Last night, they were dancing in the streets: a whirl of bright color to the brassy strains of bands passing down the stone streets of Oaxaca. A friend and I watched the parade over beer and guacamole from the rooftop terrace of Mezquite, which has a killer view of Santo Domingo plaza and some of the best wait staff in the city. It’s the beginning of Guelaguetza month, when Oaxaca’s 16 different indigenous groups get a chance to show off their native dress and dance here in the state capital.
Last year was the first year I was here during Guelaguetza, the cultural festival that takes the city by storm for the last two weeks of July. Even though I’ve lived in Oaxaca for more than four years, I’m usually gone when it’s going on. By this July, I’d moved from living under the white auditorium so close that the sounds broke through closed doors and windows, and the fireworks left debris on my terrace.
The parts that didn’t make the Christmas newsletter:
The Virgin of Guadalupe Festival, which rolled a street carnival, religious celebration and Christmas event all into one over-the-top happening. You could sing karaoke with Michael Jackson, get your picture taken with the Virgin and a donkey – but it was the Shrek Donkey (or with Santa Claus AND the Virgin), and eat a million kinds of fried junk food, ladled from huge vats of boiling oil that the throngs threatened to upend.