Carlos the taxi driver crosses himself when we enter the big highway. He does this every time. Perhaps there is a hidden altar I do not see. Perhaps he is asking for guidance or protection as we pick up speed. He can make it to the city in under 30 minutes! He points to the big pink casa in the distance. Empty, he says. The owner has lived in California for 30 years. We are on the way to Oaxaca for the last time this time.
There is a tendency to scoop up everything that one forgot to buy before on the last day in Oaxaca: mole rojo, coloradito or negro paste packed by efficient Mayordomo girls into double strength plastic bags. Do we have time to get to that special galleria? Is there a window to find Bertha Cruz in Arrazola? Maybe a short stop to visit Remigio Mestas? Who have I forgotten for gifts? What would she like? What would fit him? I sit on the Zocalo in Terra Nova at the outdoor cafe waiting for Eric. Las Nuvas, the clouds, give us shade and there is a little less heat to this day. I order agua con pepino de limon and the waiter brings a plate of sliced cucumbers with wedges of lemon. The confusion of language brings a chuckle and the cucumbers are quite tasty.
My pack is weighted with 20 lbs. (or so it seems) of mole, a large countertop aluminum juice squeezer useful for making quantities of lime juice (nowhere to be found in the U.S.), an unusual huipil hand embroidered from San Antonino of a design I had never seen before and impulsively purchased, a burgundy red three-dimensional star, and a string of paper cut-out white cupids and red hearts to give to my son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law. There is no rhyme or reason to this assortment other than the last day scramble to bring Oaxaca home with me.