We gave ourselves enough time to catch our suburbanes ride back to Oaxaca City. Lunch at Restaurant Lichita in Pochutla offers simple yet flavorful home-cooked Mexican dishes that came in all sorts of orange and brown sauces. Alejandro, the owner's son, introduced himself to us after I asked the kitchen staff about getting my hands on one of the Lichita tote bags they had hanging near the sink. Only the best customers get the bag, but Alejandro liked my idea of taking photos of my bag all over New York City. He studied in Chicago for a year in 2000 so he spoke a little English and I promised to send him an "I Love NY" shirt in return.
Six hours, one rest stop (where I said hello to a donkey) and one police inspection in the middle of the highway later, our suburbanes pulled in its station in Oaxaca City. We checked in Hotel Francia and got ready for the 7:30pm mass in Santo Domingo. The hotel staff is extremely helpful, even lending us an iron to get our clothes ready for New Year's Eve mass.
Templo Santo Domingo glows with a wealth of art, with its ceiling covered with saints, cherubs and Bible-story paintings. Almost everything is in gold, a sign of its times. We sat through a 30 minute rosary session and an hour mass, all in Spanish.
After the mass, we walked around the public market, Mercado Juarez, to buy Mezcal, Valentina hot sauce and some chili powder to take with us back to the United States. Inside you will see booths full of fresh fruit and vegetables (try the Oaxaca bananas!) and some food stands where Les Halles New York chef Anthony Bourdain sat to eat in his TV show, A Cook's Tour.
There are a lot of outdoor tables by the Zocalo's restaurants. We sat there to welcome in the new year while watching the fireworks and drinking more Mezcal. There were a lot of street vendors selling luces (means "lights"; sparklers like you've held on Fourth of July) and egg shells filled with confetti and flour. One of the vendors gestured hitting the egg over her head when I asked what they were for. When the clock stroke midnight, strangers cracked their eggshells on our heads and soon, everybody was running around the plaza play fighting with eggs, flour, confetti, and foam sprays. Some of us got into heated battles, spending P100 for more eggs. Waiters were running around to make sure bills were paid, restaurant managers were trying to keep their party pooper customers from leaving and sorry policemen tried their best to stop those who took aim at the richer Mexicans in the balconies with prime spots and table reservations.
There was no official loud countdown or a Waterford crystal ball being dropped from a skyscraper, but our Oaxaca City new year was unlike any other we've ever experienced.
On Lazaro Cardena #79 across from Hotel Sta. Cruz. Ask for Alejandro. We ate some amazing Mexican dishes here by nodding to everything our waitress recited to us. They have excellent melon juice! Highly recommended.
20 De Noviembre 212
Oaxaca, Oaxaca 68000
$49 per night for a double room with private bath, TV, phone, and fan.
Templo Santo Domingo
Behind the Plaza Santo Domingo on Macedonia Alcala. Open daily from 7am to 1pm and 5pm until a service ends, only closed during siesta.