Everyday Essentials: San Sebastian EtlaApril 5th, 2013 | Posted by in Everyday Essentials | Mexico | The Places We've Been
This is a series detailing some of what appear at first to be more mundane details of a place, but will hopefully be illuminating as insights into the grind behind the “glamour.”
The markets of greater Oaxaca were one of the elements of the area we were most anticipating, and we were not disappointed. Each region has their own local market, often on differing days of the week. Ours was in Villa de Etla, a six minute drive north, on Wednesdays, and so Wednesdays became our grocery day. At the market, we stocked up on peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, mangoes, bananas, honey, green beans, carrots, and more. Thoughout the week we would fill in the gaps at the very well stocked tienda that we were quite fortunate to have not more than 60 feet from our gate. The couple who ran the store got used to seeing us at least a couple of times a day, usually for avocados or crackers or beer or pasta. Oaxaca de Juárez does have a Walmart on the southwest side of town, which we visited when we ran out of dog food. For the most part, their food prices seemed higher than we found elsewhere, but the convenience and soul crushing was about the same as what one might find at a Walmart in the states.
We didn’t have much information on the water in Oaxaca and so stuck to bottled for all uses including drinking, teeth brushing, and cooking. In a lazy stretch, we purchased 6 liter jugs from the tienda across the street every day or so for our first week in San Sebastian Etla before the guilt from our mounting pile of plastic containers haulted that habit. We found a mini-super a few blocks away where we could swap our empty five gallon jug for a full one for 25 pesos ($2 USD).
We may be getting a bit too used to not having to wash or fold our own laundry. This month we even got to choose between scented detergent and non-scented! As someone who is usually pretty economical and who really doesn’t mind doing laundry, even I can say that it feels pretty good to hand someone $5-8 in exchange for fresh smelling, neatly folded clothing if you don’t have access to a machine. In San Sebastian, our wait time was generally one day and our total monthly cost was $12.50. Would you pay $150 for an entire year of not having to do laundry if it was an option in your community?
My maternal grandfather has a hefty repertoire of adages that he offers lovingly when his family is in need of guidance. Though they’re usually metaphorical and thought provoking (for example, “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your main objective was to pull the plug and drain the lake”), the advice that I personally have been dealt most often is pretty damn straightforward: “Check. Your. Oil.” He says it like that with a pause between each word to make sure I’m paying attention too. I killed my first car by not paying enough attention, and luckily I now have a husband who listens to Grandpa’s advice better than I do. Long story short, we needed oil and it cost us 150 pesos ($12 USD!) for a single liter. That’s all I have to tell you about that. Our basic oil is expensive here.
Also in the auto realm, we asked about cost at a couple of local businesses finding that a car wash for our CR-V including vacuuming the inside would cost us 60 pesos ($4.80 USD) and window tinting for all windows would cost 500 pesos ($40 USD). Though the prices were good, we didn’t end up making either happen so we still have a dirty car and untinted windows.
San Sebastian Etla was a great place to get back into an exercise routine with a large open field available for our use just a block away. At any given time, a few locals were there running or walking or practicing with their baseball team. We used it mostly for running, and the ground was soft enough (compared to concrete) that Maya could trot along with Ian. Ian also did some longer distances along village roads and found that this offered a different perspective on the surroundings in which he often noticed things we wouldn’t have by just driving by. Our house in San Sebastian Etla also had enough floor space for squats, lunges, yoga, and ab workouts.