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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sounds like a pretty easy lunch date: get some take-out pizza, pick up some friends, head over to another friend’s house to eat. In the US of A, it would involve jumping into the car, swinging by Domino’s and just, well, driving there. It’s a little more complicated in Mexico. Continue reading
I’ll never look at TV news the same: while the camera doesn’t really lie, neither does it always paint a full picture of what’s happening around the world. Take Waco: it’s not all biker gang wars, though that certainly got big coverage. Or Oaxaca, whose election woes have been in the news.
The mood in the days leading up to June 7 mid-term elections was definitely uneasy: federal officials had said that the state of Oaxaca was their primary concern for election violence, primarily because the CNTE (Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación) teachers’ union Section 22 is actively militant here. One official was quoted as saying that even the narcotraficantes haven’t tried to stop elections before: this is a whole new level of protest threatened by the teachers.
If you believe the back windows of the taxis they drive, the taxistas of Oaxaca are a very moral group. For several months now, selected yellow taxis in the city (not the orange, blue or pink, mind you) have been sporting painted one-word virtues. Like the highball glasses my dad used to have. Though who wants to down a drink while thinking of Chastity or Prudence? And it’s not just taxis: José’s VW bug now sports Copiloto: La Reyna de Dallas (copilot: queen of Dallas) on the passenger side. Yeah, it’s misspelled: it should be reina.