I’ve left Oaxaca after two months. My original plan was to stay there for four months but I decided to leave early. To be very clear, it was not because I didn’t enjoy Oaxaca. I think it’s been obvious from my posts the last two months, and if not, tonight’s post will likely read a bit like a love letter to Oaxaca and Mexico. First, why did I leave early? My main reasons for going to Oaxaca included a new adventure, a chance to live overseas in one spot for an extended time, to attend language school and scout out Oaxaca as a potential retirement destination.
What I realized after a few weeks was that doing more than four consecutive weeks of language study was going to overload my brain. It seems like a better plan to keep working on my skills in smaller block over a longer time than trying to do it all at once. So, staying in Oaxaca without school, having done most of the tourist things you can do, didn’t seem to make much sense. So I decided to stay a week after school wrapped up and return to the United States. I’d lived overseas for two months, it had certainly been a fun adventure and Oaxaca is definitely on my list of potential retirement locations.
I missed Oaxaca the first second I got off the plane in New York, damn it was cold. I realized I hadn’t seen a temperature under seventy degrees in almost a year. Although I grew up in the cold weather, it is taking me a bit of time to get re-acclimated to it. Then I bought an airport sandwich and I really missed Oaxaca. It was so inexpensive to live there and I get reminders every single day. My reminder this morning came at the laundromat. The cheapest top loader was $5.50, now that’s expensive by US standards, but the total of almost ten dollars to do a load of laundry was a shock to my system. In Oaxaca, that ten dollars would have paid for someone else to do my laundry for five weeks, throw in what I also had to pay for detergent and we’re up to seven weeks, not including the time savings. Your money goes a long way in Southern Mexico.
I really enjoyed studying Spanish in Oaxaca.
The Instituto Cultural Oaxaca was a nice place. What was especially awesome was having so many travelers passing through every week. I was constantly meeting people from other countries and other places. People were so nice, not just at the institute but in Oaxaca as a whole. Something I observed decades ago and came up in conversation with a fellow traveler in customs is how nice and generous the poorest people are when you meet them. Oaxaca City is a poor place and people there were almost always nice and generous, they were incredibly patient with my language skills. I noticed it almost immediately in America, people are grouchier, more stressed, in a bigger hurry. Of course a fast placed city like New York made the contrast more extreme than normal, but the feeling has held up in rural New York and even in Delaware where I am at this time.
God I miss the food!
It’s one thing for food to be inexpensive but eating in Oaxaca was amazing. My last dinner in Oaxaca was a plate of Tacos al Pastore at Tacos Roy near my apartment. Tacos al Pastore are shawarma meat that is then ground, they are absolutely delicious. So to start, my plate of four tacos with all of the fixins and a coke was three dollars. But it’s not just that the food was inexpensive but it was delicious. Everyday meals of tacos, tlayudas, sandwiches or salads were fantastic. But special meals like my pork in mole Almindrino was among some of the best meals I’ve ever had. Heck, one of my earliest meals in town was at a corner restaurant. From the sign, I expected enchiladas, tacos, etc… but the sign was traditional breakfast fare and it was three in the afternoon. So, my options were shrimp in several different forms, I settled on a shrimp cocktail, I was hungry so I got a large for four dollars. It was by far the biggest shrimp cocktail I’ve ever seen. It was huge, in a giant glass like you’d get an ice cream sunday in at Friendly’s. It was jammed with like twenty huge shrimp, a sweet cocktail sauce and topped with slices of avocado and cilantro and a handful of crackers came with it. Adding a drink my meal was five dollars and it was delicious, the best shrimp cocktail ever. A five dollar shrimp cocktail in America would be four jumbo shrimp or a handful of microscopic cocktail shrimp. Eating in Oaxaca was simply a joy.
My Next Adventure
Although my heart is certainly still in Oaxaca, it’s time to move forward. I’ll continue to post photos from Mexico on my Instagram feed (@ReverendMichaelKane) for a time. I’m currently hanging out at the beach in DelMarVa, the jumble of state abbreviations that defines the coastal area I’m in. I’m spending a week on the beach in Delaware before returning to visit family in NY for Christmas. From there I’ll be moving South and West for a bit and am planning a month in Gulf Shores, AL. My big goals over the next month or so is to get some writing done, a little painting, some photography and begin the slow process of becoming employed again. Lot’s of detail oriented things to deal with.
From there, who knows, it will depend on what jobs I’m chasing, if any consulting opportunities materialize, if I hit the lottery, the usual. Once the job situation gets worked out, we’ll see if there’s time and money for one more big adventure, perhaps a trip to Panama is on tap, we’ll see what the universe has in store for me and as always, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane