Monthly Archives: December 2009

Never sit on the right side of the aisle going south

We arrived easily, in fact ahead of schedule, on our Continental flight to Mexico City on Christmas morning after spending the night in Houston at the Knights Inn ($52 and free shuttle service).  The plane was less that half capacity and there was lots of room to stretch and store bags.  We hired a porter to carry our 7 pieces of luggage to the Yellow Cab, and for 150 pesos and a 20 peso tip, got to the TAPO bus station two hours ahead of our scheduled departure on ADO GL at 1 p.m. to Oaxaca.  Seven bags carrying gifts and food staple orders for Oaxaca friends and family.  I offered the baggage check man 60 pesos to keep our bags in the storage area (we looked like immigrants, carrying our life’s belongings) so we could go to the central snack area and get some lunch.   His compadre declined our prior request, saying it was too early, and I remembered from ready Earl Shorris, that a bit of a propina (tip) goes a long way.  We boarded the bus and found our seats were occupped, and did not insist on displacing the elderly couple who were completely settled in.  We took the pair of seats opposite them, and as the bus turned south on Mexico 175, the midday sun beat in through the window serving as a solar panel.  It was hot for the next six hours.

Bus travelers were a mix:  young and older, children, grandparents, two pretty young blonde American bilingual college students on winter break, single men in their twenties who, I imagine, are returning to the provinces to visit mothers over the long weekend, able to find work in Mexico City when non was available in their home town.  It is a long ride.  People doze in reclining seats, sip bottled water, refresh themselves at 3 p.m. comida by carefully unwrapping cemitas (Poblano-style sandwiches), munch on nuts and cookies, read books, watch the series of four full-length feature videos, trying to pass the time.  We traverse a shale mountain top studded with astovepipe cactus forest, pass ove a series of cantilevered concrete bridges that span deep river gorges.  The sun is setting in the west and the valley below is an illuminated manuscript of green, brown, beige and deepening shadows.

We’re climbing higher on this curving two-lane road, passing slow moving trucks.  The walls of the canyon pass are coated in concrete to prevent rock slides and after a time, these erode and spill crumbled stone out onto the roadway.  Sometimes it is best not to look.  This is the Pan American Highway.  Altars with plastic flowers punctuate the side of the road, usually after i see the sign, “curva peligrosa.”  I wonder if people died at that spot.  My iPhone is tuned to the Buena Vista Social Club.  We’re now on the fourth feature film, crossing a flat, desolate, sandy plateau that looks like a moonscape.  Dry arroyos, chalk colored soil, scrub grass ochre in the setting sun.  This is an earth that yields nothing but heartache and sweat.  Yet people live here.  There are distant lights flickering.  I wonder what gifts were received today, Christmas.

Time to Travel from Mexico City to Oaxaca: 6 to 6-1/2 hours

Cost: On first class ADO GL, $58 USD one way

Getting Ready to Leave Checklist

Print boarding passes and bus tickets.

Make extra copies of passport.

Call bank to notify them not to block credit/debit cards and authorize international use.

Notify postal carrier to hold mail until return date.

Leave an inside faucet dripping and remove hoses from outside faucets.

Water plants.

Pack giveaway clothes in extra suitcase to fill with goodies on return trip.

Charge computer, camera and smart phone; pack chargers into carry-on.

Assemble medicines, toiletries, sunscreen.

Pack bubble wrap and packing tape.

Clothing to pack: fleece vest, fleece long-sleeve T-shirt, 1 pair hiking pants, 1 dress, one pair hiking shoes, 6 pairs socks, 6 panties, 4 long sleeve silk Tees, 2 sleeveless tank tops, sun hat, wool shawl, 1 big overshirt, lightweight jacket. Leave good jewelry at home (no gemstones); pack one necklace and earrings that you won’t cry over if it gets “lifted”.

Clothing to wear: washable black dress, washable black silk pants, socks, clogs, long wool sweater, cotton shawl.  Jewelry that doesn’t buzz through the security checkpoint (no gold or silver).

Chavez Rugs Hang @ Dos Perros Restaurant, Durham, NC

Stephen discovered Dos Perros, the new downtown Durham Mexican restaurant opened by Charlie and Diana Deal, as a by-product of picking up pig slops every Tuesday from Charlie’s original Chapel Hill establishment, Jujube in the Glen Lennox Shopping Center.  Stephen raved.  That’s no small feat, since our taste buds for Mexican food is now more refined as a result of multiple annual visits to Oaxaca.  Dos Perros is over the top for authenticity, creativity, and great taste.

Over dinner one night, Stephen got to talking with Diana about our dear friend, master weaver Federico Chavez and the possibility of hanging rugs in the restaurant for display and sale.  Last Sunday morning, Stephen left early, rugs piled high, headed for Durham.  Diana and Stephen hung the rugs, Stephen atop the 10 foot ladder, while Charlie whipped up breakfast–eggs, tortillas and pork.  If you live in the area, stop by and let us know how you like the display.

Thanks to Diana and Charlie for giving us the venue to showcase these beauties that are all created from 100% wool that is dyed with natural materials.

Dos Perros Restaurant
200 N Mangum St
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 956-2750

Holiday Gift Ideas From Oaxaca: Alebrijes for Sale

Blue Lizard by Arrazola carver Bertha Cruz is 10″long and 10″ wide at the claws.  It is $135 plus shipping.

The Armadillo is also by Bertha Cruz.  It is 8″ long, 4-1/2″ high and the tail is 12″ long.  This is carved from one piece of copal wood.  $240 plus shipping.

Bear is by Jacobo Angeles, one of the most famous carvers from San Martin Tilcajete.  It is painted with all natural dyes and has been in my personal collection.  It is 9″ long and 5″ high.  $240 plus shipping.

SOLD Angel is by Alberto Jimenez Ojeda, another well-known carver from San Martin Tilcajete.  She is 10″ tall by 5-1/2″ wide. $135 plus shipping.

Husband and Wife Devils are Day of the Dead primitives carved and painted in the village of  La Union.  Unsigned, they are $90 for the pair, plus shipping.

Handwoven wool and silk shoulder bag by Tito Mendoza, Teotitlan del Valle, 8″ square, $125, plus shipping.

Please let me know which piece(s) you are interested in and where you live and I will quote you a shipping cost.  To expedite, I will invoice by PayPal.