December 9th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
An exhibit from the Rufeo Tamayo museum

Not the best of train journeys, since getting on at night, all the seats were taken up by sprawling bodies.  We did find one double seat that was vacant, but for some reason we weren’t allowed to use it, so most of the night was spent very uncomfortably sitting upright.  I imagine the double seat – it remained unoccupied – was for the conductors, but as they appropriated a double seat each, I don’t think they were in any position to get stroppy.  Anyway, we were later able to move seats, + so managed to get some sleep.

Arrived at Oaxaca at about 2 in the afternoon, + then had to make our way into the town centre.  I struggled on to one bus, + only after it started to move did I realise Val wasn’t on it with me.  As it happened, she’d leapt on the one behind, mine being full, but then she in turn discovered she had no money, + had to be rescued by a couple of Japanese girls who were travelling with us.  (They were in an even more parlous state than us, speaking only a little English + no Spanish.)  We all joined up once more, + by asking once or twice found ourselves at the Information Centre, where we obtained a map + nothing else.  I left Val there + went to book us a room at the Hotel Rex, one recommended to us by Graham.

We took us a longish siesta in order to compensate for the privations of the night before, + then strolled around town in the evening.  Visited the Rufeo Tamayo museum, a really terrific place, mainly because it was organised along aesthetic rather than historical lines, + was consequently easier for us to understand.  The sculptures weren’t all crowded together, + consequently one was able to appreciate them better.  Afterwards, a little more walking, + then we relaxed with coffee in a boulevard café adjoining the Zocalo, the main square.  The Zocalo was, as seems often to be the case, both attractive + lively, + for once the cafes around it didn’t seem to be exorbitantly expensive.  Back to the hotel then, + a decadent read in bed.

That’s us, always obeying my mother’s instruction – “Don’t make a fuss!” – not insisting on occupying the empty seats. And getting separated onto two buses was stressful – one aspect of mobile phones is that there is a way to find each other. We had the very real prospect of not knowing how ro reconnect. Of course, in this case it was not really a problem, with two buses both going to the same place, but still…

  1. Pamela J Blair

    After San Miguel de Allende, Oaxaca is my favorite city in Mexico. I stayed there for a couple of weeks a few years ago, one studying Spanish and another just moving around the area. (I didn’t learn much Spanish, but I learned how to make delicious mole from the woman who owned the hotel where we stayed.) Oaxaca has probably grown and “gentrified” since you were there. Lots of classy restaurants! The Zocalo served as a dance floor one night while we were there, with couples who looked to be in their nineties dancing! Another night we saw a folkloric performance there.

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