I Moved To Oaxaca

Saturday, January 10, 2004

More bits and pieces as I digest the last few weeks:

For most of my life I've lived in cities with international airports, if not hubs, so my biggest hassle is deciding which of several options to use in getting to and from the airport and my home. So the difficulty in getting into and out of Mexia, TX, population about 6,000, continues to astonish me. It's hard enough getting to Waco, the nearest city of any size. When Greg and I left San Francisco, our friend Tom drove us to the airport for a few extra minutes together, but we could have taken Super Shuttle or a bus/BART combo. In DFW, I said goodbye to Greg who was continuing on to Mexico City, and I headed to the American baggage claim carousel.

Let me back up a bit. The day before we left I poked around on the Web for a hotel very close to the Mexico City airport so that Greg, who was due to arrive at 1am, would not have to negotiate with a taxi to get to a hotel for the night. The airport has three attached hotels, so I called up the Marriott and made a reservation for him. (And after almost getting into a very bad situation involving a stranger offering to help him carry his bags and trying to lead him into the darkness outside the airport, the concierge helped Greg make his bus reservation the next day. And he got to see the drive in daylight this time. And he said he saw "Riding In Cars With Boys" on the bus and that it sucked, and when the driver went to put in a new movie a little kid ran to the front of the bus and handed the driver "The Lion King" which the driver kindly played for the kid. That is so Mexican.) For myself, I looked on the Web for a shuttle service between DFW and Waco. I was due in at DFW at 8pm, but it's two hours one-way between the airport and my mom's house, plus you have to pay $5 to use the toll-road between the freeway and the airport terminal!

One shuttle company services Waco out of DFW, the Waco Streak. But their last run that evening was 6:30pm, so I had to make a hotel reservation for myself as well. I went back to the Holiday Inn Express Greg and I had used in June (the one in Grapevine, and a swell choice). After I picked up my bag I called the hotel on the airport courtesy phone, and the next morning my shuttle driver called to say he could pick me up at 9:20 instead of 10:30, so I got in to Waco earlier than I expected, but Mom was waiting - along with my brother Mike! He extended his trip to my mom's by a couple of days so our trips would overlap. Whoo-hoo, I-m glad he did that. And 45 minutes later we pulled into the parking lot for Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken in Mexia.

(Trivia time: Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken is where Anna Nicole Smith was working when she hit the big time. I'm just not sure if that was the big time of landing a modeling gig, or the big time of an ancient, frail, and filthy-rich husband. I don't remember who I was talking to or where the conversation took place, but this woman I was talking to said she was from Waco, so I said, oh, my mom's in Mexia, and she said, Anna Nicole Smith's home town! And I wanted to say, Branch Davidians, but I didn't think of it until much later.)

Mom found out all about my happy-meat diet when I came out in April, but like Alisha, who had to repeatedly remind Greg that, yes, she was still a vegetarian, my not wanting to eat slave meat takes a bit of gentle reminding. Fortunately, Jim's Krispy has a full range of sides, and fried catfish. Which was awfully darn good, I gotta say, and if you're a fan of Cheap Eats I got two pieces of cornmeal-breaded fried catfish with a pile of French fries, two hush puppies, and cole slaw (plus I ordered a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, not knowing what was in store), for $4. Whoa. And it was good. I don't think she was purposefully trying to fatten me up (we had fried shrimp with more fries and peas the next night), like Tom and Janina were. ("Oh, look! This place has great rice krispy squares! Let's get some." How can I say no to that?) I'll go down to the farmacia and weigh myself tomorrow before we help Marcos and Osvelia move their store and see how much I put on during my SF food fest. But since I'm wearing a size 6 these days I think I'm still running low.

When Greg got back to Oaxaca Monday, our landlady cornered him for the rent and to drop off a new rental contract (ours is up soon). So they know we're back. However, they didn't bother turning up the pilot on our water heater until I went up there Thursday morning to tell them we had no hot water. Cheap bastards. Later, our landlords elderly mother tottered over to ask if we had the cat, and to see her, so I woke Iz up and held her while the old lady gave her a few pats and said how pretty she was. Then, and this surprised me, she wished me a happy new year and gave me a hug.

They love to hug and kiss in this state, so the surprise wasn't in the hug, it's that I got one from her. So far our landlords have been cordial but cool. Maybe it was a vestige of holiday good cheer.

And we ended up with a few more days off that we'd anticipated. Turns out Manuel didn't want to switch teachers on a class mid-week so we're free until Saturday. Rock on! Are we going to do anything with our precious consecutive days off? No. Just hang with the cat and our friends and read like crazy. (Postscript: Berlitz Oaxaca may aspire to corporate no-mind, but the journey to perfection is a long one. After telling us that we had Thursday and Friday off, they then scheduled us for Friday classes. Fortunately we went in Thursday and found out about it. Christ, people, get it together!)

Tonight we're going out with Jonathan for a beer and chat. He's one of the other American teachers at the school. Jonathan - and Adam, the other American on staff - were teachers back in the US; we think of them as the pros. They're also quite liberal, especially Jonathan, who used to teach immigrants English (and their rights) and whose Oaxacan wife works for a NGO. (Postscript: lotsa fun, drinking beer and dissing work and chatting about politics. Plus, the very yummy botanas were free with purchase of a beer.)

We bought a cast-iron skillet and a "potato mesher." And I couldn't take the disorder any more and grabbed a 5-pack of plastic storage containers while we were in Soriana's. Now our rice, beans, and weird-ass Rainbow Grocery grains are neatly lined up on the shelf.

We saw El Retorno Del Rey a second time out at Cinepolis.

It's cold enough (for here) that I am wearing one of my newly-purchased-in-San-Francisco sweaters over my t-shirt and shorts. The Weather Channel says it's currently 68.


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