Christmas Eve Eve
Christmas in Oaxaca, where all of Mexico goes for the holidays.. so we learned. There are very few camp spots in the city that allow dogs but we knew we wanted to be close to the action. So we settled on a public parking lot in the center of town. I mean, at this point I am getting quite good at peeing in a Nalgene, no se necesita baño!
We arrived in town late in the afternoon with our minds blown by the amount of people bustling through the streets. After getting settled in the camper and drugging our poor animals (damn fireworks), we headed straight to the Zocalo (main square) to check out the radish carving festival. The whole square was COMPLETELY full of people, a line with a 3 hour wait to see the radishes that zigged and zagged its way through in a surprisingly organized manner. Neither one of us have the patience for that so we just peaked through the crowds at them. Oversized radishes carved into intricate displays of art by local artists and farmers, unreal.
The food. Ohhhhh, the food.
Corn on the cob covered in mayo, chili powder, lime, and cojita crumbly cheese. I mean, come on! GET IN MY BELLY. I could have eaten 10 ears all to myself and still been able to take on the street tacos that came next.
Tacos, tacos and more tacos. Some are small & some are big, some with carne asada, some al pastor, some with meat from the head of a pig. Wait, what?! We were feeling adventurous and headed for the stand displaying an entire pig head. What could go wrong? We placed our order. There were three men in an assembly line chopping the meat into tiny little pieces and rolling them into corn tortillas with a mystery green salsa. While waiting we chatted it up with the guy next to us and learned that yes, the little chopped up bits in our tacos were in fact from the face of a pig. Snout, ears, eyes, all of it. Pig face tacos, check. We never need to eat that ever again.
The next morning we set our sites on the market for breakfast. Never met a market we didn't like. Found two seats at a busy vendor, and started scoping out the menu. We kept seeing these large crunchy tortilla type flatbreads all over the streets, so with a little research found they are called Tlyudas. A traditional Oaxacan dish that consist of a thin crispy tortilla/tostada covered with beans, different types of meat, cabbage, tomatoes, avocados and a variety of other toppings. Ken loves all things chorizo so he ordered his with chorizo. I however was still feeling adventurous. I recognized all the meats listed except for one, chapulines, so I got that. Breakfast was served and they both looked amazing! Chapulines, dried shredded beef, no big deal! A moment passes, Ken says in a very calm sweet voice, "Hey babe, I think you have a big plate of crickets." Yes, yes my darling you are correct, well almost. My tlyuda breakfast was in fact covered in about 2 cups of tiny grasshoppers. Grasshoppers toasted with garlic, lime, salt and the extract from agave worms. Mmmmmm. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really good either...
We spent most of the day wandering the different markets and getting lost in the streets. What an incredible city. The Orchestra set up in the Zocalo was the perfect soundtrack to the sites around us. Parents playing with their children in the park, couples making out on a bench, women with large heavy stacks of blankets on their backs and arms full of trinkets trying to sell them to anyone who looked remotely interested.
It was the night of the parade, massive amounts of people all dressed in their Sunday best, as they are heading to midnight mass directly after. Loud music, parade floats, tall dancing statues on stilts? It was bizarre, amazing, loud and unexpected. Indescribable really.
Christmas day and the party had tamed down. The fireworks subsided, there was no longer a large figurine man dancing in the middle of the street. We took advantage of the quiet streets in the best way we know how, driving. Said goodbye to Oaxaca and hit the road. Going through the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, and making our way towards the Yucatan, where eventually we meet up with Chuck and Tasha!