Sunday, April 8, 2012

Again, Oaxaca is Wonderfully Safe....

This is just a quick overview, to calm the jagged nerves of leary travelers:

So many people look completely shocked when I say I am going to Oaxaca, Mexico...this is my 6th, yes SIXTH trip in the last 13 months as I am working on a new book project.  As one of my friends here at Casa Colonial says, the only thing to fear about coming to Oaxaca is that you will exceed your credit card limit!  I walk the 20 minutes back to my B&B (the "Casa") by myself after dark, until about 9:30. I would not walk around alone in my home town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as lovely as it is. Too many questionable types, too many drugs around.

Here in Oaxaca, here in the Historic District and in the outlying smaller villages, you don't see lots of things:  stressed out people, rudeness, screaming nagging children, anger, sharp retorts, fighting couples, impatience, constant blaring of TV and teens with their noses in their smart phones (although the latter is making headways).  What you do see is a lot of smiling, happy and content people who love their families and who are normal, nice folks....by our standards they are 'poor,' i.e. they don't own a lot of stuff, and the system fails them in terms of health care, but they are a heck of a lot happier than people in the US.   I've been coming here a lot and, as it clearly shows, I love it. Sunny blue skies.  Prices are great in hotels and B&B's (you can ask for a reduced rate as tourism has flagged here recently due to narco fears) , modern and folk art are thriving, and there are many wonderful creative restaurants to dine in at bargain rates.

To wit: yesterday at La Jicara for the mid-day meal ('comida') I had a Tortilla Soup with cheese, avocados, herbs, broth; a large Green Salad with Amaranth, Carrots, Avocado and Cucumbers in a Sweet Balsamic dressing; Sauteed Fish with Mango/Cinammon Salsa and a reduction of Hibiscus Flowers with a mild spicy chile ; Rice with a faint flavor of lemon grass; a Mango/Strawberry thick juice drink, and terrific Coffee that would put Starbucks to shame.  Grand total: $6.32.





A new friend confided she had moved back to the countryside from Mexico City where she had been a maid (servant is what she actually said, with a 'perdon' after her statement).  She and four generations of women live in very, VERY  humble conditions; they earn maybe $550 a YEAR.   She quoted the lyrics of a popular singing group:  "Aunque la jaula sea de oro, no deje de ser prision."  Even though the jail is made of gold, it's still a prision.    She would much rather live in the country, growing her own food, and cook over a wood stove, than earn money and live in Mexico City.   Another woman in the same village confided:  'somos libres aqui.'  We are free here.

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