I am having a ball in Oaxaca.
The trip down was long (about 42 hours from door to door) but went off without a hitch. Both planes took off on time, and we got into Mexico City about midnight, local time. Taxi to a hotel (Los Azores, I highly recommend it; clean, cheap, and two blocks off the Zocalo) and we slept for six hours. In the morning, we walked to the Zocalo and took a tour of the cathedral (NOT to be missed.). Then we were off to the bus station to catch a bus for the six hour ride to Oaxaca.
We arrived in the city at about 10 pm, and everyone met us at the bus station. Mama had made a hot dinner, which was a good thing, since we hadn't eaten in about twelve hours, and we all enjoyed some food and conversation before falling into a deep, coma-like sleep.
The weather here has been pretty nice so far - about 85 degrees all day but in the afternoon it clouds over and usually rains for a half hour or so, and in the wake of the showers the air is cool and fresh. The rains have revived the trees and everywhere you look there are flowers: bouganvilla, jacaranda, hibiscus, and so many others I don't know. There is plenty of water now, and we don't have to be more than ordinarily careful (which is to say; five minute showers.) Everyone ere is in good health and good spirits.
Sunday - yesterday - July fourth, happened to be election day across all of Mexico. It also happened to be a very important saint's day and one of the major downtown churches was putting on a procession and a fireworks show. All the major political parties were gathered in the Zocalo with their own fireworks and celebrations awaiting the election results, so we decided to go downtown and enjoy the atmosphere.
Man, I really wish I had the ability here to upload the photos and videos I took. My fellow Americans, I guarantee you you have never seen a fourth of july fireworks display like the one I witnessed last night. For one thing, it would be so highly illegal it's not even funny. There were four or five "toritos," or "little bulls," which are a kind of wearable fireworks display mounted on a paper-mache bull. Young men put on the whole contraption over their heads and run around, dancing and charging the crowd while colored sparks fly in all directions. Other young men jump into the ring to act as "matadores" and dance with the bull. The game is to get as close as possible, sometimes even snatching the armarture away, without getting burned. We were right at the front of the crowd, and the children screamed and laughed and covered their eyes as the bulls charged them and the sparks showered down over their heads.
The toritos were not the main attraction, though. The main attraction was a tower, some eighty feet tall, all made of fireworks. It had two columns of spinning wheels, in six different colors, and a giant butterfly that spun out over the crowd. Further up, there was a peacock with fiery green feathers that shot red flames from it's paper-mache beak. And at the top, I kid you not, there was a larger than life sized crucified jesus, and a spinning crown of thorns with letters of fire that spelled out "the sacred heart of christ." Could there be anything more gaudy, gorgeous, and deeply Mexican than an 80-foot flaming Jesus?
I tell you I was so happy I could barely speak. The tower was very expertly constructed and beautifully engineered so that the sparks died out just as they were about to touch your upturned face, and the spinning wheels threw out great gouts of fire, but all pointed up, away from the crowd. In actual fact I doubt we were any danger, but it felt deliciously dangerous and just the right mix of wonder and terror.
After the show, we had hot roasted ears of corn and then cool ice cream in flavors like guava and tamarind. Then, exhaughsted, we slowly stumbled back to the car, drove home, and staggered into our rooms to sleep naked on top of the covers in the heat of the night.
I slept until 11 a.m. this morning.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I am having a ball in Oaxaca.