(February 10 – written by Dave)
There are so many things to see and do in Oaxaca, we don’t know where to start. Plus we had to get a bunch of chores done, like laundry, bikes cleaned, shopping and route planning. Rather than rush around and try to see everything on one of those “everything Oaxaca in three days” lists, we decided to take it at our pace. We like the local, more “normal” stuff most the time anyway.
Firsts things first – Oaxaca is known for chocolate. And the most famous chocolate shop is probably Mayordomo. On our first afternoon here, we discovered their magical chocolate drink called Chocolate Mio. It’s nothing fancy really, just chocolate, milk and a little ice, all blended for you on the spot at one of their many chocolate cafes. You can have it sitting down (if they have chairs) or take-away, if you’ve discovered one of their smaller stores.
I had to share my first Mio, because Nancy “didn’t want” a whole one of her own. I learned my lesson, you can’t share a Mio, simply because once you start drinking, you can’t stop. I got my Mio back with the sound of straw slurping. Lesson learned, now I just order two Mios and call it good. Chocolate milk is supposed to be a recovery drink for athletes. Well, I’m not sure we’re athletes but we do ride our bikes a lot and we are here in part for a recovery break – thus the one-a-day goal. So far we are on target and have committed to putting in the effort to see this project through to completion.
Our next local stop was Mercado Jaurez, the big central city market. The locals all shop here for produce, meat and pretty much anything else you can think of. We went there to have a look and stumbled into what could only be called “the meat cooking” hall. Both sides of this hall were lined with charcoal BBQs cooking up meat to order. Each of the BBQ has an overhead fan but from the look and smell of things, I think a good deal of the smoke doesn’t go out these vents.
The meat itself is displayed right out in open but one gets the impression that there is more than enough turnover to keep them from having issues. They specialize here in super thin cuts of meat that is flash cooked per customer order.
Nancy is still not sure about Mexican street food but she agreed that we could eat at the meat hall, if we tried one of the less bold dishes. Our solution was a local creation called tlayuda, sort of a Mexican pizza on a crispy giant tortilla. I had chorizo and Nancy had chicken. Both were very tasty. Eating them at one of the little market stalls and watching the craziness of the whole scene, priceless – smoke everywhere, waiters yelling to pull in the next customer, street vendors tapping you on the shoulder to sell random trinkets and us trying to figure out how to eat what amounted to a giant tortilla covered in Oaxaca cheese, black beans, lettuce and our meat of choice.
As for the bikes, they are spotless. We dropped them off at Zona Bici on Thursday afternoon, and picked them up Friday morning. They adjusted our bottom-brackets, brakes, cleaned the drive-trains and bikes in general. You could almost eat off the chains they are so clean. All this for $15 per bike – thanks guys – much appreciated.
Laundry is almost done – we pick it up at 6PM today. For 50 pesos, they wash, dry and fold all the dirty clothes that we can find. That’s about $2.50 USD for those wondering. Getting laundry done on the road is always a hard thing to accomplish. In Asia, we had trouble finding laundromats. Camping you never have enough water. Most of the time we bucket wash or wash in the shower. Mexico has been great so far, most towns have several lavanderias where for around 20 pesos per kilo, you get the full service.
Lastly, for our friend Ken, what’s the price of powdered milk in Mexico? We went shopping today for a bunch of basic supplies, powdered milk being one of them. We haven’t used as much powdered milk as we would normally simply because we’ve found long-life milk plentiful and cheap. It’s just as easy to buy a litre of this for brekkie than it is dig out and make powdered milk. Still we’ve used some powdered milk when long-life milk is not available.
Today we picked up packages of powdered milk mix to make a litre of milk for 9 pesos. In USA terms, that’s about 45 cents per quarter gallon. I don’t know if that is a good price or not but it takes a couple days at least to use that much so in the big scheme of things, it works for us.
Where to now… We are planning on hitting the Monte Alban pyramids tomorrow. Monte Alban pyramids were built from 1,500 to 700 BC and home to the Mixtec and Zapotec cultures (yeah, I have no idea either – more on that tomorrow). We will try getting out early to beat the crowds and to insure that we have time for another Mayordomo Mio in the afternoon – have to keep that streak alive.