Oaxaca, Mexico: life and the naughty penguin

An ordinary Saturday, 1.30pm, and people are at mass. Churches tend to be open and most times I’ve gone, busy.   
Thinking of churches, I like the Oaxaca cathedral. I popped in when I heard the organ playing. Impressive. 

And I like the cathedral. Doesn’t feel as cold as many in Spain. Maybe it’s because they are clearly alive and in frequent demand. 

With the notice outside warning locals not to use it as a bathroom or market, I was a little bemused to see a woman with an armload of things for sale in there. I’ll swear it wasn’t just for a chat with god. She was clearly casting about for custom. Unobtrusively but casting all the same. 


Probably bought my last bit of bread in Oaxaca on Saturday. Hand made, not sweet and with nuts and sultanas. Sounded wonderful, just what I wanted. What the spiel I got didn’t mention was it included enough salt to challenge my kidneys. Nor its tastelessness. The salt wasn’t sufficient to compensate. 😙 ugh! Back to Ourense in Spain or to Madrid for flautas with nuts and sultanas. 😊


I keep mention the pool because it’s so much fun having one 2 or 3 metres from my apartment. Even better, it looks as though I’m the sole guest here for the next three weeks! Yes, I’ll be packing this time in three weeks as I’m leaving here early Monday, the first stage for going home. 

As the rain fell ever harder I looked to the left, right and straight ahead, across the pool. The setting is great. As indeed is the pool. 


Get an idea of how hard some people work: I was sitting in a cafe 😏 and a guy with shoe cleaning gear came in. Looked around. Totally wrong footwear there. But, he was trying as he is obviously competing with many others. Hard to credit the number of shoe polisher stands in and around the Zocalo. Sure, there’s a fair bit of dust around now when it ranks so often. Still, it’s hard to believe so many can make enough money to live from it. 

The national minimum wage is $m7.00, about &U0.40. Number of hours per week? 6 days. Assume 45 hours and life would be very tough. Not sure how many people are paid that, how much most people earn. I was told the federal police force is popular because they pay $m2,000 per month ~$u125.00. That might give you an idea, assuming of course, that I’ve got it right.  
Back to cafes: I’ve been haunting a different one. I love the mural at one end and sitting, facing it. And not just because the chairs are so comfortable. Nor is the coffee as good as at Lobo Azul! But, the mural is pretty spectacular…

Student of Spanish

A middle aged, no, older, my age, American is sitting to my right in the cafe, explaining to his much younger partner who Janis Joplin was. She’d never heard of her. My bad luck was that they weren’t Spanish speakers. I need to hear Spanish spoken by a range of people. The people on the radio tend to gabble. As usual. Tv and podcasts are best. Hopefully my tv will be fixed this week – it’s all 4 on my side of the apartment block are dead. I have keys for one over the way but have tried to be disciplined and use the time for reading and reviewing Spanish. Operative word: tried 😉😉

Finally finished Outlander and so I can start watching Carlos Quinte (Charles 5th) a Spanish film with spanish subtitles. I’d rather find one of the soapies for which Mexico is renowned but so far I’ve not been successful at finding a site I can download from.


It’s true. Only me and the old men wear them. The men wear a white, wide brim, straw fedora style hat. Looks very good. Fashionable people carry an umbrella for sun protection. Others don’t seem to notice it at all. Surprising. Only in Spain have I seen so few wearing hats.

Another thing I’ve not noticed here: tobacconists and smokers. I wonder why so few people seem to smoke in one of the homes of tobacco. Must ask Marco tomorrow. 


Lots of street sellers. No = no. It’s true. Say ‘no thanks’ and there is no follow up, no cajoling, no begging you to change your mind. No getting further into your face.  But clearly sellers don’t like photos being taken. Two times older people gave said $m10. Each time it was a hedged ‘no’.

The most common item flogged in the streets of the Centro area are combs and page markers made of wood and with some painting. Lots of sellers have these products. As of yet I’ve not seen one sale. Admittedly there are few tourists here at present. But every few minutes if I sit on a step near a market, one will offer them. 

Good place to sit. Opposite one of the markets.

Another option is in the Zocalo but, it’s very busy. It’s not the only open space by a long shot but there are a lot of people here everyday. Remind me to stay away in tourist season.

  Kids and mums

Took until today to realise how few tantrums I’ve seen from kids. Trust me, this place is full of babies and kids. 

Today’s tantrum was de rigor for any respectable kid in most places. The respective little kid was very loud and hauled off by Dad. Noticeable because it’s uncommon. Younger kids spend a lot of time tied against their mother, in a shawl. This leaves them calm and mum still able to work and do things without a whining kid. Even at a fruit stall I saw a little kid, 2 year old, protest at being dragged back behind a temporary barrier. But no prolonged bad tempered tantrum. Soon settled down and was easily diverted from another escape attempt. 

When it comes to breast feeding, anywhere, anytime and with no false modesty such as the coverings I’m used to seeing. No, it’s sensible and normal here. 

I feel so sorry for some kids though, those from beggar families. Sitting in the streets, in a small group, usually a woman and two kids. Rarely with a man as well. All are small, dirty, with old worn clothes, and I can’t help but wonder what future these kids have. They don’t move around, just sitting or sleeping. Education? A future? 

Sunday pm

Sitting in the zocalo, listening to a band. Not my style but I like being here. Sellers of sandwiches & other foods pass among us. Not seen a sale yet as most are intent on listening.

And the band invited dancers in the open areas to the side.  
 Bought more chocolate today to make drinks at home. Should have less sugar. Has. I checked. From about 85% sugar, a big drop to 75% but, with a huge lift in the amount of fat. Huge. Not a healthy option. Still. But you knew that! Right! It’s SOO nice. 


Well, the last time I saw it a shark was getting close. It was out of the bin but was not doing well out in the big world alone. Should have listen to advice, puffed itself up a little and stayed put! Afterall, someone must love it as it has a life belt around its middle. Aha. 


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