All That Jazz in San Augustin Etla

All things conspired for the good: a free Sunday, no highway blockades, three available girlfriends and an afternoon jazz concert in San Augustin Etla, a beautiful little town up in the mountains about 20 miles out of the city. I’d been there a few times before to see art exhibits at the CASA (el Centro de las Artes San Augustin), even my first week in Oaxaca when it seemed an exotic field trip made so mostly by lack of language and the complete mystery of where we were going.

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Rodeo, Mexican Style

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.

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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.

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Almost & Actually Famous in San Miguel

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.

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I didn’t actually catch his name, but I scared my friends with pix of my new pal in San Miguel

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Finding Oaxaca, with Clowns

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Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, 2009. So many clowns, so little time.

My college friend Carolyn, with whom I almost got into lots of trouble many moons ago, recently visited Oaxaca for the first time with her husband Tom. She reminded me of the off-the-charts emails that I used to send select friends who I thought wouldn’t freak out and try to airlift me out of Mexico after reading them, which turned out to be a fairly small number. I actually have a whole file of emails and notes marked “Mexico Book Chapters.” Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of how I ended up in Oaxaca:
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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

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.

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Pépé y yo at the Xochimilco aquaduct, the mountain of San Felipe in the background

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Activist Gratitude

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.

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