It has been many, many week since I was in Oaxaca. For many years, I have been hearing about how beautiful this state is – it seems that everyone knows Oaxaca.
The bus ride was six hours, sprinkled with stops at gas stations and convenience stores for makeshift meals. This is how many Mexicans feed themselves on a daily basis – a mix of snacks and meals. Actually, I remember seeing lots of people stop at convenience stores in South Korea too. Perhaps it is city living thing. Anyway that’s not the point. It was a long ride and I woke up the morning we were departing with a fever and big stomach problems. I was close to forfeiting my spot on the bus but decided to brave it out. And I am very glad I did.
Oaxaca was beautiful and not in the way that I imagine when people would say it was beautiful. I didn’t picture so much green, cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, Mixtec being spoken, or daily parades and marches celebrating birthdays, graduation, being alive…
The hotel we stayed at was a convent. In fact, that were several convent converted hotels. Beautiful architecture, interesting layouts, and bougainvillea walls everywhere. The most remarkable element of being in Oaxaca was the visual evidence of hybridity, globalization at its best. A mix of old world and new world was demonstrated in the signage for businesses where seasoned names painted directly onto the walls of the domicile laid atop modern slate grey plated signs with a bluish underglow and avant garde-type font. Another unexpected element was that amount of tourists and hearing English spoken by indigenous vendors. Not even in metropolitan Mexico City did vendors speak English to me. Walking down the cobblestone streets you can hear hip hop or down tempo beats blaring out of a retail store and turn the corner you will hear salsa playing at a local dance studio. Everywhere you look you see a una mescla de las culturas – Black American and European tourists buying from indigenous peoples who are speaking English to them but communicating with each other in Zapotec.
For a small city that felt more like a suburb than city, there was no shortage of activity. There were, what would be akin to, hipster-like events, live music, bars, outdoor drum circles with random people dancing, pulquerias, and late-night restaurants. The intermittent downpour of rain did not stop anyone from enjoying all the life that Oaxaca has to offer.
I would love to revisit Oaxaca.