I Moved To Oaxaca

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Last night we got caught up in the party mood in town, and decided to go looking for Mr. Papas, the potato chip guy. It's actually Mr. Cara de Papa -- Mr. Potato Face, aka Mr. Potato Head to Americans -- and he and his buddy sell fresh-made chips and fries out of a propane-powered kettle and deep-fryer. "Con todo" here means with salsa and a squirt of lime juice. I think it's a little weird to use an image of friendly if cranky Mr. Potato Head to sell potato chips; there's a place out on the periferico that sells Kentucky-style chicken, and its logo is a grinning chicken in a cauldron, and a shop over on Chapultepec sells pork, and their chubby pink mascot seems pretty happy about it.

But since Mr. Potato Face doesn't seem to mind shilling for hombres slicing and frying up his brethren, we didn't either, so we set off -- just in time to catch a parade going down Juarez. Osvelia told Greg earlier that it looked like somebody was setting up for a political rally in the plaza outside Santo Domingo. But this being Oaxaca, first you must parade! Fireworks, giant puppet people (though this time one of the puppets was black; that's a first), traditional dancers, and a brass band. Naturally. The people arrayed behind the band were all wearing red shirts printed with "MFC," "Encuento Nacional," and "Semilla del Reino." Some political party, I guess. This parade was different in that the MFC apparently has chapters all over Mexico, and they were lined up behind placards proclaiming their city or state of origin: Oaxaca, Campeche, Cuernavaca, Quintana Roo, Durango, La Paz, Xalapa, Saltillo, Huajuapan de Leon. On and on and on. I only recognized about a third of the cities, and only knew where maybe half those were, but for every group that went by I waved and shouted out "Hola (insert city here)!" And the marchers waved and shouted back. One woman in the parade even whipped her camcorder around to film us -- quite funny to have the tables turned. Folks were dancing and singing, and not very surreptitiously drinking mezcal out of bamboo shotglasses. We saw a group from Michigan go by and, I kid you not, tried to figure out where Michigan, Mexico, is. Then a Los Angeles went by, then a Detroit, and by then we figured out that these MFC people really get around. Pretty extensive as parades go, and after the marchers from Zamora had passed we went over to El Viejo Shaman to ask Osvelia who the heck the MFC are. She said it's some Christian party, and sure enough, on the stage where they were to speak later I saw a guy in a churchy kind of white dress.

The parade was winding through the zocalo as we got there, so we skirted the edge of the crowd and headed toward the downtown markets and Mr. Papas. And he was there! We got in line and said, heck with mini-maxing, and got two medium bags of chips con todo instead of one chips and one fries like we sometimes do. Mmm. We ate them as we strolled back to the square. It's been awhile since we've been down to the zocalo -- funny to think about since not too long ago we used to hang out there every weekend -- so we decided to stay and have a drink. We sat down and, just as Greg was about to wave the waitress with the menus away, I said No! I want to see a menu! because the table behind us was being served big fancy ice cream creations and that looked a lot better than a beer. I looked the menu over, and decided to try something called a floty: coke and lime ice cream. It ended up being lime sherbet and only okay, but still, now I can say yes, I have eaten a floty.


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