Toña Maria (Toñis) is superwoman. See those beautiful tile tables in the patio? She made them. See those delicious deserts? She made them as well. She was born in the small town of San Juan Mazatlan, and left her family to come to Oaxaca six years ago. She has been working in Los Cuiles tirelessly ever since, working her way up to manager and owner. Toña loves to bake, and in what little free time she has you are likely to find her with her nose in a new recipe book.     Doña Ines, from San Pablo Huitzo, has been cooking all of her life, first for her five children, then here in Oaxaca for a hospital and various restaurants, and then more recently for Cafe Los Cuiles. She describes her personality as "feliz y tranquila," and the staff enjoys working with her in the kitchen, where she calls the girls her "hijitas."
Lupe is from the town of San Pablo Güila, and came to Oaxaca in 2010 to further her studies. The staff has nicknamed her the Road Runner for the way she scoots about the cafe, nearly taking out customers, staff,...stone columns...or anything else that gets in her way. Note to customers: don't get between her and the kitchen when she has an order to run! She packs more power and energy than a minor nuclear reaction. Iranian nuclear scientist are said to be studying her. Abel, serious and hardworking, is the youngest of 7, and is from the town of Santa Maria Ocotlan in the Mizteca region. He arrived to Oaxaca city just a year ago in search of work, and caught a job at Los Cuiles, where he works the late shift. He speaks Spanish and Mizteca, and hopes to study and learn English. In his spare time he likes to read, play sports, and dream about his girlfriend back home. Abel's email
For Alejandro, working in Los Cuiles is a family tradition. His oldest sister Alejandra worked in the cafe before becomming and architect, and another sister Sarah worked in Los Cuiles while studying to be a teacher. Alejandro is studying humanities in high school, and plans to go to college, but says it wouldn't be bad to travel the world first, and if he finds a few girlfriends along the way, so much the better. Alejandro: first concentrate on school. And your customers! Shy at first but quick with a pretty smile, Tere, the cafe prankster, was born in San Juan Quiahije, and at the age of 12 her parents sent her to Oaxaca to work. She managed to put herself through high school, and is now studying to be a teacher at the U. de Golfo de Mexico, working mornings at Los Cuiles to help finance her studies.
Doña Hilda, with plenty of experience is the café’s morning chef. She can make a torta for the students faster than you can say “ya?” She is from San Juan Guelavaria and is the mom of two. She loves a joke: you will probably hear her wisecracks if you get close to the kitchen, but don't let your kids pick up any of her vocabulary. In her spare time she likes to study alternative medicine. Paul commutes back and forth between Olympia Washington, where he sweeps floors in Compass Rose, and Oaxaca, where he is the cafe's back up dishwasher. He drinks copious amounts of coffee and sits in the corner on his computer all day, oblivious to everything going on outside in Oaxaca city. You can email Paul at pabloshep@gmail.com and tell him to get a life.
Mary, 18, is from the Oaxaca town of San Juan Quiahije and is the younger sister of Teresa (above right), and came to Oaxaca to study at the age of 16. She worked as a live in nanny until her older sister recruited her for the cafe, which suits her just fine, because now she can keep an eye out for chamacos guapos. Mary has finished high school and plans to enter the university and study literature. But for the time being, she is more interested the the chamacos.

When Toña (upper left) needed more help in the cafe, she turned to her pretty younger sister Martha, who at the time was spending more time watching soap operas on TV than doing her school work. She still doesn't like doing her school work, but at least now she doesn't have much time to watch TV. Martha is finishing high school and wants to study accounting in college. If the college offers courses on TV, she will be set.

 

   
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