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.
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