Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chubby Bunny

Just after arriving in D.F. Diana and I took off to hike the volcano La Malinche, which peaks at an altitude of 14,646ft. We met up with our crew at the bus station and headed off to Apisaco, a town that is apparently not frequented by tourists. After some tortas at Pepe's, a local restaurant, we headed to basecamp by collectivo. Our cabin turned out to be fabulous, a fireplace, comfy beds and it was even cabin number 214!! We made some foil dinners and then cooked our foil dinners outside on a coal fire. It was quite chilly and we were all anxious to get back inside, so we made a wood fire in the cabin. We made s'mores...with tropical flavored marshmallows for a twist... played a few card games and a competitive round of chubby bunny until late in the evening when we cuddled up in our bunks.

The alarms all went off at 7am, we checked out and starting walking uphill. The trail followed along a road for a bit and then began straight up. After we broke the tree line the straight up dirt trail became a straight up loose rock trail. The view from above was amazing and everyone in our 1o person group made it. The trek down and home was challenging, as we were all exhausted. But the shower and nights rest in D.F. were very well earned. 

"You are in Zapatista rebel territory. Here the people give the orders and the government obeys"

Before leaving Oaxaca I took a quick trip to San Cristobal de Casa, Chiapas. Chiapas is the southern most and most poor state of Mexico, as well as home to the Zapatistas. 
I arrived in San Cristobal super early after an 11 hour, night bus and since the city was still sleeping I visited most of the landmarks and cathedrals. By the time I arrived at the Santo Domingo market the city was in full swing.  San Cristobal is a very charming little city full of all different types of food, music and Zapatista info. The Zapatistas are an armed revolutionary 
group, the EZLN. The Zapatistas rose up in the mid 90's under the leader Subcomandate Marcos against the Mexican government, demanding the right to control their own native land of Chiapas.  Today, the Zapatistas exist as an autonomous group that claim that all they want is to be treated fairly as citizens and given freedom over their land. Beyond the Zapatistas, Chiapas is full of natural beauty, much more than can be seen in my two day venture. I did make it to the Canyon Sumidero in Chiapa de Corzo, where I took a boat tour of the wilderness. EEE, crocodile!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Save the Cool Stuff for When Visitors Come

A couple weekends ago my sister Diana came to visit me in Oaxaca City and we did all the tourist stuff that I had been holding out on. The Museo de Santo Domingo turns out to be an incredible building and huge museum that Diana and I could not have explored completely even if we had hours upon hours.
The following day we headed out to El Hierve el Agua. This is a geographical gem that is located about 2 hours outside of Oaxaca City. Being the non-lame tourists that we are, Diana and I decided to take a city bus followed by a caminoneta (truck with a little roof on the back).
 The journey was a bit bumpy and long, but totally worthwhile once we arrived. El Hierve el Agua looks like a waterfall in pictures, but there is no moving water. The waterfall formation is 
actually petrified mineral water that has flown over the edge of
 these little pools. The water bubbles to the surface very, very slowly and fills small pools until it petrifies, growing in altitude little by little. Pretty 
much a natural beauty out in the middle of nowhere...made for a great Sunday.

This is a picture of Elía, La Señora I lived with for a month, a very sweet lady. Below is a picture of the wall I painted, look closely I'm highlighting the line between the old dull white and the new vibrant white, courtesy of Emma.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

''I'm not a man without tortillas''

Oaxaca is a city FULL of culture and I'm convinced that in no amount of time could one see and experience all of it. With that said, here is a taste of my progress....

This strange group of people is my cooking class. It took us a little more than an hour to prepare tamales and then they steamed for an hour, while our hunger grew.

Here is our finished product, one of about 50. We made both sweet and savory tamales.
The savory were filled with stewed tomatoes, onions, a little jalapeño and oaxacañan cheese. With the sweet variety we mixed cinnamon and sugar into the maza mixture and put pineapples in the middle. I prefer the savoy, but they were both incredible. I
 would like to think I could makes tamales on my own, yet I'm not sure all the ingredients would be so easy to track down.

Beyond great food, Oaxaca has an incredible number of museums.
 Here are some of my favorites...

The stamp man was part of an entire collection made of vintage stamps. The women looming
 were in action in the courtyard of the textile museum and the elephant is painted on gold blocks.

Apart from exploring, I'm living in a house with an older couple that have been very sweet. I eat breakfast with them everyday and I have to say La Señora is a fabulous cook and always cuts some fresh papaya for me. I can't understand why they make instant coffee, where the real coffee beans here are SO good, but some things are better left unsaid.

In conversation about health and Pépe's diet, he did actually say ''No soy un hombre sin tortillas'' - I'm not a man without tortillas, in reference to a low-carb eating plan his doctor gave him...It made my day.