We left Oaxaca, just before all this mess with the teachers and the government started. That was a coincidence, but the school our kids went to there is one where the teachers are at the protests, so I hope they’re all OK.
My wife’s contract ran out, and although there were offers to extend it a number of factors convinced us to leave. Mainly the heat, and the bugs, and the unclean water. We all had persistent heat rash and we were all sick, and although the mosquitoes are slow and stupid there is an inexhaustible supply… so we packed up and came back to Cuernavaca.
When we were finalising the decision we had a discussion with a gringa who has been living there about four years, married to a local and running Sexy Pizza (which has really good pizza, by the way, especially the supreme). We asked her what the rainy season was like, to see if the plain horridness of the climate would soon come to an end.
“Last year it was awful, it didn’t rain. It’s supposed to rain in May, but it didn’t. Then it didn’t rain in June, either, not ’til the end of July. It just kept getting hotter and hotter. It was horrible,” she said. “But it’s not always like that, my first two years here it did rain. It was crazy. There were hurricanes and storms and everything flooded. So, you know.”
“Yeah. We’re gonna leave.”
So we did. We’re reveling in the cool, and thinking that our trip to Oaxaca was a great success. The main goal was to check that we actually liked living there instead of just holidaying there, and we did discovered we don’t like living there. The government forces killing the protesting teachers is also getting closer to where we lived, to the point where our social networks started seeing posts on how to protect ourselves and warnings to take the kids away.
A lack of internet and free time meant that I didn’t post as much as I hoped to while in Oaxaca. There are some good memories I’d like to share before I drop this trip for good and concentrate on my move to Australia.
The Wedding of the Year
Further along our block some neighbours built a stage that completely blocked the street and had a party, with a full-sized big band playing. They let off the loudest fireworks I’ve ever heard – the sort that remind you of anti-aircraft batteries. We found out the huge party was for a wedding, and the size of the party meant “the bride must be very valuable”, according to one local mother. Across the road they dug a fire pit, about three metres long, one metre wide and I have no idea how deep. They butchered a cow to cook there. They butchered it in one of the neighbouring yards, and there were huge buckets of offal along with all the bits that they would toss into the fire. That’s a lot of meat.
A Small Dip in Rio Grande
A great way to cool off in Santa Rosa, if you have an hour or two, is to drive to Rio Grande for a dip in the river. It’s mostly shallow beside the town, and the kids loved going there to swim and chase tadpoles and frogs. As you walk you stir up the sand on the bottom, and fish swim in looking for food, so they swarm around you. People wash their clothes there, so there’s some soap and rubbish from that, but besides that it’s very nice.
I said it’s mostly shallow, but Poncho managed to find the one place where he couldn’t stand and had to bounce up above the water before I dragged him out. He was scared, but fine – but for some reason Nerida thought it looked like fun and kept trying to copy him by going into the deep part. She’s an odd girl.
The General Vibe
In Santa Rosa people sleep in houses, but mostly live outdoors. A lot of houses have the kitchen outside, often surrounded by plants and vines, maybe with a tarpaulin roof. So as you walk along the street you’ll hear sizzling and chopping, and smell cooking. People will sat and chat in the veranda or yard, because it’s too hot to sit indoors. We spent most of the time outside in the hammock and chairs, with the kids on the tire swings.
Just down the street from us there’s a rickety shed built from corrugated iron, and orange light seeps through the slits and holes at night, and sad ranchera music is played inside. I thought it rural romantic, until I realised it is someone’s house, not shed.
Santa Rosa has its own festivals just like every other town in Mexico. This is from a large printed lona with information on the town and calendaria festival:
It is for this that Santa Rosa de Lima is a magical community rich for its popular culture, art, architecture and natural resources, but above all for its people proud of their culture ((milenarias)) which is the expression of a town that has a past, a present and a future.
I think they cut and pasted this from some brochure. I suppose you could argue for the town having culture, and art in the form of traditional clothing, and natural resources in the form of dirt and mosquitoes. But there’s no way you could argue the architecture is anything to take any not of whatsoever.
I return to my homeland of Australia and to university… what zany adventures await me? I bet they involve calculus!