Head towards the light…. (a.k.a. Mexico, Part 1)

I was determined to leave Alaska during the holiday break this year, having not left the state on a ‘vacation’ for a couple of years.  The choices were either to head back to New England to see family and friends (always a good option, though maybe not the best one in the middle of December), or head to warmer climes.  Ben conceded that it is indeed freaking dark here in the winter.  Very dark.  As such, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to head south, head towards the sun, head towards the light.  So for just  over 2 weeks we soaked it up in Mexico, traveling from Mexico City to Oaxaca City, then down to the Pacific coast to play in the ocean for a bit. 

 mexco 001  There are very few pictures of me through this entire trip.  I am the one with the camera, and the one with a love of taking pictures.  Therefore, there are a fair number of pictures of Ben looking at things, or trying to do something while I snap away.  Here’s one from our bathroom, as we were both trying to pack at 10:00PM the night before leaving.

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I really wanted to go into Mexico City.  I began to regret that desire a little as we flew over the largest city in the world – the rosy smog blanketed everything as far as you could see, and it was thick.  But I had reserved us a room in the neighborhood of La Condesa, at the Red Tree House.  What a **great** place!!!  Aside from having a killer headache from the altitude, I really enjoyed our brief time in Mexico City.  We ambled about that evening (Wed, Dec 9th), getting lost and watching people walking their dogs, repairing furniture, going about their business.  In the morning we walked up a ways to the metro station and took the subway to the bus station to catch a bus south to Oaxaca City.

mexco 015   Taking pictures on the way out of Mexico City.  I really didn’t do it justice.  One of my favorite things about flying over the city was just how colorful it was.  A sprawling mass of city, but with a veritable rainbow of color everywhere you looked. 

The bus to Oaxaca took 6 hours.  We watched Transformers, the first one, in spanish.  It is really quite terrible, but much better than the second one.   Then there was some sappy movie with John Cusak that I couldn’t hear well enough to make out the plot from my haggard and rusty understanding of Spanish.  We were watching some spectacular battles from Prince Caspian as we pulled into the bus station, around 6PM, in Oaxaca City.

We found a really nice place to stay, Las Mariposas, a bit north and west of the Zocalo, or central plaza.  No matter that we were a ways off of the central plaza – there was another park just up from us with a carnival in town, and parades with full horn sections and amazingly loud firecrackers everywhere at all times.  No, seriously.  Always.  And everywhere.  I’m not exaggerating. (much)

Anyways, these folks know how to fiesta!  Lots of celebration, lots of Catholic masses, lots of small children dressed up.  Dec 12th was the festival for the Virgin Guadalupe – a major deal.  On the bus ride down we had seen streams of people walking and biking along the highway on pilgrimage to Mexico City for Guadalupe.

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On one day we took a local bus about 30 minutes out of town to a village where life largely revolves around weaving.  Most houses have looms in them, and there are fantastic rugs and a myriad of other woven products made and sold there.  We walked around town for awhile, noting how very quite it  seemed.  Wicked hot, we popped in somewhere for a drink and talked for quite some time with three (fairly drunk) boys who informed us that due to it being Guadalupe Day, most people were at home or somewhere preparing for the major fiesta to be held that night.  They were pretty adamant that Ben was a dead ringer for James Hetfield – right, of Metallica.  Sweet. 

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Maybe if he had the leather pants, and was a bit more in touch with his rockstar side…

mexco 071 mexco 074The amazing and elaborate nativity scene at our hotel…

Below are all pictures of the Zocalo – with the big cathedral and just heaps of people strolling about in the cool evening (Oaxaca is still high enough in the mountains that I would put on a long-sleeved shirt after the sun set).  Parades, fireworks, large paper-mache puppets were marched down the streets all the time.  It was really festive, really energetic. 

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