Published January 2001
You may or may not be pleased to know that I have dusted off my trusty old copy of the Peoples Guide and taken to reading it again during breakfast and quite moments out at the latrine. It has been in hibernation for years since my first devouring of its pages in my late adolescence.
Back then I thought your book to be a bible of good words, wise advise and fine tips. But since I'd never travelled in Mexico, what the hell did I know. You could have been making it all up.
But now I've been living deep down in Mexico for a quarter of my life and I know a thing or two about the ways and by ways of the Mexican folks. And one thing I've learned well is the con job, slight of hand, bells and whistles and quick talking sale. And all of that the P's G is NOT! I've been enjoying it all over again and finding it to be as full of wisdom as I did when I didn't know nada.
One early Spring when I showed up to announce the coming of the Red Truck I found a man busy threshing wheat out by Juana's house. Apparently wheat does well in white, clayey soil, for it is the main crop of the region. Here the tortillas aren't corn, they are wheat. The man was threshing in a large circle, ten feet in diameter with a worn stone floor and a curb of stones around the perimeter. In the middle was a wooden post to which were roped, side by side, four donkeys and a mule. Behind them, chasing the four donkeys and mule round and round the post, and thereby causing them to stomp or thresh the piles of wheat below, was a man in a white straw hat. I recognized him as Juana's husband.... (more) by Eric Mindling
The article called "Eric in Oaxaca" is an account of how I wound up in Mexico. Of course there is more to my coming to Mexico -- I've had a travel bug in me since I could crawl, and a trip to Mexico at age 14 with my step pa: 20 hour bus ride from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas through the night, hit a donkey in the wee hours, extra driver looked like Yogi bear and slept in the baggage compartment, first time ever smelling a tortilleria in Loreto under palm trees, nasty diarrhea, beach, Jumex, smell of fresh cement, cactus...It was heaven, coupled with the holy old-cover version of Peples's Guide put Mexico big on my mental map.
Generally what you want to do when you are on the road from Oaxaca. to the coast is GET TO THE COAST. But, should circumstances arise, flat tires, late starts, etc. there are a couple of options of places to stay worth considering. I have not tried either, as late start/flat tire or not, I always get to the coast before I set the handbrake.... (more)
I first came to Oaxaca eight years ago as a wide eyed student of pottery and Spanish while working on my B.A. at Humboldt State U. in California. I didn't know where the heck Oaxaca was nor could I pronounce it (wah-HA-ka), but didn't care I knew it was in Mexico, I knew I hadn't been there. I was doing studio art, and having just recently muddied my hands for the first time in the ceramics studio, I was an avid and fervent convert to the clayway. I have always been partial to that which is raw, basic, utilitarian and beautiful. Pottery hit that place in me immediately. I went to Oaxaca ignorant of what I would find, only vaguely aware that there was some pottery there. So I designed my project around that. I proposed to look at a potter, how she lived in breif, and how she made a pot.... (more)