PART ONE: JMDG in Oaxaca City
My friend Susana agrees to be my Companera for a Oaxaca City scouting/buying trip. Its going to be an adventure! Luckily, Susana speaks fluent Spanish, loves street food, can shop all day and drink micheladas all night. Here we are on the tram at Houston lobby airport after a very bumpy flight, on our way to Oaxaca City, Mexico. The flight from Austin to Houston was announced as running a bit late due to some broken seat belts from turbulence. Awesome. It was like riding a bull. (Thanks, Carla for the happy flight tablets) Our spirits are high here, considering the flight. We know what lies ahead. Our MISSION: meet artisans with whom we can establish working relationships with, find beautiful and rare things for the Austin JM DRY GOODS shop, eat great food and have fun doing all of it. Now, on to Oaxaca!!
Reading my baedecker on the tiny plane to Oaxaca. Smooth sailing, sweet, hushed Spanish conversations, beautiful views down below.
We fly through the sunset and arrive at a blue dusk. Only a 2 1/2 hour flight takes us to another world altogether. We disembark, walk down the staircase of the plane and immediately feel the night air, balmy but chilly, the smell of something….flowers and dirt and dampness and air.
Susana and I throw our bags into a cab and take the 20 minute ride through the industrial streets, crowded with colorful trucks, street vendors, markets… into the center of the cobble stone town. Susana pushes her face out of the window and pulls in a deep breath, “flowers!” We smell flowers.
We are staying at the lovely former convent of Santa Catalina, Hotel Camino Real. Massive faded pink walls dripping with blooms, secluded courtyards overflowing with flowery vines and tropical trees, birds of paradise and bougainvillea, soaring ceilings and archways painted with frescoes, a big blue pool, an ancient fountain used by nuns to wash their clothing, luxurious rooms with balconies….relaxed, old world…
We are starving! We grab some shawls (it’s in the 50s!), throw on jeans and go out into the night looking for wine and food. We find a rooftop cafe overlooking the stunning Templo de Santo Domingo.
We are served Victoria beers and soup in coconut bowls filled with a spicy, sweet, seafood broth and heated with sizzling hot stones.
Tired and happy, we try to find our hotel again in the dark, and in our slightly drunken state…ready to fall into the big white bed. Turns out, we both have a hopeless sense of direction! Calle Cinco de Mayo! No te preocupes!