My friend Fran came to visit in January. She noticed that one of the carvings I bought in Mexico was without ears. She also discovered the carving was made in the village where her daughter, Alana is studying Mexican art and culture. Naturally, we decided we should go to Oaxaca, visit Alana and get some new ears. I had enough points to get us there so Kate and I met Fran in Toronto and the 3 of us headed south.
The Mexico City airport is large, light and attractive; a good thing since we have 4 hours to kill. We find our way to the “Click”counter where folks are lining up. There are a few other foreigners, easily spotted with their Tilley hats and practical footwear. We are met on arrival by Alana, a pretty, blonde and slender woman (heck, we can’t call our daughters “girls”!) and her boyfriend, Eric. Eric is a local fellow ( muy guapo!) with a busy printing business. He doesn’t speak English and focuses on the drive to the B&B where we will be staying. They have borrowed a truck from our hosts. It’s a black 4 door vehicle with a metal cage on the back, very useful for carrying whatever one needs to schlep. Eric takes us around the center of town, as a recent strike ended in chaos, yesterday, with broken glass, burning tires and a barricade making it an unpleasant drive. Apparently the teachers are out of sorts and are making a political statement. Nothing like setting a good example! Rumbling over the many “topes”(speed bumps) we come to a steep and challenging hill at the top of which is a classy row of houses and Casa Machaya. Alvin and Arlene Starkman greet us at the door. They lead Kate and I to a suite on the second floor and we settle in. Alvin and Arlene are Canadians who have given up the grind for their dream of owning a little place in paradise. They are now familiar with the local goings on and among other concessions, have made friends with a plumber and electrician- both essentials to sustaining homeownership in Mexico. I ask what “Machaya” means- it’s “relax and enjoy” in Yiddish.
(Exterior Photo of the Starkman Residence.)
Our space in the Starkman house is perfect. There’s a large bed-sitting room and an attached alcove with double bunks. Kate takes the bunks and I spread out on the bed. Fran has their daughter, Sarah’s room and we are set. The walls are green and orange. Matching handmade bedspread and drapes make you aware you’re in a country that reveres color and artistry. A door leads onto a covered porch which is also our kitchen and dining room. There’s grub in the fridge, fresh fruit on the counter and we declare ourselves at home.
(Kitchen of Starkman Residence.)
Upstairs, Arlene has put out spicy nuts, wine and a variety of local tequilas. We sit and enjoy each other’s company. A great finale to day one.
(Exterior: Starkman Residence.)
As expected, Lynn is the very model of the smug, ignorant tourist who complains about what the brown people do without caring to ask why. One is reminded of MASH's Major Burns who harrumphed that the Koreans had no excuse to be poor despite their country being bombed to crap in front of his eyes.