I’m back in Oaxaca for about a month. I flew in on Tuesday, unsure what I was flying into. The teacher protests going on across this state, and related protests in other parts of Mexico, have led to a lot of misinformation (& disinformation) about what is going on in our Mexican hometown. Over the past month we had heard or read that there were food shortages. That traveling anywhere within the state was impossible. That people were fearful and the city itself was unsafe. That there was no gasoline or other services. That ATMs were running out of money. The State Department even issued a travel warning for Oaxaca (to date, they are the ONLY country to do so). Of course, while reading all this we were also in close contact with our friends who live in Oaxaca and are from all walks of life. And all of them told us that life in the city was pretty normal. That there was plenty of food, very few signs of the protests outside of the Zocalo (the main square), and everything was pretty much open for business as usual. That the government had pulled out most of the federal troops following the violence on June 19th, which left 12 dead and countless injured at a roadblock 90 minutes from our apartment, and things were pretty quiet since, even with most of the roadblocks still in place. I actually chose to fly into Oaxaca because the main highway is still blocked at a few spots and most of the buses weren’t running (just this week they’re starting to run a limited and very delayed schedule). Second class buses have continued to run on an alternate route this whole time, but it’s a long trip – 11 hours instead of 6 – and I just didn’t want to do it.
On Tuesday evening, I boarded my third and final flight of the day: Mexico City to Oaxaca. It’s a short 45 minute flight. I was excited and anxious. There haven’t been roadblocks outside the airport since a week after federal troops were removed from the city, but I didn’t know whether I’d be able to easily get home. I actually traveled with very little luggage just in case I had to carry it all as I walked through a roadblock. But there was nothing. No troops, no tanks, no military vehicles at the airport – and not a roadblock the entire way to my front door. If I hadn’t known that things had been going on, I wouldn’t have known from the trip home.
As I’ve walked around the city this week everything has been normal. Aside from the encampment in the Zocalo (called a plantón), the city is normal. The markets are full of food. Yesterday, my friend and I went out to the weekly market in Zaachila, a town about 30 minutes from here. We took a collectivo (which we usually do) and there was no problem with roadblocks or any sort of delay. The market was bustling there and the ones here in town are just as well stocked with food and full of people. I did notice that the small convenience store down the street was running low on sodas (we’d heard that Coke products were running out in the valley), but the midsize neighborhood store had plenty in stock when I stopped in this afternoon to buy wine (there was no shortage of wine there either). And the ATMs I’ve been to this week have plenty of cash. Tents and stalls are starting to go up for the Guelaguetza celebrations, which start next weekend. It’s one of the largest festivals of the year, celebrating the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca. It’s a ten day celebration with parades, dances, food, art, carnival games and rides, and a lot of mezcal (they’re actually closing down one of the larger parks to turn it into a mezcal fair). Can’t wait to wander the city and take it all in.
The only thing missing is Kyle. He’s back in the US working until mid-September. We’ll be apart for 5 weeks. The longest we’ve ever been apart. And it sucks! And we’ve already discussed how badly we screwed up the scheduling this year and that we’ll never do this again. If you’re in ABQ, ping my better half and take him out for a beer. Or send me something to make me laugh (I’m the one who is bad at being solo).
And now, a few memories from the past week.
Have a great week!