I Moved To Oaxaca

Saturday, October 18, 2003

I felt it yesterday: a definite change in the weather.

It hasn’t rained in five days but instead of being muggy and unbearable, the weather is cool and pleasant. If I weren’t living in southern Mexico I’d say a weak cold front is moving through. Feels like the temperature is in the 70s somewhere, and every night now we use the light bedspread along with the sheet. So today when my kids showed up for their Saturday class, they were wearing long pants, turtlenecks, and scarves! Greg said he had one kid show up sporting a down jacket.

It’s not that cold!

But I did ask Manuel yesterday, just how cold does it get in Oaxaca in the winter? He asked me if I knew Celsius, then said, Oh, 1 or 2 degrees. No way! It was so hot when Greg and I left Texas it was all we could do to pack long pants and socks, so if I don’t bring some warm stuff back down we might … die of exposure? Is it possible?

I was at school yesterday because I got assigned a Friday class Thursday afternoon. Boy, I was pissed. I trudged off to school yesterday, feeling really bummed: no Friday off, no tacos in the market for lunch, no love! But when I got back home, Greg had a surprise. I was not to look in the fridge. I changed out of my monkey suit and sat down at the table. Greg whipped out a big ol’ plate of salad. Yes, salad! I think we’ve only had salad once or twice since we’ve gotten here because it’s so risky. (Gotta wash the lettuce, but you can’t use tap water, so…) But there it was, fresh clean lettuce with sliced tomatoes and sweet carrots, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and red-wine vinegar. Yes! We haven’t seen salad dressing down here at all, but he managed to find a bottle of red-wine vinegar in the fancy foods section of Pitico – a shelf area about the size of a doorway. So we drizzled the salad with olive oil and the vinegar and added a touch of lime juice just to be Oaxacan, then inhaled the salad. It was mythic in its goodness. Better than the salad I ate after hiking across Death Valley. Better than a beer and ice cream after hiking on the AT. Like I said, mythic.

And that wasn’t all. Next, he brought out a dish of steamed new potatoes and carrots, and a half-kilo of sliced ham. Oh, my god! He’d eyed a ham at the Friday market, but didn’t have the courage to get any, so when he saw more ham at Pitico, he bought some. And it was only 32 pesos for half a kilo! And it was legendary in its goodness. We ate the rest today for lunch.

We realized this morning, still basking in the glow of that damn fine meal, that we haven’t been eating too well. Oh, sure, we’ve had the occasional tasty bowl of soup and Donut Lady lunches, but while I was sick last week home cookin’ consisted of sticking some cheese or butter in a roll, or maybe some pasta without sauce. I think we’ll do better this week.


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