly academic at this point; most people on the street think I am as thick as a post because my conversational skills are still execrable and they think there should be a bigger return on 2 months of classes. They don’t say this of course but I can read it in their faces. It’s the spoken pronouns that tie my little head in knots not to mention pronunciation of certain words sound all too similar to this inexperienced estudiente de lengua. ‘Vivir’ (to live) sounds a lot like ‘beber’ (to drink). There are lots of things like that that twist my head in knots and then throw in a few prepositions or conjunctions that have verbs with attached object pronouns and I am lost from the first sentence on. I can now read a lot of Spanish fairly well but speaking it or even understanding the spoken word is still highly problematic at this point. So I am hoping that practice, practice, practice with lots of review will help me turn the corner.

I had both breakfast and lunch in the Mercado; a variation of Huevos Rancheros for breakfast and then a nice bowl of chicken vegetable soup for lunch. I went for a run between classes and lunch and I very thankfully managed to avoid the scary gangster guy since our one time encounter a week ago.

This guy was the real deal. He spoke good English – judging by the tattoos he was probably a gangster in LA too – didn’t say anything or do anything that was in any way threatening. He asked me a few questions about who I was and what was I doing in Sahuayo. He seemed to like my answers. At times the lips smiled but the eyes never did. I can’t remember the last time that I looked into such cold, merciless eyes. Beyond a doubt they were the eyes of a killer. What made the encounter scary is that he wasn’t trying to be scary – he didn’t have to try – he was just scary. So was he a soldier in the cartel that had checked me out at the El Cito Cantina a couple of weeks earlier? Or was he in the other cartel? He wanted to know why I was in his neighborhood and I am guessing that he wondered why the old gringo could be in such great shape (read, a runner with no belly) and not be DEA; not realizing that recreational running in the US is a fairly popular sport and isn’t just confined to the military or police forces.

I couldn’t make up my mind which cartel he was in because he acted like he had no information about me. Just like Dorothy when she stepped off the porch and surveyed the land of Oz for the first time; I too took in the alien landscape of Michoacán.