Project Life: Oaxaca City

I have my fall sort of planned out. First I gotta move. No big deal, right? I don’t know exactly when that is happening. Then the bead show is next weekend – so excited!!! Plus, I have 2 days off: Friday & Monday. That never happens. All I have to do is get my car inspected that Monday. On December 8 or 9, I will go see Breaking Dawn 2 or Lincoln. I may be daring and see both – not during the same weekend. lol. December/January is my movie going season. It is when the best movies usually come out (re: Oscar movies). I haven’t been to a movie theater since April.

It probably seems like I need more plans but anything else would overwhelm me. I have enough to do day to day.

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One thing I love about Project Life is that it encourages me to journal. It isn’t just about pictures. I have journaled my whole Oaxaca City trip in my binder. I did a lot of layouts on my vacation because I don’t take a lot of photos each day so I have more than enough room. I am more of an event kind of girl. I would rather capture something new than document my day to day life. (which is the opposite point of Project Life – heh). But I’m doing both. I can’t wait for 2013. I get to do a full year of PL. 😉

I used my 25 free prints at Persnickety Prints for my photos.  I do not like how my photos came out. I am with Shutterfly.com from here on out. They are very slow but their quality is superb.  I’m probably going to shuffle things around more. I have a few more things I could add…and yes I do have empty spaces. Okay, here are the layouts:

1st page
page 2
3rd page
4th page
project life travel
page 5
project life travel mexico oaxaca
page 6
project life
page 7

(Excuse that snippet of President Obama on Rolling Stone in the background. He had to try to sneak in and ruin my layout!)

As you can see as the pages go on, the more blank spots there are. The pics that are covered are pics of me, btw. I’m so tired of writing and blogging about Oaxaca, that I don’t have much to say. Blah, blah, blah. I wish I could go back for my birthday next May. LOL. Anyone want to pay for my plane ticket? 😉 I can afford a place to stay. That would be so wonderful…but so not happening.

Thanks for looking. I think I will have a ton of pics for next week’s layout. I took a lot of pics today. Then there’s election day and the bead show. But don’t worry, I won’t be doing a PL post soon since I order my pics every 3 months or so. I always make exceptions though. I will probably order my next pics after the 1st week of Jan 2013. #willpower

Oaxaca: Tips

This will be my last all Oaxaca post…I think. I have two other posts: Oaxaca purchases & Day 1 in Oaxaca. Now it is time to share what I learned on my very short trip.

First, if you don’t like sweet food or crafts, skip Oaxaca. Yes it is beautiful but I can’t imagine loving it as much as I did if it weren’t for those two things.

SHOPPING!

I was going to recommend that tourists just skip the Benito Juarez Market. I was going to say it is for the locals, it is crowded, there are dead chickens and fish with heads laying around etc. However, that is exactly why you should go. You will find everything there. EVERYTHING. Shoes, batteries, clothes, flowers, belts, food (I wouldn’t buy it though), and crafts. It is cheap. Go there first before you waste your money elsewhere. If you are an introvert like me, go around 10AM on a weekday. I made the mistake of going there on a weekday around 5PM. But then I ran into it by mistake the next day after breakfast and it was a totally different experience. I didn’t buy much because I had already wasted my money elsewhere.

blue bag from the market

I only brought the blue handbag from the market. I just didn’t want to crop the other stuff out. The picture and necklace, you can get anywhere. People will come up to you and beg you you to buy. Remember go there first! It is huge and is sort of combined with the 20 de Noviembre Market.

*The second place you must go if you cannot make it out to the other valleys is Casa de las Artesanias de Oaxaca. This is a way to support the artists without leaving the main area. Of course, money wise it is better to just go to the villages but I was only there for 3 days so I couldn’t make it. Next time I look forward to actually meeting the artists and buying directly from them. Casa de las Artesanias de Oaxaca sells the items for the artists. The artist gets the money but you are also paying the distributor so the price is a little higher. By the time I found this gem, I was all out of money so I only brought one thing:

handmade bag. LOVE!

It is so nicely made. This is by far my favorite purchase. I will be using this bag a lot. I paid $272 pesos for it. The person who made this bag lives in Yaganiza. I feel great about the purchase because the money is going to the person who made it. Very important to me. Next time I go, I’m just planning on buying handbags and Xmas gifts. 😉

Getting a taxi from your hotel:

Do not bother booking one in advance. I did and it cost me $55 pesos (not a lot) and I don’t know whether it showed up. I was so anxious about getting to the airport on time. I wanted to trust the taxi service. Maybe if I had waited 10 more minutes, the shared taxi would have shown up but who knows? If you are anywhere near a street you will see tons of taxis just like in NYC. Just hail one. That is what I did. If you don’t see taxis near your hotel during your stay and you have a ton of luggage that is a different story. I did see tourists with one piece of luggage going near the Zócalo to get a taxi. I felt bad for them because the sidewalks aren’t made for luggage. Btw, I paid $150 pesos to get to the airport.

Where to stay:

Go by trip advisor or the guidebooks. I stayed at Hostel Don Nino. Great place. I had my own private room with a bathroom and a TV and get this: my own little garden! I didn’t get to enjoy the garden much though. Had I stayed there longer, I would have totally taken advantage of it. I was so tired from walking all day that I just crashed when I got back. I paid $1350 pesos for 3 nights. I know there are cheaper hostels. But I loved the location. It was right across from the most beautiful park. Having said that I think I will try something closer to town next time. Less walking involved (I have feet issues).

park across the street. awesome

The Zócalo (main square).

I don’t know if it is legal to say this but I don’t get the big deal. Yes you must go there at least once just to experience it but it was nothing like the books made it out to be. Having said that, I spent a lot of time there on my last day there (because the taxi stand opened 2 hours late) and it was sort of like the movies. It was the first time I kind of got it. Before I was like “This is the Zócalo? What’s the big deal??” But on my last day there, there was a great band playing and people everywhere. It was dare I say, romantic? I even went into the church and stayed for a prayer I didn’t understand. But I still think it is highly overrated. I enjoyed the parks much more. But it is worth a visit since you are there.

I ran into TWO protests in one day while there. At first I was following one and then I remembered that my guidebook said to stay away from the protests! lol. I got stuck in one. I thought I would never get out. I just kept following someone who appeared to be on his way to work or school. That was one of the times I was a little scared. The other time I was scared was when it was dark – maybe 8PM- and I was lost and very far from my hotel. I ended up hailing a taxi.

the smaller protest

Food

My recommendation is just go anywhere to eat. haha. I didn’t go anywhere the books recommended. That involved too much work of actually looking for certain places. Mostly I went to places where there were menus outside but sometimes I would just stop in anywhere. I would NEVER do that in the United States (too scared) but Oaxaca is magical. 🙂 As far as spicy food goes, they usually let you put that on yourself so it isn’t a big deal. Of course I stayed away from anything that I thought might be spicy so I’m no help there. They tend to cook the meat tough so if you don’t like that, you might want to mention it. I think a few of the waiters might have been offended because I didn’t eat everything. I’m not sure with the culture/language differences and all. I tried to eat as much as possible to not offend. I left everyone $5 pesos for a tip. At first I was leaving $10 pesos but I went through my book and that is waaaaay generous. $5 is enough. I’m obsessed with taking pictures of food:

too much cheese for me. wow.

Santo Domingo Church

Of course, go there. No flash is allowed in the church so my pics didn’t come out well.

most beautiful place in Oaxaca

Going alone and without being fluent in Spanish

I have to mention this because so many people made a big deal about both. OMG. Grow a set of ———. ROFL. I hate when people say, “If I could do it……” But seriously I’m a person with social anxiety and I went. C’mon. It isn’t that bad. I would not as a single lady hang around at night outside of tourist spots (actually I did do that but that’s not the point). I’m not fluent in spanish but I knew enough for a few days. lol. I made sure I knew certain words like “gate” (puerta) for the airport. Make a note of all the important phrases so you can get to them. Put them on an iPhone or a tablet. Organize it in some way like words for the airport, words for the hotel, words for shopping etc.  Try to learn all the numbers. I kept getting 50 and 150 mixed up. Embarrassing.

Most people in Oaxaca do not speak english. Don’t expect that at all. Some people off the tourist path will get annoyed with you for not understanding spanish. (But most won’t so don’t let this scare you. Overall, the people there are VERY accommodating and just nice).  I faked it at one off the path “restaurant”. She kept speaking in spanish knowing full well I didn’t understand her. I didn’t let it bother me. I just ordered, ate the food and kept moving. I understood the menu and how much to pay. That is all that mattered. That place had the best soup. Yum.

Recommend books/websites from the Oaxaca experts:

  • Oaxaca Oaxaca (website)
  • Oaxaca Notes (website)
  • Viva Oaxaca (book – used it a lot while there) Apparently I am able to loan this kindle book to anyone. I can only loan it out once for 14 days. Leave a comment if you want it.
  • Moon Oaxaca (book). I copied the maps and it was so helpful. I was lost so many times. lol. I really recommend buying a map from Amate books once you get there. I should have done that.

Oaxaca is awesome! 🙂 🙂 It was the little things like seeing parents drop there kids off at school and seeing so many locals going to a crafting class. I love that place. As far as me moving there, it is still a dream but not something I know for 100% sure I want to pursue. What if a city in Argentina is better? I just don’t know. The next time I go, it will probably be to take a week long Spanish immersion class.  I would love that. Then it wouldn’t be all about shopping! I have to do that. I just don’t know when. Maybe 2014? Hopefully.

I could go on and on. But this entry is 1600+ words already so THE END.

I was gonna marry you

My uncle died from colon cancer yesterday morning. I just thought I would mention it since I’d blogged about it in the past.

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The good & bad of Oaxaca (more photos coming later – maybe this weekend)

I got sick on my travel day in Mexico. Of course I did. No shock there. But that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was my feet! I can’t do all that walking in an airport – especially as big as one as Mexico City. I was limping so badly that the guy at the gate thought I needed special assistance for my leg! The whole Mexico City airport fiasco was a nightmare. I will never repeat it. I can get to Oaxaca by bus from Houston. I will do that next time. It must be the biggest airport ever – with 2 separate buildings. You can’t even walk to the second building. You must take a train. I hate Benito Juárez International Airport cuz it sucks. #profound It must provide a ton of jobs though. That is a great thing.

Have I mentioned that the travel part was not the highlight? The way there wasn’t nearly half as bad as the way back. Flying domestically must be a breeze.

Overall, I’d give the trip a B+ or maybe an A-. Not an A+, because I spent too much money. I’m going to do a helpful hints on Oaxaca soon and it will have shopping tips. I now know where to go to get the best deals. I’m like, totally an Oaxaca expert. :/

I’m still sick but feeling much better. My feet haven’t recovered yet though. I don’t know what made me sick. That will be included in my tips but I think it was either eating pan dulce (sweet bread) from a street vendor, consuming too much syrup*, or drinking tons of coffee or more likely me constantly checking the water temperature for my shower and not using anti bacterial gel afterwards. It’s the little things. I wasn’t thinking that checking the water with my hand (DUH!) might not be a good idea. I used my feet sometimes too. LOL.

*I have a very sensitive stomach and should have known better.

Oh yeah, that is another reason why this trip couldn’t be an A+. No lukewarm or hot water. I know some people have had lukewarm water at the hostel so it is all about timing. If/When I go next time, I have to have lukewarm water. I tried to shower with that cold water. It involved me checking it and running away. I just couldn’t jump in. I tried. Me don’t do cold showers. I feel like I’m just giving myself a cold. I know Mexico City has HOT water at their hotels. It was lovely.

I did use antibacterial gel but probably not enough. I used it only when I was out. I was only sick on airport day. Do I have to explain how much being sick while going from airport to airport sucks? It was not pleasant. But at least I got to enjoy my time in Oaxaca without feeling sick.

The one thing I really actually missed while in Mexico was MSNBC. I can’t believe it. I was sooooooo sick of that network and the repetitiveness. (When will the election be over???!) But all I wanted to do when I got back to my hostel was watch MSNBC and fall asleep. I never watch CNN anymore but they did have the Mexican version of that so that is what I watched (and the Mexican travel channel). Am I a political/news junkie or what?

I’m in a bad mood so I don’t feel like blogging on and on about my wonderful vacation. I’ve been using a lot of F bombs since I’ve gotten back. Some of it is due to me being sick, some of it is work and most of it is my living situation. But whatevs. Who cares? My fault. Everything is my fault. LOL.

I think I’m going to use Project Life to document my whole trip. Becky is right when she says “keep it simple”. Part of me wants to be creative and do a 6×8 travel journal but on the other hand, do I really want to spend money on that? After what I spent on going to Oaxaca? And I want to live on my own? Sigh. (my fault. everything is my fault). So I’m going to keep it simple and just jam everything in my Project Life binder. That binder is so huge. I would love a cute little travel journal. I can always do one later, I guess.

Disclaimer: I won a free spot in Becky Higgins’ Project Real Life class. I’m not spilling anything that isn’t on the free syllabus.

This week theme is organization. Most of Becky’s video was about her family (re: kids) organization so I didn’t learn much from that. No offense.  But it has motivated me to FINALLY label a place for dirty laundry (wow – genius!), craft/photo stuff, etc. I would take pictures but my very small place where I live is sooo small and cluttered that anyone would wonder how someone could possibly be organized there.

Now I’m going to organize all the crap stuff I got from Oaxaca in my Project Life binder before I lose it. I have so many boarding passes and receipts. That is what I’ll be doing this weekend and a few boring errands. Hurricane Sandy means I have to buy pet food tomorrow instead of waiting. I also have a feeling that it means I will have to go into the office to work next week. I doubt I will have power. The last time we were out for a week. Woe is me. Living on the east coast rulez!!!!115!!!

I apologize for this entry. I’m in a bad mood.

Oaxaca: purchases

More pics from Oaxaca. Part I was underwhelming but here it is. First let me say…no one can say I didn’t live like the locals. I just ate at a place so far from tourist land. Another thing is before I came here I said to myself, “I don’t care how much my feet bother me, I’m going to walk and walk”. This evening it was so bad, I was limping. I will carry pain meds with me from now on even though I’m not planning on walking a lot tomorrow. Tomorrow is my last day. 😦 I’m just going to revisit my favorite places.

Here are my purchases that I haven’t posted yet:

3 things
  1. A blouse. I brought it this morning and wore it for my dinner/evening stroll. I love it. $150 pesos
  2. a bookmark from a guy on the street $10 pesos
  3. wooden necklace from a clothing store. on sale $120 pesos
blouse

I probably won’t wear this much due to the way it is made. I shouldn’t have brought it. Purple is my weakness. $150 pesos

water bottles

I was so relieved to finally find something with the name OAXACA on it. One is for my sister. The other might be for my mom. She has a choice between 2 souvenirs. heh $90 pesos a piece from a boutique kind of shop.

  1. 3 postcards from the famous Amate Books. $5.00 pesos a piece
  2. necklace from a woman outside of the Santo Domingo Church. Yes, I went in! It was awesome. Details later.

  1. 2013 calender. I can’t wait to hang that somewhere. Can’t remember the price. Handmade by someone in a neighbor city (like most of these items actually).
  2. a magnet cross for my mom. $50 pesos. From Amate books
  3. pair of earrings from a boutique $30 pesos
  4. a handmade bookmark. $10 pesos

  1. A vase. might be my mom’s. her choice. 🙂 from the Benito Juarez Market. What an experience! Mostly locals shop there. Can’t remember the price.
  2. a oaxaca keychain. $10 pesos from the Benito Juarez Market.
  3. shot glass. can’t remember price
  4. a bookmark. will probably place in my travel journal.
  5. at the very bottom are $1 peso coins

Saving the best for last…….

My favorite item! We have barely parted since I brought him yesterday morning. $200 pesos. nicely made.

I got some of everything I’d planned to buy which is a shock to me. My bank account is sad though. :/ Oh well, I’m in for the night after being out walking all day. I may try to catch the presidential debate tonight. Will it be in Ingles? I doubt it.

Oaxaca day 1 in pics

I have always been bad at doing detailed posts especially for adventures like this one. So I have decided to just upload some pics that I would otherwise never post. Yes I’m on the computer on my vacation. I just spent 3 hours walking and my feet need a break. I’m back at my room at the hostel.

Like I tweeted, there was a plane malfunction so I ended up spending one night in Mexico City. I’m not happy about that because I had to pay $100 American dollars on a hotel room. However, the room was great. It would have cost anywhere from $170 – $250 in the US. (I spend a lot of time on hotels.com).

STOP TALKING AND POST PICS. okay…

clouds

Pic from either my 1st or 2nd plane ride. I love clouds.

view from my Mexico City hotel room
not mexican food

That was room service from The Holiday Inn. They didn’t have a diverse menu.

famous Santo Domingo church

I haven’t been in yet. I will go inside.

random typical Oaxaca street
oaxacan art
half of my breakfast from this morning

Real Oaxacan food. The bread was so sweet and delicious. And the coffee – OMG 🙂 It is nothing like I’ve ever had before. I have been drinking coffee daily (including a pumpkin spice latte from the Charlotte airport). But Oaxaca meal without coffee? NEVER. The food was good not great (well minus the bread and coffee). I’m still full. I probably don’t need to eat much of a dinner.

No one needs this many turquoise necklaces. I paid the equivalent of $58 (American) for those 5 necklaces. Was I duped? She tried to get me to buy much more. This is her livelihood. I was just helping her out. lol. blah, blah. WTF was I thinking? Don’t get me wrong, I loooove these necklaces but I can’t just spend like this. argh!

I noticed that I was taking all of these pictures and I probably won’t use half of them for Project life or my travel journal. So I thought why not post them here.
I’m going walking again in an hour or so. I already wish I could stay longer. 😦

The day has come

Bummer. I did try to make it to the LGBT event. I even saw all the rainbows! But no freaking parking and I got there early! Good luck to those who plan to show up later on. They will have a long walk. Project Life inspired me to go. How? Well I knew I could go and get memorabilia. They had this new limited edition bumper sticker that I really wanted. I wanted to put it in my photo album not on my car. Since I couldn’t make it there, I did go to one place I’d never visited before so all wasn’t lost. Would I have gone if it weren’t for PL? Probably not. Project Life is my new Abilify! 😉

I took some pics of a historic place in my city. I’ve been living here for years but never ventured out here before.

water

Those who have been there, now know where I was today.

I would have stayed longer but there was a guy with a dog creeping me out. I didn’t think he would harm me. I think he thought I was following him. So he just stopped at one point. Then when I was walking near him to go back down the trail, he started walking right beside me! WEIRD. I’m all about personal space and I would never invade someone’s space on purpose. It is almost rude, imo. (I know different countries/cultures have different personal space ideas but I was in America today). This happens to me a lot. I think people think my shy manner is me flirting when that is sooooooooooooooo not the case. His dog was super cute but um, really?

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Look at what I made in jewelry class:

handmade necklace

Okay, I had help with the very last part of the necklace. I am getting down some of the basics I’d forgotten but I’m missing a lot. The teacher tells us to do things then she leaves and I’m thinking “huh”? I’ve had two classes and I’m not sure I’m  getting what I wanted out of it. I am proud of “designing” the above necklace. I did do that by myself. But there was one thing I’ve always had problems with that I couldn’t do without help.

I also made 3 pairs of earrings last week. They turned out okay. I need more practice but I’m too busy to practice making jewelry right now.

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I wanna stay but the signs says GO

20 days until I go to Oaxaca, Mexico???

Like I tweeted the government received my passport application. I should receive it in time. Here is a video that explains why I want to visit Oaxaca……..

I figured out how I’m going to exchange money. I’m doing it at the airport in Mexico City. I’ll be there for about 3 hours so I should have enough time to exchange. Thanks to the internet for all this useful info. I’m worried about the whole checked luggage thing. If I were traveling domestically, my bag would probably be at my final destination but since I have 3 flights…ugh! I’m guessing I will have to get my bag somewhere along the way and check it again. yipee. First time flyers is a great resource for um, first time flyers. Too bad it doesn’t quelch my fears about checked luggage. :/

I checked out a book on Mexico from the library today. I first checked it out when I was planning to go to Mexico a few years ago. Now they have an updated version. I will probably take this book with me. I have been adding stuff to my wishlist. Once I get my passport, I will start ordering anything I NEED (versus want). Amazon has some things I can’t find anywhere else so they will be my travel store.

Blow me one last kiss

You’re going to Mexico by yourself?!”

Me: Yep!

During my lunch hour, I showered*,  somehow managed to take my passport picture at Walgreens and then went to the post office and officially applied for my passort. I came back from lunch 1 minute late. Amazing. I received my ‘certificate of live birth’ on Monday at 10:45AM. It was ON after that. Fast thinking. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do all that in 1 hour. There was a couple (mom & daughter) in the passport office in front of me. I thought I was doomed. They were laughing and joking with the passport officer. Eventually they left. And guess what? He made me laugh to! 😉 They were also going to Mexico. Viva Mexico! I bet they aren’t going in less than a month…cause they seem like sane folk.

(*I work at home so I usually shower during breaks or lunch).

Okay. So according to the passport guy, I should get my passport by October 9. My flight to Mexico is on October 20. How crazy is all this? ARGH! There are so many things I have to do. I can’t even think about everything. I just want my passport. That is the most important thing. If I don’t get it in time, I don’t go.

Breathe.

I have to do this. I have to research that. I have to learn the numbers in Spanish past 30. Yeah, I can only get to 30. So instead of getting a break from anything, I’m adding more to my plate. I have to go to work the very next day when I come back! I get back at 9PM. How tired and worn out will I be? I hope I’m excited and thrilled but most people need a vacation after the vacation and after a long ass flight, I think working the next day will be tough. But I will.

I guess I’m going to Oaxaca, Mexico! 🙂 I don’t know. LOL. I’m only going to be there for 3 days.  The 2 other days are full travel. yay. (sarcasm). I don’t really plan out stuff but of course there are things I want to do. I’m going to try to make myself go out of my comfort zone each day. It will be nothing major. I will not venture too far out since I don’t have much time.

I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico. That has been my dream since I knew Mexico existed. Then I did a lot of research and decided on Oaxaca. It is the craft center of the world so of course I was drawn to it. They also have very good food. They happen to be known for their coffee and guess who can’t drink coffee? Me. Guess who LOVES coffee? Me. How will I resist? I probably will have a sip or two. I will also take medicine with me (TONS of everything 😉 …just in case even though there is a drug store near where I will be).

I feel so overwhelmed but who wouldn’t be if they were going out of the country on short notice? Oh yeah, I booked the hostel. I have a private room with a private bathroom en suite.

I still don’t know what to do about getting pesos. I don’t feel comfortable waiting until I get to Mexico because I have to pay the taxi driver as soon as I get off the plane. The one thing I do know is that you shouldn’t exchange money at the airport. What a learning experience this will be! I have never flown and I’m about to take SIX flights in a 5 day period. Is that nuts or what?

Don’t get me started on the checked luggage thing. I’m flying US Airways for the most part and their policy sucks. If I knew for sure I could buy luggage in Mexico I would wait until I get there so I would only have to deal with checked luggage on the way back. But what if I can’t find a suitcase to purchase? Doomed. I’m not taking much of anything so I don’t really need to take a suitcase down there. However, I do plan on buying stuff in Oaxaca (Hello! Crafts!). I will have to have a suitcase on the way back. I don’t know what to do about this…………..I know shipping stuff back to the US is not a great option which is too bad because I will be near a post office.

Btw, this trip is way more expensive then I’d planned. I would not recommend others in my situation do this. It would only cause stress. I know having expectations is bad but I really do hope this trip is worth it. I honestly don’t think I’m going to feel like all this money is worth it (but I hope so – that would mean the trip was life altering or something…). I know Oaxaca is great, beautiful etc. But it is hard to justify the cost.

But as of right now, I may not be going anywhere. Another thing is that I didn’t know I would have homework for my jewelry class so I’m trying to do that, work and plan for Mexico. I’m a little ashamed to admit this but I’m now addicted to Project Life and I try to do that daily. Some of that is good because it involves journaling. The other parts I need to leave alone. I can’t wait to do a huge layout for my Mexico trip. 🙂

I guess I should go.