Saturday, August 15, 2009

So you think you can dance?

I cannot pay adequate tribute to our 8-day journey from California to Oaxaca, especially since, after we returned home, we all came down with the stomach flu. I blame the bootleg Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor and arcade off the highway in Puebla.

Puebla, in general, was not good to us. We found ourselves in Friday's late rush hour, stuck at an OXXO (sorta Circle K) essentially giving up. We could not wrangle our way through the mess and the gnarl, so we decided to make the 4-hour drive to Oaxaca on the almost-done tire over the rocky road. And then, like a beacon, the City Xpress hotel popped in front of us. A strip mall. A generic trying-to-be boutique hotel, flanked by a bowling alley and a aforementioned Chuck E. Cheese. Max said, "This is the nicest place we've stayed the whole time." You can take the boy out of the suburbs, but...

Why lead with the low points, though? I could mention the Mazatlan mini-vacay, with a 10pm visit to a quickly disappearing Olas Altas beach as the tide came in. I kept yelling to Max, "Only five more minutes!" but it was truly beautiful. On the way out of Mazatlan, I leaned out the car window and asked a roadside vendor for a bottle of fresh, cold coconut water, which is sold at many busy intersections. Mexican road trip food has it all over U.S. road trip food (except for Poblano pizza).

The definite high point caught me by surprise. We were all cranky over the recent loss of Snuggles, Max's favorite stuffed gorilla that he left in the hotel room in Los Mochis. I suggested we take a half-day vacation from our road trip, and veer off to Guanajuato, a place Steve, Jenny and I used to hang.

It worked. GTO is a city of subterranean streets, tunnels, bridges and cobblestone alleyways, all of which appealed to Max's "I'm lost in a labyrinth" and Geni's "I'm Velma from Scooby Doo" fantasy mentalities. I dragged my kids along to see all the old favorite haunts, and they did not complain. They loved the gardens and crumbling remains of the ex-Hacienda de San Gabriel de Barerra. Max willingly discussed the artwork and its symbolism at the all-Don Quixote museum, one of my little strange treasured places. And they even hung for a 9pm visit to Truco 7, the funky kinda bohemian cafe where we scored blacky purply mole enchiladas. It reminded me why Guanajuato was always our second choice, after Oaxaca.

Coming home to Oaxaca, we're caught in this strange time warp of waiting for school to start but also trying to get better from the stomach bug. I can tell I'm starting to improve, though, because I was researching an article and came across a mention of Bollywood Booty dance fitness, and I got excited, thinking, "I will have a Bollywood Booty." Now that I'm two years into this Oaxaca lifestyle, and perhaps have this freelance for a living thing figured out (knock wood), it's time to focus the year on dancing, I think.

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