My return to Oaxaca following the great escape was spent mainly eating, drinking coffee, hot chocolate and mezcal and saying the final goodbyes to all the new friends I had made over the last three weeks. This time, I managed to hold it together, mostly! If any carnivore reading this makes it to Oaxaca, I recommend going to the 20 de Noviembre market, which is known for its Carnes Asadas stalls where you can buy the freshest meat and other ingredients and have it all cooked there and then for you – chorizos, beef, tortillas, avocados and grilled tomatoes. It is simple, fresh and utterly delicious and so good we had this twice in two days – definitely my best meal in the month I have been away. Continue reading →
After three weeks of living in Oaxaca and declaring myself an honorary Oaxacan (which I think I can after the number of grasshoppers (chapulines) and Oaxacan hot chocolate (chocolate de agua) I have got through, it is finally on to the next chapter of my adventure. Leaving Oaxaca was very difficult – firstly, I was ill with a really bad cold; in fact I don’t think I should have been going to Spanish class or volunteering in my last few days as I was slightly feverish but I so wanted to see it through to the end! The hardest part was saying goodbye to the kids and the young adults (ninos y jovenes) of the Centro de Esperanza Infantil. As some of you know, I am highly emotional and hate goodbyes so I was especially touched when I got some beautiful gifts from some of the families of the children I got close to. Even though I went through some steep learning curves (such as never leave a room full of kids alone with a pot of glitter), it was an amazing experience to work with them and I had great fun colouring in, making Mexican paper flowers, paper planes, Chinese lanterns and helping some of the older children with their English. I especially enjoyed hanging out in the afternoons with the older teens and jovenes who were so unbelievably patient with my Spanish and helping me with my homework – muchas, muchas gracias todos! Continue reading →
I know it’s been a while since I have posted but I have to be honest that the Wi-Fi so far has been much worse than I was expecting. I don’t remember it being this bad last time I was in Mexico 9 months ago or I would have abandoned the whole idea of trying to do this blog in the first place. I am now at my second B&B in Oaxaca and I have not had any Wi-Fi in my room in either place, which means having to go to cafes or sit in communal areas to get anything done. It is not very private and you always end up chatting to people and never starting what you intended to do.
Yes, Londoners, you may need to read that bit again – I am chatting to people, complete strangers! So far I have been very lucky in the fact that it has been really easy to meet people, through volunteering, where I am staying as well as at my Spanish school. Everyone is interested to know what I am doing here and vice versa and people seem to be taking me under their wing. This is one of the key parts of travelling; if you want to have a good time, you have to be completely open to meeting all sorts of different people across ages, backgrounds and in terms of hanging out with people you may not normally consider being around at home. If anyone is reading this who has helped me in my time in Oaxaca, muchas gracias! Please know that it has been appreciated as I am normally quite upfront about saying no to anything I don’t want to do!
I have been busy with my routine of volunteering and attempting to learn Spanish (although sometimes I think I am getting worse, not better as it is taking me longer and longer to formulate a sentence as I have to think so much about each verb that comes out of my mouth). You all know by now how fond I am off all things Mexican and especially Oaxaca. I was really excited when I had a free day last Sunday so I took the opportunity to book an 8 hour day trip to see some sites outside of the main city. Oaxaca is actually one of the poorest states in Mexico with access to water being a serious problem for a large chunk of the rural population. Yet, it has so much to offer in terms of its natural beauty and history. Continue reading →
Last Saturday, I was walking towards the Santa Domingo Plaza in the historic centre of Oaxaca on another glorious day when I was drawn to this really loud, live Mexican music played by a brass band and what appeared to be a huge celebration. As I got closer, I saw it was a wedding (boda) and it was simply the most joyous, colourful and lively celebration I have ever seen. Not only was it spectacular against the backdrop of Iglesia de Santa Domingo de Guzman but it was a very open and public fiesta which I have not seen anywhere before. Continue reading →
Aside from a return home to Mexico and learning Español, the other thing on my list of “must do” activities for my sabbatical was to try a cookery class in order to learn the real art of Mexican cuisine, because Mexican gastronomy in my opinion is exactly that, an art. Forget the “Tex-Mex” versions we have all got used to (although I have to admit that I am partial to a good burrito); as I mentioned in my previous blog post, what you will see, smell and taste in Mexico will turn your ideas about Mexican food upside down.
Oaxaca in particular is an amazing destination for any foodie. It is the capital of mole, a traditional Mexican thick stew made with lots of different chillies and sometimes chocolate. There are different varieties with my favourite being Mole Negro (black mole). The problem is that learning how to make something like this is not only complex and time consuming but we simply don’t have all the ingredients in London!
I have been settling into my routine this week although I am still wondering when the jet lag will cease as I keep waking up at 5 am every day and then struggling to go back to sleep, even though I am exhausted and have the desire for sleep. However, I remember having the same problem in Mexico City last year so am hoping it will take another day or two before I resort to hitting the Mezcal in a bid to solve the problem!
Volunteering is getting a bit easier now the kids are getting to know and trust me. I am still getting by with pigeon Spanish but I think they understand now to keep repeating everything again and again until I say ah, si entiendo.