Weekend Fun

Trip Start Jul 29, 2012
Trip End Aug 01, 2013

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Flag of Mexico  , Pacific Coast,
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A week and a half ago, Leah and I got to return to home soil for the first time since coming to Mexico in August. It feels somewhat ironic to be referring to New York City as "home soil", as it is worlds away from Montana, but it felt perfectly familiar and comfortable and relaxing and fun, and it made me homesick for the States.  That, or perhaps I was homesick for long, fun-filled weekends jet setting with my lovely wife.

We attended the beautiful wedding of my cousin, Jon (Jeb) Bruner and my new cousin-in-law, Bethany Kerner.  Thanks, Mom, Dad, and Leone for helping us pull it off. 
Leah's mom, Leone, aka “Mamu” to her grandchildren, timed her visit to Oaxaca so that she could watch Micah and Zola while Leah and I were away.  It was very impressive how she jumped in with both feet.  She doesn’t speak much Spanish, but that didn’t stop her from doing anything.  It was great to know that Micah and Zola were loving their time with Leone in Oaxaca while Leah and I were loving our time in NYC with my family.  Micah and Zola also got a big kick out of being able to teach Leone that her name translates as “Lion” in Spanish.  Those of you who know Leone will recognize poetic symbolism.

There were numerous highlights from our weekend in New York.  Incorporating some non-Mexican foods into my dining rotation was right up there for me.  Here in Oaxaca, we have loved our staple foods of beans and tortillas, supplemented with avocados, tomatoes, cheese, and salsa and an occasional roasted chicken.  It wasn’t until I bought a $5 falafel over rice with salad from a street stand a few blocks from our hotel in the financial district of Manhattan that I realized how much I missed other ethnic foods.  The falafel tasted so, so, so good.  I think I heard my taste buds squealing with delight.  Or … it could have been the woman shouting into her cell phone next to me.  Mind you, we haven’t felt deprived in Oaxaca.  The food has been excellent.  When we return to Bozeman, I suspect beans and tortillas will be a regular part of our cooking rotation.  As well, I expect to expand my Mexican cooking repertoire a lot in the months ahead.  Suffice it to say, there’s a lot to be said for a diversity of tastes to keep one’s palate excited.  I hear Leah in my head reflecting on what a privilege a diverse palate is…The majority of Oaxacans rarely experience food beyond beans and tortillas.

Post-wedding and pre-flight home, Leah and I visited the 9/11 Memorial with my folks and brother, caught up with my friend Niesha and her family on the Upper West Side, and enjoyed dinner with Leah’s close friend Tanya and her family in Brooklyn.  Leah and I were on separate flights back to Oaxaca (you can ask Leah about the reasoning behind that).  Mine was the redeye flight, during which I got some restless, but beneficial sleep and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise above the clouds.  This was our only planned trip back the States for the year.  We’re now here for the long haul, which, amazingly, is already down to nine months.

Back in Oaxaca, we reveled in a few more days with Leone.  I grilled for the first time – portabella mushrooms, potatoes, and thinly-sliced pork chops, with sautéed greens.  Leah took time to enjoy the historic centro with her mom, our family enjoyed a delicious dinner on the roof of a restaurant near Santo Domingo Church (see photo), and Leone, Micah, and Zola reminisced about their fun times together over the weekend in “The Awesome Club”.  Though Leone is gone, her presence is still felt.  She invited me to play Words With Friends and we’re entangled in a game that I look forward to every day.  Anyone else interested?

So, we’re settling back into a routine.  Leah’s plugging away at her book and a grant application she’s collaborating on, the kids are enjoying school, and I am now taking Spanish classes.  Leah and I decided that we would like to use weekends to explore all that Oaxaca has to offer.  This past Saturday, we visited the Árbol del Tule (the Tree of Tule), about a 25 minute drive from our house.  Nicknamed the “Tree of Life”, according to Wikipedia, this tree has the “stoutest trunk of any tree in the world” and has been alive over 2,000 years, withstanding the Spanish conquest and all the human struggles that ensued.  Pretty cool.
On Sunday, I ran my first road race in Mexico (more on that to come).  On the way home, we stopped off at a grocery store and were surprised to see the Minnesota Vikings playing the San Francisco Forty-Niners on television in the electronics department.  Yes, we stood and watched for a short while.  Go, Vikes!

In other news, Micah and Zola continue to be fascinated by the creepy-crawlies that Leah tries to steer clear of.  (see photos)   Micah has started adding “picante” sauce to his tostadas.  We all continue to enjoy fresh lime sodas.  My second attempt at mowing our small yard with a weed whacker prompted Leah to say, “It looks like a not-so-good haircut.  Give it a few days and it will look better.”  I know it’s possible to do it well, as I’ve seen guys mowing entire baseball fields around here with weed whackers.  My other alternative is a machete, which is what campesinos use.  Maybe I’ll give that a try.   

As I type, Micah and Zola are downstairs coloring together.  Leah just got back from a run and is in the shower.  And I am contemplating what to do for my Spanish homework.  The assignment is to write a short essay using past tense.  Leah suggested the two of us get up early tomorrow morning, have some hot beverage together, and hang out on the couch while the kids are still asleep.  She’ll read articles while I write.  She can be my tutor.  I like it.
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Scott Field on

As long as I've known you, Steve, your taste buds have always been squealing about something.

Anna on

It looks so wonderful! Jim and I are both avid Words players....he also plays with my Mom.....

Sauny on

Hah! There is more City Boy in Steve than I knew!
Cheers, Sauny

Jeb on

It was lovely to have both of you there. Glad to know you enjoyed yourselves in the city!

Rumpo on

I want to play words with friends! What's your "name" so I can invite you for a game?

Uncle 'Jamin on

I can't wait to hear about the race! Hopefully our grueling training along the East River paid off.

Katie on

Love following your posts! Maybe the next book will be on living in Oaxaca;) I get the seperate flights reasoning Leah;)

Jennie on

Thanks for keeping us posted, Steve--I love reading about your life there! The race story was hilarious. Love to all of you.

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