Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do something that scares you...

The city feels damp. The afternoon threatens rain. So many small creatures are about: ants of all sizes, and when I opened up my mailbox the only thing inside was a surprised gecko. Two more geckos clamber around the walls in the sala tonight.

The rainy season sprouted a new crop of weeds in the patio. Blue morning glories climb the wall, tall grasses are setting seed, there are tiny daisy-like flowers and something with a seed pod that looks a bit like a green grape. Several branches of the sour orange tree are bent to the ground, weighed down with fruit and fresh growth. Surprise, the snake plant and henequen, gifts from friends, didn't die of neglect but are thriving, still in a pot, in the shade of the orange.

The back of the property has also grown weeds, along with substantial deposits of the neighbors' trash. Pipes, wood, prunings of palm and other trees. Not very neighborly, but I guess we'll clear it out and see if future dumping can be politely discouraged.

Now for settling in. After a day with the fans running, the house feels less dank, and now it's filled with the fragrance of lilies - a lovely housewarming surprise.

Dragged the bike out of the unfinished guest bedroom where I stashed it in March, and cleaned it up with dish soap and a damp cloth. It was filthy, and seemed to grow an extra coat of grime in the summer heat. The key for the bike lock was rusted almost beyond recognition. The tires were flat of course, but a neighborhood tire-repair guy refilled them for free.

The bike made it easy to get to the Oaxaca festival. It was a couple of kilometres away, set up in the Parque de los Americas in the Garcia Gineres neighborhood. All the treasures of Oaxaca were represented there: the park was lined with vendors' stands selling everything from woven shawls and beautifully embroidered clothes, to the region's gorgeous black and green pottery. There might have been music and dancing before I got there.

The food tent was hopping. I got in line for a tamale and some of that famous Oaxacan hot chocolate, but couldn't help noticing the fried chapulines. Grasshoppers. I had heard about this dish, but still, it was a little surprising to see a big platter of them at a public event.

A young fellow behind me was telling his novia he was getting the chapulines - hoping to impress with bravery, I think. I asked a server if they were popular - yes, she said, did I want a taste? I told her I was too afraid to try them, but la novia behind me said she'd had them before, and liked them, and her boyfriend took a sample. So I swallowed my fear and took a few from the spoonful the server proffered.

They actually tasted pretty good.

 So now I figure I'm ready for the apocalypse, or the post-global warming world, when bugs are all we have left to eat.

Brought the tamale home and put it in the fridge. For later, I figured. But I'm too intimidated to turn on the new range that was installed back in March and hasn't even been turned on yet. It has a funny button to ignite the gas burners, at least I think that's what it's for. And is there any potential problem with a tank of gas that's been sitting on the roof untouched all summer long?

I'll face that fear tomorrow.


  1. Debbie, you're a much braver gal than I am. I think it'll be a loong, looong while before I attempt to eat bugs. If ever.

  2. You really had not just one, but a spoonful??

    It's easy to sit here in the states and think, "I'd eat a fried grasshopper, no problem!" When I really think about it, though, not even a squeeze of limon would make a spoonful of chapulines very appetizing. My compliments to the brave blogger!

  3. Yucatango, thanks, it is great to be back.
    Barb, I never thought I'd try eating an insect either. I bet you're not afraid of a gas stove though!
    Lee, I think I had three. Not too brave.

  4. I've heard that chapulines are quite tasty. Now that you have confirmed that they are, I won't be so shy about trying them. I'm sorry that we will miss the Oaxaca Fair. We have a small woven rug from there that we will be bringing to Merida.

  5. I think the fair might come every year, so maybe next time. Ants were chasing my sandwich just now and I wanted to warn them to watch out - I've eaten bigger bugs than them now. Do you remember chocolate-covered ants? Never tried them. Seemed like a waste of chocolate.

  6. Actually, I *am* afraid of my gas stove. We have an electric one here in Canada. My Mexican gas one scares the bejeebers out of me. I'm always afraid it's going to blow up.

  7. So sorry I missed that festival! (I remember really liking my Oaxacan taste of the chapulines.) Actually, I went to the park, saw nada, and left. I figured it had closed because of the rain?

    I remember having a housekeeper "smell gas", and then I did, too. Faint, but real. I've since never been able to get that stove repaired correctly, so I've given up on gas cooking. You're wise to be weary.

  8. Blog flash! "Biker babe picks bugs from teeth." It's never too late to be who you always wanted to be, is it, Debbie?

  9. Update: I learned how to turn on the stove, thanks to instructions from our friends Bob and Diane. It does seem to have a faint gas smell that lingers. I have that back in Victoria too around the gas line into the house, so I'm not too alarmed.

    Paul, I'm way too old to be a biker babe, but it would be a good way to get your insect protein now that I think of it. You are funny, and philosophically challenging. I'm not exactly sure who I've always wanted to be. How about you?

  10. Deb - Shirley & I had grasshoppers twice in Huatulco last year - once as part of a filling in a burrito & another day as a main course for Shirley with beans, rice & tortillas. Ironically they were too salty more than anything but with cilantro & lime fairly tasty & not recognizable as bugs. I joked that I hoped they were free range & not farmed!

  11. You and Shirley are bolder than me, Bill. I saw people with burritos full of chapulines and thought I was not ready for a full serving. Maybe next time. Now that you mention it, I wonder where they are harvested from and what they get to eat?