I tried everything to find a job teaching English in Oaxaca. I went round all the language schools, gave out my number to random strangers, left signs up in internet cafes, libraries, universities, and even bars with my contact details. It was useless though, it seemed learning English wasn't important enough for Oaxacans. So I tried something else to pay my way, just to experience living abroad. Here's the next short story about my time in Mexico
Finding a job teaching English in
Oaxaca was proving to be impossible.
“Any luck?” Victor asked
with his usual grin. Victor worked in the hostel as a receptionist and had been
trying to help me find potential English students.
“Not yet, I’m starting
to give up hope,” I said, wondering if I was ever going to teach.
“You want to work for
“Yeah of course; that would
be great.” He could be my first student. “What did you want to practise,
grammar, pronunciation, or expressions maybe?” He frowned.
“Actually, we are short
on travellers, I need someone go to the bus station and give out flyers.” He
pulled out a wad of white and red leaflets from behind the counter. “If you
find me three new clients a day, then you can sleep here for free.” I’d never
considered working for a hostel. At least maybe I could get the chance to
practise Spanish with the locals.
A bus normally came
every hour, down from Mexico City or up from the Coast, so there were plenty of
potential bed fillers. I almost gave up after my first day though.
“Hi, have you got
anywhere to stay tonight?” I asked a German couple.
“Sorry?” said the man as
he brushed past. His girlfriend looked petrified.
“No thanks.” They darted
I hung about for three
hours, trying to convince random travellers to stay at the hostel, but no one
took me seriously.
“Don’t worry,” said
Victor. “You’ll find someone tomorrow.”
On the second day I
persuade a group of five French travellers to stay at the hostel.
“Yeah, good, good, you
continue and you manager one day,” Victor said, content with his new business
With my Spanish
phrasebook for company, I enjoyed working at the bus station. I saw persuading
travellers as a kind of game. When a bus pulled in, I observed new arrivals
through the windows until they came down the steps. Then I’d pounce. Most
travellers gazed in surprise.
“Don’t worry I’m staying
there too, it’s a good location, clean and there’s hot water,” I’d say, which
normally sold them.
|Not a bad place to walk on the way to work.|
Street in Oaxaca. Photo by jpcunningham
I’d stopped being a
traveller and was living abroad. Instead of being the naive newcomer; unsure where
I was going, I’d become a guide giving people advice about where to go and what
Like any job, the same
faces hung about each day. Javier and Paco were two mischievous entrepreneurial
kids who polished shoes and sold sweets, lollypops, and cigarettes from their
small portable shops. They tried to buff up my sandals everyday but instead I
bought a Chupa Chup lollypop, which was normally older and bitterer than the
frustrated taxi drivers who stood arguing over customers. I made a pact with
the misery guts that I’d send over new travellers as long as I could speak with
them first. I’m not sure they understood, but they were always pleased of a
After a few days, I was one
of the bus station crew. One day I stayed in the centre because the hostel was
full, and the day after Javier, Paco, and the taxi drivers had missed me.
Chatting with the locals
and Victor improved my Spanish, there was still a long way to go, but I was
learning. I met most of the travellers coming into Oaxaca which helped with
some excellent nights in the local night club, Temptation.
I never gave up hope of
finding students though. I’d strike up conversations with locals and tell them
I was an English teacher. Some seemed keen to learn and I’d give them a card
with my email on, but no one ever got in touch; Oaxacans were busy enjoying
their relaxed, easy-going way of life.
Victor was happy that I
helped keep the hostel running. I stayed there for a couple of weeks living the
simple life, practising my Spanish, going to the gym, and exploring parts of
Oaxaca. I was glad to be away from the rat race in England and experiencing a
different way of life. I’d often dreamed of living in a foreign country. The
amount I earned was nothing compared to in England, but I was living abroad.
Labels: finding a job teaching, life in mexico, living abroad, Mexico, oaxaca, teaching english abroad