I Moved To Oaxaca

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Hola from Mexia!

Let's see ... after stopping in Naranjos for money and e-mail, we drove on and on an on, to Ciudad Victoria. A long drive, and one we assumed would be past more services than we saw. But there was nothing. We ended up reaching Victoria after dark, in the rain, stressed and tired. We checked into a hotel and crashed, both room fans blazing.

Next morning we were up and, bypassing the institutional cafeteria in our hotel, crossed the plaza and ate at Daddy's, the restaurant in the HoJos. And that time we both ate breakfast so we'd be on the same food schedule. Oh, it was hot, but not as bad as on the coast. We got to the border about 1:30p, crossed quickly, and got the biggest iced teas we could find while we arranged for US insurance. It was 105 degrees.

Then we zoomed north on wonderfully paved American highways, with all the reflectors, lane striping, and shoulders we love and none of the random livestock encounters, missing chunks of asphalt, or topes we've come to expect while driving. But you know what? It was so easy driving on 281 north from McAllen that it was boring -- at least driving in Mexico is like playing Mario Bros.

I thought we would make Austin, so I had hotel and restaurant info for that, but we only got as far as San Antonio, so poor G had to put up with me cruising around downtown looking for an interesting hotel to stay in. I mean, if we were gonna pay outrageous rates -- you know, something more than the $15-$18 US we had been paying in Mexico -- I wanted it to be something fun. And we lucked into the last non-suite room at the Menger Hotel! Then we went off and ate American food, pork chops and mashed potatoes and gravy and Steiner Bock, collected some squished pennies, and crashed. Before we left the next day we went down and toured the Alamo. Gentlemen, please remove your hats before entering the Shrine.

After that unexpected and really fun bit of tourism, it was a pretty straight shot to Mexia: stopped at a roadside attraction (snake farm!), ate bbq in Austin, talked to the Subaru dealer in Temple. Now we're here, playing with animals and horrifying my mom with stories about living in Oaxaca, drinking California wine and organic milk, playing with animals and generally glad not to be whizzing along at 110 kph for awhile.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Hola from Naranjos!

And well you may ask, Where is Naranjos? It's in Veracruz, south of Tampico. We're heading north and just stopped in to use an ATM and e-mail. It's hot, hot, hot, but the drive has been beautifulx3. I don't know how far we'll get today.

Oh! G had deer for dinner last night, and sheep for lunch today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

We're leaving -- again -- in about an hour for part three of Roadtrip Verano 2004. Only this time we're headed north to Texas. I know I'll be able to blog and check e-mail while in Mexico; I hope to do the same in Mexia, but you know how that is. (Or maybe you don't; I just tried searching for the post about being banned from the only public internet access within 30 minutes of my mom's house, but I didn't find it. So there you go: I've been banned from the only public internet access within 30 minutes of my mom's house by the evil Teague library nazis.)

Before I go, I just have to share this: as you may or may not know, Cinepolis had been showing the same Hellboy preview for months and months. So I was stoked to see that this week Hellboy finally made it to Oaxaca. Except the theatre is only showing a dubbed version -- no subtitulo! Bummer. Greg and I saw a single-screen theatre, Sala Versalles, while walking around looking for a shovel, so Sunday we stopped in to check it out and see if maybe, just maybe, they were showing the English-language version.

On Saturday, the earliest showtime was 4:15; on Sunday it was 3:45, so we missed the first 30 minutes of the movie. We were the only people in the theatre, so when we stumbled out into the lobby -- the theatre was spookily dark inside, enough that we needed Greg's keychain light to find our way around or even see each other -- to inquire about this, thinking maybe they'd switched reels or something, they told us if we wanted to we could sit through the next showing in order to catch the beginning. Fair enough. Only, we didn't want to. Maybe it's better in English and viewed straight from the beginning, but we weren't impressed. Except when Cthulhu and the cthonian showed up, but that was all too brief. And of course when the credits started the lights came up, bam!, and the projectionist turned off the machine. That's when we got a look at the inside of the theatre, once I'm sure a lovely little place with a balcony and red-velvet chairs retrofitted with cupholder armrests, but now tattered and grimy and not very appealing. Which is I guess better than stupid and not very appealing like ol' Hellboy: The Movie. And now I hear that Catwoman sucks! Damn. But ... I just read online that Blade 3 is in the works. Whoo-hoo!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Back in time, back to Tehuantepec ...

We never did make it out to either of the two moderate hotels on the highway: while driving there G spotted a posada on the main road into town, 5 de Mayo. We stopped to take a look and even though we both knew it would be a noisy location, the people there were nice and the rooms awfully clean, so we decided to stay. And I mean, clean! No tv, but it was too hot to stay in the room so we sat on the walkway outside the rooms and read. And the bed, get this -- real sheets! None of that 60-threadcount shit, and nice pillows, too. Next time I'm in Tehuantepec -- likely, as we both liked the town -- I'll bring ear plugs and stay at the Posada Colonial San Fernando again, no problem.

That night it rained really hard, and we could see that Izzy's kidneys had stopped functioning. The next day, with her sleeping on the bed with the ceiling fan on high, we drove outside town to the turnoff to the Guiengola ruins. Our guidebook said to stop at the Comedor Gema and pick up a guide, but the people sitting around the comedor said, naw, there's a kid up there that can show you around, just drive up. So off we went down the dirt road into the jungle. Only because of all the rain, the road was pretty muddy and wet. But hey, Little Jumbo has all-wheel drive, right? No problem. So we went a couple of miles down the road ... until we got to a spot where water covered the road for at least a hundred yards. Trees and the road's own curves blocked our view of any farther ahead. And AWD or no, I really didn't feel like 1) getting stuck, and 2) walking back through the mud to Comedor Gema and asking for a tow. So we turned around and headed back. We also argued about what to do: stay or go. Which would be better with a cat at death's door? We eventually decided to kind of stay, and not drive helter-skelter up to Texas but take a short drive up the relatively-flat coast road to Zipolite and wait it out there.

We did some asking around and although there's no such thing as a pet crematorium in Oaxaca (if not Mexico), there are for people and folks we talked to seemed to think that it'd be no problem to cremate a cat. Well. It just may be that there is a single crematorium in the state, in Oaxaca-town, and that it is illegal to cremate animals. Which we were told when we drove back home after finding out there were no facilities in Pochutla, the nearest town to Zipolite of any size. It was another of those "gringos ask the strangest things" moments, I must say. So with Juan Carlos's approval, we buried Izzy under the fruit tree on the patio, a pretty spot, now planted with red-blooming flowers. Maybe in a day or two we'll head out again.

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Izzy Vasquez
le chat sauvage 
April 12, 1986 - July 24, 2004

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Hello from Tehuantepec!
G and I did indeed leave today on part two of Roadtrip Verano 2004. We chose another unexplored highway to travel, this time Hwy 190 southeast to the Isthmus. More humid heat. Cat's fine; she enjoyed the air-conditioning.
Hwy 190 was twisty, as apparently is required of all Oaxacan highways, but not too bad. We marked out Matatlan for a return trip (mezcal capital of Oaxaca) and passing through Santa Maria Jalapa we got a great picture from a roadside comedor of a chicken serving a platter of chicken.
We rolled into town about 6pm, and two out of the three hotels recommended by our guidebook were full! What're people doing here -- they should be in Oaxaca-town Guelaguetza'ing. We were on our way out to the highway to find a room at the expensive hotel when G spotted a posada. We checked it out; it's fine, so we checked in, settled the cat, and set off to find some dinner. We found an out-of-the way restaurant, Biche Mariscos y Bar, which turned out to be lots of fun. We shared a plate of shrimp diablo and a seafood salad -- minus any actual salad, unfortunately, but the seafood was good on tortilla chips with some of the diablo sauce. Including raw oysters, so we'll see if my Mexican gastronomic luck holds.
Tehuantepec is a small town, just up the highway from Salina Cruz, the port town in these parts. We're off now to find a cool breeze -- we're dripping sweat -- and tomorrow, ruins! I think we'll be here tomorrow night, too, then head up the coast to Zipolite; er, I mean, Puerto Angel.

My friends point out that I often blog about food; it's true, I know. It's just that I really like food. And it's so much easier to talk about food sometimes than other things. Like my continuing depression. My worries about what I'm doing with my life. Izzy showing her true age.
She woke us up early this morning, meowing to go outside. She didn't want her food -- she hasn't been eating hardly anything -- and she didn't want the water in her bowl. She wanted something else, and when I finally relented and got up so she could go outside, she wandered around the patio looking for water: the neighbor's outdoor faucet, rainwater collected on the plastic lid of the crabitat, the cistern. Despite the effort it took for her to reach the water in the cistern, she drank from that and also from the bowl of cistern water I placed on the ground for her. She's creaky, her balance is going, she's not eating or sleeping well. But she still purrs when we pet her dulling fur, and she still gazes at G with adoration whenever he walks into the room.
I still think of her as young but only because I compare her age against Fuzzy's incredible lifespan. But all of us -- me, G, and Iz -- know, I think, that she probably won't make it to 19.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Well, I thought we'd leave Sunday, but we decided to stay through tonight in order to see the kick-off of Guelaguetza. Especially since the Llano turned into a fairgrounds, with kiddie rides and games, pirate cd & dvd booths galore, crafts, and food. They've also got the 2nd Annual Mezcal Festival set up in the middle of it, and a section of the park devoted to Oaxaca state coffee growers handing out samples. They weren't handing them out at 8am this morning, only as of this afternoon and evening -- people here think nothing of drinking coffee late at night.
We cruised the park last night, looking around -- got another couple of bobble-heads* -- before spotting what we were really after: tacos! G had three and I had three, then made another circuit before heading back for another trio each. Mmm. A lot of booths are selling regional sweets, which is almost always worth a look and taste. We got some toffee peanuts, as usual. But we also tried these meringue cookies -- yeah, I know, raw egg whites, with the meringue sitting in a plastic bowl behind the guy's counter -- but they were really good: fresh meringue plopped onto a wafer with another on top, like a little meringue throne. After all that we were too full to get any fried bananas or potato chips or the local version of a Big Stick, served with chamoy sauce and chili powder. Maybe tonight.
We went again for lunch today, and got taquitos; G had chicken and I had something called tinga. I still couldn't tell you what it was, except that it was good. We then went looking for a sweet when I saw a hand-lettered sign proclaiming Tacos Cochinita Pibil. Whoo-ya, Yucatan-style pork! A woman sitting in front of the booth asked us if we knew what pibil was, and cleared a space for us to sit down -- she was a pretty enthusiastic customer! I had pibil 14 years ago when I was in the Yucatan, and I still remember how good it was, and told Enthusiastic Customer that. She said the woman running the booth was from the Yucatan. G and I sat down and ordered a plate of little tacos with pickled onions and a very, very hot green sauce. Oh, my, they were tasty! We waddled over here to internet, swimming through the crowds of people in town for the festivities.
I'll blog from the road and let you know where we end up going.

Friday, July 16, 2004

No news here, really, but check out the news about San Francisco's beloved 4-Star Theatre!
Let's hope they can work something out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I often look around at long-time Oaxaca residents, all bundled up when the mercury dips into the 70s, and wonder wtf? Yet after only three days in the Papaloapan, I grabbed a sweater for the walk over to the internet cafe. WTF?

We're back from stage one of Roadtrip Verano 2004. San Jose Chiltepec ended up being Greg's favorite town, while I really liked Ixcatlan, so I think a return visit to the hot 'n' humid north of the state are in the cards. Plus, I have to find some more Queen Cola, which I did, at some little abarrote along the side of Hwy 182 west of Huatla.

Yesterday was our mellow day of the trip, with only a short drive (about an hour and a half) and a lot of lazing around in the heat. After grabbing pineapple juice and beers and some books and sitting on the palapa-covered patio and reading most of the afternoon, we walked down the street to the restaurant recommended by the guy that runs the posada. It's a good-sized, palapa-covered place right on the river. There was only one other customer inside when we entered, and we sat near him at a table overlooking the high and muddy river. No menu, just whatever was in the kitchen that day, which happened to be more mojarra frita, carne a la mexicana, and some other meat dish, pork maybe. We both chose the mystery carne a la mexicana. Umm! First, tortilla chips, some really tasty, cheese-covered refried beans, and salsa as starters with our beers, then the carne a la mexicana -- beef with stewed tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños -- with really good tortillas and (at our request) more of the delicious black beans. As night fell we watched the birds come in to roost in the trees across the river, and a couple of fireflies trying to get the action going without much luck. We strolled up the street to an abarrote for some more bottled water before heading back to the posada -- the guy in the abarrote made his money in the States working at a Japanese restaurant in my hometown, San Gabriel! Right on the corner of Las Tunas and Mission ... nice guy.

We left early, after brewing up some coffee and grabbing a breakfast of champions at another abarrote -- you know, coke and sugary crap, in this instance, cookies -- and drove out to the highway and on to Santa Maria Jacatepec, which, according to our guidebook, is supposed to have a surreal altar in the town church. Well, it was a pretty church, but I think the townsfolk got tired of the parade of gringos, because it looks like they've repainted the mural behind the altar. No extra surrealism, just the regular Catholic kind. But! The abarrote did have a ... are you ready for it? A high-class quartz clock!

After our trip to Puerto Angel we were dreading Hwy 175, but it turned out to be a good stretch of road, especially in the flats before the mountains, but even up in the mountains, too. Then we remembered our short trip back in October of last year on Hwy 175 and eating barbacoa conejo:

For a major highway, 175 is awfully small: it's one lane each way, very twisty and curvy, with no lights, no shoulder, no cats-eyes, and plenty of potholes and ruts. Good thing we weren't in a hurry.

Ha! Now it's "a good stretch of road."

We blew past the little pueblas up in the mountain stretches, except to stop for lunch at a comedor in El Punto. And a spur-of-the-moment stop for mezcal at a little stand in Guelatao, which turned out to be a very pleasant stop, chatting with the proprietors, Victor and Yolanda, about mezcal and teaching English. But all of us were getting a bit tired of the car, so that was the extent of our stops today.

I think we'll be in town a few days then take off again. I'm not sure where.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Roadtrip Verano 2004: Day, uh...?

We're in San Jose Chiltepec, a little ways south of Tuxtepec. We're staying the night here after a super-short day of driving. Still in the Papaloapan, so it's hot 'n' humid. Our posada is roofed in tin.

Yesterday we were in San Somebody Ixcatlan, on the shores of the state's big reservoir. A nice little town, as was Jalapa, the "big" town near Ixcatlan. Our hotel had a rooftop patio with a view of the reservoir and mountains, and we had big fried lake bass and tortillas for dinner. Scrumptious.

It's also really pretty countryside to drive through, and someday I'd like to come back and do the hike to the top of Cerro Rabon, a massif looming over Jalapa. Everything's very green, very tropical, though our guidebook says we're in "tropical evergreen forest" and not rainforest. Still, just think tropical and you'll be on the right track.

We only stayed in Tuxtepec, the city alongside the Rio Tuxtepec, only long enough to buy some contact lens solution and see a very unimpressive ruined Aztec watch tower before continuing on to this town -- much like the day before, where we pretty much blew through Huatla before continuing on to Ixcatlan. We had planned to spend some time in Huatla looking around, but neither of us liked the vibe. But the mountains Huatla sits in were stunning. A great drive on a sometimes iffy road.

Tomorrow we might stop in Ixtlan up in the Sierra Norte, but I bet we end up going all the way back to Oaxaca. Guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Man, it's hot.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Hello, and welcome to Roadtrip Verano 2004!

We left Oaxaca around noon today; not an early start, I know, but once we packed and loaded up the car, we stopped in at Soriana first to get duct tape to tape plastic over the broken window. Except I saw they sold plastic window screening and adhesive-backed velcro, so I bought that and some scissors and G and I made a ghetto-fabulous screen for the window, which took some time.

We drove over the mountains and into the Cañada, a region on Oaxaca characterized by dry tropical scrub, if you can imagine: palms, bananas, papayas, bouganville with palo verde and cacti. All surrounded by dramatic red and chocolate-brown cliffs and green mountains covered with clouds. Hardly any traffic on the highway, and only small pueblos.

Right now we're in Teotitlan del Camino, near the border with the state of Puebla. The "del Camino" refers to Hwy 135. It's the equivalent of a county seat, but it's only got about 5,000 people in it. We got in just in time to see everyone packing up the Sunday tianguis, so after we checked in to our hotel for the night and got Izzy settled with her box and food and water, we walked a couple of blocks to Restaurante Sylvia for dinner. Today's comida was chicken in red sauce, pasta soup, rice, and tortillas, washed down with a beer. This internet cafe is right down the street from Sylvia's. When we walk through the town plaza back to our hotel we will have done the town.

Tomorrow: Huatla, the hometown of Maria Sabina, the famous shaman of the Mazateca.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Almost forgot:

Tomorrow we're loading up Little Jumbo and departing for roads unknown. Yes, a roadtrip, probably into the northern part of the state, the Mazateca. Not much as far as ruins, but mostly scenery and Maria Sabina's home pueblo -- I figure that if G is studying with Jorge, one of her students, then it's a good place to visit. And mountains, of course, lovely Oaxaca mountains. I'll post updates from the road if possible.

Also ... do you like sushi? I know I do, and I miss it terribly, though not enough to ever go back to Restaurante Kyoto and choke down more examples of Oaxacan sushi. But tucked away in the many treats and surprises crammed into Greg's luggage on his return from the States was, a small bento box of sushi from the international terminal at SFO. Oh, good lordy! It was divine. Airport sushi was divine.

So today was my second Saturday of rugby practice, and this time enough people showed up that after about 45 minutes of drills we played an actual game. Although because I pulled my left quad during one of those drills, and because I'm not an idiot, I decided that I would play defensively and not get right into the scrums and rolling catfights that characterize determining control of the ball. The worst part was, being picked last for teams! For those of you who grew up butterfingerly, gangly, or otherwise unsuited for athletics, I'm sorry, but I've never before been picked last for any sport. Christ on crutches! But at least the team that got stuck with me cheered when I walked over, and while I wasn't up there scoring touchdowns (or whatever they're called in this game), I was making some plays, passing and blocking. Ron, one of the team captains, even bowled me over, right out of my shoes.

The best part was, Greg came by to see me play and came away greatly reassured that I wasn't playing with a bunch of meatheads, so now he feels a lot better about it. Even though I told him that was so; they're nice guys. Which frankly is fine with me. You can imagine: playing rugby in Mexico, being the only girl on the field, is a little intimidating. At least I'm taller than most of the other players (though beefier would be more handy) and can handle the ball and myself. But still. Then to get this constant background buzz of, ooh, it's dangerous, you shouldn't do that, what if ..., blah blah blah. It makes it hard to stay confident, and I don't like not being confident. Especially when the alternative is to take up something safe, like guitar or embroidery. I have to run around and be in motion, I've learned that, or I go crazy. And if there are some risks, okay by me. But try saying that and then living with all your friends and family (which, down here, is all of one person) disapproving what you do. I don't have it in me, at least not for sustained periods. So apparently I've got the constitution to be slammed to the ground and stepped on by my teammates but not to live in conflict. Crazy, huh?

Oh, more on that love/hate thing:

It just worked out this way, but the only bill we have due on the first of the month is the fee for the parking lot. Everything else is due around the 10th of the month: rent, cable, electricity. We split the electricity with our landlord, Juan Carlos; so far we've just given him the money to cover our half, but this time he handed us the bill to pay. And unlike in the States where everything is paid by check and mailed in -- or, if you're a Bay Area geek, paid for online with a credit card -- here everything is cash. You can pay your electricity bill at the supermarket, or at neighborhood payment centers. We went to the local payment center and saw a bank of machines similar in appearance to BART ticket machines. But oh so much simpler: stick the electricity bill in front of the barcode reading eye on the machine, and a display comes up confirming how much you owe. Stick your money in the slot and the machine gives you your change and a receipt. Damn! Way, way, way better than anything back home.

Now for the hate: I finally went in to tell Banamex that their ATM ate my debit card, and that I have a new address. I had a note with handy banking phrases all written out in Spanish, and my dictionary. Well, the teller said, you have to call this 800 number and report it. Well, I said, can I just have the money from my account? No, first I have to report the card lost, then I can get the money. I didn't bring my phone, and she certainly wasn't going to use bank resources to call for me, so I trudged back home, called Banamex and managed to report the card stolen. Then walked back to the bank to get my money. Hey, no money in this account -- you took it all out in Puebla. Ah, I haven't been in Puebla for some time. Okay, you need to report that via the phone number. Can I at least change my address now? Nope -- only over the phone. I'm not exactly sure what it is they do in the branch. So, back home to make another call.

Anyone who's dealt with a big bank can pretty much guess what happened: transfers, please hold, transfers, whispered conferences in the background, hold, transfer. Until the battery on my phone ran out. I plugged it in to the charger and called again. More transferring, holding, waiting. Finally, I got two different (or was it five?) somebodys to take down my new address and to take down the report of stolen funds. Here's the kicker: since I have reported the card lost, though, I can't actually put in for a change of address until I get the new card ... although I've already moved and will never receive the new card. Even though I can go down to the bank with three forms of picture ID to prove it's me and not the thief trying to change the address ... no can do. Fine, I say: I have one more item. I want to close my account. Hey, there's something they can't do over the phone -- I have to do that at the branch. Before I could get really wound up, my phone went dead, this time from running through all my minutes. I went down one more time to the bank to cancel the fucking account in person, but it had closed for the day. I seriously considered testing whether an isshinryu straight punch could take on a bank window, but the disadvantage of bringing your spouse along when you're royally pissed is that they tend to stop you from those kind of experiments. So I had to content myself with an anti-anger Corona and asking Patricia, the director at Berlitz, to cancel the account the next day. At least she agrees: Banamex sucks.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Last week I was hating being in Mexico; today I'm feeling optomistic and happy. Greg comes back tonight, and I get to pick him up in a very clean, very non-squeaky Little Jumbo. Yes! Not only did I find a mechanic on my own, I managed to find one that tuned her up and fixed her brakes in two days. Incredible.

I also successfully braved the Abastos on my hunt for furniture, and found two more places with stuff I like at reasonable prices, so I'm feeling better about Moderate Shangri-la, too.

And playing rugby helps -- Christ, I would've taken up curling if the opportunity presented itself. It just feels so good to be running around.

And since the car is fixed and Greg coming back, I'm hoping that this Sunday the three of us can hit the road for a little roadtrip around the state. I've got a couple of loop trips plotted out already.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

Big fun yesterday; today, not a damn thing. So lemme tell you about yesterday ...

Our friend Osvelia's story just keeps getting more and more convoluted and unhappy. Without going into details -- there must be a megabyte cap on these blogs -- I'll just say that her husband Marcos is still in the U.S. and isn't coming back to Oaxaca for the foreseeable future; Osvelia and Lluvia are probably moving back to Oregon; the daughter of the woman who owns the building housing El Viejo Shaman is out to drive Osvelia from the shop, contract or no, in order to get more money, and has resorted to intimidation and petty vandalism in her efforts to succeed; the furniture Osvelia left behind in Moderate Shangri-la will at some point, maybe soon, maybe not, be moved up to Osvelia and Marcos's place in San Sebastian. So I need to buy me some furniture, or use my camping gear to pretend I'm sleeping in an Appalachian Trail shelter.

Sure there are furniture stores all over town, but why spend a lot? So I went down to the Abastos tianguis Saturday afternoon for some shopping. Anybody been to Koby's swapmeet in San Diego? The Abastos is at least five times larger, and crammed with low-slung tarps, guy lines, and people selling their wares on the ground. Plus the throngs of very small people. I had a rough idea where the furniture vendors were and, on my way to find them, I stopped in at a sanitario to pee -- a sanitario that sold beer in front! But I passed on the beer, got directions from two guys carrying an armoire to a waiting truck, and started browsing. The style of furniture at the Abastos is called rustica, and that basically means stuff like you'd find at Busvan For Bargains or The Sawmill: cheap wood furniture, cheaply assembled and finished. Fine with me, frankly. And it was fun buying a table, getting the guy to add a finish of my choosing, then arranging for a truck to take it and me home. When G comes back next week we're gonna go back and get more. Like chairs, a pantry, and some dressers.

While I was at the Abastos I also saw guys selling honey out of wheelbarrows: you choose your jar from the vendor's collection, and he ladles it full of honey dripping off the frames perched on top of the wheelbarrow. And one of the many mystery fruits on sale was ... well, I don't know what it's called because I didn't write down the name the woman gave me, but it's like a tuna only round and not sweet. It's got an almost squash-like scent to it, but it's not squash-tasting. Anyway, it was good peeled and mashed up in a fruit smoothie for dinner. I'll have another one tonight.

Saturday morning I took the bus out to the sports field on Universidad near Gringolandia to play rugby with a local club. I'd found out about it months ago, but they practice Saturdays at 11a, possibly the worst time for me as a Berlitz teacher, so it wasn't until this Saturday that I could go. I told Ron, the guy who'd given me the flyer and who I called Friday evening, that I'd never played rugby before, but he said it didn't matter. Despite my confusion over the continuous and free-floating line of scrimmage, I had a lot of fun, and since the game doesn't involve throwing the chubby-football rugby ball but rather tossing it, I didn't have to humiliate myself with any girly throws. And fortunately I catch better than some of the other players -- all guys at this point, a mix of Oaxacans and Americans, but Ron says sometimes women play.

Between the rugby and the market I barely made it to 9:30p before sacking out -- only to wake up at 11:30p, like I'd just had a nap and was now ready to go another 6 hours! Thank goodness a Xena dvd was near at hand.