Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Bye-bye Mexico. Hello Oaxaca.
I wish I could tell you what the roads, scenery, or landscape were like for the 6 and a half hour bus ride but we slept for most of the trip. I did wake up when we passed over some speed bumps and was face to face with a sign of a man in uniform with his hand held out in gimme mode. It wasn’t a demand for a bribe. Well, not quite anyway, it was the sign for toll booth and the sign over head announced we were now entering Oaxaca the state. The scenery immediately seemed more lush and the soil more red but it was all in my head. Because pulling into Oaxaca, the city, seemed like more of the same.
It was bigger than I expected which did not bode well for my mood. After claiming our luggage, I looked up the number for the hostal which promised free pick up from the bus station. But how to make a phone call? The pay phone didn’t take coins and I didn’t know how to buy one of the cards it wanted. I approached the tourist desk and pulled out my emergency trump card.
“¿Habla ingles? “
The two people behind the desk looked at each other and then looked at me shaking their heads. Perhaps I’d ask differently.
“¿Un poco ingles?
Nope. Just more shaking. Foiled. Time to muster up all my learning.
“um, Necesitio llamar mi hotel. Pero, ah, como llamar?
I held out a handful of coins, mimed a telephone with my hand and shrugged like they had.
It worked. The girl understood and replied in lightening fast Spanish which I am learning is the only speed that Spanish come in. She pointed across the street. Thankfully, I recognized the picture of the phone on the storefront.
“Gracias” I replied dragging mono-lingual Adrian in the direction she had pointed.
The store was a I repeated my Spanish request to the guy sitting in the store this time holding up the telephone number and the change. He pointed at phone booth number and patched me through.
The phone rang a couple of times and was picked up by a female. Having exhausted my daily Spanish allowance (it gets worse as the day goes on), I once again tried my emergency trump card.
A male voice came on the line and with a Mexican-American accent answered.
Success! Relieved, I spoke in what was probably a run-on sentence.
“Hi It’s Elizabeth. I have a reservation. We’re at the ADO bus station in Oaxaca can you come pick us up?” I realized I wasn’t even sure I had the right number.
“Oh ya Elizabeth. No problem. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes like 10 or 15. Bye
And indeed he was. He was Chay (rhymes with thigh), Oaxacan born but American educated baseball player who along with his brother Xavier, parents and young kids ran La Villada Inn where we were booked for the next three nights. Set up in the hills on the outskirts of the city, the view was as amazing, the family was amazing, and the place was, wait for it, amazing (have I used that word enough). They upgraded us to a room with a private bath, a king size bed and a view over the city. See? I told you it was amazing.
We immediately down graded the accommodations by doing laundry in the sink (bar of laundry soap – another great piece of gear I recommend) and hanging it out to dry on our porch. Then we jumped into the pool. Yup, this hostal had a pool. And when it got too chilly with the setting sun we feasted on homemade quesadillas and helped ourselves to beer from the fridge (they worked on the honour system). Ah yes good food, good setting and good drinks - there's no need to translate any of that. Oaxaca I think I’m gonna like you after all.