day 6: thanksgiving sweeps extravaganza

I've been meaning to write about Oaxaca.

I couldn’t sleep my second night in Oaxaca. The first night, Isaac and I had stayed in a small hotel that overlooked Parque Llano. The street noise, whatever it may have been, did not find its way to our room in the hotel courtyard. The second night was another story. We’d begun our 18-day homestay at our host family’s house several doors off a main thoroughfare on the eastern perimeter of Oaxaca proper. All night long the sound of firecrackers kept me up. Pop, pop, pop, like the Fourth of July. And like the Fourth of July, I occasionally wondered if any of those pops were gunfire.

It turned out it was the eve of el dia taxistas mixtecos. The next day, taxis all around the city were adorned with flowers, befitting a parade or a festival. There may have been protest interspersed in the celebration. I detected none. Now, since May, the inverse is true: All protest, no celebration. The government even cancelled Guelaguetza in July. Oaxaca is under a state of siege. There was another violent confrontation yesterday.

To get a sense of it, click HERE.

I think of our sudden and fleeting friends there. Carmen, our wonderful host, and her three children and, if she's still with us, her mother; the teachers at the Becari Language School; the naturalist guide who led us along the park trails that fine summer day; the family that ran the ice cream store; the couple that sold tamales two blocks off the Zócalo; the wood carver, Eloy Martin Santiago, from Etla; the Mexican tourist, from I don't know where and with the improbable name of Miguel Angel, who escorted me down the steps at Monte Alban. I think of the rug weavers in Teotitlan del Vallee, especially Demetrio Bautista and Isaac Vasquez and his daughter, whose name, like so many of this trip’s names, is filed away in notebooks. I think the Mendoza sisters’ restaurant, Tlamanalli; they serve exquisite Zapotec food. Back in Oaxaca, I think of my cooking class at El Naranjo, my dinner at La Olla, my many visits to the rooftop café at Hostal Casa del Sótano, which opened while I was there.

Of course Isaac and I ended up eating chapulines, the famous dried grasshoppers. Local lore holds that anyone who eats chapulines in Oaxaca will one day return. At the time, it felt like a cliché that had been concocted for the tourists, even though its origins might be authentic. Now I wish I hadn't been so cynical.

I can't begin to describe the politics behind the protest. The short version: A teacher's protest, an annual affair, gained momentum and blossomed into a major uprising. Here's a thoughtful blog from a woman doing doctoral research in Oaxaca. I'm sure the protestors have legitimate concerns. I'm just sorry things have gotten out of control, and that so many people are paying such a high price for the unrest.

May peace find its way back to the valley.

It feels a bit frivolous to segue to a sweeps after that presque-requiem for Oaxaca. But I did want to share one today. It's for a four-day stay at Azul Blue in Tulum. To enter, click HERE. I also entered a contest to win some Elmira appliances. They may be in all the shelter mags, but I’d never seen them before. They're so cool. To go for that, click HERE. The deadline for both is February 28.

Also, I added a new sweeps to the Daily Entry links, the AARP one. That's it for my Thanksgiving Sweeps Extravaganza. Starting tomorrow, my posts will be Short and Sweet. I must focus on my MFA manuscript as well as work-work.