Monthly Archives: November 2015

Oaxacan Musings of a New Arrival

Time to relaunch my snowbird/retirement blog on a more active basis. Hoy es la dia! This city is so beautiful and sometimes in a very wabi sabi (celebrating the perfection of imperfection) way!


I’m pecking this out at Conchita’s Restaurante awaiting mi comida muy barato. Right here in my barrio at the end of a loooooong lane that goes past the church, a very large cemetery (completely cleaned up after the Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertes) and a neighbourhood pinata making workshop! Manana miercoles/Wednesday en la tardes!

These are the star/estrella shaped pinatas commonly seen at Navidad.. Two winters ago, in my apartment in Ajijic on the balcony I had the village’s biggest pinata which I got hung up overhead in the middle of my balcony/mirador. Must look on Google Drive to see if I can find this 150 peso (bargained down from 180) paper mache wonder! I’m sure it was a tourista attraction in Centro Ajijic that Christmas season! In the new year the rains came and there really is nothing sadder than a soggy falling apart pinata.

But I digress. I’ve now been on this side of the border for three weeks mas o menos. Little less than two weeks in Cancun, 29 hours on an ADO bus getting from there to Oaxaca and just a little over a week here. I’m now nicely settled in my well appointed ground floor apartment in the Xochimilco barrio/ neighborhood.  There are two apartments in this three story white house house and I’m in the front one bedroom apartment. Look for the bars to the back of this picture and you will see my private entrance to the street. Because of the lockable bars I can actually open up my two upper windows for both light and fressshhh air.


The friendly owners, Yolanda and Pablo were on hand to meet me late Saturday night when the ADO local bus arrived an hour late due to traffic and road construction. I miraculously found this place on Craigslist Oaxaca, if you can believe this. Only 6000 pesos all inclusive con WIFI pero no Telecable.  But the movies in the mercados here are ten pesos so no hay problema. 

Since I left Cancun at 6 o’clock and it was an overnight bus there wasn’t a lot to see at night and the intercity stops for passenger pick ups or driver changes were very short. Fortunately, I can still sleep on buses and I had my eye mask.  However, at one presumably higher elevation point the fog was soooo thick I got a bit worried but the drivers here are highly experienced so we made it through. I was incredulous at the totally blind Hail Mary passing on double solid lanes though!

On to what Oaxaca is like.  For starters, just let me say I’m soooo happy, well jubilant, in fact to be outta the gringo zone thus winter. There is a small expat community here but it’s NOT a foreigner dependent place like Ajijic or San Miquel de Allende. In SMA I always felt I just never had though money to go where I wanted and do what I wanted. If anything,I was always mentally beating myself up for not saving or investing enough for my retirement. And I wasn’t living in the right colonia in San Rafael and mi ropa/clothes were all boring and unfashionable. And how come I didn’t have 350 USD for a three mixed media workshop?

No mas! I pay for my beautiful and comfortable ( with pillow top bed) departemente in pesos and the prices of almost everything here is significantly lower. Right this minute I just finished a full comida, soup and ham and cheese torts/sandwich with drink for only 40 pesos. I’m having cafe con leche now while I’m composing this which will bring my tab up to 45 pesos. The noodle soup was not particularly noteworthy but the sandwich was on a fresh crusty bun and included generous amounts of ham, cheese, avocados and crunchy pickles picante. Naturally, there was some type of mole sauce inside; presumably Conchita’s special family recipe.

Much, much too early to identify which one of the seven mole sauces Oaxaca proudly features and celebrates in the Seven Moles of Oaxaca Festival. But I’m positive by the end of March my mole knowledge will increase exponentially as well as my repertoire via cooking classes.

So far, I have done a few walkabouts in Centro stopping in at the Biblioteca/ Oaxaca Lending Library to meet some locals and to volunteer in the cafe on Thursdays 10 to 2. I was also invited to join the insider Clandestine Oaxaca Appreciation Facebook grupo. It was here that I discovered a way cool volunteer opportunity to help out with a Spanish production of the Vagina Monologues.

I though it was going to perhaps be bilingual and was going to try out for a part but at this point mi espanol is still at the beginner stage. I’m just as happy working behind the scenes helping out the director. The first organizational meeting is tomorrow night at a coffee shop in Colonia Reforms.

This V Day Production is a fundraiser for a community agency. It’s a really interesting project and a great artistic outlet. Recently, the playwright, Eve Esler spoke at a conference in Vancouver, B.C. some twenty years after the play’s controversial debut. She remarked on the progress and yes, lack of womens rights worldwide. The play has now been translated into 50 languages and performed internationally usually in February around Valentine’s Day.  

And yes, the topic is absolutely relevant and timely for women (and men) in Mexico due to the still machismo subtext in this culture. I bought the Sunday paper on the weekend and one of the feature articles was on violencia de mujers.

Anyway moving right along let me say on the brink of American Thanksgiving that I am soooo very grateful that I am here in this vibrant city full of very distinctive architecture, history, arts and culture. I AM truly blessed.

Oh, did I mention that the streets are paved and when there are cobblestones they are flattened and cemented in?

That, too.

And what about past and current labour unrest by unruly teachers in the Zocolo?

Well, like anything or anywhere else I have to take the good along with the bad.!

Next week, I’ll post a blog on location IN the Zocolo, the area of Oaxaca that seems to make the international news from time to time.

But Oaxaca IS so much more. Sign up to be notified of new blog postings on either lunes o martes as they are uploaded and follow my ad hoc on-the-fly 140 characterTwitter postings

@jypsygrrl .

! Senora Conchita, la cuenta/check por favor!



Amtrak 15-Day Rail Pass Live Blog – Week One

Just parking this here for future reference since my rental here in Oaxaca is until the end of March and then ‘m flying back to New Orleans to begin with. Then I’ll activate an Amtrak Rail pass and be a hobo until May mas o menos!!


My Week One report on my new winter home in Oaxaca! So very glad to be outta the gringo zona esta invierno!


The white house shows my winter rental in this beautiful city! I am just beyond thrilled to be here!  My apartment is at the front of this white house in the Xochimilco Barrio/Colonia/Neighbourhood.  I arrived here from Cancun after a 29 hour bus ride. OMG. What was I thinking?  In any case after a muy rapidly taxi ride I arrived here and my gracious Mexican landlords Yolanda y Pablo were awaiting me.

It’s the REAL Mexico…at last!

Authors Among Us Right Here in Oaxaca

As an atypical snowbird, I’m currently reading Oaxaca blogs to garner some insider tips so Viva Oaxaca will be my first book purchase here. The ones I brought here well be donated to the Oaxaca Lending Library once I’ve finished reading them.

Do have a Dell tablet bought on sale at Liverpool department store in San Miquel de Allende, Guanajuato (that changes easily back and forth between English and Spanish) with the intention to transition to ebooks but I’m not quite there…yet!

Amate Books?  Will check it out this week! No time like the present, as they say although I’ve always wondered exactly who ‘they’ might be.

Best Foods for Detoxing in the New Year – NewsZoom

Did someone mention avocados?


Here in Mexico, acacias are muy barato and you can buy them everywhere! They even come to you. Last winter, I was waiting for my bus in my colonia of San Rafael in San Miquel de Allende and this man on a bicycle rode by with bags of avocados in his front basket.  Naturally,I bought some and even remembered to ask for ‘manana’ ones so they would last a few days.

If you buy ‘hoy/today’ ones you need to eat them immediately or mush them up and make some fressshhh guacamole! Either way, who doesn’t live actual tree ripened avocados.

Back home at Costco, the bags of avocados are generally ‘next week’ avocados, alas. They start out rock hard then are slow to ripen, and suddenly they are ready to eat all at once and go bad very quickly!

By the way, authentic tortilla chips are not the Doritos kind. They are actually dried and/or fried corn tortillas cut into bite size pieces. In the supermarkets, tortilla chips are called Topopos.

Okayyyyy, time for Hora Feliz/Happy Hour! Bring on the bedidas y botanas!

Here’s a Step By Step Guide for Starting a Travel Blog

Hola from Cancun!

This city doesn’t have a whole lot going for it arts and culture wise but it IS easy to get to right from the regional airport in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. This snowbird winter, my fifth, I did NOT have to wrestle with my suitcase and backpack on a ferry/bus/ Canada Line Skytrain to airport and then sorta kinda sleep at the airport because of the early, early next morning  departure.

I left Nanaimo at night, had a brief layover in Vancouver followed by a brief layover in Toronto and I arrived in Cancun mid afternoon! First time not going through any American airports and definitely noticed the difference not having to contend with the sometimes inconsistent rigors and standards of Homeland Security. All the Canadian airport personnel were efficient and friendly.

Yes, really!

Came to Cancun to attend a MEXTESOL Conference at the Convention Centre here. Just went one day but it was really superb! Lively and informative workshops, publishers’ talks and keynote addresses.  Fantastico!

Did miss out on Dia de los Muertes this year because I didn’t get here until the third but a popular Restaurante, Pericos right in my neighborhood is filed with dozens of frolicking Catrins y Catrinas!

Okayyyyy, back to packing my ONE suitcase for tomorrow’s epic bus journey from here to Oaxaca!  And I don’t use this term lightly because it’s an overnight local bus lasting about 28 horas mas o menos. Good thing this aging jypsygrrl can still sleep on planes, buses, trains and yes, in rather sketchy hostels like my present 85 pesos a night room in the Kancun Hostel. Poorly reviewed in the booking site it’s number one attraction is the rock bottom low, low price for a tourista trap like Cancun.

I’m soooo listo/ready to get outta a place where the locals are surprised you speak espanol and I have to be extra vigilant about my change and asking the taxi driver for the fare first so I don’t get the ad hoc ‘gringo’ pricing!

Will post from the road but probably not upload my postings until I get settled at the Al Sol Apartments in Oaxaca!

Hasta proximente!