We have had a very busy day here but a most enjoyable one.
We left the hostel around 9am to get our photos copied onto disk and some printed to send to Jesus with Heather. But, once again the Mexican idea of time didn’t align with the European!! The shop that told us yesterday that yes, they would be open today never opened at all!! So we went and changed some money and then found another photo shop that was open. It proved to be rather expensive to get the photos copied on to CD’s so we just got a few photos printed off.
We then walked a bit further and found the La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Oaxaca (Evangelical Baptist Church) that Heather goes to. The biggest percentage of churches here are Catholic so we were glad to know of this one which was close by. It was quite a long service and of course all in Spanish. Heather sat with us and translated the sermon for me. I found the songs quite easy to sing along to as we had the words. I can deal with the Spanish if I can see the words so it was fun. The sermon was interesting. The church has quite a few missionaries who work in the outlying pueblos and today one of them was visiting and preached about God’s blessings – his base was from Genesis and when God sent Abram out and told him of the 6 blessings he would receive if he moved out in obedience.
We gave Heather the photos, she will deliver them tomorrow when she visits the Project. We look forward to keeping in contact with her, she is delightful and keen to visit NZ in the future.
After that we walked up to the Santo Domingo church and spent some time at the museum Regional de Oaxaca which is attached to it. There were more security guards there than I have seen police in the streets! It is huge, all in Spanish and we didn’t want to pay the 50 pesos each for the audio tour. So we just cruised about looking and guessing what everything was!! It covered a lot of archeological artifacts of the Zapotecas, the history of the Conquistadores, and on through time. The architecture was magnificent but the best part were the gardens. We looked down on them from many big windowless windows, you are not allowed to go into them without a guide because of the risk of damage. Nathan thought they were the absolute best part of the place.
We were all pretty hungry and tired by then so we went across the square to an Italian coffee shop and had iced coffees. The area around Santo Domingo is quite touristy so there are a lot of more European style eating places and things are a lot more expensive. I have been talking to the guys here at the hostel and they tell me that there are a lot of Americans who are coming here, buying run down buildings and rennovating them and then use them just for private hotels for rich Americans. These people fly in, live totally in the hotels, with their swimming pools and open interior courtyards and restaurants, never leave them to see the real Oaxaca because they don’t like to see the poverty. Sound familiar?? They sure miss all the fun
We went to the supermarket at the Zocalo to get some rice for dinner and spent quite some time choosing some mexcal for a gift. It comes in some many shapes and sizes of bottles etc. The shop owner was very interesting to talk to so that took more time!!
We came back to the hostel, it is far easier to come back here to use the bathroom than to find any around the city. If you do find one in the markets they cost 2 pesos. Someone sits at the doorway, takes your money and hands you a measured piece of toilet paper!!
By this time it was mid afternoon, so we lightened our packs, refilled our water bottle and headed down to the large Central market. Jesika had warned me that it was huge. Well, it sure is. It is like a maze but the shop keepers know exactly where things are. We passed stalls with naked chickens spread across the counters, meat stalls, veges, fruits, chillis dried, chillis fresh, clothes, leather goods, basketware, pottery, toys, woven mats, hammocks, blankets, jewellery, you name it – it was there!
Nathan had been wanting to try fresh coconut so we found a stall and got the girl to cut one for him. He and Jesika stood there drinking the milk with a straw from the coconut and I took a photo of them with the girl. She was pretty good with the machete! Anyway, after I took the photo her mother popped up from behind the stand and was trying to tell us something. I thought at first she wanted me to pay them for taking the photo. But no! She wanted me to take a photo of her and her 2 daughters. So I did, then found out their names – Abagail was 5 months old, Josefina in her teens and the mother´s name was so pretty, Alejontria. I had to laugh though when I found that she had the baby lying in the cupboard under the stand.
I have seen baby´s in all states in all places!! Saw one having its nappy changed on the shopcounter, another crawling about on the dirty concrete pavement by the stalls, many being breastfed where ever the need arises, sleeping or playing in the cupboards at the back of the stalls, crawling about amongst the produce etc etc.
We then went and found some veges for dinner, and then asked for directions to the craft area. Because it was Sunday a lot of stalls had closed already but we found enough open to occupy us for a while. We then tried to find our way out of the market, ended up at a different exit and walked around in a huge circle and ended up back were we had started!! Jesika said she wasn’t lost, but I had to steer her in the right direction. She is shocking with directions. I think she is a bit directionally dyslexic. We stop someone on the street to ask for directions, they tell her to go down her, turn right there etc etc, and then she repeats it to me in English and tells me we have to turn left – I mean to say at 27 I expect her to know the difference. So now Nathan is telling her to go port or starboard!
Anyway, we eventually manged to get to the Artisanes Market that we had visited yesterday. A lot of the stalls were closed but we found the ones we wanted. We then walked all the way back to the hostel. It was getting late, 7pm-ish and we were tired and hungry, but after showing the guy at the counter the chocolate mixer we had bought at the market he told us where to buy the proper chocolate to make it with, he assured us the shop would be open till 8pm so we left Nathan playing on the computer and took of down the street at a rate of knots. Jesika was very skeptical that it would be open and sure enough it wasn’t! So we bought a packet of chips on the way back to curb our growing hunger pains! Jesika cooked up the rice and veges and then we sorted and packed all our gear. Well, actually Jesika packed it all very carefully so nothing will hopefully get broken in transit.
Jesika has been getting very tired, it is hard to sleep here because the traffic noise begins early in the morning right outside our room, the hostel is busy and has music going till quite late, then there are the loud speakers from the teachers protests, the fires and explosives that go off during the night. Apparently the protesters use noisy fireworks to alert the others when the police are coming. The police do not wear uniform at night, they are plain clothed with balaclavas and have weapons, the protesters have no weapons. Three protesters were killed by police last week.
Anyway, I had a chat with Jesika and Nathan this morning about how we were getting to the end of our trip and we were all tired and we had to be more accommodating towards each other and not so short tempered. Nathan vowed and declared he was not tired. He couldn’t be tired because he just could not go to sleep at nights so how could he be tired. Well, tonight we were all sitting a the table eating our dinner and he disappeared into our room, I called him back to see what he was looking for and to get him to eat his dinner because it was getting late. He had been looking for something to cover his nose with because people were smoking and he didn’t like the smell, He was getting very tearful – obviously not tired!! – so I said that he could take his food into the bedroom. It is really hard to cope with the smoking. It is so much more in your face here, some Mexicans but mainly the German tourists. It is quite unlike NZ so Nathan is unused to dealing with the problem. I am glad he hates the smell – I hope he always does, long may he never smoke!!
He is ready to go home, although he said he really loves it here in Mexico and wants to learn Spanish and wants to come back again when he is older. It is easy for Jesika and I to forget to include him in the decision making, so we have to constantly remember to sit down and explain to him what is happening and how plans have changed etc. Once he knows he is happy and copes well.
It has been really interesting talking to the people here about the political situation. It is really of major concern and very much in your face. We have also been learning a lot about the history of the country. About Santana and how he sold out to USA. I never realised that he sold New Mexico, Texas & Arizona to the USA. Zapata however is a hero to the poor people as he fought for their rights. Che Guevera is being used as a revolutionary figure here now, and the people do not realise exactly what he did, they just use his face and ideals. Also learnign about the different people groups. It was not just Mayan and Aztecs in Mexico. There were many different but similar people groups in the various areas. There is great cause for concern as the election counting will finish on Sept 1st and then they will know which man gets in. If it is the wrong one the teachers will really flip. They have been striking since May, I couldn’t believe that they are still being paid despite not working. But apparently when the govt stopped paying them they got really violent and began burning things so their pay began again!! The people support the ideals of the strike but it is affecting them badly. Oaxaca depends on the tourists and they are not coming here so much now, wages are very low, jobs unstable, poverty is escalating. The children have not been in school since May but the teachers are still signing their certificates. So when they graduate next year to the higher classes they will have certificates but no education. It is a very crazy chaotic time for them and I feel for their uncertainty. A lot of people are almost expecting a revolution. Certainly a place and time for many prayers. As I sit here typing an explosive has gone off just outside the hostel so I guess there will be activity around this area tonight. The barricades move nightly so each morning evidence of fires etc are in new places.
We are leaving for Mexico city in the morning, in fact our taxi is booked for 5:30am. I am not too sure what the internet situation is at our hostel. I will update when I can.
Hasta la vista