Oaxaca,Oaxaca,Mexico!!! I’M BACK!

         Doug, my friend, picked me up in my garage at Scottsdale Shadows after securing my car in storage. A brief ride, check in and I boarded my connecting flight to Mexico for LAX.
The connection went well and I arrived in Mexico City around midnight. 

       An authorized taxi drove me to my hostel.  The city at that time was empty except for homeless people warming themselves around open fires on the street. All the stores except an occasional 7/11 were closed.  We arrived at a barricade and couldn’t enter the area of my hostel because of late night street construction.  The driver gave instructions in Spanish and I walked down the cobblestone street in the direction he pointed.  I didn’t see anything but more barricades and policemen.  They continued to give me directions in Spanish and pointed down a side street. I was pulling two suitcases and had a large carry on bag over my shoulder when I arrived at a 7/11.  The clerk gave me more instructions in Spanish but pointed back to the police.  It was around 1 am and I was tired, exhausted and had to be at the bus station in the morning.  I had no choice but to return back the deserted street…when lo and behold the hostel was right there.  I walked past it in a daze.  They had me arriving on the 9th.  I told him in was the 9th…at 1 am.  He arranged a room and I was asleep shortly. 

           Breakfast was some scrambled eggs in hot sauce with greasy toast and coffee. The front desk called a taxi that delivered me to the bus station just in time to get my ticket and check my baggage. 
       While I waited, a Mexican with three young boys all dressed in matching jackets and cowboy hats struck up a conversation.  He and his family, another child was with his German wife, were on there way to visit his family in Compeche.  It had been four years since he saw his parents.  He had been working and raising his family in Ontario Canada.  They had been traveling all day and had a 19 hour bus ride ahead.  The children were WHITE with rosy cheeks, blond hair and handsome.  His parents had never met the family. He arrived in Canada a number of years ago with no English speaking skills.  He said the first two years were hard for him. We bid goodbye and I was off.

        I arrived in Oaxaca around 6:30 pm by bus from Mexico City. A taxi lady greeted me just outside the station with a smile.  I asked how much to my condo and I thought she said 50-60 pesos.  Good enough as we loaded my two suitcases and my hand bag into the taxi along with me.
      She was an aggressive and excellent driver.  We passed everything in sight at 60 mph with the windows down, the sun setting, and all while she was texting.  
      We arrived at my front door greeted by Butch, my semi pet dog that sleeps out in the driveway all day and night.  I swear he remembered me as soon as I started to unlock the door.  He jumped up and waddled over , tail wagging and a smile. 
      I had little change so gave her 100 pesos and she claimed she had no change so I drew out what I had in coins and told her to take what she needed.  She returned my 100 peso and took 10 pesos!  One dollar.  I kept my hand out with the money and she said thank you?
I was too astounded to take her number for rides back and forth.  I need a taxi contact I can count on in an emergency who is honest and fair.  She fit the bill…with her ability I could call her in an emergency and be at the hospital in 5 minutes!  Well I didn’t get her number but I gave her more money, then moved in to my dusty home with a few dead roaches laying around the house.  I first swept the house and unpacked.  It was midnight when I retired. 
       I awoke around 9 pm with a meeting scheduled for Noon to pay up for the  four months I was gone and the month of January…15,000 pesos…$1150.  The house in the sunlight was still dirty but everything was as I left it except a wasp nest was at my entrance.

I took the bus into Oaxaca with 9500 Pesos I left in hiding, arrived and bought my English paper from Hector,who owned the corner news stand in Llano Park.  We exchanged handshakes and greetings.  I was feeling at home. Llano Park had the Friday market going on.  I was strolling through the stalls when Kay called out to me.  We were having lunch and were to meet at the library with Helen at 1 pm.  We exchanged welcomes and agreed be at the library. 
           The HSBC ATM gave me the rest of the rent and my spending money for the month.  Teresa greeted me at Las Mariposa Bed and Breakfast with a hug and a kiss.  We exchanged pleasantries and I gave her the money while she gave me the receipt . She asked if she could send Usi , her handyman out to clean the place for me tomorrow at 11 am. I love Oaxaca.   I thought that a nice gesture and accepted.  Usi stopped by the office on his way out to say hello and ask if there were any problems at the condo.  I forgot to tell him about the wasps.  He left and I went to the library where Bill, one of the volunteers I met last 4th of July prepared an English Muffin and Yogurt for me at there little snack bar.  Helen greeted me and again we exchanged welcomes.  We last saw each other in Rochester , N.Y. last September when I showed up with Penny from Attica where we had our 5oth H.S. class reunion. I introduced Helen to Kay and we were off for Isabella’s and lunch.
      We had a wonderful lunch and conversation about the last few months, plans for our stay, and immediate travel plans as well as current events in Oaxaca to share. Helen is taking Spanish lessons daily, Kay is going to a Writer’s Conference and will be in San Miguel Allende when I’m there in February.  It was late in the afternoon when we parted from Kay’s studio where we went to see her new flower garden and upgrades. 
       Tomorrow, Saturday, I was to wait for Usi and thought I would come back with him to finish my shopping and get stocked up at Walmart and Sam’s Club for the next few months.  I hopped a bus but there had been a road block that morning protesting something and it was still on.  I got off the bus quite a ways from the condo and started walking.  I needed a bathroom but just had to get by.  I had walked about a mile when the road block was taken down and I hopped another bus for the last mile.
      A Moto Taxi took me to my door after we stopped to pick up 2 five gallon bottles of water from my local convenience store.  I was tired after my first day of walking back in Oaxaca.  I ate the only thing I had…Ramen Noodles washed down with Mescal and Gatorade. A short chapter in Cormac McCarthy’s book and sleep came by 10:30.                                                              Saturday morning I was planning my day over coffee.  Shop, drop laundry, etc, when Noon arrived without Usi.  It was unusual for him to be late.  I had emailed Teresa the night before to inform her of the wasps nest over my entrance so Usi could check it out.  He arrived and I suggested the Pest control.  After telephoning Teresa and informing her he was bit twice already so help was in order.  In less than one hour the Oaxaca Fire Department showed up with two men with head masks and gloves.

 They took a bag and placed the nest into it and offered it to me.  I could hear some real angry wasps and thought about throwing it over the balcony at my barking dog of Teresa’s daughter, who happens to live below me.  I gave them 200 pesos as a tip to take the bag with them.  I offered Usi some Gatorade and he offered me a Tortilla with nopales , Oaxaca cheese and chilis…we share lunch after warming it in the Microwave.  Usi speaks no English and I speak little Spanish.  I showed him photos of Laos and we communicated Spangish. Both of us agreed to help each other with our language skills.   Usi finished his cleaning after two hours and took me on the back of his motorcycle to Teresa’s.  Her daughter reimbursed me 100 pesos that the fire department charges for that service.  I didn’t know. We bid adios.

             I was shopping for more bug spray and wanted to print out my bank statements. It was too late as all was closed after 4 pm on Saturday.  I couldn’t go to Walmart and get back before dark. I walked the old city to the Zocola then to the Opera house to get the schedule for an up coming Mexican film festival.  Then I stopped at my favorite restaurant,  Biznaga’s for a Tamale with turkey in Mole sauce with nuts, raisins, and wine of course.  They all said welcome back and came over to greet me.  A Deli like sandwich menu had been added so I ordered two Tortas to take home for back up.   
          My legs had pained me walking but I persisted knowing that last summer I overcame the pain here.  I boarded the bus and a few stops later, a young man sat next to me.  Both of us had to sit sideways because there was no room for our long legs.  He commented and asked where I was from. He spoke very good English and had went to summer camp last year in Manchester N. H., visited Boston and spent some time in New Jersey before returning to Oaxaca .  His dream is to study martial arts in Japan. He studied Tae Kwon Do and loved it.  We talked about Americans coming to Mexico and Mexicans going to America.   We will all be one someday. 

    When I arrived at the condo…all the wasps were gone…I thought.  I sat outside watching the moon rise over the mountains until 7:30 when I came in to write this.  One last wasp dive bombed me but I got the last survivor before he could bite me. 

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