Let me just say that having grown up in Texas, I’m a big fan of rodeos. I grew up on small town rodeos in west Texas – mostly Weatherford – and always loved the gaudy western wear, calf roping and barrel racing (not so much the bull riding) and especially rodeo clowns.
Rodeo clowns aside (theirs is actually one of the more dangerous jobs, as they’re distracting bucking bulls and broncos away from fallen competitors), the Charros de Ex-Hacienda de la Soledad, just southwest of Oaxaca City, offered all that and more on Sunday, plus chicas in full skirts galloping sidesaddle, traditional dancing (OK, one couple) and a mounted crooner in full charro suit. A charro event isn’t exactly a Texas rodeo, but close enough: it’s a little rough and rowdy and a whole lot of spectacle in fancy western wear with cowboy boots.
I found a slew of old emails recently on my early days in Mexico, when pre-blog I inundated friends with emails on my adventures and the fantastically interesting people who would never have crossed my path in Dallas, Texas. That was 2008-09 and I still can’t believe my good fortune in falling down the rabbit hole that has been my life in Mexico.
I didn’t actually catch his name, but I scared my friends with pix of my new pal in San Miguel
I never really watched the 80s hit TV show Cheers, but I do know it’s a wonderful thing to live where everybody knows your name. In my barrio of Xochimilco – once a separate pueblo but now a northern neighborhood of the capital city of Oaxaca – it’s a little like living in Mayberry (I did watch the Andy Griffith show, back in the day). Here, my neighborhood shop owners all say “Hola, Susy!” before I even get through the door.
Pépé y yo at the Xochimilco aquaduct, the mountain of San Felipe in the background
I can think of some politicians who might have learned a few things from the meal I shared with friends this past Thanksgiving Thursday. It was a celebration across race, nationality and language, religious affiliation, gender preference and probably a lot of other mixed labels that no one thought to ask.
And it’s why, more than ever, it’s important to give thanks for what we do have because it reminds us of what we need to fight for. It’s quite possible that I’m going to become an activist at this stage of my life and I’m OK with that. A gratitude activist maybe.
I don’t usually get political in this blog, but I know who I want to win the U.S. election tomorrow: Matt Santos. Yeah, he was a fictional character in The West Wing – which I’ve been binge-watching on Netflix during this election period. But he’s the kind of president that we need: kind, honest, compassionate and smart. And yes, he would be the first Latino president.
My sons will laugh themselves silly to hear this, but I was way too technological traveling back to Oaxaca from Dallas this week. It took five plastic bins on the security belt to hold my stuff, because I kept having to remove yet another item from my carry-on bag. Used to be that I could get away with just removing my laptop and iPad, but no more.
When I thought I’d left my Mexican cell phone and iPod on the security belt in Mexico City, where I was changing airlines, terminals and planes, I was in for a total of two passes through the security line, frantic conversations with five officials, and three fruitless searches through my carry-on and over-sized purse.
I may have stayed out of the country just a tiny bit too long – I feel like I’ve landed in an alternate universe here in el norte. I think the cultural weirdometer is mostly due to this absurd political climate.
Downtown Dallas: only weird since Oaxaca has 3-story limits
Maybe it’s just context, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s McMurphy futilely claiming sanity in the psychiatric hospital. From my bi-cultural perspective, I now see the weird sides of both Mexico and U.S. — my definition of craziness changes depending on where I am. But it’s a close race, I’ll tell you.