Daily, this question comes to me in some form or another: How safe is Oaxaca? I answer without equivocation: as safe as your own home town. Oaxaca is 375 miles south of Mexico City and far from the U.S.-Mexico border where the drug violence has dominated media coverage and individual concerns for safety. Here is a letter just received from my friend Roberta Christie who lives between her apartment in the village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, and her U.S. home in Tallahassee, FL.
|A letter from my friend, Roberta Christie.
My friend Norma tells me that there is concern about traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico . . . . Just as I do in my other home – Tallahassee, FL – I read about reports of domestic violence and drug shootings in that town – roughly the size of Oaxaca, and I go about my business.
In no way do I minimize that there is risk — but there is risk everywhere. There is mafia and drug violence and political discord virtually everywhere. I would encourage you to come see for yourself the wonderful, peaceful, joyful, colorful, inspiring ordinary daily life of people here in my village and in the city of Oaxaca.
We have had 2 festivals recently – the Days of the Dead and the Dia de la Revolucion. Both here in the village and in the city I was struck again by how the people of Oaxaca celebrate with music, art, food and leisurely hours spent with family and friends — very often in wonderful public squares and parks. (I invite you to see 2 sets of photos on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/oaxacacolor/sets And perhaps you can understand that headlines and revolutionary rhetoric does not equate with chaos in the city.)
There are other reasons why I am happy to be in Mexico. The drug trade and its consequences are largely BECAUSE of the US market for those drugs. Add the total absence of gun laws that allow powerful arsenals of weapons into Mexico and the hypocritical exploitation of “so-called illegal” workers in the US — NOT coming to Mexico as a tourist is just another blow to the people and the economy of this fascinating place.
We have much to learn from Mexicans – especially those in this village that has been inhabited by these same families for centuries. They are planting the same crops (corn, beans, squash) in the same still productive fields, using the same methods (wooden plows pulled by oxen). They harvest by hand, the women process the corn which feeds them and their families for the year. Their food, their crafts, their markets, their rituals … all follow age-old traditions that we would do well to incorporate into our own “modern” lives that largely distance us from the earth and its natural cycles of life and death.
Asi es la vida for one ex-pat living in Teotitlan del Valle.
A friend years ago gave me a subscription to a daily meditation listservice. Here is today’s meditation which you may (or may not) find useful as you contemplate this or other a new experience.