And Then Some
gave at the office"
of us who grew up in the fifties or earlier recall Watkins,
Fuller Brush, and if it was in a semi-rural community the
milkman, iceman and bakery truck. Today in Oaxaca door-to-door
sales and services continue to thrive, perhaps less so in
the Centro Histórico apart from gas and water.
But venture beyond and youll be amazed at the multitude
of benefits available at our doorsteps
we have conveniences
long lost in modern society, and yes, Avon.
It may not be surprising that in a society where food is so
in our faces we have regular home delivery, at times more
than once daily of tortillas, tamales, fruits and vegetables,
and breads and pastries. On an irregular basis a young boy
knocks with coffee by the kilo flavored with vanilla and the
fruit of the mamey (ma-MAY) tree. Another day its an
elderly woman with herbs. Then perhaps a teacher supplementing
her income with weekend sales of large crispy fritters known
as buñuelos, accompanied by warm liquid honey.
The best of all foodstuffs are fried plantains in a steamwagon,
carted in front of your residence, the purveyor awaiting your
request that he top the styrofoam plateful with the richest
of cream and perhaps sugar.
Theres much more that enables residents to hermitize
a virtual home shopping channel at our doorsteps.
Neighbors with from-the-home businesses knock to see if you
can use new draperies or a shawl made by relatives in the
Sierra, or perhaps a hand-woven reed garbage pail, sombrero
or basket for dinner rolls. Men plying wares such as pillows,
brooms and mops ring on occasion, at times with furniture
strapped to their backs. Whenever theres a new gadget
in town, it seems to travel right from the landing dock to
.witness: the battery operated reading
lamp that attaches to a book. . We even have the equivalent
of the Encyclopedia Britannica salesmen of the 60s,
consisting of teams of youths dispersed throughout particular
districts selling sets of educational books for supplementing
childrens education, at $350 a pop.
On a different day the multi-pack battery vendor comes by,
but beware, you wont find an Eveready, Engergizer, or
Copper Top. And of course with the Oaxacan almost obsessive
sensitivity to the cost of electricity, how better to light
up ones day than to answer the door to find the neighborhood
fluorescent bulb salesman. Even the odd oriental-style rug
hawker has his route, perhaps not so surprising in a society
saturated with tapetes from Teotitlan del Valle and where
locals long for anything imported.
Where Christianity reigns, non-Catholic sects are making inroads,
literally, with dark suited, starched white shirted Jehovahs
Witness attempting to convert. And if its not to feed
the soul, then its the body that gets attended from
the comfort of home. The Ministry of Health comes by on a
regular basis to see if there are children five and under
who require inoculation, on a subsequent occasion to check
your cholesterol, and then a few months later to scrutinize
water quality in your cistern and advise regarding improving
same. And to further regulate the bodily functions of Oaxacans,
and mind our water usage, the municipality comes a knocking
with the offer to convert the innards of our toilets, free
of charge, from regular flush mechanisms, to the new, optional
3 or 6 liter flush unit. Push the blue button for liquids
and chrome-colored plastic for lo demas
(the rest).And when the census people come by, they too are
obsessed with body waste, asking how many toilets you have
in your home. The young girl was taken aback, not when I answered
seven, but rather in response to her next question
as to how many full-time residents we have in the house: Dos.
I recall long ago feeling both comforted and as proud as could
be when my mother would put a gold star in my sticker book
after completing my assignments and chores. Here its
government putting stickers on the front of my house to signify
to the next employee coming by that I already gave at
the office. No need to retain in the recesses of my
mind that uneasy feeling that some day I will no longer feel
that nurturing maternal comfort, since Ill always have
my big brother looking over me, the Government of Oaxaca.
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) combines the best of bed & breakfast Oaxaca with a downtown
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Casa Machaya is a founding member of the Oaxaca Bed &
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