(Post 34 of 193. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)
My final day in Oaxaca, I had some work to do and I was rather exhausted and foot sore, so I stuck pretty close to the apartment. Late morning, I did go out to the Mercado de la Merced to get something quick to-go for breakfast, as well as some juice.
This market is impeccable, very similar in ambience to my market in Chuburná, just bigger. The first lady who said hi to me in the foodcourt got an order for a torta with cecina.
An Uber driver in Mérida originally from Oaxaca had warned me not to eat at market stalls and to instead have meals at restaurants. I finally understood what he meant — a pretty basic torta plus a juice cost me 55 pesos, what I paid for a two-course breakfast Friday morning! Still not an expensive breakfast by any means, and I was glad to take my food home, but it just goes to show where value is in dining out in Oaxaca.
For lunch, I had to go try out El Morocco, which my friends had raved out. Oh… The ambiance was like eating at Tea for Two in Sarajevo.
I ordered the menú del día First up was a basket of not very good bread and a glass of cantaloupe water!
Next up was a beet, mango, and mint salad. OMG. This was a culinary genius-level entrée. Even if the rest of my meal wasn’t very good, there was the full value of my meal right there. So, so, so good.
The main was chicken and veggies over couscous. The ratio of topping to couscous was a bit off and there was way too much parsley, but this was absolutely delicious.
I thought this was going to be super hot sauce, but had just the right amount of heat for me. The meat and veg had plenty of flavour on their own (lots of cumin, yum!), but this sauce mixed into the couscous really elevated it.
Dessert was a disappointing pretty stale cake with raisins and orange flavour — must be very good fresh, but wasn’t great as it was dry. Still plenty good enough to finish, though. 🙂
I returned to the apartment to do more work and to start packing. Late evening, I was hungry again and decided to try a pizza and pasta place right around the corner from the apartment.
I finally got to try some local beer — this had citrus undertones that were perfect with a pizza.
Garlic sauce, smoky spicy sauce, and chimichurri.
The sauce, cheese, and super fresh tomatoes were great — like the pizza I got used to in Europe. The crust was a bit meh, but once I figured out the perfect ratio of sauces to make one savoury dipping sauce, it became a great vehicle for all those flavours.
I got in, finished packing, and went to bed early for a 5:45 wake-up time. OF COURSE this wound up being the only night the whole week that the building was loud. I pretty much just dozed and was up at 5:40. I did the last little bits of packing and tidying up, dressed, and called a taxi. I had been a little concerned that it wasn’t possible to call a cab ahead of time and very worried that I wouldn’t get one quickly, hence why I was trying that early for an 8:30 flight at an airport about 15 minutes away. There are many cab companies in Oaxaca and most are poorly rated, so I just called the first one in the list. They got a cab out to me so fast that I wasn’t even downstairs by the time the driver was honking for me! So I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
The airport is where I finally saw for the first time since all this coronavirus mess hit how the world had changed while I was away. For the first time ever, I was not allowed to travel on my Mexican residency card. Thank goodness I always travel with my passport, even in Canada!. In fact, it was like the lady at baggage check-in had never seen that card. She asked me when I had last entered Mexico from Canada, and when I said about 2.5 years, she was taken aback and said “That might be a problem.” I pointed out that the card, good through this time next year, is proof that I’m here legally. She then asked if I was continuing on to Canada, because there are no international flights out of Mérida at this time, and I told her that Mérida is home. She finally agreed to check me in.
The next stop before security was a brief interview to check my health status. That was fine. Security was easy and I didn’t set off the metal detector for once, but my head was “wanded” because I wear a scarf. I offered to remove it (what Canadian airport security prefers), but he told me that would not be necessary.
I then had plenty of time before my flight to get a coffee and some yogurt and get part of a job done. We boarded and left on time, and I slept the first half of the trip. The second half was really sad — there were new parents in front of me on their first flight and they were not prepared for their baby having a problem with her ears. So the poor child was wailing and wailing and wailing. I’ve had two flights like that in my life, one as a child and one as an adult, and my heart broke for her. Someone finally found a lollipop at the bottom of her purse and offered it to the parents. It took about a minute for sucking on it to work so that the baby’s ears popped. After that, she fell into an exhausted sleep. This was a short flight, so I can’t imagine it took that long from the first wails to resolution, but it sure felt like it. So glad it all resolved.
We arrived in Mérida on time at about 10AM. I collected my luggage and headed out to get a cab. The driver looked a bit panicked when I told him we were heading into the labyrinthian streets of Chuburná, a reaction I get all the time, but he followed my instructions and we got home in record time.
I was so happy to see Bonita! She wasn’t quite as happy to see me as I’d expected, but by the time I’d unpacked and crashed, I understood why — she was exhausted too! After we both got in a nap, she was back to being my little shadow. 🙂
Thus ends my amazing week in Oaxaca. I will have one final sum-up post with a table of contents!