I can’t believe we arrived in Oaxaca only about 24 hours ago. I’m in a café a couple doors down from our hotel. B is back at the hotel cooling off, but I’m out here pathetically searching for a wireless network to let WB know I’ve arrived safe and alive.
My café de olla has arrived. It is a strong coffee, richly spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with piloncillo, which is unrefined cane sugar sold in big caramel blocks in the markets. I should learn to recreate it at home. It makes an afternoon coffee feel much more decadent and exciting.
Last night, we visited the zocaló, which I expect will become a regular occurance. We had beers and peanuts while people-watching in what seems to be the heart of Oaxaca city. It reminded me of Las Ramblas or the many squares in Barcelona. Lots of activity, lots of vendors, balmy night air, and instrumental renditions of popular songs filling the sidewalks – except here they are played by mariachi bands and on panpipes.
There aren’t a lot of tourists, though. There are some, of course, but many of them seem to be from different parts of Mexico, or children on school excursions. Not many English-speakers though they definitely stand out when you see them, as I’m sure I do. Vendors – especially children – make a b-line for us. But we say “no, gracias,” and for the most part they go on their way.
Today we explored markets, churches, and a museum – the Cultural Centre of Oaxaca located inside the church and former monastery of Santo Domingo.
There was a lot to learn and many artefacts from Mexican life through the ages, but my favourite bit was just gazing out onto the Ethnobotanical Gardens from the monastery’s balconies. At one point, we were doing just that, and this funny, tinny music began floating over the air. I wish I could convey it in words – it wasn’t a big, profound moment. Just one of those slightly odd, dreamlike scenes that come up so often in travel but are impossible to describe in words or capture in photos. We just both started giggling.
My second cuppa has arrived, this time hierbabuena, something rather similar to mint tea. Nice and refreshing.I’ve managed to connect, have e-mailed WB, and chatted with the Wanderparents. I’ve also written WB a postcard purchased at the Cultural Centre that I will inevitably forget to send and instead awkwardly hand to him personally upon my arrival back in Canada. (present day note: this is exactly what happpened). Hasta luego!