Oaxaca Mexico: We’re Still Talking About This?


Okay, I know I’m like the worst blogger ever. I despise it when my favorite bloggers go on hiatus and my continuous *click*refresh* yields nothing new. BUT I’ve been on the move.

Oaxaca was so much fun that I have been dragging this story out for like 3 weeks now I think. Just to put us all out of our misery:

We danced, danced and danced some more (well, Paul did anyway)
We bought drinks until our pockets held only lint
We stayed out until it was so late that we debated going to breakfast
We drank the prettiest cappucino ever made
I talked literature, music and travel with The Crush under the stars
The impossible curls, smile and baby brown eyes of The Crush
We watched bootleg movies
Visited The Crush at work
We drank the best.hot.chocolate.ever on a beautiful rainy evening
We watched locals dance in the zocalo at midnight
We sang more karaoke
We took Salsa lessons ($5.50US for 1.5hrs-video here of Andrea)
Received roses (no, these are not from the crush)
Danced with The Crush and The Crew
Drank the worm
Fell in lurve with the Moon
Laughed, laughed and laughed some more
Caught a cold

And…we left for Cuernavaca, holding out hope that The Crush could join us, but college boys gotta work hard for the money.

Pop Rocks…(A shout out pt. ii)


In honor of Father’s Day, the Top 5 Reasons my Pop Rocks!

[5] He’s the original “Funchilde.” He created Funchilde, Inc. back in the early 70’s with a bunch of friends so that they could throw parties and play music and make a little money while they were having a good time. I count this as the source of my passion for music as well as the ignition for my entreprenuerial flame. The first concert I ever went to was with him. He took me and my sister and brother to see the SOS Band in Germany and I couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. My Dad has more music, in more formats than anyone I know. From Reel-to-Reel to his iPod, that dude can hook you up with everything from Hall and Oates to Destiny’s Child.

[5a] My parents have always been social people. I definitely get my sense of humor, outgoing personality and positive outlook from my Dad. He (and Mom) took us EVERYWHERE with them. To this day, their love of travel is a part of me. He’s been from Saudi Arabia to Greece and knows no stranger. They taught us how to work hard and play hard, how to party hard without getting out of control, and to know when to cut our losses with friends/foes and lovers. Dad encouraged us to try new foods and experience new places and people and to treat everyone equal. That as long as we were given respect we should show it. That warmth of spirit is why he’s like a black Dr. Phil. People tell that dude EVERYTHING!

[4] He’s the black Emeril Lagasse. All of us can cook. You already know that cooking classes are one of my passions. My Mom, sister and brother can all cook the staples like nobody’s business. From fried chicken to potato salad, those three can burn. My nephew makes a mean 5 cheese and macaroni, and has won an award for his “Eclair Cake.” Dad is the risk taker in the kitchen. We all love watching the cooking channel and we forgive him his Rachel Ray crush (WTF?) because he does most of the cooking. From crab stuffed flounder to his clove spiced holiday ham, that dude can put his foot in it! AND he’s our favorite bartender! I love coming home to visit and the nights we sit up drinking his apple martinis or long island iced teas, debating some issue and calling each other names while he plays DJ, fries up some fish and mixes up another batch. That dude deserves a beer.

[3] His stock portfolio is beating mine. He can pick ’em yall. I feel a little bad because he is a “tech nerd” like my brother. My mom is an envi-sci geek (cum laude, no less) and I’m the business guru. But he has picked some winners that are making my stock portfolio look like a crackhead’s checkbook. His strategy: he buys stock in the products he likes/uses. That dude uses his noggin.

[2] I still think he’s a Superhero. When I was little I thought my Dad was the biggest, strongest guy in the world. When the movie Jaws came out, I was probably 6 years old or so and they took me to see it. Afterwards my mom asked me how big the shark in the movie was. I looked around for something to illustrate the ginormity of the shark and said wild-eyed and using my hands to make my point: “it was as big as Dad’s LEG!” I guess its all about perspective. That dude is a man’s man.

[2a] My Dad is the kind of guy that will get down to a kid’s level and PLAY. I still love the fact that my Dad bought me hot wheels cars and racetracks, cap guns and a 3 foot long Wonder Woman puzzle. He didn’t let my gender dictate my fun. I ran, played t-ball, soccer and climbed trees, and built a CO2 car. My Dad is still pretty intimidating at 6’4 and I still think he can fix anything from my car to my computer. That dude is my #1 go-to guy.

[1] He loves my Mom. Yall know how I feel about HER. So, it follows that anybody that keeps that chic happy is alright with me. They are a testament that good times and bad times can be weathered together. Their marriage isn’t perfect, but it is perfect for them. They make me believe that love is possible. Not that Hollywood stuff, but the nuts and bolts, “don’t make me kill you”, “you’re the best thing that ever happened to me”, “these kids take after YOUR side of the family” kind of way. That dude is part of the glue that keeps us together.

Here’s to you Dad!

Oaxaca Mexico: I have found my people…pt. vi-x

Wow. Who knew there were like dozens of brown folks all over Mexico? We ran into this good looking group of Morehouse and Spelman students Wednesday night while having dinner and drinks on the Zocalo (there are more of them in the city). What a great group of students from two of the best colleges in the US. They are all staying with Mexican families and taking classes at the local University. The prospect of early morning classes did not stop them from inviting us out to party. Debauchery ensued.

Efosa (20, GA) John (20, NC); Jessica (19, MD); Eric (20, AL) and Robert (21, GA).

Wednesday: To be continued… 


Oaxaca Mexico: Still Cooking (in & out of the kitchen)


So in a fit of intelligence, I checked my schedule and realized I didn’t actually have to work until Thursday. I took the advice of Travis (commenter extraordinaire!) and finagled my way into a cooking class ($70US for one-on-one, hands on style class). So that is what I did Wednesday morning. Despite Tuesday night’s activities, I was clear-eyed enough to make it to Casa Crespo at 10am (what is up with these morning cooking classes?). Carlos was my host and the owner of this small B&B/cooking school. He is so multi-talented that I began to feel like a poorly educated underachiever with no focus and no goals. Then he started pouring the beer and that feeling went away. Seriously though, dude is an accomplished artist, tourism geek, world traveler, B&B owner and chef (and some other stuff I’m forgetting)! It was just the two of us and we had a ball. We walked (seemingly uphill both ways) to the local market where he took me to all of the stalls and talked about various veggies, techniques and peppers. The colors were vibrant and got me excited about the day’s class and meal. Well, this didn’t pique my appetite, but it sure caught my eye.

Oh wait. I totally got hit on by my cab driver. It was so funny that I couldn’t even be offended. These guys have balls (pardon the pun). We are chatting (in spanish) and he starts asking about my boyfriend/kid/housing situation and I ask him about his girlfriend/kid/housing situation. He has a girlfriend and loves the regular sex but wishes there were more of it! We were both just laughing and laughing at this, I told him that maybe she was tired and he said that maybe he needed a back-up and looked pointedly at me. I told him that I was old enough to be his older sister and that I was taking a break from romance. He told me to give him a call when my break was over. I had tears streaming down my face yall. It was one of those times where you only spend 5 minutes with somebody but you make a totally humor-filled, in-the-moment connection that you both recognize as special and fleeting. After he pulled away from the curb I wanted to shout: “well done young man, well done!” but I figured I was already running low on “cool points” for the day.

Now, lest ye loyal readers who don’t know me think I’m some man magnet, let me assure you that I am not. Well, not really. I haven’t posted any pics of me mainly because I’m “growing my hair out” into its natural state and this requires that I wear a bandana/headscarf 24 hours a day and I just can’t embarass my momma like that and have pics of me in a bandana all over Mexico, floating around the web. I WILL say though (and any of my exes who are reading this I need you to keep your lips zipped)…that I have a certain allure…my chubby charm as I call it, seems to attract both men and women and believe me, I am the least “saxxy” person I know in terms of flirtation/dressing provocatively, yada yada yada. What I DO have is a nice rack (well, I do) and a great sense of humor, a contagious smile and an air of unattainability that men seem to want to investigate. Either that or I give off some pheromonal scent that attracts the male beast in the 15-21 and 45-65 age groups. I don’t know what it is, and I’m not all that interested in finding out. But if you are a female in need of an ego boost or international romance, you need look no further than the men of Mexico.

Okay, back to the cooking class: Tortilla Soup (we fried up our own tortillas strips!), Salsa Verde (Green Salsa), Chicken Enchiladas, Salsa Roja (Red Salsa), Fresh Guacamole, Tortillas Con Carne (pork) and Flan (from scratch!). We drank so much beer and giggled so much that we were barely able to eat all that we cooked. I said barely. And doesn’t this make you question your optimist/pessimist philosophy? Me in my apron and favorite Pink Polo shirt. I recommend a visit to Carlos at Casa Crespo when you get here and try to get cabbie #OX45787. Whether you get “lucky” or not, he’ll probably make your day.

Wednesday: To be continued….

Oaxaca Mexico: What Had Happened Was…pt. iii


Tuesday was a total “chill out” day. I didn’t have to work, I was set in terms of being able to access my clients via skype and internet so Andrea and I decided to head up to Monte Alban, a Zapotec ruin (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) about 10km outside of Oaxaca. We walked about 2 miles to find the place that sold the bus tickets (35 pesos=$3.50 US/ 30 minutes). The ride up was beautiful and gave us a chance to see the area around Oaxaca. But the best part was the little boy who sat in front of me (pictured above). He seemed really curious. His mom/guardian looked dead tired and she was indeed asleep within moments of the bus pulling off. This little guy’s face was just so solemn and joyless that it broke my heart. A few of us were taking pictures out of the windows and I took a chance and snapped his photo. I immediately showed it to him and the smile that broke out on kid’s face when he saw his picture would have melted the sun. It was one of those moments that made every mile I’ve traveled, every dime I’ve spent, and every corn tortilla I’ve eaten worth it.

The entrance fee to Monte Alban was another 35 pesos and you had to dodge the locals selling tours. One guy wanted to charge Andrea and me 100 pesos ($10US) each! $20 for a tour of an archaelogical ruin? I don’t think so. If he had said $5 I might have gone for it, but I felt like this was one of those times you get reemed on prices because you are American or European. Plus, it was just some rocks, what kind of tour do I need? (kidding.kind of.). The Zapotecs lived in this once large city from about 500 AD until about 750 AD. They had to have been about 4 feet tall because all of the doorways were so low. BUT the steps on the pyramids were steep as hell! This is how most people climbed down, including me (no shame in my game). Andrea told me the story of a friend of a friend who was traveling earlier in the year and visiting another ruin with steeper/higher pyramids. Dude FELL and broke both legs and an arm! Que Horror! Anyway, we spent 2 hours getting fried while scrambling up and down pyramids for great panoramic views of Oaxaca. I also liked the carved rocks. How the hell Jorge spent 8 hours here on Monday I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I have to admit this was a bit of a workout too. We had to take a break at the top of one pyramid. I had to keep reminding myself that Oaxaca is almost at Lake Tahoe level altitude-wise, and we were several more hundred feet up snapping pics and trying to imagine a 1500 year old city filled with 25,000 people of an average height of 4.5 feet.

We finally got off the mountain around 3pm and were starving. We walked the 2 miles back to the hostel and calculated that we’d walked about 6-7 miles in 85 degree heat and we deserved a nap and a beer. I felt the way this dog looked! This traveling stuff is hard yall!

Oaxaca Mexico: I have found my people, pt. vi


Bernadette. Philadelphia, PA. Artist/Student c/o Southern Illinois U. B stayed at the same hostel, you know the one with the BIRDS. She is on an exchange trip with her art program. A totally laid back sweatheart who didn’t mind my 101 questions about her Textiles major and such.

Oaxaca Mexico: I have found my people, pt. v


Chad, 20, Atlanta Georgia c/o Morehouse College. We ran into this young cutie in BURGER KING! And yes, we joked him about how his expensive shirt matched the decor. It was all love though. It was heavenly (whopper with cheese, please!) and why doesn’t every BK in the US have one of these? Somebody needs to get on that stat!

Oaxaca Mexico: What Had Happened Was…pt. ii


I think this is one of the best photos I’ve taken yet. This crazy.black.chic is falling in lurve with photography. Not that I need ANOTHER hobby. As Alison says: I already have many and keep discovering new ones all the time. Too true. Too true.

Monday I spent the morning running around town checking out internet cafes in preparation for work on Wednesday (yes Momma D, I actually am doing work!) and trying to find a place to send a fax back to the US for one of my clients. Traffic (foot and auto) was tied up due to a march/rally for teachers day. I finally found a place to send the fax from and was pleasantly surprised that it was only $1US per page. I tracked down Andrea in the hammock deck back at the hostel to see if she wanted to go with me on a tour of the Jardin Etnobotanical (Ethnobotanical Garden) in the late afternoon.

I have to stop here and talk about traveling with other people. Jorge, Andrea and I met almost 4 weeks ago in a totally different city. Finding people you can travel like this with is pretty rare. The three of us work because we are all very independent, very low key and into totally different things. Jorge’s family is from Mexico, he’s in lurve with the Archealogy and History. This dude spent ALL.DAY.MONDAY at the ruins at Monte Alban (Andrea and I knew better than to go with him on this tour). Andrea is really into the music and culture, she always gets us into the places where the locals hang, we dance, eat and drink with locals as much as possible and her blond locks and blue eyes have gotten us invited into many a local haunt. I am really into the Anthropology and the cuisine. So we like doing different things, and even better we never feel compelled to invite one another or join one another in any of our pursuits. Case in point: neither of them like to cook so the idea of cooking classes made them roll their eyes. But every now and then we’ll join up and do something cultural together like going to the Palacio yesterday with Jorge, or going with Andrea to see some live music by local musicians. Or they will indulge me my desire to eat at all 4 of the restaurants on the Zocalo, or to eat at the same restaurant 3 times in 2 days when I find one I like.

I ended up on the botanical garden tour without the other two, but in a group of about 6 with the cutest.little.guide.ever, who struggled some with english, but was funny and well learned about the plants. When she told us the tour was an hour and a half, I thought to myself “i’m outta here in 45 minutes tops” because I couldn’t see how we’d spend 1.5 hours in the place. Boy was I wrong. She let us eat the hottest.peppers.ever and then cool our tongues with some locally grown mint. The garden is much bigger than it looks from the front gates. And the cacti, tropical flowers and vegetables were so interesting that at the end of the tour we were all kind of sad that it was over. So, I highly recommend Oaxaca’s Jardin Etnobotanical when you get here.

I met up with the other two for dinner and we were all in pretty low key moods. We hung out in the Zocalo and people watched and did a couple of shots of mezcal. This lead to the crazy idea that sent the night (and the rest of the week) downhill. We decided it would be a good idea to head back to the hostel. BUT. We would do a shot of mezcal at EVERY bar between the Zocalo and the hostel (a distance of about 1.5 miles with easily 20 bars in the vicinity). I don’t know whose idea this was, but we must have been in a fit of mutual insanity because we all thought this was the best idea we’d ever heard. 6 bars and 8 shots later…we end up at Free Bar, which is not even close to free and barely a bar. We made friends with tourists and locals alike and danced the night away (hey, weren’t we on our way back to the hostel?) to a mix of Mexican hip-hop, US hip-hop and salsa tunes. And I thought to myself as I went to sleep: “Today couldn’t have been more perfect.” And it was true.

*yeah, i know i still haven’t gotten to the 4 ft. people, yada yada. its coming people. i promise.

Oaxaca Mexico: What Had Happened Was…pt. i


I lurve this picture. I don’t know why, but it makes me smile. We called this woman “Rose Lady”, because we have a talent for pointing out the obvious. She just radiated a beauty and contentment that was contagious. But it could have been the rum/mezcal/beer.

I took your questionable advice and headed down to Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka) to catch up with Jorge, Andrea and Magnus (10 hours, $77 US, First Class). I couldn’t leave until after my cooking class in San Miguel and I couldn’t leave San Miguel de Allende (SMA) without checking out the botanical garden El Charco Ingenio, and of course I had to have a celebratory margarita because SMA was a new city for me, so I didn’t get into Oaxaca until 5am on Sunday morning. It was pitch dark and I was beat from a whirlwind 24 hours in SMA. I wasn’t worried about arriving in a foreign city in the middle of the night. I knew where Jorge and Andrea were staying and Oaxaca is a pretty safe place. I arrived at the Hostel, Casa Arnel and woke up the owner who showed me a sparse little single room with a shared bathroom for a whopping $12US/night. It was (as I will mention again) pitch dark and this dude didn’t want to turn on any lights, so I couldn’t get my bearings. He confirmed that Jorge and Andrea were there, allowed me to slip a note under their door and showed me my room. He wanted me to pay first but I wanted to see the room first and he finally obliged, why I was haggling like I was ACTUALLY going to POSSIBLY go somewhere else at 5:30am I do not know. Anyway, I hit the sack at 5:50am ready to settle into a nice slumber, excited about what Oaxaca would be like and happy to know my friends were so nearby once again. I never learn do I?

I was jolted out of a deep slumber about an hour and a half later. There was an ungodly screeching, cawing and whistling and the voices of happy people and the clattering of silverware. I got up and slipped into some clothes and opened the door to see this not 15 feet from my window. Apparently Arnel’s wife is a bird aficionado and they have literally dozens of parrots, cockatiels and parakeets on the property (not to mention two of these fugly dogs. I saw these outside of Mexico City at the Olmeda Museum. They are Aztec dogs and cost $5000 each and ownership is restricted by the government. But they are supposedly great house/guard dogs, great with kids and strangers). The birds sing and “chat” all.day.long prompting several of us to dare one another to catch and roast one of the little terrors. After my other run-ins with birds in Baja and Xochimilco, I was close to taking the bait. The hostel is set up courtyard style so all the rooms are around a main courtyard which in the morning light turned out to be beautiful and the exterior courtyard (that is a little library building there in the middle where you can check out books or take one book if you leave two), terrace and hammock deck made up for the sparse bedrooms. I was informed that the lady of the house uncovered and set out the birds every morning around 7am and that the hostel served breakfast from 7am to 9:45am daily. The birds and the breakfast nook were both less than 20 feet from my window. The prospect of this waking me up every day made me contemplate pulling my hair out or ripping the flesh from my face with my own fingernails, but I decided to roll with it and sleep with my earplugs in. Since I was up, I organized my gear, read the guidebook on all the stuff I absolutely had to see in Oaxaca and then had breakfast.

I hunted down Jorge and we caught up for an hour before realizing that Andrea was upstairs in the Hammock deck (this turned out to be where we would ALWAYS find Andrea). They wanted to show me around since they had been in town 3 days already and we walked to the Zocalo (town center). The walk was about 1.5 miles and though it was pretty, it was deserted, cobble-stoned and hot and sunny. I was thinking “they dragged me down here for this?” and gave them the benefit of the doubt because it was Sunday. We walked and laughed, peeked into alot of the art galleries (Oaxaca is known for its cuisine and art) and jibber jabbered the way we three have come to do in 1/2 english, 1/2 spanish. We rounded a corner past the Teatro Alcala and I almost stopped dead in my tracks, the Zocalo was beautiful! tree lined, shaded, fountain filled, and at that moment host to several hundred people enjoying a classical music concert on the last day of their May festival. Here’s some video of the concert. We ate lunch at one of the four main restaurants on the Zocalo and enjoyed the breeze and music. I had a traditional Oaxacan dish of Cheese and Chorizo ($11US with coffee, diet coke, huge salad and appetizer) baked deep dish style. I eschewed the tortillas (not realizing they were probably flour) and dug in with a knife and fork and it was heavenly-gooey-goodness. We had to walk those carbs off, so we went deeper into the heart of the city and checked out the various types of markets and bought some Mezcal! Finally, the drink I’d heard so much about, the kinder, gentler cousin of tequila and with a worm in the bottom to boot!  We decided to balance out our hedonistic tendencies with some culture and headed to the Museo de Palacio on the South side of the Zocalo. Now I have to warn you that in Mexico, alot of the museums are free to locals (and usually everyone) on Sundays, this makes it the WORST time to visit anything unless you are on a bare bones budget. We sucked it up and wandered around checking out dinasour bones and archeological artifacts and I had to restrain myself from elbowing kids out of the way so I could see some of the interactive/3-D exhibits. There was also a mural that was 2 stories high that was supposedly done by a student or contemporary of Diego Rivera. I felt kind of bad because I didn’t think it was all that great, but I kept my mouth shut since I’m no artist. However I did read later that this particular mural is widely considered “mediocre” so I didn’t feel so bad anymore. 

After the Palacio, we hunted down some Pineapple juice for the Mezcal Blanco (white mezcal) and some playing cards so we could wile away the afternoon on the terrace at the hostel. When we got back to the Casa, on the way up to the terrace I heard someone say “hey, don’t i know you?” i turned around to see Mikkel! Remember him from Guanajuato? So, though we didn’t catch up with Magnus, we were happy to have Mikkel with us to round out the quartet and to prove that the gringo trail is alive and well. We hooked up the tunes, put the drinks on chill and found some people to play cards with until it got too dark to see the cards anymore. My last thought before going to sleep was: “Today couldn’t have been more perfect.”  And it was true.

Stay tuned to find out: who were the 4ft tall people? Who is the object of Funchilde’s crush? and what happens in a Mexican discoteque on Hip Hop night?

**A friend (In Real Life-IRL) asked me recently if I have managed to stay in my $50/day budget and the answer is generally yes, it evens out. For example my room for the whole week at Casa Arnel, 3 breakfasts, 2 loads of laundry and internet time was a jaw dropping $118 US. Now the beer, rum, mezcal, water and pineapple juice for the week? $4,343. But hey, you only live once right?