Oaxaca was a beautiful city. It had cobbled streets, brightly coloured buildings, a main square, great places to eat and lots of little markets. The main square was never dull. There people dancing, musicians, far too many balloon sellers, clowns, artists. It had a real buzz about it.
The hostel was lovely. We arrived just after the sun had set. We approached a wooden door and knocked. We could hear the puling back of bolts and then a little window in the door creaked open. It was like something from a horror movie. This could not be further from the truth, behind the door was an oasis. A beautiful leafy courtyard, with parrots, hammocks, water features and a furless dog. That's right a furless dog. It looked totally evil and I maintained a sensible distance.
The markets in Oaxaca are amazing. We went to their food hall for lunch. This is nothing like a food hall at home. Imagine a large corrugated warehouse, crowded with stalls, people screaming, dogs roaming, children playing in the dirt, and smoke filling the air and now you have a food hall. For my started I tried fried grasshopper. Not as nice as you would imagine - a bit chewy. The main though was amazing. You have to buy all components from individual stores and put it together. So we had drinks; salad inc. guacamole and salsa; BBQ veggies; BBQ meat and tacos. 5 different stalls! Money was flying everywhere. The food was great and was a really free for all as huge plates were brought to the Formica table.
The best meal though was in a place called 'Como agua pa' chocolate'. This means 'Like water for chocolate' and is named after a award winning Mexican novel. I had baked zucchini and red snapper in white wine and tarragon sauce. This was washed down by a beautiful Chilean red wine.
I was inspired and did a cookery course. It was wonderful. A little Mexican lady arrived armed with baskets to show us the markets. I had a cute little wicker one. The markets were amazing. There were stalls piled high with dry goods next to stalls selling flip flops! Vegetable stalls, Zucchini stalls, Yellow chicken stalls, meat, Tupperware!!!! On the meat stall they had a whole cow hanging up including his tail and bits. Jut didn't know where to look. It was amazing. Once we had all the ingredients, it was back to her beautiful kitchen which was actually outside in a court yard. We made Mole Negro. It has over 40 ingredients. We were all set to work. I had to make bread crumbs using a pestle and mortar - tricky. The hardest was to come though when I had to crush the raisins and dates in a smooth puree using a pestle and mortar. It was really sticky and my hands seem to have more on them than the bowl. Once the mole was bubbling away we moved onto making tortillas. I was not bad at flattening them but getting them to go on the hot plate without breaking seemed to be impossible for me. The best bit was the meal at the end where we were able to eat it all. It tasted lovely and we celebrated with a shot or two of Mezcal.
In the evening we had a game of poker where the winner had to down a shot of Mezcal (the boys suggestion). So someone gave me a refresher course on the rules and we were on our way. After half a bottle of Mezcal (bit of a winning streak), I was nicknamed the Hustler. Didn't even like the stuff but couldn't let Team GB down! The lads seemed a bit fed up as they hadn't won one. So the next few times of winning, I let them have my shot. It seemed appropriate that I also won the final shot of Mezcal. It was a good night and I felt surprisingly alert the next day too!
I really liked it here but time to move on. We caught a night bus at 9pm. We would be on the bus for 10 hours. It was so awful. We had a break at 3am. I felt like I had had no sleep. I am sure I must have dozed off a bit …… please! I felt rubbish and looked it. You could have fried chips in my hair! Everyone was really grumpy so I guess we were all feeling the same. For the next part of the journey decided to listen to my Spanish course and it worked like a trick - slept till 6am. I would like to say never again as it really stuffs you up.