I love going to the movie theater in Mexico and I love comedies and it was raining on Saturday. Melissa McCarthy’s new James Bond inspired film made me happy for many reasons. Primary among the reasons is that I could keep up with the humor and the plot. It is a lot to juggle in the dark, but I can laugh in most of the right spots and understand some of the hilarious nuances of character—including the incessant lies and antics of one of her colleagues, the outrageous disguises and backstories for McCarthy’s missions, and the effectiveness of abusive discourse in the face of a spoiled princess.

The next step in my education is to be able to listen, understand, and simultaneously predict the twists—and there were many in this underdog story. But I am still too preoccupied with the first two to be looking at foreshadowing and verisimilitude. Thus, I must continue to go to the comfortable Cinepolis to further advance my studies.

CACAO – Cooperativa Autónoma de Convivencia y Aprendizaje de Oaxaca


I went to a Chocolate Cooperative in Huyapam. https://es-es.facebook.com/cacaochocolate

The Cooperative came as a result of the alternative university they have in Oaxaca called: Universidad de la Tierra (University of the Land).  Formed in 2012, the cooperative began because 1/1000 from indigenous communities have access to universities and the jobs they can get are often exploitative.  They decided there’s knowledge in the community to be a tool to change their way of life.

After getting together, the three partners looked at the food sovereignty concept and GMOs and recovering the capacity to eat what we want. They are actively engaged in the struggle against the corporations that are trying to control what we eat. This is a political act.  And, politics are at the heart of the collaborative.  They use the Zapatista model of autonomy; it is an inspiration to organize the cooperative.

One of the presenters explained, ” The act of making chocolate changes our situation, our community, our lives.”

Moreover, the cooperative enables them to stay in Oaxaca and not migrate.  They further explained that Mexican schools in the 70s and 80s killed native languages, focusing on English and Spanish. Children were punished for speaking their mother languages. They explained there is a duality between corn and cacao. Corn grows in the sun; cacao in the shade.

Equipped with a solid background, we were prepared for the work at hand; we cleaned, toasted, ground (on a bicycle mill), blended (with honey and almonds and amaranth) chocolate to make our own delicious, bittersweet truffles. We worked in teams. I was partnered with four other people to complete the process. I cleaned, I toasted, I shelled (I got a cacao shell under my left thumb!), I mixed, I balled, I sampled, I designed chocolates.

You may have read earlier that I have tried weaving, piñata making, mask making, cooking, ceramics, alebrijes painting, and even cooking. I have been a miserable failure, but I did a pretty good job (minus the fact that I still have some of the bean shell under my thumbnail) of making delicious truffles. I did such a good job, I almost gave myself a stomachache.

cacao6 cacao8 cacao5 cacao3 cacao2  cacao

Red Flag Warning: Calenda


The calenda has an undertow and can pull you in, gasping for breath and relief from the surging. You will be convinced you can keep your head above tonight’s tide, to breathe in the clear air, to let yourself be carried along with the others, but before you know it you will be looking for shore, trying hard to get out of the surf.

It is safer on the shore, and still you may be swept away.

dance2 dance3 dance4 dance5



One of my favorite things to do is to dine on the zocalo (especially on breezy evenings when there are no heaps of teachers). I decided, despite the teachers, to have a michelada and a meal at the Importador. I love micheladas (salsa and beer), and I decided to try the fajitas. I was thrilled with this hearty platter that featured beans without epazote and creamy guacamole in addition to tender beef and bell peppers and onions.

There are always salespeople disrupting a meal on the zocalo; that’s part of the ambience and exchange. I talked with a lady selling shawls. She insisted that I need one. I assured her I do not. I talked with a person selling wooden spoons. She was easily deterred as the waiter approached. The woman who has already, in travels past, sold me two table runners I don’t need sat down. Among other things, she told me about her hunger. I offered her some peanuts. She then told me of her poor stomach that cannot tolerate peanuts, but would be fine with a coffee or a quesadilla. We traded sad stories. I told her of California’s drought, of how I pay $6 for a dozen brown eggs. She told me of her grandchildren and how school costs so much. I told her how I don’t get a paycheck in the summer, but I come here to volunteer to teach anyway. She arranged her things and said she’d see me again sometimes soon. I didn’t doubt it. Score one for me.

Some spicy peanuts arrived with my beer. So did a bold pigeon. He started by standing on the chair opposite me. Then, he just strode onto my table as if this is what is done in Mexico. I showed him my meager butter knife. I think he scoffed at me. I took a swing with the mostly empty Sol bottle. He was more impressed and called for backup. Two birds landed on the cloth and walked at me, so I pushed the peanuts to the corner of the table. Score one for the birds.

And, then came the bees.

I asked the waiter, a man named Rolando who’d work as a chef in an Italian restaurant in Monterey, California. He asked, “so quickly.” Game over, the bees won.



No matter how many pieces of laundry I put in the bag, the cost is 60 pesos, just over $4 a week, to have clean clothes.

I love picking up a bag of my expertly folded clothes, but it takes some careful planning.  Sometimes it is done in a day. Other times, it might take three, so getting dressed in the morning is more a game of counting socks and underwear as much as it is a consideration of weather.

I tell the guy upstairs of me about Mr. Klyn after I have seen him in the same green polo for nearly a week. He explains that he’s just learned the word for clothespin: (pinza), and he’s going to get some detergent (just put an e at the end of detergent) to use the slow, slow machine at the posada. It may take the whole day, especially with no dry and rain on the horizon, but he can’t wait for professionals.

San Bartolo Salesman and the Deer Mystery Solved

Black Pottery

Black Pottery Earring

I was in an artisans’ collective trying to surreptitiously take photos of some of the offerings–not because I could ever replicate them, but I have been checking to see if people are interesting in my buying them.

In the tablecloth room, a man joined me (I thought I’d been spotted snapping shots), and he started trying out the little English he claimed he knew.  But the funny thing was I had heard the same three words before: Something along the lines of, I can only say “Coffee and donuts.” I tried to pull the first time I had heard this phrase out of my brain or the blog, but I couldn’t. Maybe it was something I heard in the Home Depot parking lot, or maybe it was something I heard here in an intercambio. I am still stuck.

Regardless, I marked it as unoriginal, and my ears became more suspicious than they naturally are (okay, they’re naturally suspicious).

This salesman proceeded to quiz me on all of the places I have been in Oaxaca: a wide variety and many off the beaten path.  He is from San Bartolo Coyotepec, the home of black pottery (barro negro).  He told me he could take me places I hadn’t seen there.

Of course, I had been to Dona rosa, but had I been to the artists’ marketplace. I had, but appaently I was there on the 18th of the month (or 14th) when people are in church all day minus a select few–the folks I’d seen. Had I seen the museum? Yes. Caldo de Piedrea (the stone soup restaurant)? Yes.

Did I know that up in the hills there are cute little rabbits and deer?

My stupid face won’t lie.

I had found the deer in Oaxaca.  Deer! my eyes sparkled.

He said, yes, just call this number he offered on a scrap of paper, and I will show you some deer.

Caps for Sale


I love the children’s book Caps for Sale about the peddler who carries his wares on the top of his head and runs into some very mischievous monkeys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INptSCKqdfg

I know this is Sign Saturday and this is not a sign selling sombreros, but the point is clear.

(I had to ask politely for the photo; only after the second please did he consent.)