Monday, January 19, 2009

why oaxaca? part 1

way back in april when b and i got word that devin would be getting married in mexico, we were like, 'we are so there.' we just assumed they'd be getting married at some bomb ass resort on the coast... after all, where else do you go in mexico? b was stoked cause he knew he would get some surfing in, and i knew i'd be able to get my bronze on. so when we received word that oaxaca was the destination, we figured there must be water close by (even though we hadn't heard of it). however after a bit of research (google) we realized that its nowhere near the water and is legitimately mainland mexico. hmmm.
so what do you do in mexico when you aren't on the coast?
to be honest i hadn't really thought much about it- mostly because i was completely obsessed, ahem i mean preoccupied with the mere thought of leaving my kids for 5 days.
so when the plane landed at 7 am, and we boarded a taxi with 17 other people, i got my first real look at oaxaca. and well, i still was asking...
why oaxaca?
at first glance, it looked a lot like every other town i'd been to in mexico. colorful, bustling, a bit dirty, and some scary ass drivers. when the van rolled up to an iron green gate crammed between two other drab structures, i thought really, this is our b&b? but when the gate opened, there was a beautiful courtyard atrium like thing and some abueala cooking up some wicked good looking eggs. b asked me if i was hungry and i said, is the pope catholic, and he promptly went up to the lady and said " blah blah blah comida juevos yummy in my tummy porfavor" and i was like, whoa homey speaks spanish! now i'd heard him speak before (like at our annual cabo trips), but he never ceased to amaze me at how quickly he got back into it. a fellow gringo at the table was also surprised (she was fluent) and asked b how he knew spanish. b, man of mystery, humbly replies, "oh, i took spanish in high school." high school? i took 3 years in high school and 1 in college, and its pretty obvious what i have to show for it (above breakfast reenactment). and did i mention high school was like 10 yrs ago! needless to say, i was impressed and thankful that we would be able to navigate our way through oaxaca - seeing as how thus far nobody seemed to speak a lick of english. after some breakfast (and a quick, tearful call home) we headed up to our room.
since we had the red eye and it was only 9 am oaxacan time, we thought we should shower and nap.
yeah right. its a lot harder than i thought it would be to just do nothing. even sleep- an area i really am gifted in. so after a futile attempt at a nap ( i kept hearing a baby cooing- and woke up ready to nurse) we got up and hit the town.
so oaxaca is mainly known for 2 things... marketplaces and food. off we wandered into town- and found ourselves at the zocolo. its kind of like a huge town square where everyone just kicks it, and tries to sell stuff. we decided we were kind of hungry. all of the restaurants around the zocolo seemed to typical- i wanted the real deal. since b was the only blond person in 7 square miles, the tourist police came up to us and asked us if we wanted help. once again b and him conversed with ease as he directed us to some "typical" oaxacan cuisine. typical is so relative. he sent us to a marketplace. can i just say when we walked in i was almost knocked over by the horrible stench of dead animals (raw meat)- i mean there was like huge slabs hanging from the ceiling, if i wanted to see beaks and antlers, i would've just gone to chinatown in SF right? there was no way i was gonna eat there. desperate for some food by now, we found a quaint little restaurant. we walked in and to our delight (we thought) we had the place to ourselves. the waiter walks up and promptly launches into a lengthy string of spanish words. yeah, so apparently he was the menu. no paper, just him talking us through what was on the menu. i thought, no worries- b's got this. he walks away and i ask excitedly, "so, what didya order us?"b says, "i have no idea."
the waiter walks up with the first course: oranges dipped in chili powder.

second course: water, chicken and rice (soup i guess)

third course: shrimp cocktail.
shrimp cocktail? did i mention that we are a looong way from the coast. think nebraska people. needless to say our first attempt at oaxacan cuisine was a bust.

after our lame o lunch we wandered around some of the markets. the cool thing about the oaxacan markets is that all the hammocks, pottery, and textiles that you see in other parts of mexico are actually made in oaxaca. they are some handy latinos. i came away with half of lily's summer wardrobe... the cutest dresses EVER.
after our first day in oaxaca, i def could see the charm. the people were delightful, probably cause i couldn't understand a word they said. there were kids everywhere which wasn't exactly helping. however nothing could prepare me for what greeted us when we got back to the b & b.

all in all it was a decent day, besides our botched meal, i was really starting to see the lure oaxaca could have. however, i was def feeling the separation from my kids. when we got back we decided to hang out by the pool, where i saw the baby that i had heard earlier. he was only 6 months old so despite his blond hair, i could handle being around him. but then i heard the sweet chatter of little girls, and in bounces two sisters, 5 and 3. blond hair, super cute dresses, and really just fun as can be. it seriously felt like a dagger to the heart. i tried to make small talk with the mom (they were also there for the wedding) but had a hard time getting into it. needless to say i did my best to avoid them the next three days... i couldn't believe how hard it was to be around them.

the day ended with some tears up in my room. yet i was able to bounce back for the rooftop terrace wedding meet and greet. with a marg in my hand, i overcame... knowing that one day was down, and just 3 to go.

look forward to my next installment including highlights such as...
"wow, latin men really know how to move their hips... a night of salsa dancing, i mean watching."
"you just flew to the sun!" my encounter with a oaxacan medicine man.
"you are beating me with a bunch of herbs, is this really therapeutic" tezmacal 101 (oaxaca's idea of a relaxing massage)
"this stuff is really hallucinogenic? it tastes like tequila, cheap whiskey, and charcoal." why mezcal is not a friend of mine.

until then, enjoy some pictures*

yes i am drinking a beer in bed fully clothed.

*so for all you photo buffs out there, we took all these pictures in a mad dash the last day once we realized we hadn't taken any! not that they'd be any better had we been more on it, but it sure sounds like a good excuse. and in case it wasn't clear... yes they skate in oaxaca, and apparantly there are alcoholics as well...

1 comment:

Mama G said...

I love that you've taken up travel writing, it's gonna be great hearing all you have to say! And I love that you forgot to take pictures until the last day- that is SO like us!