When the Spaniards came here, they brought wheat. They virtually wiped out the ancient native staple known as amaranto. In the last few years, amaranth has been making a major comeback. Last Saturday, we attended “Amaranth Day”, held around the kiosko in Ciudad Canteras park. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 12: October 16, 2012”
A Health Odyssey
This is an idiosyncratic, off-the-wall tale, very much a brain-fugue by the author (me). Cancer is a scary business, and the cure is sometimes worse than the disease. That can’t help but enter into this tale, because of the big role it has played in the last three years of my life, and in the life of the patient, generous, and loyal person who shares my journey with me. (I promise, no whining. Quite the opposite, really.) Mostly, though, this is about health care in Oaxaca now and over the years that I have been here. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 11: September 8, 2012”
The people’s Zócalo:
In the last couple of months, while I have been battling illness (successfully), I have had some time to reflect on the events in the public spaces and streets of Oaxaca. I have been weighing the balance between tourism and desperation; between the right to protest and the right to engage in commerce; between grief and chaos. I confess I am no closer to reaching a conclusion than I was when I started. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 10: August 25, 2012”
I first met Tom (not his name) shortly after I arrived in 1994. He was young, cagey, suspicious and in violation of the law: selling his Guatemalan style pants off the pile on his shoulder without a license. At the time, I knew nothing of the system within which he, and his fellow “ambulantes” (people who keep moving) made their meager living. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 9: June 7, 2012”
Oh, no, not the Library again:
There has been another Library blow-up recently, and rumors and some acrimony have resulted. While real people have suffered some real hurt, “The Library is going down the tubes; the sky is falling” should be largely ignored. The Library will survive. In fact, I think it will be the least divisive and least damaging of past dust-ups, having been handled with a minimum of public exposure. Several people – including some of the principals – have approached me to “not damage the Library” in my reportage; or better yet to not report on it at all. I’m not sure I could damage the Library if I tried, and in any case I certainly have no intention to do so. On the other hand, there’s no stopping me when I see a chance to pontificate… Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 8: April 15, 2012”
Why the panic?
The U.S. State Department has just issued another warning. It’s hard to understand why they want to discourage us from crossing the border, since the TOTAL of U.S. citizens killed in all of Mexico in 2011 was 120. To put that in some kind of perspective, there are around a million of us living here, and hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The odds of ever seeing trouble, let alone being a victim, are probably about one in a hundred thousand. I doubt that they are that low where you live; I know that they are much higher in the California town where we go for our annual visit. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 7: February 21, 2012”
Diana and I are lapsed Jews. When we were in Florence, Italy, twelve years ago, we attended a Yom Kippur (day of atonement) service out of curiosity. We were respectful but not moved, and have not been in a synagogue since – up until last week when curiosity motivated us once again.
For most of the last twenty years, when asked by practicing co-religionists about the availability of places of worship in Oaxaca, we answered quite confidently that there was no organized Jewish community here, let alone a synagogue. Imagine then our great surprise when word reached us that there was in fact a synagogue nearby, with a congregation of 60; and that it had been functioning for fifteen years. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 6: December 31, 2011”
Diana’s trip to Chiapas:
My friend Betsy from Fresno has come to Oaxaca every year for the past 5 or so years. This year she wanted to also visit San Cristobal and other parts of Chiapas. One day, sitting in the Zócalo she mentioned having made an expensive agreement with Tomás, a tour guide she had frequently used in the past, who agreed to drive her and Bertha, a Oaxaca friend, for the week. He had a Suburban, and I agreed: that is, I offered to go with them – if she was willing to have me – and share a third of the cost. Betsy was very pleased. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 5: November 29, 2011”
When do we sleep?
The rainy season is over. Daylight savings time is over. Dawn breaks early and sunset follows suit. The cultural calendar is chock full of wonders to behold, consume, purchase and admire; events both indigenous and international vie for our attendance. Indoors and out, morning noon and night, every day – but especially on Friday and Saturday – the Oaxaca Calendar calls out to us. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 4: November 4, 2011”
Another Guelaguetza has come and gone…
and things in Oaxaca slowed down for a while, returning our city to its normal hectic, noisy self. Continue reading “Volume 16, No. 3: September 11, 2011”