My 5 day trip abroad
with Sara, Pierre, and Augustus (Augie)
I'm just back (returned last night) from a trip to southern Mexico, 2 flights each way (SFO to Mexico City, then Mexico City to Oaxaca), where the 4 of us stayed at a lovely BNB house (with pool) in San Pablo Etla, overlooking a valley, 25 minutes from Central Oaxaca. We rented a car (white jetta), and went on excursions to Monte Alban (pyramid), Mitla (petrified waterfall and pools of Hierve (bubbling) de Agua, with pre-columbian channels carved into the rock), and of course the Zocalo, with two impressive churches (St. Dominic of Guzman, especially) DoG!. I bought a figurine of a high priest/scribe, at Alban. And I bought a keychain of a painted jaguar head, from the museum shop. I could have done more X-mas shopping, but I'm mostly through with that, already. The second leg of our flight in was rushed, and we dashed through the airport, but made the flight in good time.
The meals were fantastic, and I had a Tlayuda (a traditional Oaxacan dish, recommended by a roommate); a yellow mole (Oaxaca (pronounced wuh-hawk-uh) is called the "land of 9 moles", I think); chocolate beverage, lots of tacos, and three beers (victoria and corona). Sara made egg sandwiches a few times. I did lots of translating, and had a few satisfying experiences of almost total comprehension. I brought 2 spanish-english dictionaries (easy/with sample sentences, and comprehensive), as well as "2001 modismos/idioms", an Economist, and a book of "best buddhist writing" (which was nice, on the plane). I have a long way to go before fluency, but knowing the numbers helped with paying meal and parking bills. We also stopped at an ATM (agave tequila mezcal) fabrica, and sampled Espadin, the recommended variety.
We saw a large spider (the largest I've ever seen, excluding zoo tarantulas) that the gardeners eventually killed, 2 scorpions (one in the bathroom, and another in the city, on the sidewalk), an amazing caterpillar, lots of street dogs, chickens, burros, goats, cattle, and birds (a flock of black birds, a yellow bird with a black and white head, a hummingbird that bounced off a screen door), different bugs like bumblebees, honey bees (on a tree, eating sap, I think), butterflies, a strider (on the pool), a bug IN the pool, and other assorted foreign (to me, anyway) ants and beetle things. I squished a rather large spider that was inside a house. I expected more birds. The state of Oaxaca has more kinds of birds than the entire US, I learned from wikipedia, beforehand. The valley had lots of barking dogs, intermittent booming fireworks, and distant announcements on loudspeakers (political?). Also, turkeys cats and lizards.
The city was bustling, and Pierre did an excellent job of being a well-oriented navigator. The drive in, at night, was memorable. There was a blackout in our neighborhood. I was anxious about getting split up, and we had an adventure picking up items from a pharmacy, that luckily worked out perfectly fine. Monte Alban is a unesco site, and we climbed up (and down) the pyramid. There was a field trip of school children there, with us. On the way to Hierve, the trip up and down the mountain, in the cab, and on the bench in back, was interesting, and memorably scenic. Hector the Protector drove us there, and I sat in the back on the way back, which was also an experience. I believe there were 13 of us on the way back (including the driver). We ate at El Asador Vasco, La Olla, los Danzantes, and la Cuchilla. I sat for Augie while S+P went to El Criollo (restaurant). Augie fell asleep in his chair while his tablet played cartoons. Another restaurant had a tv with Disney in Spanish, where we stopped before going to the airport. I had a waffle, OJ, and fruit yogurt. Honking your horn is called a 'bocinazo'. Parking is 'estacionamiento' (e.g. No E) Bumpiness is 'terrazeria.' We used our phones to help navigate.
I listened to a bit of radio (UU "ooh ooh"), which played American music (!), and I used my tablet and phone (the house has wifi). Pierre and Sara both did work on their computers, while in Mexico. I read my Economist, and surveyed the home's extensive library. The weather was lovely. Hector told me the rainfall was good this year. I asked about the earthquake. I saw lots of agave, many varieties of cactus, and some corn. I brought two long-sleeve shirts, but ended up wearing one of Pierre's t-shirts.
When asked, I translated bitcoin as 'moneda-mordida'. But on second thought, it could be several things: 'moneda-bitio/moneda-bit (digital bite)', or perhaps 'moneda-mordisco' (mouth or meal bite), or as 'moneda-moneda' (bit and coin are synonyms). I'm not sure it needs translating: the whole world can just call it 'bitcoin,' as far as I'm concerned. It's value was of ongoing interest throughout the trip.
I brought my backpack and carry-on luggage with me, both ways. We had to throw out my sunscreen coming in, and I was selected -on the way back- for a second baggage-screening. We saw police and ambulance. Policia, Ambulancia, farmacia (lots of cia!). At the house (an idyllic xanadu!), I accidentally pulled down the mosquito net that was over my bed. I had 4 beds to choose from. I had enjoyably vivid dreams. There were gardeners and housekeepers. Sara and Pierre bought (sun) hats for the 3 of them. I didn't see a toad river or seminary (street name translations). I lost 9 pounds.
Augie was both fun and difficult, which is to be expected of a 3 y.o., I imagine. Sara and Pierre got sick, toward the end. I got overly anxious and stressed, I think. We were tired. I took Bart home from the airport, to Berkeley; they took a Lyft back to Oakland. Augustus played with dinosaurs and trains. There was ice cream/cake, suckers, and gummy candies, that he got wired on, plus yogurt and fruit. He was excited about monsters, skeletons, zombies, and giants, and "castles" (churches). He looked at youtube videos, and google pics of trains, dinosaurs, and peacocks. He called the internet the "inner-not" :-).
We had a brief conversation about Mexico being "dark." They celebrate death: Dia de los muertos, skulls and skeletons, posada-imagery. Santa Muerte, and (pre-columbian) Aztec sacrifice. Anyway, the people were amable and bondadoso, and we (phew!) had no problems. The church was singing about Dios de Piedad (piety/compassion), when I entered. I didn't have to use my medication for "severe and sudden" diarrhea (moctezuma's revenge). Still, I was happy to get back home. I didn't lose track of my passport, pen, keys, wallet, watch, tablet, phone, glasses, or belt (the screening process can be rushed and a bit stressful, too). I took notes, and a few photos, and learned about the flashlight and compass features on my phone. We made it. What an adventure.
22 hours ago