In our modern urban lives we search for the latest cuisine hot-spots across American & European cities. On Friday nights we settle in to the hippest cantinas for tapas and music. It’s exhausting to keep up with the latest trends as the new continuously turns over. What happens when trendy is incredibly Old- World, relatively unknown, & authentic?
Most travelers search for an unspoiled culture.
Oaxaca City isn’t a place that tries to be trendy . . . it just is.
The sun beats down on the farming fields surrounding Oaxaca City. A cool breeze floats through the cobblestone streets down from the Sierra Madre. The city seems to exhibit perfect placement; it’s no wonder the Spanish just [HAD] to have this place in the 1500s. Restaurants open their windows and roofs for quiet evenings.
By day, little old farmers line the Zocolo sell tacos with their wives and insist (in Spanish) that you top your taco with onions, and all of the salsa fixings. The architecture is fascinating and the textiles are vibrant. The people are extremely friendly. The food is untouchable. (I tried grasshoppers and fried Hibiscus flowers and ENJOYED both!)
The state of the politics in the country left a lasting & unexpected impression on me.
On my first night I discovered a tent city in the historic center of town. I was a bit taken aback, and could instantly feel that something was big was going on. So– I did what came naturally in that situation– I walked through the tent city. It was an educational experience.
Teachers in the state of Oaxaca have been protesting since 2006 over the state of public education, wages, and certifications. The state of Oaxaca is attempting to move to a privatized education system, where only wealthy residents will be able to afford to send their children to school.
I immediately noticed that many kids didn’t attend school during the day– instead they helped their families earn wages. Kids that did attend school rose early for a lunch-time dismissal to help work.
I even got to witness a state governor candidate give a speech in the street. The election was the following week.