15 July 2007

The Update

Guelaguetza popular, or the people's Guelaguetza, as it's being called, will be held tomorrow as an alternative to what APPO and other activist groups have called the Guelaguetza comercial. I don't have to translate that for you. While there has been an uptick in graffiti in the city, and a visible presence of state police and federal troops, the tone here hasn't much changed. We are all still waiting to see. While the Guelaguetza takes up more of the headlines here, there is no sense that conflict is imminent.

State and local elections take place August 5, and the propaganda machine is in full force. Cars wired with loudspeakers creep the city streets broadcasting for candidates; fliers, posters and banners go up day and night, wherever there is available space; fliers, posters and banners are torn down daily and nightly as crews from opposing campaigns move through the city waging a dirty political fight. A friend recounted walking out of his apartment building recently to encounter some 40 or so local police officers, in uniform, removing and defacing the propaganda of one candidate while preserving that of another. There's little pretense here that anything is fair.

In the meantime, we study Spanish, explore the city and discover Oaxaca's culinary possibilities. Learning the language is a full time job. Four hours of class in the morning, perhaps an intercambio with a student of English in the afternoon--a chance for us both to work on our skills--and then an hour or more of homework in the evening. Private lessons may be in the near future as well, as I can't learn the language fast enough to satisfy my desire to understand the local newspapers.

Add to that roughly 2 hours of walking everyday as we navigate back and forth from our quarters in Colonia Reforma, the neighborhood where we rent a simple room, to the various points of interest we seek out daily, and our days are incredibly full. Plus there are excursions. The village of Etla, the ruins at Monte Alban, a professional baseball game . . . opportunities abound. We've been to Gigante, the large groceries-and-everything store 15 minutes to the north by foot, to get a couple of amenities for our room, such as a little mat for the bathroom and, hopefully soon, a fan.

That's our Oaxaca right now. I plan to do a food post soon, and more pictures, always more pictures. More about the Guelaguetza as it happens, too. Thanks for reading.