Impressions of Oaxaca

selling-basketsI’ve been in southern Mexico for the past week, in the state of Oaxaca, part of a 5-week business trip. I thought I’d describe some of the things that make this region of Mexico such a wonderland.

An ancient ox cart rattling along the side of the road, the grey-shouldered beasts plodding along in the boredom of a familiar journey.

Two boys bicycling to school, one pedaling, the other standing on the back, his feet supported by steel axle-pegs.

An old man bicycling home early in the morning from a visit to the market, a bouquet of white flowers in his fist.

A young donkey grazing in a field and nuzzling his mother, nipping at her neck.

High school boys playing soccer in the town square, heading and dribbling the ball like World Cup pros.

The sweet aroma of fried bananas sizzling in oil, sold by a smiling young woman. The spicy aroma of fresh tamales brought to our door by a teenaged girl.

Flowers. Plump white blossoms and tiny purple blossoms in the trees. Fiery red poinsettias. Wildflowers of every shape and color.

Trees laden with pomegranates, ripening to a deep red.

The musical sounds of Spanish mixed with the exotic and mysterious sounds of Zapotec and Mixtec, the mother tongues of these people.

The joyous sounds of a fiesta, of dance music playing late into the night and fireworks exploding in the air.

Parades of bright green, three-wheeled motorcycle taxis purring in the streets.

Market stalls piled high with tomatoes, onions, garlic, oranges, mangos, carrots, beans and bananas.

The smell of wood-smoke before the dawn from a thousand cooking fires, where women brown fresh tortillas for their families.

All over the earth, the rhythms and lyrics change, but the themes of life remain the same: we labor; we eat the fruit of God’s earth; we laugh and sing and weep; we relate to each other in commerce and friendship, in love and anger; we sleep; we rise again at the dawn.

And we gaze into the night sky where a billion stars burn and wonder, “What does it all mean?”

Photo credit: Kevin Penner

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  1. Mmm, I can almost see, taste, and hear it all myself! Thanks for sharing these wonderful impressions.

    Your descriptions remind me of a brief journey to Italy many, many years ago — my evening in Spoleto seemed straight out of a period movie, only it was real!

    PS Hope you’re taking some photos!

  2. Ah! You make me want to go back to Chiapas (as if I didn’t already want to)!

    You always do have a way of finding the beauty in the everyday – thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  3. I had been a bit worried about you. Obviously I didn’t need to be!

    Wonderful post. I’ve always wanted to travel to California, then head down to Mexico. Thanks for taking me there in your post.

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