Mexico Today: Oaxacan Surprise
My whole body vibrates with the sounds of the brass band, my heart taking on the beat of the tuba that seems to be ever present in Oaxaca. A beautiful girl in a swirl of colourful skirts smiles and presses yet another cup of Mezcal in my hands as the fireworks POP in the air then sputter at the feet of the dancers. Giant puppets bob and weave in the light of the candles carried by the crowd and cameras flash and the man wearing the fireworks machine on his back spins down the street. This is "Calenda", the traditional way of announcing and inviting people to a party in Oaxaca. It's a parade of colour and music and spectacle that proceeds any good fiesta and this is my first.
I really thought that I was going on a simple business trip to Oaxaca last weekend for the launch of the Mexico Today project. I figured I would meet some cool people, get the lay of the land of the job and see a little bit of Oaxaca. What I didn't expect was to have an emotional experience. Of course we enjoyed the taste of Oaxacan culture, the food, the Guelaguetza, the Calenda, the local artisans creating "alebrijes", the market and Colonial architecture. But I think the thing I enjoyed most of all was sharing those moments with an extraordinary group of people. The diversity of the contributors to the Mexico Today project is divine, people who write about finance, food, culture, travel, family, language, of all ages and stations in life and all with a passion for Mexico. I had some great conversations, lots of laughs and even shed a few tears. Totally cornball, I know, like a corporate bonding retreat that actually worked, but if felt great and it was a lovely surprise after thinking I'd just come home with a pile of notes, photos and maybe some souvenirs.
The wise man of San Martin Tilcajete
After the exhilaration of the Calenda and a first class meal at Casa Oaxaca, I found myself on a rooftop overlooking the centuries old city. Students laughed as they made their way into the cafes and nightclubs, a nearby cathedral was lit up in hues of gold and I couldn't help but smile. Really, I tried, I couldn't stop smiling. And it wasn't just the Mezcalini. I was simply content. Warm on the inside. All fuzzy and stuff, with little fireworks going off inside my belly. Professional life going well, real friends, old and new permeating my life and of course the pride of having a most spectacular child and living in this incredible country of Mexico. I have so much to learn and see, Oaxaca awakened something inside of me, not just for discovering more of Mexico, but more of myself as well. I gave my head a shake thinking I couldn't possibly be THAT happy, but the feeling stayed and lingered. I walked back to the hotel down the cobblestone streets and fell asleep with a contented little grin.
Some "business meeting". Viva Mexico!