Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where To Begin?

Wow. I don't know where to start on the Mexico trip. There is too much to put into one post so you'll have to bear with me as I try to organize it into something that I can understand over the next week. Overall, it was fantastic. I am in awe of my beautiful, intelligent, and intrepid step-daughter. I truly don't understand how she musters the energy to face completely new cultures over and over again and stick with it until she becomes as close to a local as an outsider can be. Because it does take energy to make your way through a foreign place and people--no matter how beautiful, compelling, friendly, etc. We visited Sarah when she lived in Aix en Provence for a year and it was also a foreign place, but the culture was, on a scale, much more similar to my own than was Mexico. I am of European descent after all. The faces looked like mine in France.

Mexico was so different and I don't know enough about it to tell you why exactly. I was humbled and amazed. Humbled by the fact that these people are our neighbors and I hadn't ever met them before, and amazed at the richness of their history and how that history has trickled down to the present in certain behaviors and in architecture and cuisine, etc. It was also just plain fun to experience so many new things, and I am sure that the level of fun was in direct proportion to the fact that we had a wonderful set of guides in Sarah and Jorge.

Okay, so. I'll begin with some pictures of walking through the streets. We did this everyday. Similar to European cities, you walk everywhere in Oaxaca. That right there is different enough from the US, no? A portrayal of our walks would not be complete without a strong mention of The Stella--our tireless walking companion. (And for that matter, the graffiti.)

We leave Sarah's apartment and descend into the city...

We went to a gigantic market in Tlacolula on our first day. There is my hair sticking out like a sore thumb. I'm quite positive that the Mexicans, if not ready for my hair, are used to the look that was surely on my face--eyes agog and mouth slightly open.

On our first day, I was also stunned by what sounded like a gunshot close by. Sarah and Jorge stood, unfazed, as I clutched at my heart. "Oh," they laughed, "those are fireworks. Someone is always setting them off." Indeed. They often alerted people to the presence of parades or protest or pride marches that you might stumble across anywhere.

And everywhere, I mean everywhere, a church. Those Spaniards weren't taking any chances, I guess.

Stella was always an object of attention. Here on the Zocolo, or main square, a boy keeps asking, "Does she bite?" And despite Sarah's repeated assurances that she didn't, he could not bring himself to touch her.

We had some fun with the street paintings, or at least John did : )

And oh, the colors! Holy God Almighty, the colors!

On two occasions, we walked the Cerro Fortin, Sarah's running route. It is straight up, oh I don't know, five hundred or more steps. Besides the exercise (which we really didn't need at that point) there was an almost 360 degree view of the valley and that was worth it.

And there you have the merest taste of the streets of Oaxaca. At the end of the day, we slogged back up the hill to Sarah's house, tired to our bones, and ready for some cold beers and warm sopes.
Next up: a botanical extravaganza! All you biophiles get ready.


Alice said...

fabulous! and oh how it reminds me of how much i love travel ... Looks like you had a wonderful time :-)

Heather said...

Welcome home! Wow, what fun. Looks like you had a great trip. I love those "bottom only" mannequins modeling the jeans! And the colors of the buildings.... amazing. I love the old architecture of places like Mexico and just about anywhere in Europe. Buildings in those places seem to have their own souls... so very different from our architecture here in the U.S. Can't wait to see what botanical goodies you have to share!

Sarah said...

The jean butts made it on the blog! Wow! Too bad you didn't have more quality Mexican fashion shots...today I saw no less than three (3) purple tube tops with stripes. HOT.

So much still left to do here! I'm so glad you guys got a taste of it; sensory overload, zapotec history, sopes and all. Jorge gets back from Cuba tomorrow morning! Woo hoo!

Meg said...

Hi Alice: yeah, I thought of you so often while there--wondering the same thing about your energy and courage to travel to so many new places!

Heather--Oh, it is so true that the buildings have more "life" to them than a lot of ours. I noticed that distinctly when we got off the plane in Houston and had to walk about a quarter mile through gigantic, empty hallways to reach customs. I don't know if they were expecting droves or if it was just Texas-style or what--but the contrast was striking.

Sar! Oh, yes, the jean butts just had to make it. I do have a picture of frilly hot pink tops, too, but thought it might be overkill. : )