Saturday, 5 September 2009

When Saturday comes

Today is Saturday and I have finally finished a long week’s work. I woke up at 5.45am Monday to Friday but then had a lie in today – I got up at 6.30am. I finished work at 9pm Monday to Friday although I did have about a 6-hour break every morning/afternoon, when I would snooze, watch US Open tennis or cricket and prepare for afternoon classes.

I was waking up so early in order to get a bus to the industrial area of QuerĂ©taro, about a 40-minute ride away, to teach one of two classes of business professionals in their offices. This was a new contract agreed by my school and I stepped in to fill the gap at short notice – it will not be a permanent arrangement, and I at least made sure I will be well paid for it. This morning was my last class there. Next week, I will wake up early on Monday to escort the new teacher out to the industrial area for her class, and then I will sleep in every day until Saturday, not starting classes at the school until 4pm. Nice.

Each morning, leaving the house in the dark of night and eating a solitary banana (no breakfast till after class for me) I would feel tired, but not apprehensive, even though in most cases I had not yet prepared any activities to fill my hour-an-a-half slot in front of 5-8 professionals. I enjoy the classes, and as tired as I feel on the bus, I am never sleepy once I’m standing in front of the class. I suppose it is a little bit like going on stage.

It’s early days as yet but I am enjoying teaching. I still have a lot to learn, especially in my grammar teaching techniques. Sometimes I feel I pitch my classes to the wrong levels (like too basic for the advanced students, or too advanced for the basics), and I think I love the sound of my own voice a bit too much in the classroom (the idea with “communicative” teaching of English is to minimise TTT – “Teacher Talking Time”) but I rate myself as an OK teacher, who at least makes things fun. Eventually I hope to be a good teacher who makes things fun.

But now I finally have some free time. I realised last week that I had been in Mexico for four days before I had my first beer. The previous time I was in Mexico –October 2008- I was in the country about 20 minutes before having a beer. Last Saturday, though, I did make up for my prior temperance at a party organised by one of the students at the school for one of the teachers. It was a great house party and I didn’t get home till 5.30.

As for this Saturday, this afternoon I’m joining Jason, sort of my boss from the school, in going to a football match. The local team have just been promoted to the top division this season and they are the “West Bromwich Albion” of Mexico, so to speak – weekly whipping boys for the top teams. I doubt they will have much to cheer today against the usually-strong Monterrey.

After the football match we are going to a bar with some of the other teachers to watch... a football match. Mexico against Costa Rica is a critical clash in the World Cup Qualifying, as Mexico began their campaign disastrously under Sven Goran Erikkson’s command. Sven is now gone, having earned $4M in about a year, but the damage remains as Mexico are still out of the automatic qualifying spots in the CONCACAF region. If results go against Mexico in the next few weeks, watch out for Honduras in the role of “West Bromwich Albion” in South Africa, 2010.

So tonight will be my first trip to a bar this time in Mexico, about two weeks to the hour since I arrived. The previous time I was here, it took me, once again, 20 minutes to get inside a bar....

But I’m liking my lifestyle here so far. I have even had a flashback to my long train rides to and from Amersham a year and a bit ago – this week I have been tearing into Mario Vargas Llosa’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter every morning on my bus ride home. It has made me laugh (almost out loud) consistently and though the ending provided much less drama than I had hoped, it has galvanised me to read another of MVL’s in Spanish. I finished it today sipping a latte in Starbucks. The grande skinny latte was a rare treat and provided a sensation that might be familiar to loyal readers of James’s America - that of finding a little bit of home in a good old American multinational franchise. Don't knock it.