Sunday, February 28, 2016

Settling in

I woke up as usual yesterday.  A bit later, but really the same time I always get up as I was now 2 hours ahead.  I made my way over to my new living space for the next few weeks: a small studio with kitchen and bathroom (and hot water!) at a guesthouse on Calle de Inquisición.

After unpacking, I went to get supplies for the new place.  I stopped in a traditional restaurant for some lunch because it is never good to shop for food on an empty stomach.  My lunch was a chile relleno--a stuffed, fried pepper, with rice, onion-filled chicken soup and a beet salad.  I sipped lemonade mixed with club soda to wash it down.

I made my way to the town supermarket.  When I say supermarket, do not imagine the wide, lined American supermarkets with bounding aisles and enough space between the cereal and soda to drive an SUV through.  Instead, more like a labyrinth of products.  Follow the labyrinth path down to the black beans, and you have hit a dead end.  The Minotaur was spotted near the cans of tuna fish.  I meandered through the packed lanes with my basket dragging my staples of vegetable oil, leche, mint tea and garlic salt.

I wandered through the city, looking for clues to find what I was searching for.

I made my way back to the market, and wandered into a market maze.  Old women in colorful embroidered cloth sat behind rows of carrots, dried peppers, onions, garlic cloves braided along their long stems.  Dried beans of black, red and white color sat full in their jute sacks.  Endless bushels of cilantro lay on top of each other.  There were alleys of charcoal sellers, their hands black with soot.  The afternoon light peered through the market, and lit up the squat faces of a blessed few.

I listened closely to the women speaking Mayan in its shushed tones--a language so dissimilar to anything else I had ever heard.  The women chatted in Mayan as they hawked vegetables in Spanish.  I smiled at the old women and young girls selling their wares.  I bought some cilantro, some of the spiciest peppers I could find and some peppers and tomatoes.   I will be buying all my produce here from now on.

That night, I made a spicy bean stew to go over my yellow-spiced rice.  It was a welcome start to my new kitchen, and new place.

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