Fried Grasshoppers, Churches of Gold, and Mayan Ruins

30 Dec

After our adventure in the Reserva Mariposa Monarca, we hit the road, slogging three hours through the smoggy heart of Mexico city, and made it to Oaxaca by 2am.  We spent a wonderful last night with Inty, Ana, Kirsten, and Isaac, friends from Guadalajara who were passing through Oaxaca on their way to Puerto Escondido.  Heartfelt goodbyes the next day, and then a quick trip to El Tule, perportedly the biggest tree in the world (in terms of width, or breadth, or whatever).  Impressive, and definitely a good chance to practice making tree faces: 

We crashed early that night, exhausted from a late night the night before and from the emotional goodbyes to our friends of three months.  We got up earlyish the next day, and visited the the site of a former fortified Mayan city at the top of nearby Mt. Alban, which was parched, sunny, and immaculately preserved.

We got back, sun-drenched and beat, and spent the afternoon wandering through the dark stalls and thick air of Oaxaca’s indoor market.   I munched  a handful of chapulines, or fried grasshoppers, which were doused with chili and lime and tasted like salty beer snacks, oogled some recently-removed cow and pig  parts at a butcher stall, and ate a crunchy and interesting coconut cookie at a dessert stall on the street (Oaxaca has lots of them, with interesting-looking pudding, jello-ish stuff, cakes, and ice cream).

I’ve really begun to appreciate my  huge appetite on this trip, because there are so many new and funky things to taste (and, fried grasshoppers are harder to psyche yourself up for when you’re not hungry).  Not only do I always seem to be physically hungry (a direct result, I think, of constantly walking past delicious-smelling food stalls in the street), but hungry in a more emotional/intellectual sense as well.  Being in a place where I can constantly see, hear, taste, and feel new things is such a huge opportunity, and a gift, and I can’t get enough of it!

I think this overt, constant seeking of the new, this joyful (and hopefully responsible) hedonism is definitely my style of travel, which I’m just starting to get comfortable with and really figure out.  As long as I’m here, I want to strip my life down to the most simple, most frugal form it can take, and spend the savings on weird meals, trips to new, unheard-of places, and new experiences.  Cliché or not, I really want to suck the juice out of every day, every place, every experience.

My closest friends in Guadalajara were definitely on the same page, which I think was the reason we got out and saw so much in our short few months.  I’m going to have to be a lot more self-motivated in the next few months.   I’m a little apprehensive, but also psyched to be out exploring on my own again.

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