Thursday, April 15, 2004

Reports from México 

There are a ton of internet cafés down here. And they´re cheap. And mostly fast...the DSL in Oaxaca City was pretty slow, but this café across from the Hotel Flamboyan is as fast as the one at home, and they have chocolate chip cookies and rugalach which are to die for. So I figured we´d sit down for a bit, listen to the music from the plaza, and copy down some of the e-mail reports we´ve been sending our families. We´re big believers in travelers sharing info and experiences

Unfortunately, I won´t be able to upload photos until we return home, but here´s what we were up to:

Estamos en un cafe del internet cerca del Zócalo en la ciudad Oaxaca. We just thought we'd drop everybody a quick note to say that we got here all right although we´re very tired.

We got about four hours of sleep before catching our plane and couldn´t really sleep on the plane because of the medievel ergonomics of the seats...we explored a teeny bit of Mexico City, ate at Cafe de Tacuba (lots of fun, great mariachis, yummy chicken soup) rode the metro, walked around, caught the tail end of a serial play of the Passion (semana santa and all that, at the Templo Mayor, the Zócalo was littered with eggshells and confetti) caught the metro back and then our 2345 bus to Oaxaca City.

Really comfortable deluxe bus, but we haven't quite got the hang of sleeping in transit yet, so I think we had about 3 hours sleep max here and there. Las Bugambilias is wonderful though, Camelia, uno de las dueñas, let us put our stuff in the office and told us we could hang out and have breakfast at 8 (our room was occupied with the previous night's guest--¡0630 en la mañana, levanténse perezosos! ;) and so we walked around the town a little bit and had coffee and fresh hot raspberry jam stuffed pastries on a bench by the gazebo in the center of the zócalo.

Then we walked back for a bit more breakfast, estadounidenses gordos que somos, relaxed in the sitting room, decided to walk around again...and here we are. Typing.

Nick coughed up a fun green goblin this morning, so we bought some amoxicillin (12 500mg--US$2.50 what a deal) at la farmacía and even though we´re tired and he still sounds like a torch singer I think he´ll be right as rain in no time.

So, Katie and Marshall, how are our babies? We miss them so much, I went to sleep this morning visualising snuggling Tahoe and smelling his ears. And we saw a street dog this morning who looked very much like Libélula (don´t tell her I said that) We hope everyone is getting along all right.

Well, we should go, I wish I had a way to send pictures now, but guess it'll have to wait.

Lots of love,
Wendy and Nick
P.S. The have the tiniest doves down here, smaller than a fist, probably delicious when their breasts are wrapped in bacon. Of course, who wouldn´t be delicious wrapped in bacon?

Saturday before easter:
We´re going to a restaurant this evening and I will have chapulines there--I´ve been looking forward to it!

It is incredible here--hard to describe with all the things going on and semana santa, it´s just amazing and impossible to describe really because it is so many little things. We went to a couple museums today, but other than that we were lazy, lazy. Tomorrow´s easter sunday, I don´t know if Monte Alban will be open to visitors, but I would guess not. We had a lot more planned than it looks like we´ll be able to do, but we´re not dissappointed because we can't wait to come back and we´ve been having so much of a good time.

On tuesday we go down to the coast. We'll miss Oaxaca city and the zócalo but it'll be nice to have more moisture in the air...I know it's silly, but I have always associated mexico with warm humidity, but today I washed my shoes and they were dry in an hour or so. According to a note on our door (in relation to taking short showers) the dry season here is about 9 months.

We´d better go...Nick is feeling a ton better (clear mucous this afternoon, woo-hoo!) and we are having a great time, lots of love,

Wendy and Nick

Easter Sunday
Last night I had chapulines at El Asado Vasco with Nick. We had reservations and ate on the terrace, and the view, crowd watching, mariachis, street entertainers were fantastic. We can´t reccommend the food though--Nick´s chicken was cooked to perfection, but the black mole was so salty he couldn´t finish it. For Nick, that really means something, because while he does have a gourmet´s palate he ALSO has a peasant´s stomach and has eaten any number of my kitchen disasters with smile and lots of beer ;) And my chapulines were super salty too, I drowned them in lime juice but it didn´t really help. I don´t know if the food is always like that or if the chef had a cold or wht, but I´m looking forward to trying the chapulines again somewhere else, these were teeny tiny and all exoskeleton, think tea leaves and shredded jerky soaked in brine. Yum ;)

I´m glad to hear our kids are good, we taped the pictures we brought to our mirror in the b&b so when we roll over in the morning we can at least see them, if not hold them.

Tomorrow (hopefully) we´ll be renting a car and going to San Martin Tilcajete, and maybe Hierve del Agua, a popular Oaxacan swimming hole.

It´s been nice in the mornings, dastardly hot in the afternoons, and lovely in the evenings, just as it should be. I love siestas and zócalos, creo que estadounidenses would be much happier if we had naptimes in the middle of the day and weren´t so afraid of each other that we could have little community centers to hang out in...

It´s amazing the difference in quality of handicrafts here v. in the yucatan peninsula(except for the hammocks of course) and the vendors and shop people are really honest--no one has pulled the "you only gave me a fifty" bit here like they did in yucatan and Q.r. ---and everything is very fairly priced (and even better considering the pretty good exchange rate) in cafes and shops.

We are definitely coming back---so confident of this in fact, we are probably not going to Monte alban, unless we do it really early tuesday morning before boarding the bus to Pochutla-->mazunte.

Well, that´s all for now, I think we´re going to go back and take our second nap of the day--damn do we miss our dogs! They would love this! We´ve seen a couple tourists with their dogs, even a german shorthir pointer offleash. Braver-stupider than we would ever be, but it made us miss our kids. Okay, made us miss our kids even more.

Lots of love,
Wendy and Nick (Tahoe and Bélu in spirit)

p.s. is it "more stupid" or "stupider?"

Monday? Tuesday?
Just a really quick one to say don't expect to hear from us for a little while, as we'll be heading to mazunte muy temprano en la mañana and don't expect to do much logging on down there (unless we eat something which doesn't agree, tee-hee)

We ate in a little comedor en "el mercado 20 de noviembre" se llama "la abuelita." It was good, más o menos, but I had chapulines again and didn´t like them again. I really think it´s because the chapulines were teeny tiny, I saw a vendor walk by with some big meaty looking ones, but I´ve pretty much given up on it. Nick says, y estoy de acuerda que "They´re probably something that people used to have to eat, and now they feed them to the tourists as a joke." I might buy a t-shirt though ¨"yo comí chapulines en Oaxaca y sobreviví" or something like that) to really fulfill my function as a turista. ;)

hasta luego,
Wendy and Nick
p.s. Nick is feeling fit and perky again, 100% better. I think I caught what he had and I was a real "dolor en las nalgas" or "bruja" this morning but am feeling a little better. But no more chapulines, and gasp, maybe no more beer, and I'll be better in no time I'm sure. Nothing the blue waters of playa rinconcito can't rectify anyway.

So, Mazunte fue un disastre. First, I assumed the guy at ticketbus booked us for the most direct route, and you know what assuming does...So 8.5 hours of hot twisty road later, sick, dehydrated, tired, and so unbelievably hot, we ended up in Mazunte. And it was funny that everything cost at least three times what it would have for the same in Oaxaca City. We paid cuatrocientos pesos for a room in a brick bunkerlike building on the beach. We paid so much so we could have a private bathroom, and although I saw a sign that said (among other things)¨"horario de aguas 10.30-11 y 1830-1900" I stupidly assumed that only applied to aguas tibias, not water period. Yep. Assuming again, meant no flushing toilet, no shower, no water to even wash our hands with. Pretty much my idea of hell after four hours of sleep, and almost nine continuous hours of incredible heat, rocking and swaying on a crowded bus. I cried like the spoiled princess I am.

We even thought we´d give it more of a chance though in the morning because I´d been so sure, everyone had had such rave reviews of Mazunte...and no one mentioned that all these places had only half hour bathing--hand-washing windows of time. Maybe the expensive Alta Mira and Cabañas buljampuyak don´t do this, (and they were booked solid, no había cuartos disponibles) but everywhere else on the beach did. And it was noisy (the rave music didn´t shut off til 3 am despite the fact no one was dancing, it was just two sweaty glazed eyed dreadlocked guys staring at a turntable set playing dj) and dirty and I couldn´t wash my hands and...so we went to Huatulco, which the Moon handbooks describes as "the disneyland of the Oaxacan coast" because it´s relatively clean and well planned and goddammit there´s nothing wrong with that.
Of course that´s why I didn´t want to come here (the disneyland comment, I mean) in the first place, but not being able to wash your hands for 14 hours will produce an amazing attitude adjustment. And it´s nice here. We are going to go snorkeling. And I´m going to take a shower, and I am going to wash my hands, and I am going to flush the toilet...

I had an upset tummy in Mazunte and snuck into an unoccupied room to go poodle, and boy, I haven´t felt such a guilty fear in a while. I had a nightmare that they would know it was me and scoop it out and throw it on us while Nick and I were sleeping, but I think this was a product of the cold medicine I took before trying to go to sleep to the syncopated thudding of generic rave music and the sticky heat. But also maybe a product of how Mexican appalachian Deliverance the place felt.

So, we´ll probably be boring you all again real soon. This internet cafe is right next to our hotel and is very fast, but we won´t write again ´til we have something more exciting and interesting to talk aboutl---like how many times I´m going to wash my hands!

Lots of love,
Wendy and Nick
P.S. Miss Katie, anytime you want to use your christmas present from Marshall to take fresh pictures of our kids lounging we would be very excited...Tahoe´s face is almost worn through from all the picture kissing we´ve been doing.

P.P.S. Dad, chapulines are grasshoppers. And they really don´t taste as good as I´d expected ;)

And I think that really will be all the posting I´ll be doing until we come back home and can upload pictures...I really like blogs with pictures, and I like it when my blog is a blog I´d actually enjoy reading even if I didn´t know me. Time to go swimming again, I think I´ve sweated through my skirt, it´s gonna look like I piddled myself when I get up;)


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

We're on vacation! 

We'll see you sometime after March 30th!

In the meantime, check out a gorgeous online photo album of the Yucatan and Chiapas here.


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Lots o' things to blog blather... 

I recently ripped my Map of the World afghan all the way back to the balls and started over. I had only 25% of the first panel done so it was no big tragedy, and I'm almost back to where I was when I ripped it.

I had been knitting it on 14" Swallow casein straights, but when I finished a row it'd be all bunched up and not much fun to look at...and the stitches would fly right off if you just looked at it funny. So I'm enjoying knitting it from the beginning after letting the project languish for seven months on the sweet relief of a circular.

I think I've been pretty spoiled with my yarn choices, as this Tahki Donegal Tweed feels pretty overspun and is rough on the hands--but on the other hand, that means a really durable end product not prone to pilling, and I know the colourwork will be fairly consistent as long as I am. My first colourwork was done with Classic Elite's Bazic Wool, a superwash wool that was slippery as hell, so between my inexperience and the slidiness of the wool worming its way about, the finished piece looks...experimental.

I'm too ashamed to show it. ;)

Who knows, I may rip it too and do it all over again...maybe I'll never knit more than six projects in my life, but by gum, I'll keep knitting 'em 'til they're right!

Other Stuff
We're finally back in our own home, sweet, sweet relief that that is...it may be squalorous, but it's our squalor and we love it.

Staying out at my Dad's interesting. I have a Jetta TDI (VW's diesel engine) so I'm not used to having to fill up very often, but staying out there I had to fill up every week (about 630 miles before the fuel light comes on for me) and I found myself getting a wee bit indignant about fuel prices...I finally am starting to feel like a San Diegan again ;)
What's up with San Diegans and the tailgating though? Anybody know of a short and pithy way to say "Back the f-ck off motherf-cker because if you f-ckin' hit me and hurt my dogs I will not hesitate to beat your f-cking tailgating @ss to death!" so I can put it on a bumper sticker?
It can go right under my "Ganesha loves you" sticker.

It wasn't really that bad though, just the commute. Having a highway patrolman for a husband makes one acutely aware of the drunk driving and inattentive driving issues here in San Diego, and a two lane highway can be a nerve-wracking place.

But there were hummingbirds, hawks, orioles, and really interesting insects like scorpions, camel spiders, and this gorgeous guy:

and a close-up so you can see his supercool red and white stripes:

Of course you can't tell scale from the pic, but his wingspan was about four inches.

We ended up needing to stay out there longer than expected because my Grandmother fell asleep, couldn't be awakened, and died three days later. It's such a relief that she can now be with my Grandfather (if that's what happens when good people die, I don't know) and is no longer suffering all that horrible pain and humiliation.

We may end up missing the funeral though, because we have the family's dramaqueen in charge of funeral arrangements and it sounds like she's dead set on scheduling it smack in the middle of our Oaxaca and Chiapas trip. I know Grammy would be pissed if we missed the trip--I was really looking forward to showing her pictures of our trip, she loved Mexico--but I do want to go and meet some of the people who meant so much to her and hear some stories and celebrate her life and all that. I am the youngest of four grandchildren by eleven years, and by the time I came along, that side of the family wasn't really interested in family things, so I'm a relative stranger. Here's a creepy anecdote: at a family gathering about three or four years ago, someone came up to my brother, "Hey! Denny! Hi! How are you? And is this your wife?" And turned to shake my hand. It was kind of a surreal moment to explain that I was not the wife of my brother, merely his sister.

I do know some things, some fun stories, but I don't really know my family. I mentioned before that my grandmother was in Spain in the late thirties, but she also dabbled in a little bit of bullfighting down in Mexico. She was gored, but it's a good story anyway.

She had a great life, lots of traveling, and lots of good friends. She was able to stay in her own home until the end and be cared for by family, we should all be so lucky.
[although I would request not so much pain and humiliation at the end, but I'm hoping a right to euthanasia law will be around when I come to that point]
[and I also request that if reincarnation is what happens that Nick and I be reincarnated as sea turtles]

A "baby" sea turtle from the Isla Mujeres Tortugranja (or "turtle farm," it's a turtle refuge where they raise them, and when they're big enough, release them)


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