A Travellerspoint blog

January 2020

All Quiet in Oaxaca

sunny 29 °C

The central square in Oaxaca, the Zocalo, is typical of every colonial city in Mexico and South America. With government buildings on one side and the cathedral on the other the square is completed by arcades of shops and cafes in shady colonnades...
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We are staying in Oaxaca City for two weeks: whiling away the hours under the Zocalo's cafes parasols as we watch a constant procession of Zapotec women hawking their colourful fabrics...
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We sit in the shade as a parade of diminutive Oaxacan women offer us shawls, shirts and scarves at negotiable prices, but we don't bite – they will be back tomorrow, (we assume).
The Zocalo is abuzz with activity as vendors try to lure gringos with all manner of trinkets, all handmade though all suspiciously similar, and the pavements of the surrounding streets are clogged with makeshift market stalls offering identical crafts....
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The Mexicans are big on shiny shoes but in the hot and dusty streets of Oaxaca they soon need a brush up. No problem here in the Zocalo where dozens of men and boys are ready and willing to give a new look to anyone's footwear for a buck...
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It's deliciously warm here in Southern Mexico but anyone feeling the heat or feeling under the weather can be quickly attended to by roving volunteer paramedics...
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These mounted lifesavers come fully equipped to deal with all manner of emergencies and may come in very handy if the coronavirus reaches here.

And so – we come to today when we took our morning constitutional to the Zocalo for our usual coffee and found the place almost deserted...
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No textile hawkers; no enthusiastic stallholders; no balloon vendors. Had we screwed up our days – is it Sunday or some other religious event? Our cafe was open and Nora, our cheerful Zapotec waitress, was happy to serve us but, apart from the shoeshiners, the square was deserted. Then we spotted a trade union leader addressing a crowd huddled under the shade trees just off the Zocalo...
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Where else in the world but Mexico could we find several hundred street vendors on strike for better pay and conditions? We are told that they may be back on the job tomorrow – but maybe not. We shall see.

Posted by Hawkson 16:30 Archived in Mexico Comments (5)

Winter Escape

sunny 28 °C

We decided to stay home this winter for the first time since 2007 – and then this happened...
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For most Canadians a mere foot of snow is seen as a light frost, For example: Newfoundlanders are currently digging out from snowdrifts fifteen feet deep and skiers are having a great time on the slopes in the Rockies. The snow certainly looked pretty in our Japanese garden...
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But almost as soon as it stopped snowing on our west coast island the white stuff turned wet and it rained – and rained – and rained. And, if the forecast is to be believed, it may never stop raining. So we packed our bags and made a dash for the airport. And here we are in the historic central plaza of Oaxaca City in sunny southern Mexico enjoying hot Mexican chocolate...
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The bright blue skies and 28 degree temperatures remind us why more than 4 million Canadian 'snowbirds' fly to Mexico every winter. The sun shines all day, the margaritas are chilled and the hotel swimming pools are pleasantly warm – what more could we want...
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Maybe some interesting culture and colonial architecture? This is the cathedral in Oaxaca City...
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Oaxaca has been on our bucket list for awhile and we were headed there this time last year when we were forced to cut our trip short. So now we are here we will be soaking up the sun, practising our Spanish, visiting the ancient Zapotec and Mixtec ruins, and looking for an interesting little number for Sheila to wear at a very special upcoming birthday. Maybe one of these in Oaxaca market...
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If it isn't right for the birthday she can always wear it to a wedding in May!

We have only been here a day and have already fallen in love with the markets – so much to see: so much to buy – especially the local potent booze - mezcal and the speciality cheese. One thing we have learned already is that mezcal apparently goes with anything; almost every shop sells it in one form or another – even the cheese shops, the cremerias...
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As long as we can stay off the mezcal we will be back online in a day or so with a deeper look at this fascinating city.

Posted by Hawkson 19:19 Archived in Mexico Comments (9)

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