Oaxaca, Mexico – day to day

The roads
In the centre: 2 lanes, one way for streets in the centre with one lane of parking. Ever practical, one lane of parking properly, one lane of parking temporarily and one lane through. The through lane often gets blocked. Of course! Much tooting and finally movement. 

At the Zocálo on Sunday: a policeman was unscrewing the front number plate on the car of a protesting woman. She got out. Open wallet in hand. Three more police arrived. The one there first started screwing the plate back on again. Meanwhile the woman had still not drawn breath. The first policeman then recorded car details from the back plate. She was still protesting loudly and haranguing the first and then the second policemen there. I didn’t feel able to go closer but she was talking about roads not being safe and various members of her family. Not sure if she was trying to pull rank based on a grandfather but it seemed so. 

  Then, a large arguing man began supporting her in berating the policeman. The problem seems to have been something she did (or didn’t do) as she came from the block behind, in front of the Zocálo. 

Whoops, I thought the 3 people standing watching were just onlookers, like me. They didn’t contribute, just watched. Well, suddenly, all shouting stopped and she, and they, got into the car and drove off. Meanwhile the first policeman was still being hectored by the large guy. The other policemen had left and finally the last cop and the large guy departed too. What happened? Who knows!

If I ever ever mention hiring a car here remind me of the stories I’ve heard about police being corrupt! Didn’t seem to be the case this time but her getting out with an open wallet, at the start, made me wonder.

Naughty penguins 

Leaving your penguin balloon untied is a risk! Last week it was fully inflated and firmly tied to the bin. Obviously it didn’t behave and so this week it’s slacker and in the bin. Or perhaps it behaved and doesn’t have to be so firmly constrained and so can relax a little. 

  Life here
Life as a street vendor must be so tough. So many competitors with the same stock, be it wooden combs with lovely bright colourful painting or small clay models or scarves. Yes, Ajr and I succumbed and bought embroidered hankies many years ago. Mine still haunts me as the coarse embroidery leaves it unusable. Hence its longevity! Permanent in my life even. Not quite as bad as one I found in my drawer with my brother’s boarding school name tag on it. Yes, it must about 50 years old! 

Despite having paid for a lot of Internet data I don’t seem to get any. Hmm. I thought I bought 2 or 3Gb and that it was valid for 30 days. Seven days later…..and no data unless I’m in a wifi zone. Sigh. 

The clock struck …15..16..17…….25 and stopped. Yes, it was 10 to 7am. I can’t figure the bells here yet. They don’t consistently ring on the quarter hour. It’s started again, at 5 to 7. Must be bells for mass. The churches are very much part of life here. Many options both with the number of churches and service times. So far I’ve only looked in. The priest at one near here has a lovely voice so I may drop in one day.


Church reminds me of Monica, my new friend who practises english with me. Well, more that we speak in english mostly and she wants her errors corrected. This Sunday I realised her english has more gaps than I’d realised last week. Not just pronouns but also common past tenses. Still, her english remains considerably better than my Spanish. 

Anyhow, on Sunday we met, decided not to go to the market and headed instead to a nearby church. 
  It has a fairly extensive museum containing a range of older sacred items. My two favourite items: the first was a life sized model of Jesus in a gold coloured bier with glass sides. He was partially covered by a sheet. I wanted to look under the sheet to see the extent of his wounds and the amount of bleeding. On my last trip I was bemused by the differences between Christ here and elsewhere, more graphic, considerably more graphic, here. 

My second favourite item was a piece of gold jewellery given to the church. The note with it said it was given in gratitude to the church with thanks to god as their daughter no longer had leukaemia. Interesting. Surely an omniscient god caused the leukaemia and the church took credit. 

Oh, cynicism is a burden sometimes. No, I didn’t discuss this option with Monica. She is an active catholic, like so many in this region. When we were later having coffee I demurred at elaborating on my beliefs as I believe that, from an earlier discussion with her, religion is important to her, a mix of Catholicism and symbiotic local beliefs cemented in many years ago.

After the museum I needed coffee. All 5 wonderful cafes beside the museum turned out to be ice cream shops. So, off to another branch of the trendy chain we drank at last week, La Brújula. I defy non Spanish speakers to say that name well! Yes, wifi, muffins, seating, and a decor and posters that make it trendy. 

I can’t figure it for sure but I don’t think she’s making a success of getting work here and that her parents are calling her home to their coastal cafe, a most beautiful cove visited frequently by cruise ships. That explained her passion for Africans, Indians and others working on cruise ships! So she may be gone next week. She is 20, nearly 21, and very unclear as to what she wants to do. Very confused about life in general I suspect. 

Anyhow, we passed two guys with huge tubs of meat outside the entrance to a very busy place with people lining up to celebrate something. They invited us in to join them eating and dancing. Their goat stew looked good! We demurred. 

Yes, at least 4 afternoons a week I head over the road to the gym a block and a half from here. The equipment is totally mechanical, no electrical or electronic gear. Much used with many wonderfully developed bodies. The guys in particular have some of the best developed bodies I’ve seen. I couldn’t pull a pin out to change a pulley today. A very helpful guy showed me the secret, push it up a little to loosen it first. It worked. 

Always, a few women when I visit. None are as well muscled at my home gym but they also look good. 

Apparently the busy time is about 7pm. Must be the time for workers. I prefer the quieter time. And, am very glad I’ve joined the gym. Pretty nice life: gym followed by a swim in the lap pool.


The school is a strange shape. Mixed in among its rooms are those of an elderly couple. I was sitting in the shared courtyard, waiting for classes to start. The woman who lives there walked behind me and opened a well set into the ground. She pulled up two buckets of water. Poured one into her own and then came back for the other. Apparently this is quite usual. 


 Reminds me that plumbing in Mexico remains deficient. Toilet paper has to be put in a bin beside the toilet. That is so hard when you thoughtlessly drop it in. But, I try and remember! 😊
Anyhow, school today was dreadful! It was one of those days when everything disappeared from my memory. The result: pain for my poor patient teacher, Alfonso. 😞 I hope something magic happens overnight and I do considerably better tomorrow. 😊 

 As compensation I had a burrito with guacamole on the side for lunch in the Lobo Azul (Blue Wolf) over the road from school. The guacamole contained chilli and it was wonderful. The burrito? Very uninteresting. 

Todd Sampson is busy learning to use his senses on TV. I love seeing significant locations in Sydney while sitting in Oaxaca trying to understand the episode, now in Spanish.  If the thunder and rain have finally finished I’ll hear more of the program. And yes, it’s good in Spanish! 

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