Another email from William, copied (with light editing) here:
We are still well, at the end of our first week in Oaxaca de Juarez.
Lisa’s long time friend, Jeremy, signed up right away for part of our trip. He spent four days in Oaxaca last week, and then went on to Puerto Angel, still in the state of Oaxaca, on the Pacific coast. I was confused during this week if we were here to have fun or focus on our Oaxaca project. What Oaxaca project? Jeremy has no problems having fun so I just followed him and Lisa around; he is a traveling party, Lisa loves old friends.
I am noticing when I travel that I immediately put myself in the new society, as if I have moved to this place we are visiting; I want to build a house, get a car, have a family, and cook the food, in the same way as these new people around me. All these thoughts as if I had been expelled from my previous existence, like I turned around and what is behind me does not exist. I can’t explain what this feeling is. Maybe some form of existentialism.
I signed up for a Spanish class today that starts tomorrow. Lisa may have well done the same, but we have not decided to get mobile telephones yet so I will not find out until we meet at 2 pm, later today. As I roam the city I am beginning to understand how learning Spanish is a necessity for understanding a place and its people. I started to try and learn the streets around us today but they are all named for historical Mexican personalities, so now I need to read a history of Mexico. I have always tried to purge the feeling that interests and learning are circular and nonlinear. But interests and learning are circular and nonlinear. Who would have accepted this!? I want to find an architect or construction person to talk with them about building techniques and design. I went by the architectural school but not a person I spoke to did English. I think the big three must still be important: water, sewage, cooking. I do not have a sense yet of the seasons here, but I am thinking that heat is not an issue.
There is a lending library in the city for English-speaking people living in Oaxaca. We have joined, and there are computers, books, coffee and Unitedstateseans who brag they have never learned to speak Spanish because the Mexicans are so friendly. I took out a book that surprised me. It was a history of the siege at Dien Bien Phu. I really liked it. I like reading histories if they are written well. War is fascinating on so many levels. People die and yet are counted in numbers of dead, weapons lost and strength remaining. A general wants to own a hill but he does not personally fight, and the person calculating the materials needed for an offensive and getting them there is the most important person. And then why that hill or that valley? We deny that our bodies will one day be weak, fragile, and helpless before death, yet does a soldier already know this about dying and freely confronts the prospect of nonexistence on a battlefield? I guess that is why there is a hierarchy in the military to insulate the next level above from the horrors below. What a great way to end this missive, death and destruction questions!
Oh, I forgot to mention that yesterday we took the bus to Zaachila, a town ten miles from Oaxaca, one of a few towns still located at the site of its Zapotec temple ruins — like you walk past the market and the archeological site is there between the houses.
Oh, and I must mention the garnish for any form of alcohol; it is a powder of chili, salt and ground worms. Fantastic!