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We're Not There Yet

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Home is Where the Kitchen Is – Oaxaca, Mexico | We're Not There Yet

We got real comfortable, real fast in Oaxaca. We took Spanish classes in the mornings, went to our ‘usual’ comida corrida place for the $3 set menu, then headed to the library for another hour or so of studying. We rarely went out in the evenings and cooked most of our meals in the kitchen that we shared with other boarders as well as the family that ran the hostel. In fact, we made ourselves at home so much that the owners, Jorge and Yolanda, began treating us like family. We cooked several meals with them and spent time with them and their two sons around the house.

Home (for now) and the coolest dueños you could ask for

This was the hostel experience we were after. I like to think that we are still pretty low maintenance- we are, after all, the people who spent months on end sleeping behind churches and in playgrounds, more often than not without a shower for a few days- but we felt old and crotchety after our first night’s stay in the hostel that Lonely Planet describes as ‘charming and basic, with friendly common areas’. We don’t mind sharing a bathroom, turning a blind eye to sticky carpets, and closing our ears against our neighbors’ snoring/TV/late night parties; we just don’t want to feel like we’re back in our college dorms. Jorge and Yolanda’s place felt more like staying with some friends who did their best to share their amenities with us. It’s the closest I’ve done to a homestay, which I am less enthusiastic than others about. At least we had the refuge of a locking door and no expectations beyond paying the totally reasonable nightly rates.

These guys were parked under our window for a good hour, blasting mediocre Spanish pop music but, hey, what’s not to love. This is authentic Mexican culture!

Since we’ve been out of the US and staying exclusively in hotels, we have missed out on some of the interaction that we were lucky to have with people along our route. The language barrier is a huge hurdle and, while we have had great experiences chatting with people during breaks and at restaurants, we have not had the same level of hospitality that we had in the US. With Jorge and Yolanda and their lovely family, we had a glimpse into ‘real’ life and felt like we had finally made a connection instead of just passing through.  Of course, it took two weeks, where in the US we were able to get to know people much more quickly. But this is what it’s all about, folks: meeting new people, trying new things, and making an effort to get to know a place instead of just passing through.

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