Wednesday, February 10, 2016

License sidebar

Dorothy and I have been keeping track of the different license plates we've seen on this trip.  It's been a fun diversion.  At this point we've seen 45 US states and the District of Columbia.  Missing states are  North Dakota, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.  We hoping to pick them up on our trip back east in March although N. Dakota and Wyoming could be tricky.  We also have 18 Mexican states and 6 Canadian provinces.  Two of the most exciting plates were...


We know how to have fun!

Dark side

Of course traveling to some exotic locale doesn't mean escaping from life's harsh realities.  Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico with about 78% of its population living below the poverty line.  We often see poor families on the street, asking for money.  The deep-rooted corruption in Mexico is probably at work in Oaxaca but as privileged tourists we are buffered from a direct impact - so far.

Violence is real.  The two main local papers try to outdo each other with graphic photos of people injured or killed in accidents or assassinations.  Very shocking to see public displays of such carnage. It seems that the option to be violent is somehow more likely here - the potential for violence seems closer to the surface (Since writing this Dorothy has noted that my perspective is limited to a basically white surburban reality and someone from the inner city in the US might have a very different take on this.)

Two days ago we were in the zocalo (town plaza) where a left-wing group was having a conference under a huge tent.  Walking around the perimeter of this tent were men with "palos" (sticks) and machetes.  One of the machete wielders gave me a hard glance that make it clear this was no game.

The following day's newspaper said that  the group had "retained" six federal police officers who were photographing the event.  There were pictures of the uniformed policemen being "escorted" to a location several blocks away from the event where they were released.  The event's organizers were quoted as saying this was a deliberate attempt by the government to provoke a violent response.

Here's a picture I took last year of a group of men carrying "palos" confronting a motocyclist who was attempting to go down a street they were blockading.

I've been sick with a cold for the past few days and this is probably coloring the tone of this post. It's just that in retrospect all I've written about this trip so far seems so predictable and, frankly, boring.  To me any way.  I feel compelled to try to strip away some of the "niceness" and try to write about things that feel more real, compelling and challenging.  We'll see.

Feeling a bit bettter today and Dorothy and I are on our way out the door to experience another day in this complex, beautiful city.  Adelante!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Settling in

We are now about to enter the fourth week of our escapade.  We have just completed our first week in Oaxaca at the Las Mariposas hotel and plan to be here another three weeks. This is our fourth year in Oaxaca and it's magic and charm feel as strong as ever.  Our days are filled with

Long walks through the always interesting city streets, markets and parks....

Our iphones keep track of our walking mileage and we're averaging between four and five miles a day.  Crossing the street can be tricky but otherwise its interesting, fun and healthy.  We haven't been to any of Oaxaca's top notch museums yet this year but we plan to soon. 

During our morning walk we usually stop at a cafe for some snacks and some of Oaxaca's wonderful coffee. 

Other activities include...
Art classes for Dorothy two days a week.
Spanish lessons.  I'm starting private Spanish lessons on Thursday.
Swimming.  I found a pool a few blocks away from the hotel.
Lectures.  Our hotel is right next to the Oaxaca Lending Library which sponsors almost daily events geared toward English speaking visitors.  Last night we went to a presentation about efforts to save the Mixtec language in the village of Totontepec
Wild parties.  Last Saturday night there was a birthday party for Teresa, the owner of our hotel, Las Mariposas.  I was asked to play guitar and it worked out great.  Here's some pics.  
Dancing to La Bamba

I trust all of this is not to over stimulating for you and hope all is well wherever you are.