Week Nine

el estudio rosa

For eight weeks, I have been living in the pink studio in Oaxaca. My living quarters are slightly smaller than my bedroom at home. My kitchen, at the other end of the courtyard, consists of a hotplate, a microwave and a refrigerator. We are at the end of four months of dry weather and water is scarce. In just over a week, I will be back to the West Coast of Canada where hopefully the May sun will be shining.
This work is done by men with mallets and shovels.
There is no significant rainfall in Oaxaca from October until May. There are two ways to obtain household water: by truck delivery or by the city water system which is very old. There used to an aqueduct system but it has fallen into disrepair. The water sources have been contaminated long ago due to lack of environmental protection and climate change has meant longer dry periods with occasional flash floods. I buy bottled drinking water but there is no recycling program for the plastic.
In Oaxaca, drinking water, sewage and garbage services have been neglected while the city's population continues to grow.

my last resort
Eight weeks ago, when I arrived with my long-departed friend, Janet, the plan was for Janet to sleep on a cot or inflatable mattress because I had booked solo accommodation a year earlier. Not to be! The first night, Janet discovered cucarachas under the desk and in the bathroom. Janet moved up into the bed for the rest of her visit.

I have not been bothered too much by my insect room-mates except for one night last week when I was sure that someone had broken into my studio and was rustling through my papers. What to do? A friend had told me of a home invasion where one of the library volunteers was tied up in a closet...Okay, don't let your mind....I turned on my bedside light to see that a cucaracha  fiesta was going on under the desk. I grabbed the  spray bottle of soapy water that Janet concocted and started to spray. You have to be careful because the soap makes the tile floor slippery. They scurried.

In my travels, I visited a store of natural Oaxacan products. Featured near the entrance of the store, was a display of natural cockroach killer. I really don't even like the name in English. I talked to the ladies in the store about my needs and I purchased the product. Home I went and sprayed behind the toilet, around the shower drain and under the desk. The concoction smells of rancid chicken fat. I've tried to locate the ingredients online but the webpage just says that it is made of all biological ingredients.  Fortunately, I have seen no cockroaches either dead or alive.

Sometimes, I feel lonely in Oaxaca. I have a schedule of library (Monday-Wednesday-Friday ) volunteer days and Tuesday-Thursday Spanish classes. I always find books to read, Netlix or iTunes
movies and friendly restaurant servers. There are two other American women living full-time in my compound. They work online but we share a glass of wine or a hello from time to time. I don't know them well but I wonder what it would be like living here year-round.

I have lived 9 weeks with a very small wardrobe. I launder t-shirts and underwear and take my linen
pants and tunics to the lavandería. The laundress is very friendly and my clothes are clean and pressed.

Am I glad to go home? I miss family and friends but What's App makes communication easy. The weather in Vancouver has been relentlessly grey since I left home (a bit brighter this week) and in Oaxaca, almost all of my time is spent outside. I am eager to cook a meal, plant a spring garden and to go to book club and to church.


  1. Life in Oaxaca seems very much simplified. I wonder, if you lived there long-term, if you would find yourself in a larger space. When time is defined, I find that I can put up with a lot. Oh, the cockroaches - yuk! I remember waking up once with one on my arm - my husband says I screamed so loudly that I nearly gave him a heart attack!
    El estudio rosa is a beautiful colour. Safe journey home. The sun is shining a wee bit more these days, but the temperature stays cool.

  2. Yes, life is very simple here. The American women who live in my compound work online and have furnished their larger apartments with artwork and household items. They are both creative with textiles and one of has just travelled to a pueblo to spend time at a silkworm farm. You're right! I can put up with a lot for a defined period of time. Enjoy the week-end!

  3. You might be lonely from time to time, but at least you're dry! We've continued to have such poor weather here, although as Lorrie says, we're beginning to see a bit more sun. . .
    With nine weeks of such a simplified life, I'll be curious to know how much your habits at home will be influenced.

  4. I'm wondering about the transition from Oaxaca to home. More space, more possessions, more people makes life busier and more complicated. The climate is so different at home. Right now, the sun is so bright in the afternoon that I have no choice but to stay in and read.

  5. I have always wanted to visit Mexico. Estudio Rosa looks beautiful, but I don't think I could stand all of that six legged crawling night life, especially if they are big enough to be rustling papers. Yikes! What measures do the other ladies who live nearby take to control them, or maybe it would be rude to ask them.

  6. I met a lady yesterday at a baby shower and she told me that she has big blue tablets that the cucarachas eat and die. They don't smell like my spray does. The hotels wash everything in insecticide and you never see bugs.


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