When you tell people you are going to southern Mexico for over 3 months you usually get two kinds of reactions: Those who fake a smile and politely ask why you would want to go there? and those that have been and experience this unique portion of the world and are immediately jealous.
Growing up on a small tree farm in north Idaho, I was anxious to leave and experience more of the world. Oaxaca has been very eye-opening, refreshing, challenging, and even after a month has changed the stereotypes I had of “La vida en Mexico”. The city of Oaxaca is situated at 5000ft. in a high mountain valley in the south end of the Rocky Mountains. The city has a chronic water shortage and an ancient septic system that can not handle toilet paper making for an interesting combination.
There are multiple ruins near Oaxaca that were home to the indigenous communities of the Zapoteca and Mixteca. Although many communities were destroyed by the Spanish, the indigenous population is still very much alive here and is evident every day of the week at the markets and plazas in town. Each day of the week there is a large market in one of the surrounding pueblos with the largest one on Saturday mornings in the city central. It covers over 6 complete city blocks and I have explored it three separate occasions and still have yet to explore it all.
Yes, Mexico has its problems, but I have never felt safer in my daily life here. The intersection that I cross to go to school each day has up to 6 police officers making sure we are safe. The state police is currently on strike so 3000 Federal police came in to take their jobs. Even with the teachers demonstrating in the streets and police on almost every corner, the natural beauty and the generosity of the people here is amazing. People are truly interested in your story and I think more people should be interested in their story and culture.