I walked the colorful city of Oaxaca’s roads, its streets, its paths, and made some of my own. I walked until even the bones in my feet ached with each step and, yet, the tips of my toes were crying out with joy for each soulful (soleful) thing they saw.
There was something so radiant about having so many colors enter my world, so vibrant that even on a rainy day, the day seemed sunny and happy. But, what I remember most about Oaxaca was its flavor. Oh, the things I tasted. Thanks to Oaxaca, I now know what a camarone should taste like, like the ocean meeting the sand, not like the dull tasteless flavor of what passes for shrimp back home. I now know the bright yolk of an egg cracked upon the edge of a brand new day, the flavor of el pollo. If people actually really knew the taste of a chicken, they would never again say that anything else “tastes like chicken”.
I learned that, yes, chile does combine very nicely with chocolate and gives a richness of flavor that I had never experienced. I learned to taste the earth in one mole, and the fruit in another. My lips danced upon the smokiness of the mescal as it entered my mouth and left me wanting to speak the few Spanish phrases I knew deep into the night. My mouth watered as my eyes watched the fat slowly drip down the spit of pastor. My ears heard the sizzle of meats while my nose smelled garlic, onions, and peppers being grinded in the molcajete. My mouth puckered on limes and hibiscus in one second and was comforted by a rich warming soup the next.
I wandered through this city tasting it’s colors, listening to it’s flavors, and I wanted to never again let my lips taste dull food, never again let my time be wasted by lifeless pictures on a television screen, let my attention be taken away from the present moment by a cell phone’s ring (God, how I loved down to the fiber of my being not having a phone those week’s). Oaxaca, where I finally threw out the map. Instead of street signs to lead my way, I learned to use the colors of the buildings, the street vendors who were always in the same place, the taco stand where people double parked just for a taste, a taste of a life that had more spice than my own, a taste of a life that transported me walking through my dreams and straight into yours….