Oaxaca Meanderings: The Mundane and the Beautiful

From Mexico City it’s a six-hour ADO bus ride (and four movies) to Oaxaca.  The contrast between the two cities, one a megalopolis, the other a calmer haven of color and clear skies, is dramatic. My favorite Oaxaca touchstone is the “behind the scenes” view of Santo Domingo Church from the corner of Av. 5 de Mayo and Abasolo, and the cantera stones in shades of green, pink and brown cut from the rock beneath Oaxaca’s surface.  I could feel my heart rate plunge upon re-entry.  Deep breath.  I am home, again.


I feel reassurance that I am where I belong by retracing a path along my favorite routes, from 5 de Mayo, across Abasolo, turn left down pedestrian Macedeonio Alcala, toward the Zocalo.  The stroll is soothing. Here I take a seat and watch the people, a favorite past-time.


After Rosie prepared an omelet breakfast stuffed with smashed plantains at El Diablo y la Sandia, I took a walk along Murguia toward the historic center. I noticed this banana tree with a cluster of yet-to-ripen fruit dangling, tribute to Oaxaca’s tropical climate.  At the corner of Benito Juarez was a new mural, just in time for Dia de los Muertos.  Just beyond, a woman balancing a full basket on her head.  How does she do it without dropping anything?

On this day Trique people, families and representatives from the Mixteca Baja, gathered in solidarity to advocate for human rights, better education and health care, and improved government services to bring them out of poverty.  Public assembly is part of Mexican culture and political history, a tradition of public and peaceful expression of yearnings for a better way of life.


By the end of the day, the Triqui demonstrators climbed into the back of pick-up trucks and headed home.  Collectivos were packed with workers returning to their villages, one even taking the last spot on the rear bumper.


Street vendors still had a few more things to sell, however. And the street cleaner took time out to make an important phone call, I’m sure.


Today, I’m in Teotitlan del Valle for a few days before returning to the city to start our Day of the Dead Photography Expedition.  The sun is filtering into the cool, shaded patio. I am surrounded by the sounds of ranchera music, the beat of looms, and hanging wool that has just been dyed with wild marigold.  All is well with the world.


4 responses to “Oaxaca Meanderings: The Mundane and the Beautiful

  1. Thanks for these lovely photos. I also love that backside view of Santo Domingo – there always seems to be a couple or two hanging out on those steps and canoodling. The other day I saw a sight that made me happy – a smartly dressed young woman in heels, cellphone in hand, walking briskly down the street reading her e-mail – with a giant basket on her head.

  2. Hi Norma, I’ve enjoyed reading about your trip to Mexico City where we were last Feb. I love what you wrote about returning to Oaxaca which i also love. These photos are terrific. I’m printing this article and photos out for my Spanish conversation group which meets on Sat. and includes my dear friend Mercedes from Campeche who has been living in our rural area for 11 years.
    Enjoy el Dia de los Muertos. I’ll be thinking about you — and reading about you.

    • Dear Pat, thanks for such a dear, sweet note! I’m glad I am able to rekindle your memories of Mexico City and Oaxaca. And, thank you for sharing the blog with your Spanish group. Maybe several of you would consider coming back to Oaxaca this winter to take one of the workshops together. Meanwhile, I’ll bring you along with me in spirit during Muertos. Abrazos, Norma

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