We are currently in Oaxaca – in the southwest of Mexico.
We spent the last week in Teotithuacan, site of some of the largest pyramids built-in pre-hispanic Mexico, and then Mexico City itself. Mexico City, by the way, was not at all what I expected: there was hardly any smog, the traffic was manageable, the streets were clean – a great visit !
Oaxaca is known for its food, its indigenous population and their cultures, crafts, and folk arts. Karen and I love the city and the surrounding area, and, as has become a hallmark of this Mexican trip, we have extended our stay, and will be in the area for around two weeks.
If you are in Mexico, we highly recommend Oaxaca, but that’s not what I wanted to write about. Since we entered Mexico, and in particular since we left the beautiful beaches and headed inland, Karen and I have been discussing whether there is anywhere in the world where one border separates two so dissimilar countries. Sure, crossing any border takes you from one country to the next. But. You have border crossings like US / Canada, or Sweden / Norway, where yes, the countries are different, but not that much. And then there is the US / Mexico border. Wow.
Mexico and the US are just so different – culture, people. income levels, cleanliness, traffic, food, markets. This is Karen’s second visit to Mexico; her first was a spring break trip in college to Cancun (or Miami Beach with a different Spanish accent…). If you, dear reader, have no other experience of Mexico than Cancun, then, as Bachman Turner Overdrive would say: You ain’t seen nothing yet. Come to Oaxaca.
I should point out that when I say Mexico is different, that different does not imply bad. Many times, different implies good, and as some previous blog posts have described, there are places in Mexico where we have spontaneously said: “We could live here” – we’ve added Oaxaca to that list.
Here are some pictures showing the difference – the pics are from the Friday market in Ocotlan, and the Sunday market in Tlacolula – small villages close to Oaxaca. Can you imagine these markets in the US?
As always, the street food is great…
Som of the indigenous faces…
The differences are extraordinary, and we are lucky that Mexico is so close. Hopefully more Americans will look past the grim news about the drug violence and come visit this amazing country.