Chocolate and bugs

Trip Start May 19, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20th July – Arrival time in Oaxaca 10 am! Tired? Ish. Hungry? Nope. Plan for the day? Escape our terrible hotel with pubic hair in beds and cockroaches in front of the door. Instead of the breakfast place our guide took us to I wanted something more authentic and cheaper. As this is supposed to be the poorest area of Mexico there had to be something. So after getting a little rest I went to a place basically right next to the hotel. Once again you could watch the owner prepare the food and I chose to have tlayuda (I believe that is how it is spelled.. not sure anymore though) It is a big tortilla filled with guacamole, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, beans, and I chose churizo (sausage, which is delicious and that coming from me snobby German!) From that time on everyone in the group went to the place too. When we got our lunch I also asked where you could get tamales and so she gave us a recommendation… More about that after our little city tour…

City tour was short, not very informative but gave us an idea of where to go and how to get around so that was very nice. Though there were two highlights on the tour! We went past street vendors that sold bugs as snacks!!! EWWWWWWW!!! They had different sizes and different flavours but I chose to only take a quick look from far because I would definitely have gagged and then had nightmares about chilly flavoured grasshoppers coming for me at night.. But then we went to a place that was more like me. Another chocolate place! They had chocolate dip, hot choclate, iced chocolate, freshly made chocolate (which we watched!!) and other chocolate stuff. The chocolate making process was awesome because he put the cocoa beans on top of the machine with a few cinnamon sticks and then turned on the grinding machine leading to chocolate mass dropping down to a collector bowl. We had that chocolate mass right away…. Heaven, though still not as good as the hot chocolate with cake!

I apologize that much of this is about food but it is just too good to skip it. So for dinner we went to another main square and had tamales (corn cakes) at a street vendor where people were standing in ques! By the time it was our turn she only had three kinds left. And now I know why only so few because it was so good! Everything here is spicy but the ones with chicken and pepper were the best ever. I wish I had gotten the sweet ones too but sadly those were sold out….

At night we went to a bar that was called something with cat. I thought Mexicans would be kinda similar to Cubans in the sense that they like to dance but it was not the case at this club sadly. We rocked away anyways right next to the tables because the dancefloor was filled with non dancing or standing people. Therefore we were the highlight of the bar I'd say and made everyones night until we left early because the band seriously was horrible. It was still funny because it was a live band in a club, playing in a boxing ring in the middle. Weird and funky but cool J Except for the music of course. There was nothing else good going on so we went back to the hotel and banged on the door cause they just would not open. Once they did we proudly entered the lobby, rushed to the third floor and continued our party there until we needed to be more quiet because oh yea, there are different guests too. Plus who would want to wake the cockroaches? One of our group members went into a room with an open door and we had a photo session with him and a drunk and passed out guy next to him. I know a little distasteful but hilarious nonetheless!! Especially because he was a tourist in the other GAP (my travel company) group..

Good night (long spandex and long sleeve on in order to avoid bed bugs. Oh joy! Lol)

21st July – No bed bug bites! After staying up really late waking up this morning was a lot more difficult than I had imagined it to be. My roommates and I almost overslept and got ready quickly to make it in time to meet our tour leader of the day. The tour sounded like it would explore some really interesting parts of the culture and the surroundings. After our first stop we all determined that we wanted to go home and stop the so interesting tour. This is why: It was pouring like it as been in this city since we arrived. But that was only a small part. Our first stop was to see a large, old tree. The second stop was to a weaving place, which was cool because you could see that they make the red paint out of squashed insects from cactuses and blue from flowers, etc. But right after that short description it turned into a tourist trap because we were presented a lot of the final products quickly, accompanied by the words we accept cash, dollars, visa, master card instead of – this took a year and this one has a special meaning because… Our third stop was a tequila distillery. This was also quite interesting because the plant that they make tequila out of looks like a huge pineapple with stringy flesh inside. This gets burned, soaked, cooked and the steam condenses again to become the final product. After that – back to whipping out all the kinds of tequila and drinks to try. Lastly we went to more ruins, which did not use any clay or anything to support the stones but instead used stones that were shaped differently in order to build the buildings resistant to earthquakes. Furthermore the inside of it was coloured in a vibrant and glossy red, which reflected the sunlight to the inside and lit up rooms without torches or candles. Now that I am writing this the tour actually sounds pretty good but trust me during it was more like: tourist in car – take to attractions – tourist needs to purchase – take tourist home – have tourist pay for tour guide (more taxi driver)

When we got back some people of the group went to the museum of the city but because it was only in Spanish I thought I would wait for the Museums in Mexico City where I can understand what is displayed. Because of that I did miss out on the skull that is covered with lots of jade.. Somehow I think it is famous because I even knew about it.  I went to the markets and walk around the streets instead. First I had to get myself a coffee because I needed change and they do not like to take anything bigger than 50 peso bills. I don’t know why there are 500 ones. To give you an idea 50 pesos is a little more than 3 Euros. And afterwards I went to a street where all the locals ate. I could not take a picture because my camera was messed up but it was fascinating! The whole street had street vendors next to one another that were set up like the beer stands at festivals at home (Schuetzenfest J) where there is a person in the middle who is surrounded by four counters so clients can stand around the stand. These ones were smaller and had benches around them plus huge flat bowls in which they made quesadillas, Mexican empanadas and tortillas. I got an empanada filled with mushrooms, a kind of string cheese and a flower. Seriously, an orange and green flower. No idea what it was but it looked so intriguing that I had to try it. It was delicious of course. But I made the tourist mistake – pay before I was done eating. This is because in Mexico you eat your meal at these stands and then you say what you had and pay for it.

Full from my quesadilla and my coffee I went to the markets and it almost felt like Cuba again. When you go by yourself you receive a lot more attention from random people around the streets but also more credibility when you go to the markets. I can understand that because I do not even take myself serious when I walk around with 15 other people speaking a different language and asking "cuanto es?" while taking pictures of the must see churches.

Afterwards I went to the food market past the artisan market and this is the first time that I saw whole chickens presented at the stands. Head and feet are still on it and just lay on top of the counters, stretching their lifeless craws at you. This next to BBQ flavoured crickets and pig feet plus the usual food we get in our parts of the world made the short trip a sweet experience! I am definitely coming back here tomorrow.

At night we decided we just wanted to stay in and play games. I like my group more and more and I have to say that they are the reason why I like this part of my trip the way I do. We got dinner at another street vendor at the corner and I had tacos and a little pit of steak, which was so thin that you ripped it with your hands. Incredible!!

…… 4 am..  time for bed J
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