you have journeyed with intensity. You should regret nothing, neither hours waiting for buses without schedules nor long evenings vigilant for summer’s abundant rains to pass.

Traveler, these are the reminders that the roads zig and zag and, by design, demand you rest enough to be rested, ready to throw yourself into the next and the next glorious adventure.

Traveler, you have taken every opportunity to sense this place, looked into the eyes of the children, the animals, the weather.

You can predict what comes next in the afternoon’s plot, you have done your job, you know this story, their story, by heart.


Listen to this piece, and write to yourself about your own travels.


La Escuela Primaria Benito Juarez Grupo de Danza


At the top of the pedestrain street Saturday night, a group of students from the Benito Juarez primary school danced for passersby while their adoring parents sold sweets on the street.  Better than any bake sale I have been to, they had jello and pastries, and horchata, and more.

Even better, the mini-Guelaguetza featured three very happy students, one of whom danced with only one sandal and a smile.  The fourth student in the part of the show I happened to catch was a small boy whose face conveyed his displeasure with the afternoon’s antics.

When he was supposed to “bite” the rose from his partner’s mouth, it fell to the ground.  When he was supposed to wave his hat in the air, it was heavy.  But when he had to charge like a wild bull at this girl waving a red handkerchief, his horns were sharp.




Nieves – Ice cream


More than fifty flavors are advertised at the Manolo Nieves, a self-described ice cream museum in Oaxaca.  Take that Baskin-Robbins!

I had the Peppermint and mint, pictured above.  I also bought a Oaxacan chocolate cone for the man who plays the accordion at the top of Alcala every day.  No matter that I walk up and down the street MULTIPLE times a day, he hits me up for change coming and going.  I usually give his son some fruit or something equally sweet.  No money.

I have grown to think of the accordion players as trolls that want a toll every time I cross over the bridge (I guess I am a billy goat).  Anyway, today I discovered the best payment is an ice cream cone.  It is refreshing for the poor man playing his heavy instrument in the afternoon sun.  And, it makes him both stop playing and put down the bowl to collect coins.  It’s a little break in a delicious cone.

Nieves Gourmet – Gourmet Ice Cream

Monolo – Toffee

Sorbete – Sorbet

Maracuya con crema – Passionfruit and cream

Fresas con crema – Strawbrries and cream

Pétalos de rosa – Rose petals

Melón con crema – Cantaloupe with cream

Limón con crema – Lemon with cream

Arroz con leche – Rice with milk

Cajete – Caramel

Tres leches – Three milks

Trozos de pistache con crema – Pistachio

Chocolate con avellana y licor – Chocolate with hazelnuts and liquor

Chocolate con almendras – Chocolate with almonds

Zarzamora – Blackberry

Mezcal – Mezcal

Nanche – Nanche

Mamey –Mamey

Tequila – Tequila

Kiwi – Kiwi

Higo con Mezcal – Fig with Mezcal

Piña Colada – Piña Colada


Las Tradicionales – The Traditional Flavors

Nuez – Pecan

Tuna – Cactus

Tejate – Cacao foam

Sorbete – Sorbet

Chocolate oaxaqueño – Oaxacan chocolate

Pétalos de rosa – Rose petals

Leche quemada – Scalded milk

Coco – Coconut

Vainilla – Vanilla

Capuchino – Cappuccino


Exóticas – Exotic Flavors

Maracuya con mezcal – Passionfruit and mezcal

Pera con chili piquin – Pear and chili

Pepino con limón – Cucumber and lemon

Cilantro con pepino – Cilantro and cucumber

Hierba buena con menta – Peppermint and mint

Epazote con chapulín – Epazote (yuck) with grasshopper

Tamarindo con chapulín – Tamarind and grasshopper

Papaya con canela y miel – Papaya with cinnamon and honey

Plátano macho con crema – Plantain and cream


Para Refrescarte – To Refresh Yourself

Maracuya – Passionfruit

Uva – Grape

Naranja – Orange

Tuna – Cactus

Zapote – Sapodilla

Limón – Lemon

Tamarindo – Tamarind

Mango – Mango

Mandarina – Mandarin

Jamaica – Hibiscus

Melón – Cantaloupe

Piña – Pineapple

Chocolate de agua – Hot chocolate

Guanábana – Soursop

Ciruela istmeña – Isthmus plum



Band on Sunday


I love to see the bands that play on the zocalo on Sundays. When I list off the things that draw m back to Oaxaca annually (or more frequently), the music is usually in the top five after the warm people, the delicious food, and the everyday opportunities for harrowing adventures (especially by bus).

When I could not find the band this afternoon, I was disappointed and decided to head home to wrestle with my grouchy computer.  I heard music along the way and thought it was another fiesta de 15 anos or Guelaguetza exhibition, but, no, it was the Sunday band.  The band and the, to start, scant crowd were huddled under a much smaller tree (than the usual laurel on the zocalo) just off the plaza outside of Santo Domingo Church.

The band was the Banda de Musica de Otatitlan de Morelos, and the members were youths, from age twelve on up.

They played a range of pieces that embodied their motto of: “cooperacion, esfuerzo, y creatividad” (cooperation, effort, and creativity) as they created energy out of a normally lethargic Sunday afternoon.  Spectators could feel the energy building as the performance progressed and especially, near the end, as  they encouraged all of us to sing along to a traditional song.

And, they played two encore pieces because of the demands of the dancing crowd.  One of their pieces is called “Que Alegria” (What Joy), and this is the perfect way to describe the whole performance.

band4 band3 band2 band S

Espejo: Mirror


Last night the inspectors came three times to run the gum sellers and other vendors off the zocalo. Each time they approached us, they wanted to know (but didn’t ask) what I was doing with them and why these children were playing with cell phones. But they just swept us away into the night, making disparaging comments about people who leave their children to work in the streets. To clarify though: Rosita had been with them all night, is always with them every night — until the inspectors come. She does leave the children when the inspectors arrive, but she does so only because it is far more likely that they’ll penalize her than one of the children.

So the upside was that we had more time to sit together and chat and practice taking photos.

On Cecilia’s turn with the camera, she only took videos to capture small clips of Julio screeching (something he was happy to do). She took at least forty videos, each no more than a second long.

On Julio’s (pictured left) turn, he and Augostino (right) wrestled for control until they found the function where they could see themselves as in a mirror. They tried on all sorts of funny faces before I reached over and snapped this one. They didn’t even know I did it as they were already testing another and another silly expression.

Mateo hoarded the other phone, listening to some music I had, asking me if I really like songs like that (folk) while taking at least ten snapshots of my feet and as many of his legs and even more of the cup of corn I bought for him. At home, downloading the shots, I couldn’t help but be impressed by these little artists.

Oh, You Can’t Scare Me…


Saturday night was the Second Saturday Art Walk in Sacramento; it was also a rainy night. Instead of walking about, we headed to the Poetry Center’s artists who are writers exhibition, reading, and book release. The gallery was packed, and an hour into the reading, an intoxicated woman entered. She had a whole bottle of wine in a paper bag, wore sunglasses — sometimes on her face, sometimes in her hair, had a way of greeting people coming and going, and also couldn’t control herself from fidgeting, singing, commenting in odd places at a high volume.

I was pretty sure she was a regular at the reading series as the Poetry Center can be counted on to welcome almost anyone.

Several attendees were slightly bothered by her outbursts, would look in her direction with a hot glare.

In the middle of the band’s rendition of “Clair de Lune,” the woman in sunglasses knocked over an anthology perched on a stand and tried three or four times to re-position it. Her fingers were too twitchy and she kept snapping the stand onto the table.

A man, ignited by the sound, grabbed her by the arm and headed to the door, but most of the rest of her did not come, so he grabbed her hair, too. Still, she did not fly out the door with the ease that he expected. Instead, she toppled; her head crashed into a pillar.

It was at this moment that the band realized that something else was happening in a corner of the room, and everyone stopped in time to see the woman pop back up.

Yelling, “That’s assault; I’ll show you assault,” she charged the man, and they both thudded against the door.

The man next to me called 9-1-1. The woman went out the door with a fire extinguisher. Someone quickly locked her outside.

The rest of us were locked in, locked in a state of mild shock at what had gone down in such a short amount of time. The band’s time was up, but they played on, serenading us with Woody Guthrie lyrics that promised, “oh, you can’t scare me…”

In the pouring rain, the woman struck the door, the window, and the wall with the fire extinguisher.

The band ran out of songs. A bored man unlocked the door, letting the woman in and a stream of us out the door before the police finally arrived.

We left wondering how this story would be told. Who would be the heroes? Who would be the villains?