LAST POST…OR FAMOUS LAST WORDS

I hope to spend my last days here playing pool or sitting around the cafe’s sipping wine and socializing with my friends.   I have to keep blinders on to do that.  So much going on…so yesterday I did nothing but pick up my laundry.

Today I was on my way to try a restaurant in the North of town.  I took a bus to Llano Park then was going to take a taxi to but…..they were all in Llano park and not going anywhere.

 This was Fiesta de Taxi.  Bands playing, all the taxis in Oaxaca I think were there and decorated to celebrate.  The drivers were dressed in their starched white shirts with the emblem of the area of Oaxaca they serviced on the Pocket and shaking hands with their compadres.

HELP I HAVE FALLEN AND CAN’T GET UP

ALOHA

COME UP AND SEE ME SOME TIME?

HEART CLINIC

HAVE TO COME BACK HERE TO WATCH THE ACTION

AND HERE FOR THE SUSHI

FINALLY…AND I HAVE TO FILL OUT MY OWN ORDER WITH SEPARATE CHECK


        So I walked, took a break, walked, took a break, asked directions…and finally arrived with a half hour before I was to meet Darcy in the Zocalo.  I placed my order and perused the Menu while sipping my coffee and fresh Orange juice.

 My Blue Corn Tortilla came filled with egg and cheese mix wrapped in an Avocado Leaf or something like that …the then wrapped again in the Tortilla.


 Very tasty.  I ordered a Corn Quesadilla to go…paid the bill and took a Taxi to the Zocalo. 
        The driver  had his Taxi all decorated and said this was their day to honor their profession. The Day of the Taxi.   The Taxis were back on the street and the procession was now joined by dancers and had arrived at the Zocalo.  So he had to drop me off before my stop because of the celebration. 

      I passed a make shift theater where Cartoon story was being shown for the children.   I visited and shared my Quesadilla with Darcy while we were serenaded by a talented singer, then headed home. 

Sunday I bused to Llano park and stopped at Zoe’s on the way to say hello.

 She joined me to visit the Organic Market but they didn’t have a lot of what I wanted so after listening to a nice Guitarist and having some cafe we walked back to Contessa Park and she pointed out Riviere which was closed then Nona’s that we stopped in for a Mushroom Quesadilla before saying goodbye and returning home.

Gadi arrived Monday for our lesson but after I stayed home.  Tuesday again we did some lessons but her last day would be Thursday so we spent a lot of time talking about travel and movies.   I will miss her visits.  
Tuesday I ventured out for Comida at Riviere

then after a nice coffee with Roasted Pork, Organic Salad, and Oven baked sticks of Potato and a Creme Brule I started home with a light rain falling. I noticed a Blind man with a walking stick…being followed by a blind woman…the blind leading the blind.

 I had my umbrella out when I saw Mike across the way.  We talked about an musical weekend coming up then parted.  I was going to the market but after arriving at the Zocalo the rain turned into a down pour that lasted an hour.

 There was a protest demonstration that broke up before a revolution took place and we all headed for the shelter of Importador Restaurant where Chris was just finishing lunch.  We sat while I drank a couple of Mexican Coffees with Tequila while the protesters shared the shelter…except for one loner.

The rain stopped along with the river running by in front of us and I returned home.  I stayed up too late.

Wednesday Gadi and I had a pleasant conversation with some Spanish thrown in and agreed to meet tomorrow at Black Coffee while Adelina cleans the condo.  I fiddled with trying to do a slide presentation on my computer that according to Google was just hacked…so an hour later after running a Virus program and cleaning up the computer…
        I left for Biznaga where I had a Chili Nogada stuffed with Walnuts and Ground Pork that was delicious

before witnessing an incredible roller blade skater navigating some cones in front of the Catedral…she and her partner were awesome.
          I saw Richard with a friend from Tijuana just leaving Importado to stopped and had a Tequila last call before returning home.  Richard is Ceramic designer or “Potter” so I asked about getting a dish I can bake with.  He suggested a basic clay pot called an “Ollo”.  They left, I left.

NON WORKING MOTHER

WORKING MOTHER

TAKING DOWN THE FLAG

                           PREPARING FOR THE WEDNESDAY DANZA IN THE PARK.

Last lesson with Gadi before I leave.  We didn’t study hardly at all.  She is leaving for Bogota and we will have lunch when she returns before I leave.  I may take Spanish lessons with her on Skype from Arizona.  I returned to discover Adelina forgot this was her day to clean…so tomorrow she will come
         I decided to have dinner at Tapas y Vino.  You get a Tapas with every glass of wine.  I ordered Lebanese Pizza with Salad and had 4 Tapas…you do the math.

Very good for $12.
     
Adelina cleaned today while I shopped at the only Pachote Organic Market I had not been to and the best of the three.

 The Korean lady bakes outstanding Brownies, Cookies, Crackers, Dumplings, Pizzas, Rice Cakes, Cakes of all kinds, Muffins, Bread…it is Heaven.  Her assistant heats up Special Orders, like the Dumplings and Pizzas.

 I ate one of her Dumplings then bought the best Whole Grain homemade Garlic Crackers to go with my Cheese, a Muffin and a bottle of homemade Apple Cider Vinegar.  I will be shopping here every week when I return this Winter.

 was

I was to meet Hector for lunch today at the Boulenc Bakery.   We met when I arrived and he was just finishing Teaching at the local University and was off for the summer.  Now he was returning next week to start the new semester.  We hadn’t seen each other for the whole summer.  I got there early because I wanted the Breakfast English Muffin.  They stopped serving Breakfast at one o’clock…so I was sipping my coffee when Hector showed up.  We had a nice lunch and caught up on things and returned home.
PRETTY CLASSY COMMENT BOOK FOR GUESTS…LEATHER BOUND AND ETCHED.


Today I join Zoe and her son Josh and his wife for dinner at Pitiona .  The Chef worked under Adria Ferren  the Chef Owner of El Bulli in Spain.  One of the best Restaurants in the world since closed.  Goes to show…it is a business and has to make a profit to survive.
       I ate at Pitiona just after they opened and wasn’t impressed but we shall see.  Josh has been the Chef a a prestigious private club in Hong Kong for 10 years now.  He gets to write off some of his trip.  I miss that fringe benefit when I was an owner.  It will be a nice evening. 
     I arrived a little early and was seated at our reserved table.  Zoe, Josh and his wife Pauli joined me shortly.  We choose a 6 course tasting menu and sat back while the food kept coming for 2 and a half hours.  It was entertaining way to dine.  We mixed it up and shared each other’s dishes so I can’t tell you what was what but only that most of it was outstanding.


I walked home as my back had bothered me yesterday and today.  I have never suffered any back problems and suspect it was a strain when I lifted the 5 gallon water into the dispenser 3 days ago and had been getting worse each day.  Today I could hardly stand from a sitting position.  Felt good after dinner, wine and the walk home.

Today I stayed home except for a brief walk to get some exercise and have lunch at Sabor’s.
Half eaten Vegetable and Fruit Salad with coconut, carrots, cukes, watermelon , cranraisons, mango, jicama, etc.




 Not bad for $4.

 I was in pain all day.  

Tuesday felt better but again…I stayed home all day then left to meet for another culinary gathering at Origin, a very upscale nice Oaxacan Restaurant.  The Chef had met Josh so was there to welcome us and stopped a couple times at the table to answer questions or see if we needed anything.  Our food and service was excellent.  We choose different appetizers , entrees, and desserts then shared them.  All was great but the desserts were the grand finale….awesome.

Corn Chowder

Sweetbreads and Hominy

Suckling Pig with Fruit

Fresh Strawberries with Strawberry Sorbet 

Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate Mouse 

HAPPY CHEF

HAPPY MOM

BEAUTIFUL EVENING….VIEW A HALF A BLOCK FROM HOME.

10 Days left so this is the last post from Mexico….It has been a wonderful summer!!

ZAACHILA MERCADO Y MUERTAS DE DIAS

 My objective to visit Zaachila for the second time was to see the Market that I heard so much about, and see the Wall of the Muertas de Dias where every October the walls from the Catedral to the Cemetery are painted with the culture of  Days of the Dead…then the following year are repainted with new Art.

     I dropped off my laundry then walked to the Collectivo pick up for Zaachila. 6 passengers in a 5 passenger car, no A/C high humidity and rain …only 20 minutes and we arrived. I just took photos for 2 hours, then returned.
ZAACHILA STREET ART AND THE DAY OF THE DEAD

   


                                                                     THE MARKET


A GOAT

TINY MANGOS

SHOO FLY

BAMBOO


THE CEMETERY 


MY LAST MONTH OF SUMMER IN OAXACA 2017

I am optimistic that my Spanish will improve and perhaps I might even get in a few games of pool this month.  Gadi and I changed the schedule now she has moved into her new apartment in Tule…and hour by bus away.  Next week she will start coming in the late afternoon.  It will probably be better for me too.  
Thursday I met with Zoe at Cabuche for a nice Comida consisting of a very nice salad, Albondigas Rellenes y Huevos (Pork Meatballs with a quail egg inside) and coffee.

 I returned home for the evening and attempted to make a Hot Pot Japanese Soup in my new casserole dish.  I spent an hour chopping Yellow bell peppers, Shiitake Mushrooms, fresh Bacon, Cabbage, spring onions, fresh peas,  red onions , garlic, fresh baby organic carrots, fresh ginger, all mixed in with a broth of Bonito Fish then baked in the oven for two hours…like a Crock Pot the porous ceramic pot with lid evenly simmered it perfect. BUT…though I had seasoned the pot by soaking it in water for two hours then putting it into the oven with water in it for another hour, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I took the lid off.  There was a dark brown moist liquid secretion from the dye or stain or seal that was put on the casserole when it was fired in the kiln that came out of the ceramic.  I wiped it off and tasted it but it didn’t seem toxic nor did it seep into the soup.  I scooped it all out of the dish and decided the dish was not good for cooking so I will use it as a planter for my new project…Mini Cacti decor for the house.  I had a small bowl and after an hour I had no poisoning so decided it was OK to eat but still lacked flavor.

I retired early since I met Gadi at 8:30 AM because she was moving yesterday, so slept late today.  I felt good so quickly showered and headed for the organic market to buy some compost for my new ” casserole planter” .

MEZCAL UNDER THE BELL JAR

GOOD DOG TRAINER

 I then headed for the Bakery and bought some bread had my morning coffee and a rich Blueberry Muffin.

 Then off to the Importador where I ran into an event teaching and playing Mayan games to children and adults.  


BINGO WITH CORN

                                                                                 SPIN THE TOP WITH A WHIP

to meet Darcy for a lemonade before backtracking to the Contemporary Art Museum

then on to meet Barbara at Biznaga.  She had been away for the summer in Illinois and was now looking for a new place to settle down in Oaxaca in.  She just applied for residency in Mexico but still wants to return to her home in Northern US for the good summers.  We had a nice conversation then I left to see a French Photo exhibit at the Oaxacan Library before taking a taxi home.

PALACE OF THE POPES…AVIGNON FRANCE 

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL PARIS

 
       This evening there was a Violin  Jazz concert at the same Library so returned at 7…took a photo, joined my friend Mike who was with Naomi…then left after the first song.  The violin Jazz also included a Guitar, Keyboard and all the musicians were good but they all seemed to be playing a different loud tune.  

      I went to the Importador again for Vegetarian Lasagna, took some photos of a lady with fresh flowers arranged in her hair like a Tiara..looked weird from the back but nice from the front, bought a cricket made from a Palm frond, watched the world go by and returned home a very happy man.

Cub Boy and Explorer Scouts…and Girl Scouts

TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HER HAIR?

BOUGHT FROM THE CRICKET MAN

TRIED TO TAKE IT TO QUICKLY SO SHE WOULD NOT SEE ME MESSED UP THE TIARA OF FLOWERS

ME AMIGO AND WAITER ROLANDO

MY NEW CRICKET

BOUGHT A NEW BOX AT THE MUSEUM…I LIKE IT

Today I get to try Arte Comible, an sort of Italian gourmet restaurant in Colonial Reforma that a friend, Annalisa recommended and wanted to try also.  I will meet her there.
    She invited a neighbor from Ithaca N Y and her visiting Grandchild.  The four of us took up most of the restaurant.

 Small…like 8-10 seats…  The four of us shared a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Savignon. We had Tuna Cappaccio for an app…very good. One person had Cannolis, like crepes but I forgot what was in them…very good.

I shared Osso Bucco Raviolis and small potatoes with perfectly cooked breast of Chicken with a Cream Pesto sauce…which I thought was outstanding.

  Blackberry Cheesecake with Espresso and Tiramisu (little too rich for me) but good.

Late afternoon it was pleasant on ground level open to the street but flies were a problem.  He lives out near Monte Alban and opens 9 am to 5 Tues to Sunday.  I hope to try his breakfast next week…no printed menu…so small he just makes what is needed on a daily basis and recites it.  Breakfast, I think he has a blackboard.


Monday I stopped in the park to listen to a good Sax and Guitar Duo

then exchanged my computer mouse that didn’t work for another…that didn’t work.  Gadi came and we chatted more than practice Spanish…but I enjoy that too.  I retired early so I could get out of the house tomorrow ASAP.  Too hot in the afternoons to be in the Sun.


Well he doesn’t have a blackboard or a menu.  I took the bus and got off closest to the Restaurant then took a taxi for $2 so saved a bit.


 He wasn’t there (only in Charcoal..on left) but his Oaxacan born beautiful and smiling wife offered me something in Spanish that sounded like biscuits and eggs?  I agreed and ask for coffee while I was waiting.  First came the Biscuit with Strawberry Jam, Strawberries, Apple and Cottage Cheese

…then came the Ham and Cheese Omelet that I guess I ordered with fresh Vegetables.

 All was good.  I ordered another Lavazza Cafe and sat outside for 5 minutes before the light rain started.  I returned, finished my delicious coffee and paid the bill $4.

       The rain stopped so I started the walk back and spotted his competition.

A little further I discovered another section of the Aqueduct built by the Dominicans in late 1500’s or early 1600’s to bring water from the Sierra Norte Mountains to the city of Oaxaca…amazing feat that I believe took almost 20 years …with slave indigenous labor of course.  I took a few photos before finally getting a taxi to the computer store…$2.

GIVE ME BACK MY CULTURE

   The same clerk showed me how to put batteries in properly to make the mouse work.  DUH.  I couldn’t see the + or –  signs.  I walked the short distance home.

      I had the whole afternoon to play with my computer and enjoyed a cool beautiful morning.  I have to get out early more often. Gadi came and we studied some and chatted some.  

    Today I overslept but left for Zaachila on a collectivo Taxi as planned.  I arrived at the Mercado and was overwhelmed. It was huge, easy to get around and you wanted to buy all those fresh fruits and vegetables…BUT I have too much at home.  It was impressive…I could not resist the heritage tomatoes and the FRESH ginger.  I took 130 photos and returned the same way but got off right next to my house…round trip $1.30.  I’m going to close out this post because Zaachila will be a post of it’s own.  Next!


END OF THE GUELAGETZA AND THE START OF AUGUST

            I have the weekend free from Spanish lessons. I walked to Biznaga tonight for Salad,Soup and  two nice glasses of Mexican Merlot…all for under $20 and too much to eat.  I took most of the chicken salad home.  No Phone no Camera No photos. 
      Stopped at Importador for a Don Julio Tequila.  I have never seen a night in Oaxaca with so many parades, bands, weddings, funerals, and events going until wee morning.  It was crowded, noisy and lots of fun.  Gerardo, one of the waiters, lived in Northern Wisconsin for 12 years after migrating there to work.   Snow country.  He is in his 30’s and was deported with his family just this year.  
        I passed by a vagrant glue sniffer inhaling his bag as I passed.   First time I have seen that in Oaxaca….Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria…yes especially among the Gypsy’s. I still made it home by 9.

     There was so much Chicken in the leftover salad I just added it to my Homemade Vegetable soup for Breakfast.  I dropped of my laundry but they are so busy she said I would have to wait till Monday instead of the usual 5 hours.  I walked on to a Tienda to buy some Pineapple/Mango Jam and ended up with a jar of Peaches too.

 Mother and daughter from Octalan. Stopping off at the Pablo Cultural Center they had a sale on handy crafts and I added a belt to my shopping bag from another Mother Daughter from another village.

 One more stop at the phone store to buy a replacement charging cable for my phone.  The last one was defective. On the way home…




    I arrived home to find out my daughter may not be coming to visit in two weeks as her sprained ankle doesn’t seem to be healing like the podiatrist predicted. I’ll know by August 1st.
   I returned to watch the parade but the crowds were so congested I couldn’t move and more kept coming with at least another 1/2 hour before the procession reached us.

 I went to the Importador and watched the world go by while hearing the Rockets and Fireworks from the parade.  I finally broke down and bought some Nut Candy from this lady with the most beautiful smile and her son that hauls the candy around on a large display tray.

  I was in a buying mood and hungry so ordered some Vegetarian Lasagna.  It was delicious.

 While I was eating I observed a young lady…and there are a lot of children working every night and day…trying to sell this lady.  


She gave a sincere pitch, listened to the lady’s objections then responded and made the sale.  As she left she made the sign of the cross.  When they make the first sale of the day, they do that to give thanks and hope their will be more sales.  It is a compliment as a buyer to be the one that made that persons first sale because she is asking God to bless you too!
     On the way home I passed an attractive lady that stopped me in my tracks.  I looked back and she was inviting me with her beautiful eyes.  I carried her image home with me along with a long forgotten fantasy.

    A Huetacoche (Corn Fungus), Parmesan cheese and Tomato Omelet started the day.

HUETACOCHE WITH ONIONS AND GARLIC

…WITH TOMATO AND SPINACH

…WITH TWO BASTED EGGS ON TOP

..AND THE FINALE…TOPPED WITH PARMESAN CHEESE

     I took the bus to the Organic Market where a Clown entertained us.

 I bought some Green Tomatoes, Cucumber and Elephant Garlic before leaving.   
    I then  visited the Stamp Museum and bought some Chocolate and an Argentinian Spinach and Feta Cheese Empanada to take home.

  A band was playing when I came out. Checking out the events of the day, I discovered a friend of mine who has a band is playing a the Pablo Cultural Center at 4 pm.  I was going to dinner at 3 pm to Arte Comible , a gourmet Italian Restaurant but my date emailed earlier to say she couldn’t make it and would like to try next week.  I agreed and took the bus home to freshen up before the concert at 4 pm.  
       I caught up a bit then took off for the concert.  I arrived at San Paulo Cultural Center early and the Artisans were still set up selling their wares…so I bought another belt from the same lady.  I liked the quality , craftsmanship, weaving pattern, natural dyes, and the fit is good.  

PRACTICING SELFIES

CHURCH DINNER

PAPAS FOR SALE

       There were but a few when I arrived and I could hear Emilio, my friend that owns the restaurant Sol y Luna,  in the back tuning up so I popped in and said hello.  Ten minutes later he came out and reviewed his plans for tonight’s concert.

 The group followed and soon they played to about 60 people.  It was like pieces from classical orchestra compositions for a horn section.  Listen to Bandia del Sur for yourself.  Sound quality on a camera is not good.    

    I decided to go right home after because I had forgot my key to the front gate and wanted to get there while everyone was around to answer the door for me.  Well no one was around! I spotted the owner Elisandro and his wife, Theresa out walking in the street.  She had been sick so he’s been back taking care of her.  I went over to greet them but before I could ask if anyone was there to let me in, he reached in his pocket and handed me his keys!!!   I was astounded at his intuitiveness and amazed.  I thanked him , arrived and let my self into an EMPTY compound.  I have never in two years seen that.  Later that evening he arrived with his wife’s keys and yelled up for his with a smile.  I love Oaxaca. 

     Monday I was back to my morning lessons and it was the last day of the Guelagetza. I stopped at a Sushiitto that Tom had told me about.  It was quite good.  I had some Shiitake Mushrooms and Soup.

 Later that evening I had one of my favorite dinners.  An Avocado, Orange, and Tomato salad with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar …Sea Salt and Ground Peppercorns.
When the last performance of the Guelaguetza ended the fireworks began…I went to the roof but out local fireworks ended so I tried to capture the FIREWORKS

          The next day, Gadi came to my condo to give the lesson.  It was easier for her and better hearing for me.  I returned some shirts to the store that was next to the Sushi Place so ate Sushi Rolls on Special…2×1 .   Cost $6 includes tip.

 The carnival was still going on……



Wednesday Gadi was late and as she was leaving to meet her Mother, the rain started very lightly.  I offered my umbrella but she felt confident in her wide brimmed hat that she would be fine.  Just after she departed the rains increased along with the winds and a huge drop in temperature.  I changed out of my shorts and put on my flannel shirt…still the rain kept coming until an hour later it cleared and the sun came out.  I left for the Tamale and Tejate Festival.  
      The temperature by the time I arrived had returned to 80% and the place was crowded.  I got a Tejate (Mayan beverage made from Maize, Coco Beans, Spices, Pepper and more that is made into a paste then brought to town and water added to complete the drink) to drink. It takes over 3-5 hours to make and was a favorite of the Zapotec Kings.  Very nutritious also. 
THERE WAS DANCING AND MUSIC

CLICK TO LISTEN

I waited my turn in the now standing room only Tent.  Most had sold out and were trying to bring in back up Tamales.  People were going for Quesadillas made to order. I finally scored two …a Pollo Tamales and a Mole Tamales then exited the tent for some shade against the church on the steps along with others.


ANOTHER SELFIE..GETTING BETTER.

There were the usual street performers on the way home

AND THE PROTESTERS

Today I met Gadi at our usual Black Coffee place because Adelina was cleaning my condo. I met Bill later for Comida at Terranova then he came over to see if we could hook up a Bluetooth Audio device to my TV.  Now I know I need to get an Optical cable with a analog converter to hopefully make it happen.  We had a nice visit then he caught the local bus to Santa Rosa while I tried a new rooftop place but they served no wine and the food selection was not to my liking. 


     It’s Saturday and I played with the computer and am now on my way to a butcher shop for bacon to go with my Avocado and Eggs.  He sliced the bacon then some real ham for me to take home.  I need a little meat to supplement my new pseudo vegan diet. 
    I stopped to buy some cabbage and mushrooms for an Oriental Soup I hope to make with my new Ceramic Casserole dish I also bought for $6.
     It was a nice afternoon so I sat out to get some real Olive Oil and some Miso…but my Health Food store only stocked crap oil and no Miso. I headed for the Zocalo for a glass of wine.  A street salesman around 16 y.o. stopped me and started speaking in English.   









        He was a young man and his father was Zapotec and his mother Mixtec.  He spoke both along with Spanish and English but wanted to improve his English.  We chatted a bit and he impressed me as a very intelligent young man.

       I ordered a my wine at Importado.   While reading and sipping the rain came and the temperature dropped. I noticed 2 young backpackers that spoke English so introduced  myself to discover they were traveling university students from Switzerland that had been this way before…to Peru and Ecuador.  They were on their way to Guatemala and wherever the road took them. One had a Dad that worked for an Airlines so had been traveling on a discount as much as he could.   While we were conversing Pat showed up from her trip to El Salvador, Guatemala , and Nicaragua for the last two weeks.

 She just arrived on a collectivo from Puerto Escondido and was waited for her Significant Other Don to pick her up.  He arrived and the Swiss bid goodbye.  We had last call and all returned home.

The people of Oaxaca.    Day in the life of one.  A good read.

Sunday…a day of rest…did a bit of shopping..watched 60 Minutes and the end of the day.

Monday lessons then I met Annalisa for Comida at Tasty Vin…but it was opening and they were closed.  When we protested to the cook..she said the manager never showed up to open.  Cardinal Sin in the Restaurant busy…you post hours you keep them.

 We choose Tres Bistro where she had the Octopus and I the Salmon. After we stopped at Importador for a glass of wine and a boot shine.  Our goal is to have Comida at Arte Comible but taking a rain check.
       I returned home to discover my daughter will NOT be able to visit.  Her sprained ankle has increased it’s swollen condition and the Doctor advised her against flying and to stay off her foot as much as possible. Big disappointment but perhaps at a later date.

Today another lesson…mostly we talk a lot about us rather than do practice.  We are striving to change that. 
              I played on the computer until late afternoon when fireworks and rockets started going off in my neighborhood.  Then a band started up and I looked out across the roof and could see a parade so grabbed my camera and discovered Theresa , Adelina and our day worker all on the roof watching the wedding dance.

              I arrived just as the rain started and was giving up after a few photos when I started down the stairs and Adelina was coming up with two umbrellas.  I took one and returned to photograph more but got her umbrella stuck in the Concertina Barbed Wire.  

I gave up and returned to change my clothes and dry off while Theresa was still there alone waiting for Adelina to return and help her down.

 She did and I took them over some soup to heat up for them to eat.  The temperature went down and it was chilly.  Then after about an hour of a REALLY good rain.  It stopped and the music started again.  I was going to walk over and get some real street photos when it stopped and I assume they were inside eating?


Until next time…Adios mi Amigos !

OUR GOVERNMENT BANS IT’S CITIZENS FROM TRAVEL TO NORTH KOREA-MY TRIP taken from group leader.

Banning Travel to North Korea is a Big Mistake

Am I overlooking something, or do these North Korean soldiers look far from threatening?

The US State Department has decided that it is ‘too risky’ to allow us our freedom to travel to North Korea (DPRK), and accordingly is outright forbidding US citizens from traveling there.
Prior to this ban, there were no restrictions on visiting, and North Korea eagerly welcomed US visitors, with a trivially simple visa application process and nothing more.
The US is the only country in the world to prohibit travel to North Korea – even South Korea allows its citizens to travel to North Korea.  And North Korea is the only country in the world to which the US has outright banned all travel.
Ostensibly this ban is in response to US citizen Otto Warmbier having become mysteriously unwell while imprisoned in North Korea, and dying shortly after being repatriated to the US on humanitarian grounds as a result of his illness.
That was indeed a terrible event and outcome.  But how severe is the risk of arbitrary imprisonment, and followed by death, for ordinary tourists, and how does that risk compare to other destinations in the world, or to remaining ‘safely’ in the US itself?

Half our group with an obligatory group photo in front of the two Kims. I’m 2nd from right..top row baseball cap.

Unlike most people with loud opinions on the topic, I’ve actually been to North Korea.  I took a group of 35 Travel Insiders on a six day/five night tour of North Korea in September 2012.
You can see a detailed photo-journal of our North Korean experiences here, and some general questions and answers about North Korea here.  If you read those two documents, you’ll know more – and more accurately – about the country than most of our ‘experts’.
And – again unlike most commentators – I’ve no hidden agenda.  Sure, I’m no expert, but who is?  My guess is that 99% of the people who claim to be experts on North Korea have never been there, so maybe, by their standards if not mine, that makes me an expert of sorts.  Most of the others are people who have left North Korea and now seek to dine out on their one-sided stories of life in North Korea, becoming part of the profitable ‘let’s hate North Korea’ community.
I should add that I also don’t wish to be seen as a North Korean apologist.  Those people definitely exist, and their tales of the ‘paradise’ of North Korea and its ‘well fed affluent citizenry’ are at least as ridiculous as those who vilify the country, its people and its leaders.
But I do want to ‘set the record straight’ and counter some of the ridiculous and hypocritical nonsense that is regularly regurgitated as if it is certain fact, and which ignores the context that, as bad as it certainly is, North Korea is no worse than dozens of other countries all around the world.
Let’s look at the reasons for the ban first, and then some broader implications and issues.

Are North Korean Prisons Unusually Bad?

I happily have no first-hand knowledge of North Korean prisons, and I’ll readily concede they are probably very nasty places.  But this is something common to many other countries for which there are no restrictions on our travel.
Midnight Express makes the point quite clearly about Turkey, and our neighbor, Mexico, apparently has prisons that are unimaginably bad, lawless, and dangerous (for example this and this account) as well as both the police and justice system which by some accounts suffer from significant levels of corruption.  Similar prison problems and corruption probably apply to most third world countries, and to major developed nations too – here’s a blood curdling tale of one American’s struggle against Russian corruption and the lethal consequences that ensued.
US prisons aren’t exactly luxury resorts, either.  Sure, we don’t expect our prisoners to experience unusual comfort, but we are obliged to afford them the basic courtesies of life, support and sustenance.
Never mind the one death in the North Korean prison.  How many Americans die in US prisons each year?  The answer – we don’t even know!  (A cynic might observe there’s probably a reason that this number is obscured.)
It seems that not only do thousands of people die in US prisons and jails each year, but also that 75% of them die before they’ve even been tried and sentenced.  While some of these deaths are for conditions that predate the person’s incarceration, there are abundant shameful stories of people being remanded in custody – prior to trial and sometimes even prior to being arraigned – and having critical medical conditions ignored and being denied treatment.  Is it fair that a person not yet charged, tried, convicted or sentenced should risk a death sentence?
As for the prevalence of lesser (but still dreadful) experiences such as prison rape, or severe injuries from attacks by some prisoners on others, one can only guess.

How Severe is the Risk of Random Imprisonment for Visitors to North Korea?

Our government wishes to protect us from people like this? Three generations of picnicking North Koreans stare – but with friendly interest – at our group as we go by.

In a word, non-existent.  Don’t let (possibly misplaced) outrage about the mysterious illness and death of the American student blind you to the stark fact that he was guilty of the crime he was accused of.  Otto Warmbier truly and of his own volition chose to commit a crime.  It wasn’t an accident or an unwitting mistake.  It was the totally foreseeable outcome of his stupidity; everyone who goes to North Korea is lectured, prior to the journey at a formal briefing session in Beijing, on how there can be severe consequences if you choose to deliberately break North Korean laws.
Although Warmbier was by all accounts intelligent and a successful student, it seems that he may have had too much to drink as part of New Year’s Eve revels in Pyongyang, and upon returning back to the hotel some time after 1am, decided to go into a restricted staff-only part of the hotel and remove a political poster from a wall in a corridor.  He didn’t take it away, just left it on the floor.
That doesn’t sound like too heinous a crime, and the sentence he received – 15 years imprisonment – for an apparently drunken act seems extremely severe by US standards, but the guy wasn’t in the US.
He also absolutely did not deserve to die, by anyone’s standards of justice, not even by the North Korean standards.  That is appalling.  But so too is the death of our own people in our own prisons, by the many thousands, every year.  Shouldn’t we be focusing on the things we can fix, first?  Shouldn’t we be getting our own house in order before we try and impose our standards on a separate sovereign nation?  (And, when we decide it is time to start demanding foreign countries provide fair treatment to US prisoners, is North Korea – with only three Americans now captive – the highest priority target for our ire?  Compare that to Mexico, where in 2001 there were over 600 Americans in prison – it would be more but for most crimes and sentences, Americans can apply to serve their time in a US rather than Mexican prison.)

Respect for the country’s leader is mandatory in North Korea. But the same is true of requiring respect for the monarchy in Thailand, too.

In other countries, things we think to be trivial and harmless may be treated much more severely, and when we visit such countries, it is their system of laws and values that apply, not ours.  For example, drug offenses that would get little judicial notice at all in the US can even result in execution in some other countries, and a plethora of ‘normal legal activities’ in the US can result in imprisonment in Muslim nations (kissing or drinking alcohol in public, for example).
This works both ways.  Things that are commonplace and normal in other countries can be severely punished in the US – bribing a police officer, for example.
Different laws and penalties apply when we travel to other countries, but that has never previously been a reason to ban Americans from choosing of their own free will to travel wherever they wished.
A key issue is that whereas in some countries, you risk being detained, arrested, and even imprisoned for capricious reasons, and in particular, for the ‘crime’ of not sufficiently bribing public officials, there is no such risk in North Korea.  Tourists who comply with the behavior expected of them have a totally trouble-free experience in return, and are treated with deferential respect by the authorities, rather than viewed as tempting targets for extortion.
Tourists who inadvertently violate one of North Korea’s requirements to show, what we’d consider back-home, to be unwarranted and ridiculous respect to the leadership, are not sent to prison, either.  I know this because one of my group unwittingly caused grave offense during our stay in North Korea.  If you don’t click over to the linked story, the bottom line is simple.  No-one went to jail, nothing bad happened.
There have of course been other US citizens imprisoned in North Korea too (the US State Department counts 16 in total for the last ten years, another source suggests 16 in twenty years, and apparently three remain in custody now), although I don’t think any others have died in custody.  These other people are generally far from naïve innocent visitors – in some cases it seems they are missionaries who were aggressively pushing the boundaries of what is permissible in North Korea and have pushed too hard and too far.
For normal tourists who feel they can exercise sufficient self-control to not go removing pictures off the walls of the hotel they stay in, a North Korean visit poses less rather than more risk than would be the case in most other non-western countries.
If the US is to start banning us from traveling to other countries, there are plenty of other countries where we face much greater risks of truly unexpected and capricious consequences than North Korea.  If dangerous prisons are a consideration, none of us would be allowed to leave home, because the US prisons are plenty dangerous, too.

The Right of Our Government to Forbid Us to Travel

Riding an escalator down to the metro in Pyongyang.  Every part of our tour was totally safe.  There was nothing the government needed to protect us from.

Underlying the travel ban is another point that also deserves examination.  It is fair to question – by what authority can the US government take away one of our most precious rights – the freedom to travel?
This question becomes all the more pressing when the ostensible reason for the ban – the danger of visiting there – fails to withstand even the thinnest of commonsense reviews.
The first amendment talks about ‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble’, a right that is understood to give us freedom to travel, so as to peaceably assemble where, when, and how we choose.  One could also argue that the reciprocal of the right to free speech is a right to listen to speech – speech is no longer effective or free if people are prevented from hearing it, and so we should be allowed to ‘hear’ (in the form of in-person visiting) speech by anyone and anywhere.
Other amendments in our Bill of Rights also touch on, albeit obliquely, our freedom to travel as we choose.  Amendment 4 allows us to be secure against unreasonable seizures and has been understood to constrain the ability of the authorities to detain or arrest us, which seems to imply that, absent due process, we have a normal freedom to travel as we wish and where we wish.  Amendments 9 and 10 clearly indicate that other non-enumerated rights exist, but that the power of the central government is restricted to only those powers specifically extended, rather than vice versa.
The Constitution itself sets forth these powers of the government in Section 8 of Article 1.  Nowhere in Section 8 does it provide any power to the government to restrict the countries we may travel to (and noting how all the founders were either immigrants or the children of recent immigrants, international travel was clearly something they were familiar with).
There is reference to being able to regulate commerce, and of course to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States, but it is totally silent on an ability to restrict the right of private citizens to travel wherever in the world they choose.
The travel restrictions that apply to our travel to Cuba have been excused and explained as being part of a trade ban – something that arguably falls within Section 8’s authorization to regulate commerce.  But the North Korean travel ban is not being imposed for that reason, it was explained as being to protect our safety.  It is unlikely that the constitutional empowerment to provide for the general welfare of the nation can be extended to an ability to prohibit travel to one particular nation due to a largely spurious claim of it being possibly and occasionally dangerous.
Furthermore, the Cuban travel restrictions – imposed by the Department of the Treasury under the authority of the ‘Trading with the Enemy Act’ of 1917, are riddled with loopholes and exclusions, and may currently be in the process of being further liberalized or even abandoned entirely.
We are unaware of any other countries which Americans are forbidden to travel to.  There are plenty of countries with warnings urging Americans not to visit (eg Yemen) but we can still travel to all such countries, no matter how severe the risk may be.  Foolish as it may be, and dangerous as it definitely is, we can even travel to active war zones in other countries (eg Syria).
Certainly, there are some countries that make it close to impossible for Americans to visit (most notably Saudi Arabia) but while the host country may not wish us to come, the US government does not restrict us from going.

Should We Travel to North Korea – Are We Supporting a Bad Country and Government?

You can bet these two boys had something to tell their parents when they got home!  Don’t unscripted contacts like this help, at a person to person level, grow better international relationships?

This is a fair question.  Are we being ‘disloyal’ to something or someone if we visit any unfriendly and hostile country?  It is definitely true that  visits to any country boosts that country’s economy and employment as a result of the visit.
On the other hand, of course, just how measurable an economic impact do the approximately 2,000 US visitors to North Korea each year currently have, and who benefits from our visit?
This philosophical question is one we’re less qualified to pronounce upon, so we’ll leave it to two former US Presidents, one Republican and one Democrat, to opine on the matter in the next point.
But, may we observe that, in general, it seems to us to be much harder to countenance war with another country when it is a country that one has visited and experienced, when the people and places seem more ‘real’ and more ‘human’.  North Korea changed in my mind from being something akin to the caricature of pure evil that its detractors love to portray it as being, to instead being a more complex and nuanced country, with decent honest hardworking citizens who were more curious about us than actively hating us.
I’ve been in Muslim countries where you palpably feel the hate and resentment exuding out of the local citizens.  I’ve been in countries where the entire population seems to be joined together in a national conspiracy to rip-off the wealthy visitors at every turn.  I felt none of these things in North Korea.  Anxiety, puzzlement, caution – yes.  And also politeness and reserved curiosity.  But irrational hate?  Not at all.
As for who benefits from our visit, it seemed that most of the beneficiaries were the employees of the places we visited, stayed in, or had meals and drinks at.  Our understanding is that the ‘trickle down’ economy was such that the money  people earned from our visiting wasn’t so much supporting each person individually in a luxurious lifestyle, but rather being spread far and thin, helping that person’s family all have a slightly less severe life.
Dare I hope that my visit helped slightly bring our two countries closer together, at a person to person level?  That’s a hope shared not just by me, but also by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, who created the concept of ‘citizen ambassadors’.

Citizen Ambassadors Do More Good than Official Ambassadors

On stage with a group of locals cheerfully waving and smiling at me. Rather than being hidden away from the locals, at times we were almost the featured attraction!

When we were present in North Korea, we were a small spark of friendship and sanity, albeit surrounded by much misapprehension.
But this is the way that freedom has been kindled and developed in other countries – by allowing the citizenry to see that the western people and lifestyle is not a threat, but rather something to admire, to appreciate, and to aspire to.
I’d like to think that none of the people we interacted with ended up feeling we were dreadful bad monsters; and hopefully most decided that we were actually decent human beings, and not as dissimilar to themselves as they’d been lead to believe.
This notion was embraced by President Eisenhower when he said in 1956 when founding the People to People program of ‘citizen ambassadors’

I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations require mutual respect between individuals

It was affirmed by President Kennedy who said of the program

… all assert a single theme – the power of people, acting as individuals, to respond imaginatively to the world’s need for peace

We, as visiting Americans, interacted with regular ordinary North Koreans every day.  We saw them and even spoke to them in the parks.  On the streets.  At the various monuments and memorials we visited, and the concerts and performances we attended.  In the hotels and restaurants and stores.  While we never had anything other than the lightest of superficial contacts, of course, even that was enough to help the local people notice our wealth, our health, and our friendliness.
So that was what we were modestly achieving as citizen ambassadors.  As for the actions of the official US ambassador to North Korea – well, there isn’t one.  The US has chosen to have no diplomatic representation in the country at all.  Our government has concentrated solely on wielding the ‘stick’ of sanctions, without offering even the slightest taste of the ‘carrot’ of friendship and support.
The utter ineffectiveness of this is no reason to double down on even tighter sanctions; surely it is a reason to reconsider and change strategies entirely.

The Best Type of Alliance and Association is Always Economic

We were very amused to note that all the computers in use here were from Dell.

The US should be encouraging its people to travel to North Korea, and should be growing its ties to the country.
There is no reason why North Korea couldn’t become another ‘Asian Tiger’ nation with a booming economy, such that it then finds itself in a position where it simultaneously has a growing middle class and realizes that the economic ties that bind it to the west (and in particular to the US) have become so strong as to make the costs of a conflict unacceptable.
Isn’t this the ultimate source of the ‘goodwill’ between the US and China – the mutual economic need and benefit by both countries to preserve a friendly relationship?  Couldn’t the same be created with North Korea?
Wealthy nations with strong middle classes have no stomach for wars, and little liking for dictatorship governments.  Wouldn’t making North Korea prosperous, rather than perpetuating its poverty, be the most effective win-win way of ensuring its future friendship?

Is North Korea’s Leadership Crazy?

It is true that the North Koreans venerate their leaders much more than we do ours. But is our vilification of them just as extreme, in the opposite direction? Is a more moderate appreciation possible?

It seems the only world leader who gets more opprobrium and insult than our own President is the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un.  Many people would have us believe that both are crazy madmen!
As for Kim Jong-Un, we are told he spends all his country’s money on developing needless nuclear weapons, while his people starve.  Anyone who disagrees with him is thrown into prison.
But how much of this is true?
The North Korean leadership is no more corrupt and no more stupid than that of many other countries all around the world, and their acts to develop nuclear weapons are rational rather than irrational.  Most of all, the ability of the leadership to impose their biased and selective world-view on their citizens is enhanced when there are fewer westerners actually present in North Korea to present a very tangible rebuttal of their claims.
Sure, they lead an extravagant lifestyle while some in their country are starving.  However, is that any different to the US?  Consider our former President, someone who went from being a community organizer to now being able to buy an $8.1 million nine bedroom house in DC (to say nothing of another home in Chicago, one in Rancho Mirage, CA,  and perhaps properties in Hawaii and New York too), while enjoying a lifestyle of luxury jet-setting around the world.  At the same time, we have plenty of starving people in our country too.
Doesn’t the excuse ‘the relatively small cost of an imperial presidency would have no effect on the huge social problems we suffer’ apply as much to North Korea as it does to the United States?
Where is the real difference between our leaders who somehow leave public office millions of dollars richer, and the leaders of other countries who also amass and enjoy enormous wealth and extravagant lifestyles?
Perhaps the pathways to the riches and the luxuries are different, but the outcomes are the same.  In one country, there is corruption and bribery.  In the other, there are speaking fees, wealthy friends, and book deals.  In one country, there are off-shore bank accounts.  In the other – hmmm, quite possibly also off-shore bank accounts, and on-shore trusts and foundations.
In one country, there are servants and military guards.  In the other country, there are better paid staff and the Secret Service.  In one country there are palaces.  In the other country, there is the White House, Camp David, 20+ car motorcades and 747 jets.
The similarities eclipse the differences.

What About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons?

Some of our group joined with the locals in a mass public dance one evening. It is hard to think these people hold any enmity or hostility to us.

We don’t deny the very real threat of nuclear attack by North Korea.
But is this threat in the form of a possible first strike by them, or in response to an attack by us on North Korea?  Our sense – our hope – is that they have no reason to launch a first strike attack on us, and would not do so. But if we attack them, should we be astonished if they do all they can to resist, and if they match our actions on their homeland with a response on our homeland, too?
The surprising truth of nuclear weapons is that they are not an expensive ‘luxury’ for a weak and impoverished country to consider.  They are the cheapest form of creating a credible military force when opposing forces are likely to be enormously more powerful.
That is why North Korea is developing its nuclear capabilities – because it lacks the economic and population base to create any other form of credible defense force to defend against a feared future attack by either South Korea and/or the US.  While on paper, the North Korean Army has more active duty troops than the South, they are poorly trained and poorly equipped, and far less effective.  In addition, the South Koreans have an enormous superiority in every respect when it comes to having modern tanks, planes, and ships.
We also note that although we hear a lot about ‘provocations’ by the North Koreans, not so much coverage is given to provocations by ‘our side’.  However, when we traveled down to the DMZ while in North Korea, we saw an apparent violation of the DMZ with a US or South Korean helicopter operating within 100 yards or so of the border, right inside the DMZ (see the photo and discussion on this page of my trip diary/photo journal).  There is no way the North Koreans could have staged that for us.
We might think that we would never attack North Korea – although it is difficult to hold that thought with the present escalating levels of rhetoric on our side; but the North Koreans are gravely concerned about what they see as a credible risk.  They feel compelled to prepare for such an event.
Will this travel ban help discourage North Korea from developing its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles?  No, of course not; if anything, it will encourage the North Koreans to accelerate their programs still further.  Withdrawing your citizens from a country is a traditional pre-cursor to initiating an attack.
The geo-political reality of nuclear weapons is that they are an essential tool for weak countries to have when being challenged by strong countries.  Every part of the US posturing to North Korea has been in the form of threats, and it is an entirely rational act on the part of the country’s leadership to feel concerned that the US may seek to impose regime change on their country – something the US has done in many other countries in the past.
There is no way that North Korea could win a conventional conflict with the US; its only rational and sensible strategy is to develop nuclear weapons.

Is The Failed North Korean Economy Proof of the Perfidy of their Government and Political System?

Farmers in the fields with an ox-drawn plow.

It is true that the North Korean economy is massively underperforming compared to that of South Korea, with per capita incomes and general quality of life much lower in the North than the South.  But is that wholly a reflection on the North Korean leadership?
After the Korean war (1950 – 1953) how many bazillions of dollars flooded into South Korea from the US?  US support has been given to South Korea in many different forms (we’re not criticizing any of it, merely pointing to its existence).  Direct foreign aid through the many different US government programs.  Commercial investment into business ventures.  Technology transfers.  Military aid.  The presence of US military forces and the boost to the local economy that comes from their presence.  Buying South Korean goods.  Private aid groups and their support.  Plus of course, the benefits of unconstrained bilateral trade and tourism.
But whereas we have directly and indirectly supported South Korea for 65 years, when it comes to North Korea, we bully the world into imposing trade sanctions on the country.  Is it any wonder the North Korean economy is so poor?
We don’t think it is accurate to solely equate the poor North Korean economy with its form of government.  Maybe all that it indicates is the harm we have been inflicting on the ordinary population of North Korea for decades.
Sure, when we read about millions of North Koreans dying of starvation in some years  when their harvests are poor, of course we recoil in horror at how a tiny coterie of elite are still leading comfortable lives in their positions of power in the country.  Articles such as this, with the headline ‘How Kim Jong Il Starved North Korea’ don’t hesitate to place the blame on how North Korea (mis)manages its agricultural programs.  Much of that criticism is true, but how often do we question whether part of the reason for poor harvests is due to our refusals to sell them farm machinery, fertilizers, harvesting, distribution and storage equipment, know-how, and our refusal to allow our own agricultural companies to do business there?
Without firing a shot, our imposition of trade sanctions means we’re in part responsible for the deaths of millions of North Koreans.

Another Clue About How to Handle North Korea

With all due respect to our State Department officials in ‘Foggy Bottom’, probably the people and country with the greatest expertise about how to deal with North Korea – and the country with the greatest ‘skin in the game’, is South Korea.
They’ve just had a change of government, and their new leadership was elected on a policy of rapprochement and a closer peaceable engagement with North Korea, and a de-escalation of aggressive rhetoric.
The US is pretty much out at one extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to the general international community’s approach to North Korea.  That of course neither makes us right nor wrong, but it is interesting to note that our approach is currently diverging from that of South Korea.

There’s No Point to Visit North Korea – They Only Show the Good Stuff

A farmer with an ox-drawn cart, and husked corn spread out on the side of the road to dry.

A common criticism of tours to North Korea is that the itineraries and the routes are carefully selected to only showcase the best parts of North Korea.  This is simultaneously right, wrong, and normal.
With very few exceptions, when have you ever gone on any tour, anywhere, that features the ghettos, the slums, the ‘bad’ and ‘dangerous’ parts of the cities you visit?
I’ve been on tours all around the world, and I’ve designed tour routes all around the world, and I’ve never been on one that didn’t do the best it could to showcase the ‘good’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘nice’ parts of the regions being visited.  Only some types of ‘adventure/danger’ touring go out of their way to put their tour members at risk.
Think of the last time you did a day tour in a major European city – what did you see?  Have you been on a tour of Paris that includes a visit to the Muslim banlieues, in a perpetual simmering state of unrest and near riot?  In Los Angeles, you can do a regular day tour, or a ‘homes of the stars’ tour of Hollywood, but you know for sure you’re never going to go anywhere near Chesterfield Square or Harvard Park, which have violent crime rates 100 times greater than in the areas you will be (comparatively) safely visiting.
So who is surprised that North Korea wishes to show the best parts of its country to its foreign visitors?
On the other hand, during the course of a typical five-day tour, including several hundred miles of travel out of Pyongyang to other towns, and through the open countryside, you of course see sights more closely approximating the reality of life and lifestyles in the country.  You’ll see horse-drawn wagons, and people working in the fields without the aid of modern machinery.  You’ll get a sense that the standards of living in the countryside are much lower than they are in Pyongyang.
But who is shocked by this?  What you see is no different to what you’ll see in the economic powerhouses of China and South Korea, and in most of the rest of South East Asia, too.  Most people, particularly in the ‘developing’ countries, lead lifestyles which by our standards equate to abject poverty and squalor.

What We Should Be Doing

North Koreans are just like us. They get dressed up, they have weddings, they take pictures. And we, in turn, are just like them. Only exposure to each other can help us appreciate this.

We need to finish our war with North Korea.
It is extraordinary that 65 years after the cessation of hostilities, we’ve not yet been able to negotiate a peace treaty.  There are several reasons for this, primarily revolving around a shared unwillingness by both North and South Korea to formally accept the notion of two separate sovereign Korean states.  They both want unification, but they each wish to perpetuate their system of government, rather than accept the other country’s regime.
Whether or not a peace agreement can be concluded, the former principal participants in the conflict – US, South Korea and North Korea – need to ensure that the current situation which anticipates (and therefore almost encourages) a sudden return to active hostilities breaking out at any minute is replaced by a more stable peace.
Why not do this by expanding the DMZ from 2.5 miles to 25 miles or even to 250 miles?  With both capitals – Seoul and Pyongyang – relatively close to the current border (25 and 85 miles, respectively), moving artillery and other forces much further away from the border reduces the perceived immediate threats for both sides.  The oft-cited claim of there being thousands of artillery pieces ready to start raining rounds on Seoul with almost no warning would cease to have its validity, and the latest developments in satellite monitoring make it easy to enforce such extended zones.
After the abject failure of aggressive economic hostilities, isn’t it time to try the other approach.  Make it so North Korea stands to lose more if it breaks out of a ‘loving economic embrace’ with South Korea and the west in general, rather than at present, where it has nothing to lose, no matter what it does or how much of an international pariah it allows itself to be and become.
Most of all, rather than prohibiting US travel to North Korea, isn’t it time to re-invigorate the concept of ‘citizen ambassadors’ and to fill North Korea with walking talking irrefutable examples of how people in the west are ordinary normal people, and eager to be friends rather than enemies.

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CELEBRATE OAXACA

Oaxaca’s La Guelaguetza two week celebration is around the corner. I thought you would like to know Oaxaca State is the third largest of 31 in Mexico and is one of the poorest. There are 8 Regions: The Coast, Canada, Tuxtepec, Mixteca, Sierra Sur, Sierra Norte, Central Valleys and the Isthmus.  Each has its own cultural identity defined by its music,  dance, songs, food and gala dress from their respective villages. 17 different languages.


I finally started “One on One” language lessons with the expert knowledge and teaching ability of Gadi Hernandez.

 I understand one on one classes better than a classroom because of my poor hearing. Learning a language and having profound hearing loss don’t exactly go good together so I think I’ve found a solution.  I will know by the end of the summer.
      We started one hour sessions 2-5 times a week depending on our schedule. The first was on the roof of the library where their is an ice making plant 50 yards away that generates enough noise to make it difficult at times to understand my Spanish speaking teacher.  She speaks fluent English but I need to hear replies to my inquiries when speaking Spanish. 

    That afternoon I stopped to see an exhibit at the Oaxaquena Cultural Center in my neighborhood.  Not much to take a photo of. 


      The next day we found Black Coffee Shop where it was nicer and will continue to meet there or at my condo if need be. 
        She waited 3 hours in the hot sun to get tickets to see Lila Downs and famous Oaxacan singer that is playing at the Guelaguetza.
        Gadi was teaching teens for four hours in Talacalula and left to catch the bus while I headed for a Comida lunch at the Terranova in the Zocalo.

 When I left I stopped to say hi to Pat and her brother Darcy who were just finishing a beer and discussing their trip on the Saturday Midnight Red-eye Bus to Guatemala with stops in Honduras and later on to Nicaragua to visit their brother. They invited me and I was tempted…$30 dollars one way.
       I went home and made a batch of Cabbage Soup and watch the rest of Steak Revolution, a great documentary about Steaks!

BREAKING NEWS:  OAXACA IS THE 6TH BEST CITY IN THE WORLD FOR 2017 ..the first was San Miguel de Allende…both in Mexico and the same year Mexico got ranked the 2nd most dangerous country in the world next to Syria.

          This weekend started off with Festival de Mole at the Emotomical Gardens at Santa Domingo.  Different representatives from the State of Oaxaca were taking turns talking about their pueblo and where they lived.

I passed some dancers doing a film for some Mexican Rock star Video on my way.



I entered through the side door around 2 pm and paid my 700 pesos, around $40 then an “usher” took me through the gardens into a large tented area where she sat me at my assigned seat at one of about 35 tables of 10 set up under the tent.



YES THAT IS A CRICKET TACO AND IT IS GO

Live Music was playing on stage and when a waiter didn’t approach I found “Pedro” who was quick to bring me some appetizer’s to start and a Mescal glass with a beer.  Drinks were free and food was all you can eat but Moles are filling and there were over 20 of them being offered from restaurants all over the state of Oaxaca.



I ASKED THEM TO SMILE WITH THEIR MASKS ON…ONE TOOK IT OFF.

 My table was full of friendly Mexicans.  Some were here from Pueblo and later, politely remarked they liked Pueblo Moles better.


 Everyone in the place was enjoying themselves.  You had to get in the buffet line to get your Moles with Rice as an accompaniment. That was it.  The Moles varied with ingredients from Chicken, Beef, Turkey, Pork, Green Beans, Asparagus, etc.  I was late so when I went through the first time, very little had any substance.  They were mostly just the sauce.  My second trip, after they restocked the double lines, was more successful.

PRICKLY PEAR NEVERIE WITH VANILLA  ICE CREAM

 I left around 5 pm bloated with beer, mescal, and Moles.  



Today I stopped at Cafe Traditional to try there breakfast.  I had my breakfast smoothie but it was around 1:30 ….It was good but my eggs were overcooked and the food arrived lukewarm.

 So much for that place. 

 The Convito was having a BBQ that I was interested in checking out.

 It had sold out but they invited people to “hang out” so I took some photos and then went to Llano Park for the Festival de Mescal…open until 3:45 AM.  

CARTEL RECRUITS…THEY WERE VERY NICE AND A BIT BUZZED ON MEZCAL


        I paid my 40 pesos for unlimited small samples and wandered around for around an hour while “sampling” and watching the entertainment but rain was coming so I decided to forgo the parade.  That was the next event.  I took the bus home in the rain.  Five people came to the back of the bus and sat next to me.  I noticed they spoke English and were acting like tourists in town for the weekend.

 I was right…Med Students from Northwestern University that were on a special program for 8 weeks in Mexico City and decided to visit Oaxaca for the weekend. One from Mexico City, another from El Salvador, two orientals and another from Chicago.  The one from Chicago comes to Phoenix to visit his snowbird parents over Christmas at their condo and loves to ski in Utah and Colorado.  Nice students. The rain let up as I arrived so debated going to the Zocalo and seeing the Parade arrive when I read the teachers are back camping in the Zocalo. Turned out the parade went on but the route was changed.  I heard that and got a photo


compliments of Shannon Shepard and her blog View From Casita Colibrí  That must be a nightmare as there is a Carnival with children’s rides in the Zocalo for the weekend.  I will check that tomorrow. Shannon also went home rather than get soaked. 
         This festive time of the year there are lots of fireworks and rockets at night.  I was lulled into the background explosions when a bolt of lightening almost lifted me off my chair.  So don’t mess with Mother Nature!

     This afternoon I visited to Zocalo to find a Carnival atmosphere with Music, activity of all the visitors mixed with the Protesting Striking Teachers that permitted Oaxaca to collect it’s garbage after a week of it piling up, in return for occupying the Zocalo along with all the tourists.  I guess they wanted the attention?  All the children’s rides were removed and replaced by paid protesters to move into tents and under make shift awnings.
        I decided to have dinner at Tres Bistro.  I enjoyed a nice Tuna Steak and Veggies. The complimentary Chocolate Kisses and the Ice Cream (the first this year) will take me a month to work off but I don’t care.  I returned home to bed early so I can prepare for my Spanish lesson tomorrow.The carnival was entertaining people while the protested sat in their tents.  There was a concert to watch and games to play. 

YELLOW CHERRIES SERVED WITH CHILI PEPPER …TASTED LIKE SWEET PARMESAN CHEESE

PUT THE LIME IN THE COCONUT AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING

SOUP KITCHEN FOR PROTESTERS

IMPRESSIVE FIREWORKS THIS EVENING


      I did my Spanish lesson then attended a lecture on buying over the internet in Mexico.  I didn’t need to buy anymore and learned a bit but it was hot so I cancelled my plans to attend the Gastronomic Festival at Soledad Catedral and returned home.
     The BIG SHOW went on tonight in the Guelagetza Auditorium on the hill overlooking the  city.  I watched some of it on TV live broadcast then when it ended around 9 pm Fireworks went off for 15 minutes straight.  I think when the last BIG SHOW ends on next Monday night, it will be the same.

    I met Gadi for another of my daily lessons which seems to be helping me.  When my time was up , I mentioned I was going to the Gastronomic Festival so Gadi joined me.

GADI

 It was set up nicely and I am glad it’s running a couple more days because I didn’t get to sample the Tamales or Quesadillas.  That will be tomorrow.  We shared a meat combo then returned home.



TARANTULA MAN

SPINNERS ANYONE

CHICO ADELINA

MY MINT


      End of day.


             Scheduling an hour of lessons a day for 2-5 days a week is new to me.  It has been 30 years for me.  This has been interesting…I like having a chat with someone on a regular basis but when I was free….I only called a friend when I felt like it…which was not often enough.  This may be part of the void I need in my life.  I learn and socialize at the same time with someone I really admire and enjoy.  No lose. 
        We met as usual and I stopped at one of the Fonda’s that was selling Organic, Oaxacan , coffee, grown in the shade from a Plantation in an area noted for the best coffee in the world. La Pluma.  Then I bought a small folding table or seat for the house and returned home.
        I went back out to attend a Wake at the Library for a friend, Spencer Grogan,

 I played pool with.  I knew his wife, Siobhan, the now president of the library. I stopped to print a photo I took of him last year and gave it to Siobhan.  Many of his family and friends flew down and spoke at the ceremony to honor his life.  There was standing room only of over 150 to 200 people .   He and his wife of 40 years had been living in Oaxaca for the last 7.  The ceremony was being transmitted over Skype to the friends and family that couldn’t attend. When it was over we all went upstairs to the roof where a nice buffet was waiting with Mezcal and Wine for all.

 I paid my respects and left with Bill Pumpfrey’s who did the slide presentation of Spencer’s life while live music with song played in the background.  It was an awesome tribute to such a wonderful person who left this world at 63 with Melanoma Cancer.
           Bill and I chatted while he went to catch his bus and I returned to the Gastronomic Festival determined to have the Quesadilla that was I missed yesterday.   It wasn’t as good as I expected and I was tired so stopped at the Zocalo to have a “last call” and retired early.


     The library was hosting a free lecture about immigration between the US and Oaxaca and the effort to contact missing immigrants and well as the story of those who recently were deported back to Mexico even though they had been in the states for years, held jobs , had children, contributing to society and were the Dreamers that were cooperating with Immigration in order to comply with Obama’s protection program and possible citizenship down the road.
         I saw Robert, my winter domino’s player friend who had decided to try Oaxaca in July and said he was loving it and now plans on returning next year for the summer. Zoe was there so we walked over to the Market and bought some food before returning home.
       Two of my grandsons were out selling Hot Dogs and Smores Brownies today!

                 One on the left and his brother next to him eating the profits.
…and to close this post:  One good photo by Joanie from the library….at our Fourth Celebration.


        

       



GUELAGUETZA

CULTUREFIESTAS0

Guelaguetza 2017

Every year as the calendar flicks over to July, the streets of Oaxaca start to buzz with Guelaguetza fever and the ever-colorful calles of the city fill with people, parades, the sky becoming home to an abundance of fire crackers. Celebrating its 85th year this year, the Guelaguetza brings 70 delegations from the 8 regions of Oaxaca together at the Guelaguetza Auditorium in a vibrant display of traditional dance, dress and music over two Mondays in July, known as Lunes del Cerro (this year Monday 17 and 24).
The festival isn’t confined to the walls of the Auditorium however (in fact, it doesn’t even have walls), but it spreads out across the city and surrounding villages, with local performances, calendas (parades), concerts, street food stalls and a number of different local cuisine and cultural fairs. It is a great time to experience so many of the things that are iconic to Oaxaca, from mezcal to mole and everything in between.
To help you decide, here is a selection of the best things on offer this year:
City Parades
In early July (1, 7, 8, 14) you can catch the Convite parades, which act like little announcements of the Guelaguetza. They are teasers to get the city and all the visitors excited for what’s to come. They start from the Cruz de la Piedra at 7pm. If you are in the city on these dates you will likely hear the parade coming before you see it. They are hard to miss!
To catch the parades of all the different delegations that dance through the city’s central streets on the Saturdays prior to the Guelaguetza shows, head to the pedestrian street, Macedonia Alcalá (15 and 22 July at 6pm). One-by-one the different delegations flow down towards the Zócalo, in a colorful exhibition of the dances and traditional dress from across the state. Expect firecrackers, huge puppets and brass bands and prepare to catch the gifts thrown out into the crowd.
Food and Drink
Sample some of Oaxaca’s best delicacies at the Mezcal Fair (Llano Park from July 15-25), fill your stomach with a variety of different moles at the Mole Festival (Botanical Gardens on July 14) or enjoy a selection of iconic local dishes at the Semana de Antojos (Plaza de la Danza, 18-21 July) or later in the month try a tamal or two alongside the traditional drink Tejate at the Tamal and Tejate Fair (Plaza de la Danza, July 26 and 27).
Concerts
There are a number of free concerts in the city during July, including, Lila DownsSusana HarpMexicanto and Nortec Collective. All of the tickets for these events will become available on July 10 from various distribution points including Teatro Macedonio Alcalá and Museo de los Pintores Oaxaqueños.
There is also a theatrical display of the Legend of Donaji (a Mesoamerican legend of a princess who gave up her life for the love of her people) at the Guelaguetza Auditorium on July 16 and 23 at 8.30pm. It is a vibrant show that culminates in fireworks that light up the city skies.
      
Guelaguetza Popular
As well as the huge variety of events in the city, there are a number of alternative Guelaguetzas in the towns of the central valleys on the Lunes del Cerro (17 and 24 July). These events will be held in Santa María El Tule, Villa de Etla, Zaachila, Cuilapam, and San Antonino Castillo Velasco – Ocotlán. Many of these regional towns will also hold exhibitions, fairs and markets of local products.  Click here for more information.
BUYING TICKETS FOR THE GUELAGUETZA
Tickets for sections A and B of the Guelaguetza have already sold out but you can get tickets to sit in sections C and D by lining up on the day. Make sure you get there early, as the lines are always very long.
You can follow the official Guelaguetza page on Facebook here and don’t forget to check our calendar for the best events each day.

FOURTH OF JULY AND MORE.

          Well Sandra left Wednesday and I never left the house for two days.  Just relaxing and catching up on reading , emails, photos, blog, and putting together a shopping list.  Friday
I visited Llano Market and got some food in. 

      Then Saturday I was headed to meet Darcy in the Zocalo to welcome him back from his Canadian visit and pick up some waffles he made for me. I dropped my laundry off and got there early, he got there late and ordered some food.

 I was headed for Walmart but decided to return to the house because the roadblocks by protesting Teachers had Oaxaca in a gridlock.

 I returned and after changing into cooler clothes decided to return and have a beer with him. 
      When I arrived he had already befriended a “bird” from England that I remarked on before I had left.  Victoria the “Queen” from Brighton…a bit of a Chataholic(so is another old friend from Brighton…hmm) but friendly, quick witted, young, and a bit sexy was having a beer with Darcy.  I bought the next round and later had another myself.  It was a nice lively entertaining conversation about nothing.

 Felt Good! Victoria, the sport she is, took Darcy up on a challenge to hold metal rods in each hand while the vendor cranked up the voltage on his battery to see how much she could take….I think she made an 8 of 10.  Not bad but the vendor was having a thrill out of this and didn’t want to stop until I said something like STOP!! 
     She was on Thomas Cook Travel deal from London and was headed for the beach. I gave her my card to show Boomer at “Boomers” bar in Zipolete in case.  She might get a beer on the house.  I emailed and told him I would make it good. Always help a traveler. 
    I stopped at a tourist shop on my return to buy the only Mexican decorated tissue box dispenser I have seen in Mexico.  I looked for it when I was in San Martin but it was nowhere.  Well it was sold.  I asked if they could reorder and where did it come from.  No and San Martin!…Impossible..I went everywhere there to no avail.  I gave my card and when I returned there was an email from the Manager saying I could pick up my three KLEENEX decorated dispensers Thursday if I would pay for them tomorrow.  
     

      Sunday I slept in then remembered I promised to pay in advance the 3 hand painted Tissue boxes.  $15 a piece…most I had ever paid and they would not negotiate a discount.  But is was ART!   I paid the boss for the boxes and he gave me a receipt to present the cashier when I pick up my order Thursday morning.  I think that is what he said in Spanish…we will see.    I decided to walk up to the Basilica and over to take a photo of a building that had just repainted it’s facade with Graffiti Art. They change the whole front of the building every 6 months or so. 
      

        I hiked up the hill and across the city , took the photo of the building, but it turned out I thought it was the building repainted…BUT the other similar building was up the street.

Good day for walking and I felt good as I was passing through the Zocala on the way home.  A big crowd was gathered and the Pluma Dancers will putting on a show.


      MEXICANS ARE MODEST BUT ALSO VERY PRACTICAL..DANCERS CHANGING.
         I got a few photos and watched the dancers who volunteer to do this training and dancing for  three years for their village.




I returned to watch What the Health …one of the best documentaries about our processed food industry that I have ever seen.  
      Monday is Canadian holiday of sorts so we are celebrating the Fourth on the 3rd with some surprise guest appearance and music from our own Cheap Seats. It will be held at the Oaxacan Restaurant across from where I lived in Yarterini.   I ate there on occasion.
  
    Today Zoe emailed me to tell me she was going with Chris and Rick, her neighbors, and I was invited to ride with them.  I bused it to her place and waited for Rick to pick us up. We arrived a little late, bought raffle tickets , and took our seats.

 The buffet was a huge selection of Oaxacan food for around $8…yes …all you can eat.  Beer was $1.50.  Notice the Sneeze Guards?








The band was playing the whole time except after eating when they held the drawing for lots of prizes.

COUPLE BAND MEMBERS CHATTING WITH YOUNG MAN

JOHN CALLING OUT RAFFLE WINNERS

THE SURPRISE GUEST…D T PINATA GOT AUCTIONED OFF

HIGHEST BIDDER FOR DONALD WAS A CANADIAN 

Shortly after a few more songs, the crowd started home.  

It was around 5 pm and we arrived around 2 pm so it was perfect.  Rick dropped me back at Zoe’s and I hopped a bus home.

    Zoe arrived today to visit with Adelina.  She cleans my place from around 11 – 12:30 so she  surprised her just as she was leaving.  Zoe used to live in this complex but hasn’t seen her in 2 years.  We drove over to visit Darcy at Importado. Zoe parked in the car park and we walked the short distance.

 Darcy had just left so we chatted about our travels over a couple of Margaritas and then returned back to our nests.

   Today my B Pressure was running high.  Did some exercises, took my Meds, had my smoothie and still high.  A long walk was in order. I took the bus North to Cherdaui in Reforma to shop.

 I had not been there in 3 years and was pleased to see they had remodeled and added and imported food section with fantastic selections.  No fresh foods as we have all the fresh markets here, but seasonal.  I bought some pickled ginger from Japan and Tamarind Paste from Thailand.  Three hours late I returned home by Taxi, with three bags of groceries.  I had to finish defrosting the refrigerator (you remember that?) before unloading everything.  

    I woke today with relaxing on my mind.  Leisurely stroll, coffee at the bakery then stop at the shop to pick up my tissue boxes and home.  I stopped to let my legs get some oxygen and noticed a man selling a lantern similar to what my daughter sells.

 I followed him and discovered he sold all kinds of flashlights that he had attached to his jacket as display with the rest in his backpack.  The lantern was $9 but not as nice as the ones she sells.
    I stopped again in the Zocalo just to read a bit.  Wonderful day. Then I saw a man putting 2 sacks loaded with hats in a tree.

 He returned to a small sack with samples of the hats then left to sell them.  I assumed when he did, he would return for the others and hope no one stole them.  He knew no one would.  That is another reason I love Oaxaca.  
    Then some young people dressed in dance outfits from their village walked by…and lovers

 I noticed others doing the same from another part of the Zocalo but all were headed the same direction.

 I decided to follow them to take some photos .  I thought they were headed for the Soledad Catedral for a wedding celebration or festival.  When we got close I noticed a restaurant I had wanted to try so thought I would have coffee there and look at the menu then later continue to Soledad where I could catch the dancers in full swing.
      The restaurant had nice organic whole foods prepared in the Oaxacan tradition so I will return.  I finished my coffee then arrived at Soledad while Mass was being said around Noon on a Thursday…but not a Wedding or any sign of the dancers.

 I headed for the bakery and noticed the road was blocked and there were crowds of indigenous people forming.

Maybe a protest march later?  Then I saw a the Museum of Pre-Hispanic Mexican Art that I had heard about but never been to. I entered, bought my ticket and was amazed and transported back over 2000 years BEFORE the birth of Christ. I’m doing a separate post on that.  

Last night I woke with slight palpitations and decided to go back to taking Terazosin at bedtime.  I took one and went right back to sleep.  When I woke my B Pressure was low so I passed on morning Meds until later.  I was out of Propane so just reported it to Adelina and went to the Market for Fruit, Avocado, Yogurt, and fresh eggs. I decided I wasn’t giving up on Dairy and Eggs…just cutting back.
          I returned and took my Medication BEFORE I checked my BP.  I checked it right away and it was still low then when the Meds kicked in..it dropped to 80/44…any thing under 90/60 is considered danger zone.  I felt myself fading but could not stay awake.  I woke from a two hour nap feeling better with balance BP.  It should be fine in a week.


Slept well last night and left early for the Organic Market where I bought some Agave Syrup.

It was such a gorgeous day, I just wanted to walk… even stopped in church.


I ended up at the bakery and had some Avocado Toast and Coffee.  

The Oaxacan City Library was having a Photo Exhibition at 1 pm.  Well no one had arrived except me.  I forgot…Mexicans, like the Spanish are NEVER on time.  I think they think it is rude.  I didn’t see any exhibit only a small bar for entertaining the Photographer and his followers.  He was out in the lobby with some “fawners”. 
     There is a continued week of Dance with different band at the Zocalo in preparation for the big Celebration coming next week.

I DO NOT THINK HE WILL WOO HER WITH HIS MOTORCYCLE HELMET ON???


 I bought fresh OJ at my stand and went home.  The price went from 15 pesos to 
18…inflation.  Avocados were 50 pesos for 5.  My yogurt with a dozen eggs 160 pesos (got to start shopping around) Inflation.

        Oaxaca is gearing up for the Guelaguetza two week celebration.  Tickets were sold out months ago but free admission is available for those that want to sit in the bleachers and wait in line for hours.  I’ll watch it on TV and attend as many of the associated events going on everywhere in the city during those 2 weeks.   

      It’s Saturday and I’m off. Dances still being performed in the Zocalo.

Walked and walked…had coffee at the Bakery and returned home.   

      Sunday morning and I was late for a Dance Show at the Opera so took a taxi and made it.

THE CAST BROUGHT THE AUDIENCE UP ON STAGE TO DANCE

THIS BOY IS AROUND 6 YEARS OLD PLAYING NEXT TO HIS FATHER


Another Dance at the Zocalo…


I stopped in the Benito Juarez Market and paid $1.50 for an Avocado.

        I’ve made a decision that I am not sick of travel… just traveling like I’m 40 years old…I’m going to start taking tours, cruises, rent a cars, trains…no more coach class or two stopover deals to end up in a one star hotel with my room 5 stories up and NO elevator. Travel from A to B is getting stressful but once your at B it’s not to bad…so Japan, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Wales, South America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, hear I come!!! Maybe I’ll exhaust my savings but trying to preserve as much for my daughters as I can.  I get rent in the winter and save money in the summer while back in Oaxaca. Adios for NOW.
        

  

MUSEUM OF PRE HISPANIC MEXICAN ART

I am at a loss for words with these artifacts from all over Mexico that date back over 4500 years. All the indigenous people of the Americas have DNA origins in Central Asia. Yet they were occupying North and South America 10,000 years ago and no one in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe discovered it until Christopher Columbus …well maybe a few. Keep in mind they build a Modern Civilization without the Wheel (only for the Mayan calendar, toys…but not for carts) or Iron.  Metal they had was Gold and used for jewelry.  No Horses, Cows, Water Buffalo’s, Oxen, only small animals like Turkeys, rats, squirrel , birds, etc.  They built cities in the jungle.  Temples. They cultivated Corn, Squash, Beans, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Peppers, etc.  All of these were NOT known in the rest of the world. These artifacts, made from clay and stone were from Aztecs, Olmec’s, Mayan and others. I am not that knowledgeable on the subject. 

THE FOLLOWING ARE WORKS OF ART DONE WITH SLABS OF MARBLE

SECOND HALF OF JUNE IN OAXACA …VISITOR

   Sandra arrived today to visit from California where she was attending her daughter’s graduation in L.A.

 She is a SERVAS member that I showed around last February and returned for a while to take a break .  Being a dancer, I signed her and I up for some Cuban Dance lessons at the library.  I need to stay active and it is a 6 week course.  
        We had lunch at the Pachote Market after she settled in.

SALAD AND GRILLED FISH

COCONUT SHRIMP FRIED RICE AND FRUIT

        That afternoon we attended the first dance lesson at the library.  Well after going forward when I was supposed to be going back and my confusion over dance instructions due to my poor hearing I turned in the towel and choose to keep walking instead.

    She retired early after a long overnight flight and 6 hour wait in Mexico City.  

    The next day we decided to attend an event on Porfirio Diaz Calle but could not find the place. Nice Market there that I seldom get to see because it’s uphill.

 A Mexican shop owner told us the address was not in Central Oaxaca but in Colonial Reforma in the North.  After taking a bus and walking a while we found the area but no event was taking place.  We had lunch and caught the bus back.

MEXICAN SEAFOOD COCKTAIL WITH CLAMATO JUICE

That evening was dinner at Biznaga.

HUITLACHE QUESADILLA

CHICKEN VEGETABLE SOUP

SOUP STUFF

 Thursday we was nice so we took in some exhibits of textiles and upholstering.

Quick stop at a “Factory Outlet” store…where I sometimes buy my clothes.

More exhibits…

A late afternoon snack at the Bakery
Then a Tribute to Jango Reinhardt that evening. after Spaghetti and Wine at a casual Tapas Bar
The days were passing quickly.  Sandra ran off to do more dance or yoga or walk then we decided to treat ourselves at the Catedral,a cut above the other restaurants.  We paused on the way to listen to a band. We split a Corn Bread and Cheese appetizer.  She had the Seared Tuna and I had  Steak Mole with Oaxacan Cheese..

 Cabuche was our choice for late lunch the next day.  She had the salad and I had a Chicken Fajita Burrito.

Friday was Organic Market Day…I wanted to get some ingredients for our Pot Luck dinner on Sunday in Teotitlan de Valle.

We had a Comida Corrida at Sabor Restaurant across from a grocery store where I bought some canned corn for my Pot Luck Salad.  The comida is a three course meal with a beverage. It cost 65 Pesos, around $3.50 and you have a selection of 4-5 entrees to choose from and soup or salad with the dessert at the end. We had the Fruit and Vegetable Salad…which was a meal.  She had the Chile with Cheese and Rice..I had the Pozole Corn soup with Chicken and Pork..We had Poached Pears for dessert.

The weather started to change the next day.  It threatened rain and thankfully cooled down a bit.

 When Sandra returned from her Salsa Dance or Yoga….We visited Tres Bistro for Oysters, Mushrooms

PICKED IN THE MOUNTAINS THAT DAY…HUGE AND DELICIOUS.

I had my usual Broiled Salmon and Roasted Vegetables.  I ended up taking most of it home.

We passed a LOW RIDER showing his car to a friend.

There was a concert at the library we wanted to attend. The next evening.  The Sax seemed a little nervous…or Avante Garde?

You can judge for yourself.  There was another concert at the same time so we missed it…but the owner of Sol y Luna, a favorite restaurant was playing there.  We went to his restaurant after and when he finished, He stopped in his restaurant.  We were the only ones until he arrived with his fans following to fill the place up.  He told me he would be doing a repeat performance in the dining room with his Banda del Sur group on July 15th.  I will attend. A couple pictures on the way home.

On Sunday, we attended a fundraiser for an Organization that supported Latinos in America that needed legal representation to apply for Citizenship, Green Cards, Work Visa, or to fight deportation where families were split up…as in the case of a lady in Phoenix that had been in the USA for 17 years had children there, worked and paid taxes, applied for legal aide and had been granted asylum under Obama’s Dreamers program but was sent to Nogales where her parents awaited her to take her back to Oaxaca…along with a few others.  Hundreds showed in Phoenix to protest and try and block her deportation but to no avail. The Legal Aide Fund is supports by a number of groups including Black Lives Matter, ACLU, etc.  Norma a 5 year resident of Teotitlan de Valle hosted the dinner along with Jackie.  There were 20 attending the Pot Luck.  We took a Taxi with a Corn and Bean Salad with Avocado, Tomato, Red Pepper, Pineapple, etc…it was well received. Norma supplied some local
Mescal along with Hosting one table of 10. while Jackie Hosted another for an interesting conversation among the guests.  Their were artists, s Professor that taught in Venezuela for 15 years,
Mexicans from Oaxaca, an Oncologist that worked and lived in Amsterdam for 7 years,  etc…all at our table were from the States and were world travelers.  We had a great time and managed to get a ride home with the Mexican couple from Oaxaca.

We asked them to drop us near a Coffee House owned by Lila Downs, a world famous Oaxacan Singer that lives above the Coffee House.  They were having some Cuban or Brazilian band that played unique music.  My friend Zoe told us about it and she was there when we arrived after walking in a picturesque neighborhood I seldom visited…so I took some pictures.

It was on the side of a Mountain.  That is why I never ventured there.  We were anticipating great entertainment…but way too loud!  When we arrived Zoe took the opportunity to step outside while Sandra held our seats.

We returned but the noise was so loud..again judge for yourself. Zoe gave us a ride home.

The next afternoon we took a trip to San Martin where Sandra shopped and bought some nice carvings for her home to take back. I took a lot of Graffiti Art Photos…such talented artists and carvers.

SANDRA’S FINAL PURCHASE AND THE ARTIST…HE WAS SAD TO SELL IT

A Funeral Procession was in Progress as we departed San Martin with the Widower dressed in Black all the friends carrying Lilies with one carrying the shovel for all to assist .
     We took a Moto Taxi to the main road then caught a bus that took us to our Street.  

Break for Miscellaneous photos….Squash Blossoms…

 Mini Avocados with regular one…a real Juice Orange and Red Pepper

 Real 10%Oaxacan Chocolate with NO SUGAR…

Local Fortune Teller

The fortune?  
si no tienes pareja una parte di ti hoy deseara ser seducidoa y dejarse arrastrar por las pasiones pero la otra parte tendra muchas reticencias ya que necesita controlar.  

Tu hogar se convertira en el refugio perfecto si tienes pareja, la relaciou sera fenomenal vuestra comprension sera casi perfecta Felicidades

If you do not have a partner, one part of you today would want to be seduced and be dragged by the passions but the other party will have many reticences as they need to control.

Your home will become the perfect refuge if you have a partner, the relationship will be phenomenal your understanding will be almost perfect Congratulations

Tribute to EMT’s and their Ambulances


My Casa behind the flowering tree.

Ceviche in Pepper

The most popular Corn on the Cob Vendor in Oaxaca



Experiencing a Thunder storm here at 5000 foot altitude is apparently different than Phoenix at Sea Level.  In Arizona we look up at the lightening here we look right at it…with ear plugs.
I decided I’m not doing politics …only throwing support for organizations that Trump opposes…Planned Parenthood,Endowment for the Arts, PBS, Latino defense fund, the environment, solar energy, education, a decent Healthcare plan, legalized Marijuana, prison reform, climate change…doctor’s without borders…etc etc etc

Our Representives
Taking away our freedom of choice and costing us money.

In Any Other Country, This Would be Decried as Corruption

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee agreed by voice vote earlier this week to add a new restriction on the ability of foreign airlines to fly into the US.  The measure will allow the Secretary of Transportation to deny requests by any foreign carrier to fly to the US if the Secretary believes doing so would ‘erode labor standards’ due to the airline being established in a country other than that in which its majority owners reside in, so as to avoid regulations of the country where the owners reside.
No, this isn’t valid legislation to protect either us as fliers or other Americans as aviation related workers.  ‘Erode labor standards’ is code for ‘sell airfares at lower costs than the US carriers do’.
This legislation is about one thing and one thing only – making it harder for airlines such as Norwegian Air to bring lower cost higher quality flights to the US.  The only thing being protected here are the dysfunctional US carriers that have no notion of how to compete with new quality airlines, and so resort to lobbying and deal making to erect specious new levels of protection against new quality carriers offering better service, better quality, and better value.
The legislation would also seem to fly in the face of the open skies treaty agreement between the US and EU.  What Norwegian Air is doing is nothing unique.  These days it is far from uncommon for an airline to operate from bases removed from where the majority of its shareholders live.  For example, British Airways, based in London, is owned by International Airlines Group, a company that is registered in Madrid, Spain.  KLM is owned by Air France.  Or how about any airline which has a hub in a country other than that which it is registered in, such as Delta with its hub in Amsterdam?
The US airlines already managed to delay for no valid reason at all Norwegian’s expanded presence into the US for three years, and now seek further ‘legislative clubs’ with which to bludgeon other low-priced carriers and to keep them away from us.


We love to ridicule corruption in other countries, while choosing not to see it in our own country.  How can this legislation be described as anything other than a corrupt piece of unneeded law that does not protect us, only the three major US carriers.  The legislation is anti-competition, and the complete opposite of the American values of free markets and competition which our country supposedly embraces and which we proudly claim made us the greatest economic power in the world.

See you in July!  Have a Happy Fourth!!