Sanchez Pasquez Market

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The thing I dislike most about traveling alone is that it is harder to get snapshots of the unsuspecting.

In addition to learning to cook in the Casa Crespo class, I reaped several other unanticipated benefits:

1. I learned the names of some of the fruits and vegetables I was not familiar with.  More importantly, I learned how one might break into some of these foods because the chef offered us samples of some of them.

2. I learned where the healers are in the market and recognized some of the herbal remedies enough to be able to find the healers again in the future.  I had no idea these services would be available in a mostly food focused market

3. I got some pictures of the locals at work.

I recommend, at a minimum, a guided tour of a market as a key to understanding more about all of the products and services available in one bustling space.

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Fruit Stands

fruit stand!

Okay, so plastic food, once one starts looking for it, is more ubiquitous here than one might think. And, I know why: Altars. When some people make diorama altars, they use varying sizes of fake foods, including fake beers and plates of mole.

So, I got a basket of pears and grapes and apples and bell peppers and lemons and corn and carrots and onions—and one egg. I also got a stash of play money.

I gave them each 1,500 pesos to start and told them they were to sell their produce. We talked about words such as sweet, delicious, sour, bitter, juicy. They each made a sign for the store. I encouraged them to make a store name and to offer sales and deals to draw their customers, their classmates, in. Their goal would be to make the most money from their peers. I worried that this might be too much of a popularity contest, but then I saw their strategies.

Making his poster, David asked me to translate the phrase for: No Loans. He didn’t want any deadbeat customers.

Miguel said he wanted to sell a box of tomatoes. I reminded him that he neither had a box nor tomatoes. He did have one banana and his book bag. He decided to offer this as Sack of Banana. One banana in a blue bag: 200 pesos! He didn’t even bother to try to sell the rest of his produce. He said that he’d keep it to feed his “family.” He, needless to say, did not win.

David kept working on his sales strategy. He decided that he wanted to add his bag of chips to the mix. He sold individual chips for 1000 pesos each, and the others flocked to his market to exhaust their fake money on his junk food. He won.

This activity taught them: colors, flavors, fruit and vegetable names, how much, how many, and more. Plus, they now know how to use the word thousand to count their piles of fake money.

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English Class Field Trip

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We started a unit on food in English class. The students have a new constellation of words: milk, eggs, bread, candy, sugar, onions, carrots, potatoes, and so on. They like fruit the best, and so it was easier to give them grape, strawberry, kiwi, orange.

In part because I have a rambunctious crew and in part because I had not been able to secure play money and fake fruit for our own shopping game, we walked to the town’s two “convenience” stores together to see the words for ourselves.

The activity started out as a karate chopping and roundhouse kicking extravaganza in the store of Oscar (not one of my students) and Cesar his brother and their parents because Asuscena has a crush on Oscar.  And, Samantha tried to tell Oscar. Serious madness ensued. The father of the boys seemed to understand what was going on and did not even comment on the small disruption.

Hannia and Ariadna didn’t want to be associated with us at first. David kept asking me to loan him a peso – or, better yet, a dollar.

If you were watching, you would swear they weren’t learning a thing, but I promise they could say beans and rice and watermelon and garlic and ended up staying ten minutes after class.

We also tried musical chairs. It looked more like an episode of Jerry Springer. I predicted there’d be chair throwing. It wasn’t hard to see that coming. I did not foresee the lucha libre exhibition—though I should have. I ought to just give them masks and let them go at it.

“Drink nothing without seeing it; sign nothing without reading it.” -Spanish Proverb

Aftermarket

I know I have reminisced before about the fruits and vegetables of Oaxaca and how they remind me of the food of my childhood: oranges with real seeds, lettuce with crunch, and the creamiest avocados.

A man pushes a wheelbarrow of cherries up the street, and it is hard to resist sampling one, but some work needs to go into disinfecting the produce before consumption by most US American digestive systems.

Here is my last batch of fruits and veggies bathing in tap water treated with Microdyn (made from colloidal silver) which is easily eliminated by the body and removes only the not-so-delicious parts of the equation: bacteria, viruses, mold, and parasites.

So far this week I have bathed apples and strawberries, potatoes and onions, carrots and avocados, and the special-delivery cantaloupe. (Pieces of fruit float; veggies sink.)

Hola. Podria tomar una photo, por favor?

Market!

Today was Taco Friday. As I went to retrieve three carnitas tacos for Mari, I did two laps around the park to determine whether my favorite vendors were around — and approximately where.

At first, I had a hard time warming up to the crowds and asking permission to take photos or surreptitiously snap shots, but when I did inquire, people obliged my requests generously in the park and throughout the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.

These are some of my favorite shots of the day.

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“I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.” -Joseph Addison

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As I type this afternoon, my lower back reminds me of the food and flowers I installed in the yard yesterday, taking advantage of the break in the rain to rearrange some of the dirt in the side yard and back yard, to add some color to the atmosphere, and to signal to the birds that they, most of them, are welcome.

(How do I let the woodpecker who weekly hammers into our shingles know he has worn out his welcome and is uninvited to the feast?)

On the side yard, I have: strawberries, tomatoes, cilantro, chili and bell peppers, two types of cucumbers, leeks, mint, basil, and four marigolds to ward off snails.

The soil is teeming with worms and is moist for feet. It is ready to grow.

The back yard contains: blackberries, grapes, and blueberries. It has lavender, rosemary, thyme, chives, rock roses, roses, daisies, and ranunculuses.

The evening air, last night, was filled with the heavy scent of roses, a muddle of basil, lavender, and mint, and the musky undertone of upturned earth, the eau de cologne of spring.

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Halekai – Light Show and a Light Meal

Halekai!

Located at the Fairmont Orchid, Halekai (Home by the Sea), a beachfront café, is the perfect place for appetizers and drinks as a prelude to the show: sunset. Because we were there to toast eventide, I had the Kohala Sunset, a tincture of light rum, orange curacao, orange juice concentrate, and grenadine, and M had the Lilikoi (passion fruit) Margarita. Though they were similar in appearance, I enjoyed the Sunset’s texture more than the slightly more viscous floating lilikoi.

In addition to welcoming evenfall, we were anticipating the torchbearer who runs through vast grounds of whichever resort, lighting the way and finally blowing a conch to say goodbye and express gratitude to the sun.

Testing out nearly every option on the appetizer menu, we couldn’t help but notice some Mexican influences, such as chips, guacamole, and mango salsa, and that the desserts were titled “postres.” This seemed odd when paired with the Asian-influenced chicken pot stickers and chicken satay skewers, and the local items such as Hamakua Mushroom and Spinach Flatbread. But all of these dishes (and I am sure others) were incredibly unique and delectable.

Go for the light show. Have a drink and enjoy some of the scrumptious small plates.

Halekai

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