The Miniature Business Man and Company’s Christmas Fiesta


Yesterday Mari said, “I noticed you still have those Christmas gifts in your closet for Augustino.” I sadly said that I was not able to find him although we had made a date two Fridays ago. She said that I would see him last night, and I did.

When I first arrived on the Zocalo, it was too early for them to be on the corner I can sometimes find them. I knew this, but I looked anyway. I decided that dinner would be a good way to wait for them. After all Mari said he’d be there.

Carrying a tiny basket, all pastel colors, he was now a gum seller and not just a peso demander. Sure, he was new to the business and so he was only given two pieces of gum to try to sell, but he was now an official businessman with a real product.

He looked at me and said he’d rather have a bottle of water than an ice cream cone, but of course he’d prefer both.

His sister Cecilia saw him with a strawberry cone and a bottle of water, and she came over to collect her scoop: Neopolitan.

Of course, I did not bring the gifts, so I had to run home to collect the bag of goods and hustle it back down before they headed home for the night. Cecilia said they would be on the corner in a half an hour — for sure.

M tracked Augustino down as I presented Cecilia with a doll. She had long red hair, sparkly earrings, and a pretty pink dress. Cecilia said, “She has earrings.”

She quickly placed the doll between her candy and her chest, to protect it from the older girl who approached asking where her gifts were. I tried to explain they were gifts for my friends. She was willing to be my friend.

Cecilia explained that they had not met me two Fridays ago because someone had grabbed all of her candies as she was sitting on the wall. As a result, she only sits on the wall when her mom is there. Otherwise, she keeps moving (and is harder to find).

Augustino got a tub of Playdough and three cars with a ramp and a helicopter (he called an airplane). He seemed to love flying the “airplane” all around the zocalo and shared his cars (except for the fast blue one) with a smaller boy.

I was sitting on the brick wall mostly assuring Augustino that these were his toys and candies when Mateo, his older brother, came for a break. I presented him with a Rubik’s cube, and M showed him how to use it. He seemed afraid to mess it up. And, though it seemed odd to give candy to people selling candy, Mateo seemed especially interested in the Pinta Fruit, gel candy from a pen and candy paper to write on.

I was watching Augustino fly his helicopter as Cecilia sitting next to me looked her doll in the face and said, “She’s so beautiful.”

So beautiful.

Where the Sidewalk Ends


The funny thing about the polite people here in Oaxaca is that they often warn: “Cuidado” (Careful) AFTER a person has bumped her head or fallen out the door of the corner store onto the street or banged into a knob that was, for some reason, installed into the sidewalk.

Much taller and bigger and less graceful than the majority of the inhabitants of this city, I often feel as though I am a larger-than-life show, and what I have to offer in terms of entertainment usually results in bruised shins or my red face.

Guiding M (who has a sore knee) around the city, I am even more aware of all of the places where the sidewalk ends or where there’s a sudden dip into the sewer or other uneven pavement ahead. I am trying to save him from stealing the show.

Pulpo (Octopus)


A bus trip around the city costs 5.50, less than 50 cents. However, considering how hard people work to earn even 10 pesos and how many people rely on the bus for transportation (so many that there are nearly as many people standing, crammed in the aisles, as sitting), this is a fair cost.

However, there is a movement to increase the fare nearly 70% to 8 pesos. This is an extraordinary and impossible increase. My hope is that this is like bargaining for goods here. People start higher (sometimes way higher) than they know the outcome will be.

Regardless, I continue to be impressed by the metaphors Mexicans use. The pulpo (octopus) here is eye-catching and appropriate for the connection to the number eight.

Despedidas (Goodbyes)


The Tlacolula Market happens on Sundays, and by next Sunday I will be back home in Sacramento.

Already I have started the slow process of goodbyes.

Goodbye to the children in English class.
Goodbye to Spanish class and cultural workshops.
And, today… Goodbye beautiful market, church, guajolotes (turkeys), acres of colors, enchanting scents and flavors.
And, this afternoon… Goodbye Jesus, the velador (night watchman) at the posada from Saturday night until Sunday afternoon.
And, tonight…

With each day, there will be more despedidas (goodbyes) as I get closer to the end of this adventure.





Pochotle – Organic Tianguis


There’s an organic market in Xochimilco, the neighborhood across Ninos Heroes. It is held on Fridays and Saturdays and features, among other things, delicious hot food. After intercambio, we headed up the hill to the tianguis and enjoyed the light breeze and company of fellow diners as we sat under the trees in a church courtyard.

We tried a rice and cheese hamburger. Delicious. A pesto pasta salad. Excellent. A green salad with ginormous bread sticks. How can a dressing taste so good? A crunchy slice of four-cheese pizza. Mmmmmmm.

M’s first meal in Oaxaca was not traditional Mexican food, but it was an excellent example of the delicious, fresh, and local foods this city has to offer. We have the good part of a week left to try moles, tamales, molotes, and tlayudas.




Look at this giant cat book! Look at the collection of children’s books, in English and Spanish! Look at this room; it is beautiful and sunny! This used to be a house. Look at how the closets house books! Look at the poetry section. The magazines. The Mexico travel guides and cookbooks.

I took M to the Oaxaca Lending Library for Saturday intercambio.

At first, he was apprehensive. He didn’t want to go; his Spanish wasn’t going to be good enough; he hadn’t even been in Oaxaca for a day. He hadn’t even had breakfast. However, he decided to try it. We grabbed a latte on the way.

He enjoyed the conversation he had with a local artist, a young man who paints. It was actually a good way to dip a toe into Spanish.

Bus to Oaxaca


My sister and I used to love Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, an attraction at Disneyland. We liked it for its title because, in fact, the ride was not as wild as the name promised.

The bus ride from Mexico City to Oaxaca proved to be a wild ride. I told M a few times to just close his eyes as we were passing cars, buses, tankers on parts of the road that were clearly no passing areas, including bridges, curvy mountain roads, even an onramp.

The most peculiar part of this way illegal maneuvering was that our driver would shut off the headlights as he was passing the other vehicles so that we were essentially in the dark. This was a method to this madness; he could more clearly tell how close (and it was super close) oncoming traffic was.

Most of the people waiting in the bus station were tired and sad (which made them tired) and so they were able to sleep through the Miley Cyrus movie where she saves sea turtles and falls in love while on summer vacation. However, I got to watch the movie while M stared into the deep darkness as we, as-fast-as-we-could, crossed bridges and mountain passes.

Once we arrived in Oaxaca, I pointed out the street with the posada, my Spanish school, and other landmarks. I felt as if I was back at home after a long weekend.