Oaxaca – first impressions


The place I’m staying is great: an apartment with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and separate living room around a courtyard in the central part of the city of Oaxaca. Even better: the woman who works here, Maria Antonio, speaks no english and there is a lap pool. Yes.


First! the phone. Getting a phone on in another language is a fun experience. Start with buying a nano sim. Easy. Then figure out how to get it connected. You have to ring the phone company and give your details. Not so easy. Not even clear this was the missing step that left me with a nano sim + unusable phone. Mary Jane, the Canadian owner of the apartments, came to the rescue. Phew. Listening to her talking to the phone company there was no way I could have ever got past the nano sim + unusable phone stage. Call centre rapid gabble gabble. Agghhhh.


Central area of Oaxaca is very well laid out. Symmetrical streets, all two lane and one way in the central area. To the north is a beautiful looking mountain so it’s easy to navigate (with an iPhone in hand)! 

The traffic lights are very different. I played chicken roulette until I figured out where they were hidden and what to look for. Easy once you know. 
 The houses are so typical Southern Mexican in that most are painted bright colours: blues, pinks, ochre, green and various shades of yellow. Here all seem to be low level, one story. Earthquake proofing? 


 Everywhere street vendors: food sellers mainly. And the walkers who take their goodies into restaurants: brightly painted wooden toys, combs, page markers etc. I love Mexican colours, bright, interesting designs. 

Won’t be coming back with more of the naive, natural, paintings I love. Last time here I bought the story about the uniqueness of what I was seeing in a market. Yesterday exactly the same designs and colours were being hawked around the central market here. Yes, so much for the uniqueness of my previously much loved treasures that I had specially framed and only reluctantly left when we moved. Hmm, some did come with us but have now also gone, the frames and non reflecting glass worth more than them. Except to me. 

Joined the gym for the month I’m here, the Colossus Gimnasio. At first sight it looked ideal for steroid fuelled boys only. So I checked another gym but it was less convenient and cost $m670 (~$A100) for a month, more than I pay for my lovely gym at home and with fewer services. So, into Colossus. The guy was nice, I checked the equipment. Was all very old but serviceable and functioning. Back today. Paid $m270 (~$USD 20) for the month. It’s closer to home, has what I need and so I’ll use it. 

Not only men attend this gym. First day there one of the women took it upon herself to explain some things. Her english was excellent. She gave me her phone number and will possibly take me to a market a bus ride from here tomorrow. 

She teaches english and truly speaks it very well despite having lived in the USA for only a short time. First to text her so she has my number too.

Street scenes

Many sweet sellers in parks and on larger corners. Typically they have sesame seed bars, other types of nut bars, coconut sweets and various other delights I’ll try later.  Any many shoe cleaners.

 Other specialist sellers include those with cut up fruit. Hmmm. 
Many balloon sellers. I wondered who bought them but then looked beside this lot and found two little boys with new balloon toys on wheels. 

 Having twins is tiring according to this mum out with dad and the 6 month old babies in the park. Good to be able to speak enough Spanish to interact, albeit it at a low level.

And boys and balls. In a group, in turn practising some very difficult skills. Great to watch.

Balls, reminds me, why are many sculptures such well hung treasures? See this lovely bull, for example, down near the Zocálo. 

And the girl posing for a photo being taken by her boy friend.

Graduation day with many parents and friends watching. Photos already available for selection by attendees.

Breakfast. Eggs on maize, refried beans, tomatoes and fried bananas. Too big. What I’d really wanted was a Mexican hot chocolate. To die for. Yes. A big bowl of water or milk based hot (warm) chocolate. Hmmmm. Strongly recommended. 


Tomorrow? Out for day with Monica from the gym. She warned me to wear runners as we will be walking a lot. She seems to have taken it upon herself to show me Oaxaca in a day. Very nice of her. Will be in english as I suspect she likes to find opportunities to practise.

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