El Mercado 3
Oil on Canvas 16″ x 20″
Tag Archives: Oaxaca
It was hot and sweaty in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, where I had to take one of these tricycle taxis from the bus station to the Mexican border. It was much cheaper to walk across the bridge then to pay $4 to be tricycled across. Guatemalan and Mexican immigration was smooth enough, although a slow and sweaty process. From there I took a shuttle to Tapachula, where I had to wait a couple of hours for the bus to Arriaga. It gave me time to relax and have some good Mexican tacos. It seems to me that Mexican tortillas are the best.
I enjoyed a night and a day in Arriaga, Mexico where I had stayed before, at the Hotel Chiapas, although they had raised their rates somewhat since I was here in October. I had more great Mexican street tacos, then in the morning an incredible breakfast buffet for $4 that set me up through lunch. I had to wait all day and into the night for my bus to leave for Oaxaca at 9PM. It was nice to be in a real bus station rather than just a spot on the sidewalk.
I slept on the bus all night and arrived in Oaxaca around 5AM, so the Hostel Paulina, where I had stayed in October, only charged me for the following night. Breakfast was included, and the staff recognized me and requested a musical performance. I gave them a Promo CD of Luis Sabor and the next morning they were playing it for the breakfast service.
I really like Oaxaca, Mexico. It is one of the few large state capital cities that still retain a relaxed atmosphere, despite being very busy and offering a great deal of opportunities for shopping and entertainment. It is similar to Leon, Nicaragua in this regard. I enjoyed visiting a large mercado, where I tried on a sombrero, since I had accidentally left my leather hat on a bus in Escuintla.
I also tried a few of these “chapulines”: chili-fried crickets, at the insistence of my friend Porfirio, whom I had met back in October when I was busking in the Plaza. Porfirio and I talked a great deal and he had an interesting story to tell. Having grown up on the streets, he had just spent his first entire year dependence-free, after being addicted to heroin for six years. It was inspiring to hear how he had pulled himself out of the gutter, literally, with the help of God, to escape the living hell he had endured. He was incredibly optimistic, and I have felt compelled to pray for him, as his trials certainly cannot be over.
After just two days in Oaxaca, I was ready to board another bus for a long trip to Puebla. The bus stations were starting to resemble airports now, and the buses were more comfortable, including bathrooms and movies, although much more expensive than in other countries.
I stayed in Morelia for five days and got very rested up from my long trip there and what was sure to be a long trip to Oaxaca. The trip to Oaxaca was indeed difficult. I had to wait in the terminal at Morelia until 2PM for the bus to Puebla, as there wasn’t a direct route to Oaxaca. Eight hours later I struggled with my heavy backpack and guitar through the huge terminal at Puebla where I discovered I had just missed the latest bus by 15 minutes and had to wait until Midnight for the next one. I had a nice sandwich (Torta) and waited. The trip to Oaxaca was only four hours, and I slept the whole way. I had made reservations the previous day for the Hostel Paulina, so I felt confident arriving there at 4:30AM, and they didn’t even charge me for that night. It turned out to be a great deal, including a satisfying breakfast included, for around $15 and night.
The hostel was populated by a large group of students studying Acts (from the Bible) of the Covenant Church. They were great folks, mostly Swedish with some Central American kids as well, and we got along quite well especially after I started playing guitar and singing. I stayed in a dorm room, but shared it only with one Japanese guy who was very agreeable.
I spent my days taking my promo packets to hotels and restaurants, and I had interviews with a couple of interested parties, but mostly I played my music in the Central Plaza with my guitar case open for tips. I gained a few dollars a day, enough for lunch, and I met a number of friendly locals that were big music fans. One interesting fellow named Porfirio Diaz (!) had a helluva story to tell: he had been a heroin addict for the last 20 years and finally pulled himself out of the gutter and was working in a sports shop in Morelia, just visiting family in Oaxaca, and passing the days shining shoes for extra cash. He’s a really good guy and I sure hope he can keep on keeping on.
Oaxaca was actually quite comfortable, but even with the cheap hotel and free breakfast, lunch and dinner were pushing me over my $20 a day budget, so I was ready to head south. My goal was Tehuantepec, a little town half way to the border of Guatemala that I had visited fifteen years before. The trip was a long four hours and when I arrived I made the mistake of hoisting on my backpack and walking from the bus terminal to the hotel I had stayed at long ago. The town had grown enormously and I was in great pain from walking more than ten blocks when I arrived at the Hotel Donaji, which had since become a grand hotel charging $30 a night for a single with only a fan. I felt I had no choice, so I forked it over and planned to get up early to catch the early morning bus to Arriaga.
The ride to Arriaga was quite pleasant, even though the bus was second class and spent alot of time picking up students and locals along the way. Arriaga was much more my kind of town, and I could have spent more time there if I wasn’t so eager to reach Guatemala. The taxi driver took me to a brand new hotel that charged $15 a night for single with fan. The market was just a couple of blocks away.
I bought a few tacos at around .5o cents each, then bought some avocado, cheese and tortillas for my dinner. When I got back to my room I realized I had forgotten my avocado, so I hustled back to the same vendor and told them what happened, and they went ahead and gave me my avocado without argument.