Honestly, it was pretty magical just to get out of the city for the peace and quiet of the mountains. The past weeks of blockades and general unease in Oaxaca City between the federal government and protesting teachers’ union have taken its toll – we were all ready to leave it behind for the weekend for the tranquility of the Sierra Norte and the pueblo magico of Capulalpam de Méndez.
Oaxaca was awash in purple this week. The jacaranda trees were just losing their bloom, scattering petals on the sidewalk like lavender confetti, and the whole city was clothed in purple and white for Semana Santa, holy week before Easter.
Easter altar at the Monte Alban Hotel, downtown Oaxaca
Yanet and Manuel celebrated their first Valentines Day as a married couple last month, after seven years of dating. (Though here in Mexico, February 14 is the “Day of Friendship and Love,” softening the blow of what my friend Michelle calls “Singles Awareness Day” in el norte. But back to Yanet and Manuel, whose wedding must have surely been the highlight of the season in Teotitlán del Valle, just east of Oaxaca City.
Newlyweds Manuel and Yanet, Teotitlán del Valle
Sure, there may be fancier temazcal (sweatlodge) experiences here in Oaxaca. But would you get to lie naked in a sheet under a moonlit sky next to a curled-up dog, with accordion music wafting down from a nearby fiesta? Bet not.
A fancy temazcal, not ours
In the movie “Being There,” Peter Sellers — in his last cinema role — played Chance the gardener, whose simplemindedness was mistaken for profound wisdom taken to run world affairs. This Sunday in Cuilápam, it was Tomás Ángel the gardener laying down some serious history on the 16th century monastery 30 miles out of Oaxaca City.
Tomás Ángel, being there
At eight and with a personality as big as his voice, Mauricio is the next Mexico’s Got Talent. For now, he’s rocking a gig at his parents’ taco stand in Teotitlán del Valle, singing and dancing after he takes your order. It was all part of the magic at the town’s week-long holy festival that culminated in a jaw-dropping fireworks show on Sunday.
Mauricio el cantante
I wish I were changing the world in a big way, I really do. For those of you out on the front lines – teaching in underfunded classrooms, feeding and clothing the poor, battling social injustice for the disenfranchised, curing diseases and patching wounds, indeed fighting battles for good on any front – I salute you from the bottom of my heart.
For the rest of us, it’s just baby steps in how we change our little part of the world. But the older I am, the more I see how heroic of an effort that really is.
En Vía volunteers and borrowers in San Miguel del Valle, Feb. 2015