My Cycling Tour in Oaxaca, Day 8

August 6 Sunday, Layover day in Putla

I had breakfast at the Comedor Familiar Gonzales. 30 pesos again. That seems to be the standard price for any meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Market street scene Today is market day in Putla. I wandered around for quite awhile looking for a hand- made skirt (enredo) for Sue but I saw almost no ropa typica (traditional clothing) for sale. Summer is non-tourist season so there was lots of fruit, vegetables, roasted chickens, bread, CDs, factory-made clothes, plastic kitchen implements, shoes, tortillas, ice cream, etc., but not much touristy stuff.

It's difficult to get good photos of a Mexican market for two reasons. One is the tianguis, the tarps that cover the stalls, which make lighting conditions difficult. Also, it's hard to get closeups of the interesting people without being rude. I tried just casually holding the camera at waist level and snapping a few shots without looking. When I get home I'll see if any of them came out.

Church with woman walking in front You can't see it as well as I'd like, but the woman walking in front of the church in the photo is wearing a traditional Mixtec robe. And it's not just "Sunday go to market" clothes. You see women out in the country walking along the road wearing the the same traditional red/orange robe with decorated horizontal stripes.

I stopped in a little grocery by the plaza to buy an orange soda and a short young fellow engaged me in conversation. The fellow behind him kept pointing to his eye, which is Mexican sign language for, "Watch out, this guy is weird." I think the young fellow was trying to get me to go to his house. He followed me around the plaza for awhile before I was able to shake him politely.

I realize that when someone approaches you it's more likely that they mean you harm than when you are the one choosing the encounter. However, most of the time it's perfectly innocent, so I'm always polite and friendly while remaining careful not to let myself open for anything.

The people in this part of Oaxaca state have a reputation among the locals of being unfriendly. So said the guide book and so said Benito, who particularly pointed out Putla on my map. But I've found the people here just as polite and friendly, just as ready to smile and wave or strike up a conversation as anywhere else. Perhaps it has something to do with being on a bike. But even in town, in my street clothes, I haven't had a problem. Perhaps I'm just so different that they don't associate me with their traditional "oppressors" from the Mexican central government.

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