I Moved To Oaxaca

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Next Tuesday is Independence Day, which most people here try to make into a four-day weekend. I myself will get a three-day weekend, as my Monday class has been rescheduled to Thursday. Yay for me! And all this week I've noticed an increase in street traffic and general party atmosphere. Today, on the way home from school I saw a new vendor in the Llano. She was selling elotes. I sidled up behind two women each getting an elote, but with lime, chile, and salt instead of mayo, chili, and cheese. When it was my turn I asked for one like theirs. The young woman vendor fixed one with a polite dusting of chili powder, but I again gestured/mumbled in Spanish for one like the other women's, so she put more chili powder on. My lips are still burning.

I was walking and munching but then thought, this is silly. Even New Yorkers pause to eat their street food, so I grabbed an empty bench and continued snacking. But I hadn't been there two minutes when I hear, "Hey, save a piece of corn for me!" and I look up expecting to see someone from work, but no, it's two strange guys and they're making a beeline for me. Sigh.
No, sorry, no corn for you -- I'm saving some for my husband.
Eh, where is he?
He's at work; he'll be along any minute now.
Ah, what's your name? (One guy is doing the talking; his somewhat reluctant buddy is hanging back.) Where you from? California? I'm from Florida! You know West Palm Beach? You want to party? You know, smoke the weed?
Mm, snort? Pills? No? You don't like to party? Well, goodbye then. (He shakes my hand and leans in for a kiss!)
(I pull back) No way, dude!
Oh, why not?
'Cause I'm married.
Oh, I'm married, too! My wife's in Florida.
Yeah, and if your wife saw you she'd pick up a frying pan. (His buddy starts to laugh.)
Well, okay, bye.

I decide to stroll on down Av. Juarez to the apartment anyway. Not that I didn't feel safe surrounded by half a dozen shoe-shine guys, another three or four food vendors, and about twenty people out enjoying the park with their family (in my immediate vicinity), but by now my lower face is tingling from the chili powder. By the time I got to the corner and crossed the street, my nose and eyes were running. Then a fleck of chili got up behind my nose and I started shooting off a stream of very wet, very loud sneezes. I must remember to always ask for extra napkins. And of course this stretch of Juarez is full of people waiting for buses, standing guard outside government buildings, loitering outside their schools, so I had to maneuver through the gantlet without looking and sounding too gross. At least I didn't have to resort to using my sleeves!

Watch this space for pictures of:

My apartment building
El Llano park
The Intersection of Death
The Donut Lady
Those handy wood hangers
...and more!


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