I left Japan on November 5, headed for Oaxaca, Mexico, to receive the Agave Award for the best short story submitted to the 2010 Oaxaca International Literature Competition.
As many will remember, I had a pulmonary embolism just about one year ago, and this was my first overseas trip since then, so with some trepidation, I climbed aboard American Airlines Flight 170 bound for Los Angeles from Narita.
Which reminds me. I often tell people that Chiba Prefecture is colorless and transparent. The reason I think so? Well, there's a huge amusement park located in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, but they don't call it by either name. It's not Urayasu Disneyland or Chiba Disneyland, but Tokyo Disneyland, even though it's not located in the metropolitan area. That's not all. Japan's major international airport is located in Narita, Chiba Prefecture. So why do they call it New Tokyo International Airport? Because Chiba is colorless and transparent, no one realizes it when they are in the prefecture. How else could they make such glaring mistakes in naming?
Anyway, left NRT and arrived in LAX. Stayed at daughter's house for two nights, then flew LAX to OAX. Arrived on the afternoon of November 7.
Oaxaca -- Colonial city in southern Mexico
Oaxaca is both a city and a state in Mexico. It is one of the poorest states, now, and it is the southernmost. Oaxaca is also Mexico's oldest city, rather, the ruins of the oldest city, Monte Alban, are only a few miles away.
Much of the colonial city of Spanish rule remain. One such is the cathedral of Santo Domingo.
It's sometimes hard to understand how such opulent buildings could be built in such a poor area. Not for me to judge.
The night I arrived, I went to a balcony restaurant overlooking the town square. A Mexican rock band was playing on a temporary stage, a very different experience. As usual, the food was super.
I stayed at Casa Colonial, a bed and breakfast run by Jane Robison. It's a lovely antiquey place with a marvelous atmosphere, a very good library, and an excellent cook, Theresa, who makes heavenly Huevos Rancheros in the morning.
As with most houses or hotels or museums or churches in Oaxaca, Casa Colonial shows only a 12-foot-high wall to the outside world. Inside, a virtual jungle (carefully watered every day), birds, native arts, 13 rooms, an dinner room, a library, and more. Jane is a wonderful host.
The Agave Award presentation took place at the Tamayo Museum. After a friendly reception with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, the presentation, a presentation on Libres para Pueblos, and a documentary on Alejandro Santiago, the artist and sculptor who created the Agave Award statuette.
More about Oaxaca in my next post.