Oaxaca, Mexico With Jerry
Oaxaca Travel Blog› entry 8 of 103 › view all entries
June 24th, 2007 – by: Belluomo
Some notes on Oaxaca: I was immediately struck by the level of poverty on our drive in from the airport. Badly paved roads, shacks that barely seemed to hold together. Almost no dwelling exceeded one or two stories. There were lots of little businesses – taquerias, little shops limited to few items. Closer to the town the buildings had stucco and fresher paint with bright colors that reminded me of the islands of Venice or the Mediterranean in general.
The people are swarthy and short. To give you an idea of just how short, I felt like an NBA basketball player must feel among the hoi poloi. What a great feeling to walk among people that barely come up to your chest! It must be in the genes of the indigenous Indians that mingled with the European/Spanish blood.
Food is everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen such a food culture before. Jerry and I came to the conclusion that the word “starving” doesn’t exist in their language and that no one, but no one, ever goes hungry, even the poorest peasant. Everywhere you turn there is food whether elegant restaurant, smaller osteria, “comedor” or little streetside eatery, or carts on the street or plaza. You can’t go twenty steps without running into food of some sort. There is a tremendous variety of local dishes and Oaxaca is justly famous in Mexico as having some of the best food, and this in a country known for its cuisine.
Some other curiosities: Mezcal is made here and there were little shops selling a particular brand that allowed you to sample them before buying. Great stuff, but even stronger than tequila.
The zocolo or center plaza was the site of a major demonstration still ongoing from last year. There was significant violence from last summer to November but the protests have quieted down to just banners, activists handing out information and playing videos, fireworks, speeches and lots of posters of “Jose Stalin”, “Carlo Marx” among the other pantheon of Communist leaders.
We stayed in a charming posada or little hotel to the north of the center about a mile. It was much quieter than the chaos to the south of the center. The courtyard was filled with plants and had a little library in the center. Parrots in cages were hung from the trees and provided a constant but not totally unpleasant cacophony. At least they went to sleep at night. Our hosts in the hotel were more than friendly and helpful and we spent a pleasant few nights there. My Spanish measurable improved by having to do all the talking for me and Jerry. I didn’t mind at all since I’d be speaking it from here on out.
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