Semanas Santa and Locas.

Dear Reader,

The last time I posted was March 25th. March 25th! That’s almost two months ago. Please rest assured, it’s not that I don’t love you anymore. The weeks between then and now have been somewhat hectic: for Semana Santa (Easter), Rob was here! Great, joyous felicitations! What frolics gambolling.

Here he is, sporting a very dashing dressing gown:

rob III

More on that later. For now, on with the summary: immediately before the Easter break we had the sudden and extremely regrettable departure of a teacher from school. We were not told anything about the circumstances of his departure so I’m afraid I cannot enlighten you nor comment on them. Suffice it to say I was sad to discover he had gone and wish him all the very best. He was a passionate and extremely capable teacher and, whatever happened, it is a great loss.

As a consequence of this change, I have taken on teaching Theory of Knowledge (a compulsory part of the pre-university qualification we do – the IB) which was part of his responsibilities. I used to teach this at my old school so I have been able to use plenty of my old resources but it did mean taking on 12 extra hours (read: 50 minute lessons) of teaching. I have, however, enjoyed it very much and relished the opportunity to indulge some TOK again. It reminded me of the days working with Patrick and Tom at my previous school – each of them a delight. I miss them.

This was possible because two out of our three year groups are doing their exams. Indeed, by now our third years have finished their IB exams and the IGCSE group have only one or two left, I think.

At the same time, my IB students did their internal assessment in the form of an oral commentary. They worked extremely hard for these, I must say, and I’m very pleased with how they went.

In addition, I went to a dance festival in the city, trying out a style called Kizomba for the second time. It was very interesting experiencing a different scene and experimenting with a different form. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with two friends I met at the swing festival in San Miguel de Allende back in November. Kizomba is a very sensual and intimate dance and, therefore, one which my British reservedness prevented me from totally committing to and, after the first party on Friday night and then the lessons on Saturday, I was forced to lie down in a dark room and hate myself for a little bit before I could get back on the dance floor.

Part of this discomfort, though, came from the sense of objectification I met with. I don’t wish to go on a tangent here but I found the leader/follower relationship a little uncomfortably hetero-normative and machista.  In conversation, one of the dancers asserted that is is sensual, not sexual, and that to have such a close connection with a total stranger is wonderful. For me, though, the combination of sexualised moves (such as body rolls), very revealing clothing (worn by women but not by men) and very close-to-the-mark jokes (such as when a teaching couple turned so the female teacher’s back, and so her legging-clad posterior, faced the audience while demonstrating hip movement and the male teacher remarked, “this view is more expensive”. Funny – I didn’t realise my entrance fee went towards a chance to look at someone’s arse and I’m not very comfortable with the idea of having paid for it. Thank you for hijacking my attendance and implicating me in this objectification.) There is a really great post describing very well what I experienced (though regarding a different dance style) here, from the perspective of a woman, if you’d like some corroboration of these ideas.

That being said, everyone was enjoying themselves – as far as I could tell. It was hugs and smiles and photos together. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge? Nonetheless, it was all a little much for me; my friends and I took some solace, though, in making fun of it all together. I think this is summed up nicely in this picture of Renata and I:

renata

Whoops, I guess I went on a bit of a tangent.

ANYWAY! All in all, there’s been quite a lot to keep my busy!

 

However, back to the cover story:

Rob’s Visit! 

Rob was here for just slightly less than two weeks OH MY GOD I JUST SAW ORANGE LIGHTNING ON THE HORIZON THAT WAS WICKED and we had a fantastic time. We spent a few days seeing the main tourist sites of the city and then flew off to Baja California Sur for a week of indulgence in nice hotels, nice food, good beer and sun.

Having Rob in Mexico was such a joy. We lived together for three years and to go from sharing a house with one of my oldest and closest friends to living by myself in a strange city certainly took some getting used to. The two weeks we had together were the perfect remedy.

Baja California treated us to come stunning views, particularly in Todos Santos where we also saw the eponymous Hotel California! Our hotel there was a special treat, very secluded and beautiful, it had much to recommend it. The owners were very charming, a Swiss man and his Hungarian wife, until the very last moment . . .

We had just checked out and were preparing to leave, bags slung hastily over shoulders, keys to the hire-car swing around my index fingers. An innocent question came up in response to news that they were trying to sell the place: “so, do you think you’ll go back to Europe?”

“Oh no – we could never. With everything that’s going on there? No, no, I don’t think so.”

Fair enough, we thought. Our minds turned to images of Brexit, terrorism, the rise of the far right, continuing economic recession . . .

“Yes. With the Muslims that are coming in. It’s so dangerous.”

All images of a kind, if slightly eccentric, host shattered. Shame.

Nevertheless, Rob and I had a great little tour around Baja California and then we rounded off the trip with a few final days in Mexico city, from which one story springs to mind . . .

This year, Rob is trying to watch a lot of films. I wrote before of how we each read 52 books in 2016. This year, Rob has kept it up (I haven’t . . . whoops) and has even added the goal of watching three films a week as well (I think three a week is right). In Mexico, there exists such a thing as VIP cinema, in which you get a reclining seat and a food and drink service. Kind of like the most comfortable plane ever, you put your feet up in your leather arm chair, press a call button on the arm rest and a waiter appears to take your order. I had told Rob of this wonder and we decided to go. Unfortunately, in the post-Oscars lull there was nothing that especially caught our eye at first.

When we got back from Baja, though, our luck had changed. Raw was showing. “Oh brilliant – that’s supposed to be very good. Let’s see it!” cried (read: said normally) Rob. To the cinema we went.

We sat down. We reclined our seats. We pressed our call buttons. Waiters appears. We ordered beers and snack and settled in for what could only possibly be the best cinema experience of our lives. The film started.

“Rob?” I whispered.

“Yeah?” came the reply.

“Is this film in French?”

“. . .”

“. . .”

“Oh Fuck.” [sorry for swearing, Grandma, but actually it was Rob so take it up with him]

Fear not! For we soldiered on. We sat through a film in French with Spanish subtitles and actually still enjoyed it very much which, I must say, is something of a testament to the quality of the film.

Rob flew home on the Thursday of the second week of the holiday, leaving me time to catch up on my marking and planning and prepare myself for the new term. I was awfully sad to see him go and, now that I’m three weeks away from my visit home in June I am tremendously excited for us to catch up again.

So, with a bit of luck and a fair wind, I may be catching up with some of you very soon. If you’d like to try and meet while I’m home, do get in touch.

Until then,

All my love,

Jon.

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