Tailor & Grasshoppers

Oaxaca Wedding Procession
OAXACA, Mexico
October 25, 2016

Oaxaca is where I change course. Over the past month-and-a-half my direction has been southwest: Out from Montreal at the start of September. Across the US over the next month. Down into Mexico over the last couple weeks. Now it's time to veer northwest. Back up to Mexico City. Further along to the border with Arizona. Up the west coast from southern California to Seattle to be with family in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Mezcal Shop
Much of the 5 days I've spent here in Oaxaca has been spent strolling throughout the old colonial city center. The small zócalo is alive with music, vendors, and hundreds of people always out to while away a few hours. Throughout the old city center marketplace stalls are active with butchers, T-shirt sellers, mezcal vendors, handicraft workers, and artisans--among so many more. As many people as there are who operate some stall in Oaxaca there must also be an equal number hustling out on the street: Old women wearing aprons toting wooden cigarette flats strapped to their shoulders to offer single cigarettes or thumbnail-sized packages of chiclets. Young people sitting on curbs in front of neatly lined rows of colorfully decorated souvenir skulls. Tamales proferred about in ice chests.

I've found worthwhile museums and archaelogical sites to get a taste of what culture thrived before the colonial era, too. Monte Alban was an easy day trip to visit pyramids and etchings crafted in pre-Colombian times. Oaxaca's extant traditions surviving from that era have shown me that there's still something new that I can try anywhere I travel. A couple hours ago it was eating grasshoppers. They're spiced and fried up with what tastes like chile and lime. The consistency is not that different from popcorn... if a little chewier. Not bad-tasting, at-all.

Grasshoppers with a Touch
of Chile and Lime
Knowing that Oaxaca was a traditional place where a lot of craftwork is still alive I figured it would be the best place along my route to attend to some long overdue mending. The long zippers on my fleece, knapsack, and shoulder bag all had issues. Two had to be replaced outright. Another had to have new heads put on to replace ones that had flayed wide apart and would no longer close a seam. I also decided to turn my pair of jeans into shorts. (When I first bought them I mistakenly thought that they'd shrink in length. I've been wearing them for the past months with the cuffs turned up.)

Seamstress at Work
I found a small indoor stall with a seamstress who could handle all the reparations with the help of the haberdasher next door. Back when living in Asia I would have been far more likely to bargain down the cost of such services but didn't even ask for any discount, here. The asking price for all the alterations, mending, and zipper replacement was a total of $10 USD--an amount I readily agreed to. I doubt the local tailor saw enough foreigners to charge any steep tourist tax. Hopefully, we all made out well and my bags will carry me years further around the globe. I've been using my present shoulder bag for the past 5 years and my knapsack for the past 16.

Zipper Repair
To the loyal readers of my website (if there are any left:) Yes, this entry is being posted one year after the last one I wrote. I keep meaning to bring this 'blog current but I don't think I'll ever catch up on all that's happened in the past year. I did sketch out several entries regularly through the first months of 2016--but never posted those. Maybe I'll get around to it one day? That reminds me of how I still have entries I wrote out by hand in a little notebook over the month I was crossing Burma 10 years ago. Those are still on my list to eventually post. Best to just post anything and revive the 'blog rather than catch up on an impossible amount of news.

The general summary is that I've been on the move much of the past year. The trip I was making one year ago had its destination as here in Oaxaca. That itinerary was abridged. I got as far as New Orleans before flying back to take care of paperwork back up in Montreal. It's only now that I've made it to the southernmost point of a trip I described as a "massive, mishapen letter V".

David Tours Monte Alban
I did resume the journey by flying out to the west coast. I spent Christmas 2015 in Seattle, took the train and a Megabus or two back to Montreal, and completed my graduate-school program.

As of this summer I've finished with McGill. To start this journey I shipped a box of what things I wanted to hold onto out to Greg's basement and quit Montreal by crossing the border with Vermont. The end of the phase of my life living in Québec makes me wonder what's to come over the next years. I've played the perpetual student for so much of my recent life. I do have a potential job that would bring me back to a familiar place on the opposite side of the globe. But, that wouldn't start until 2017. There will be plenty to write about it if that does come through.

Next stop: Mexico City