I Moved To Oaxaca

Monday, April 05, 2004

Wow. For the first time since we moved down here, I had a full social calendar this weekend.

After class on Saturday G and I had made plans to hook up with Ian and Caroline, friends of a friend, who were coming to Oaxaca for a couple of days. And earlier in the week I'd gotten an e-mail from Charlie the Albanian and we'd made plans to have breakfast Sunday morning. Whoo. So Ian and Caroline called, making me feel like the cell-phone purchase had indeed been worthwhile now that somebody was using it, and we made plans to meet down in the zocalo and grab dinner. We ended up going to Los Pacos, the place where Greg and I had gone for our anniversary dinner, and we had a really fun evening chatting and talking full-speed with fellow Bay Areans. (Ooh, that doesn't sound good, does it? Bay Areites? Barrians? You tell me.) We made sure they got a proper Oaxaca introduction to mole and chapulines. We then went cruising the neighborhood looking for and at live-music clubs, as Ian is a drummer and was looking into the possibilities. Yep, he and Caroline are considering The Big Move. Mostly we got a discouraging look at what passes for live music stages in Oaxaca, and if anybody remembers the stage at the Chatterbox in SF you get the idea. We also got to show Ian and Caroline what p'asses for directions in town; mostly, people not really knowing what we were looking for telling us we needed to go two blocks down (or up) then two blocks left (or right). Hey, they got to see a lot of the downtown area as a result.

Sunday we moved the clocks ahead, and hustled out to meet our friends from Albany down by Santo Domingo. As it was early -- well, early for here, 10am -- and a Sunday and Palm Sunday at that, we weren't sure what we'd find open and serving breakfast. We'd all read about and heard about a place on Garcia Vigil called La Brewja, run by an American and supposedly serving American-style breakfasts and coffee. It was open, so we went in, sat down and waited. We got menus but after awhile decided that we should probably go up to the counter and tell the one woman behind it (also the kitchen area) what we wanted. Maybe we should've taken that as a clue, because service was slow, even for Mexico, but we knew we were lucky enough to find something open at that hour so we just sucked it up.

Here's the breakfast report: regular and grande coffees on the menu, both served in the same-size mug. Terrible. I think cafe de olla would've been better, or even the Nescafe at Berlitz. Frittata was cool, and not very frittata-like, and the waffles, while they did have fruit in them and came with good butter and syrup, were more like thick pancakes than waffles. Charlie hit paydirt, though: his Earl Grey tea, instead of coming with just a little cup of hot water, came with a pitcher of hot water and an Earl Grey teabag from ... Trader Joe's! And he had an honest-to-goodness bagel with his scrambled eggs. Damn.

In any case the food wasn't the point, as I really enjoy hanging out with Lucy and Charlie. (Not only Albanians, but Charlie's the same age as Greg while Lucy and I are the same age.) They invited us to a bbq on Sunday but I hope to be on the coast, so I had to take a pass. Too bad! Mmm, bbq. And Charlie says he's a grillmaster.

That afternoon we hooked up with Ian and Caroline again and took them out to Monte Alban. I forget how big that site is. We had good weather, not too hot and with big puffy clouds to give us lots of shade. When we got there a guy and his wife, living in Tampico but down from Canada, asked if we wanted to go in on a guide together, so we said sure. Ivan over at Mitla had been great, and while Elvia knew her stuff, her spiel really didn't hold my interest, so I kind of wandered around the periphery like everybody's favorite planetoid, filling up the memory card in the camera and people-watching. We headed back into town after about three hours, stopped at Gigante for a cheap duffel bag (Caroline and Ian) and cat food (me) and beer (everybody) before going back to our house for tacos in the Llano and a cold beer on our patio. Then we went down to their hotel and enjoyed not only their spectacular roof deck but -- after almost a month of bucket bathing -- their shower. My oh my, that was nice. We ended up talking and sipping wine until pretty late, at least for someone who's got to get up at 5:30am for a Monday morning class.

Now it's Monday afternoon: I've taught the class, made some alphabet flash cards, gone to CEVIAREM with Greg to talk to Jorge, had memelas in the Llano, and checked my e-mail. I think we've got our reservation lined up for this weekend, which means finally, I will hit a Oaxacan beach and see my beloved ocean again. Until here, I've never lived farther than 20-odd miles from the Pacific. I'm ready for some ocean water, some hammock-time, a little color on my tummy, fish tacos -- basically, a Corona commerical.


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