Yesterday, my husband and I got off to a slow start, exhausted from our travels. Our priorities, after seeking breakfast – er, brunch – were:
- find a Telcel cellphone retailer and buy SIM card chips to make our phones work less expensively in Mexico.
- Go to a Soriana supermarket – which is the closest there is to a WalMart here in Oaxaca. (Curiously, Sam’s Club – Yes; WalMart – No).
- Get everything put away in our little kitchen and apartment.
After a lovely breakfast of chilaquiles and Diet Coke, we set off on foot to find the Telcel store recommended by Dr. Wood (my program chief). It was located on 607 Porfirio Diaz, a street which is only one block over from our street, Garcia Vigil. Or so we thought…
First, we did locate the local mercado (a street market, or hive of small business owners selling everything from blue jeans to saddles to meat to produce). We took note of the location and plan to go there for stocking up on fresh foods. Since it was on Porfirio Diaz, we kept going north. The address numbers read 200, then 300, so we were pretty sure that 607 would come up soon.
After a while we were walking along a beautiful old aqueduct, and then we came upon a stretch of street where everything was broken up. While we were trying to decide how to get around it, we noticed that the street numbers had far surpassed the 600s. So, we tracked back, counting carefully as we retraced our steps. No Telcel store.
We looked at the address again – it said 607 Calz. Porfirio Diaz. Calz. stands for calzada. Could there be two different Porfirio Diaz streets? Well, coming from “Peachtree Street USA” – we figured it was possible. The first person we asked – a young lady selling newspapers in candy from a booth on the sidewalk – had no idea what we were talking about.
We moved on to a hotel lobby with a gift shop, and that young lady led us to a big map they had posted on a wall in the shop. Yes, Calzada Porfirio Diaz is different from Porfirio Diaz (calzada means road). She then indulged me by showing me how to pronounce “Netzahualcoyotl” – the name of a street I espied and hoped I never had to use in giving directions.
As we were walking along Niños Héroes, a major thoroughfare, we espied an Office Depot. My husband was so excited! We could check on printer prices. So, while I was temporarily distracted by the abundance of Distroller notebooks and backpacks, he went to the printer area and scoped things out. We were able to buy a printer/scanner for about what you’d pay in the U.S. for a bottom of the line item of this sort. We decided to return here after the Telcel store and buy one, taking a taxi home.
After we found the correct Porfirio Diaz, we started up the street. Many businesses and residences do not have numbers, so we had to keep track whenever we espied one. These blocks seemed MUCH longer than the ones on the previous street, and I didn’t know if I would make it to 607. In the middle of the 200 block, I saw a 300 address – but it was just a cruel joke. Finally, we took refuge in a paleta (ice cream popsicles) shop called Popeye. I had a cajeta paleta and Wheat had a pineapple.
We agreed that it was going to take forever to get 4 more blocks under our beld, so we decided to ask at the Telcel store across the street. There was a security guard there, and he had no idea where 607 was. He was very friendly, though, and this was a large Telcel store, so we decided to settle on that one. Recommendations be damned.
(My husband wanted me to include his joke – He requested “Dos tarjetas SIM por Carlos Slim” – the guy did laugh)
The process of replacing our chips was fairly straightforward, since my husband had obtained the unlock codes from AT&T before we left. For about $15 each, we got a Oaxacan phone number and 50 pesos of talk time (about 20 local minutes). After it was all said and done, the cashier handed over our paper work. Guess where we were? 607 Calz. Porfirio Diaz. Talk about an inscrutable address system!
We hailed a taxi, who took us to the Office Depot and waited while we got the printer and some paper (and a Distroller notebook for me). Then, we went home. Throughout the day, my pedometer told me we had walked 6.66 miles. Whew!