I have been living in Oaxaca for about 112 days, working as site-director for the Pacific Lutheran University | University of Puget Sound Oaxaca Program. I have 28 days left in a city that surprises at every corner, be it through street graphic art, graffiti slogans (see above), a bounty of colonial architecture and art, libraries and bookstores, everyday practices (eating at a puesto in one of its parks or sidewalks), mezcalerías, vegetation, museums (mostly free and open to the public almost every day of the year), calendas and comparsas. Many of these are part of life in Mexico. I grew up in Mexico City, another incredibly rich and exciting place, with its own share of food puestos, colonial architecture and history, museums and bookstores. But the configuration of these with Oaxaca’s inexhaustible creativity (music and art are created daily and apparent everywhere), its particular history, politics, and ways of keeping traditions alive (most famously, Día de Muertos), the seemingly inexhaustible warmth of oaxaqueños, all have deepened my understanding of my country’s cultural diversity, history, and social complexity, which has of late been denigrated by the glamorization of cartels and violence, and the disparagement of Mexicans living both here and in the USA.
These 28 days also mark the countdown to my very first sabbatical. The posts I will be publishing over the month of December 2017 are a homage to the time I have spent here, the many things I have learned about hospitality, home, and nation that I will continue to process in months to come, and everything I will never forget about la bella Oaxaca de Juárez.