I Can't Believe I Almost Didn't Go to Oaxaca
Copyright 2018 by Lorenza Seldner
While I was working in
a Manufacturing Plant at my hometown, a close friend and I decided to
utilize our upcoming holiday to take a trip to Oaxaca. Although
neither the companionship nor the trip itself turned out to be what
I'd expected (especially since Oaxaca was considered a violent place
at the time), I cannot help to smile each time I reminisce about the
short period of time spent down there.
have a minor intervention to be performed; don’t be scared it
is not serious but the doctor doesn’t want to wait... and I …
definitely can’t go to Oaxaca with you”
girlfriend called me one week before our departure to Oaxaca; she had
persuaded me to go, we had everything planned, booked, paid. I had
permission from work… I could not believe it. I almost did not
go to Oaxaca.
had never been my first holiday choice; with a pool of options in
Mexico to choose from, electing this currently conflicted location
did not appeal me 100%. But everything was ready albeit I definitely
did not want to go by myself.
know how we all have that friend than will go to the end of the world
with you? Despite the timing, circumstances, her own agenda… I
do too. Her name is Raquel, and she’s lived in the States since
we finished High School, but we managed to stay close and keep in
fingers were trembling whilst dialing her number. I made the
proposal. “Is it safe down there”? Was her only question.
Flashes from the news about violent riots in Downtown Oaxaca went
through my mind: angry teachers fighting against the police and
civilians. “It is a hot zone” the newscaster said with an
overemphasis. “Sure, 100% safe”. She made the
reservations and 7 days after, we landed at Oaxaca’s
international airport, also called Xoxocotlán. Oh yeah
everything in Oaxaca has an “X” involved. It’s
quite the challenge to pronounce anything, even for a Native speaker
such as me.
hotel was the quintessential Mexican hacienda located two blocks from
the historic downtown and the Santo Domingo church. It was Holy week,
so the plaza was packed. Sellers were displaying their best artisanal
work hoping to lure the tourists. A few parishioners were helping an
artisan organize and distribute the lent palms he was arranging and
tying up. Breathtaking smells where coming from everywhere and I felt
almost sorry that I was wearing flip flops when a tiny 5 year old
offered shoeshine service for $15 pesos.
spent the next several days touring the “must do, must see”
sites: we climbed and admired the Pyramids at Montealban; we learned
how to knit wool in Teotitlan, which is impressively hard and
requires considerable strength and precision; we went to a
Guelaguetza performance and of course, we tasted about 12 flavors of
mescal at a Distillery.
did the “Hierve el agua” tour, which takes you an
impressive petrified salt waterfall. The driving took a while and it
became overwhelming to listen to many languages spoken in the minivan
that took us. French, Japanese, English and Italian are the ones I
made me realize people from all over the world knew about this place
and wished to travel to. So far I was more than satisfied, my senses
had no reproach: the views were stunning, the flavors and scents from
the food were exquisite and people had some special charm about
themselves. Maybe it was the way they’d look at you without a
hint of judgment in their eyes, or the calm smooth tone in which they
spoke, which seemed in no hurry to make its point.
not a tourist place we left undone. But my friend seemed a bit
disappointed; she desired to be awed; to stare at landscape and have
her jaw dropped; I felt guilty for having dragged her and not being
able to fulfill her expectations. There had to be something that
would make her appreciate the effort to come down here…
tired, sleep deprived and loads of documents reclaim my attention.
The telephone rings nonstop and as I battle between falling asleep on
my desk or call it a day I slowly close my eyes.
back there, going downhill, 400 natural steps. At least we are
climbing down and my lungs do not feel as threaten as they felt
pedaling 40 LONG kilometers to get there. My legs are burning; I am
praying for the cramps to leave me alone so I can keep up with the
crowd. Suddenly a unique sound makes me believe that my physical
ordeal will be rewarded. We are finally there: She does not let us
stare directly into her and she fulfills all the beauty and force
promises that locals and foreigners come to admire.
pain and tiredness evaporate from me and I climb further down as fast
as my legs allow; several rocks scratch my feet but my sense of urge
is such that I begin to wonder how can something and not someone can
make me feel this way, I am on the verge of tears.
don’t care about anything else; merely I need to penetrate her
which I do. Piercing cold stingers scream to me that water is below
45 Fahrenheit; although all I can hear is the strong clamor from this
natural beauty that no human could possible had designed, planned or
built. The strength with which the water falls reminds to me a
barrier, frail enough to let us admire it from up-close yet strong
enough to not let you touch it.
I get of the water; my skin gradually recuperates its sensibility. I
sit a bit far from the crowd, still mesmerized and taking pictures. I
wrap myself in a blanket and read the small dingy sign on top
“Santiago de Apoala”. I ignore who you are, what you did
and why such little piece of heaven carries your name. For whatever
the reason I am grateful for you, Santiago. I turn to see Raquel
taking her lasts photos; she turns to me with a pleased face as I
read her lips: “Thank you”
open my eyes and look at my surroundings and the crowd is gone;
there’s no water, no rocks, no trees, no 400 natural steps. I
am all dressed up, in front of a packed desk; my phone keeps ringing
and someone informs me we’ve been called for an urgent meeting.
inhale deeply, take a sip of my lukewarm coffee and I stand up with a
smirk on my face thinking: “I can’t believe I almost
didn’t go to Oaxaca.”
am an ESL teacher and tutor, currently taking time to raise my 2
toddlers. I live in a paradise-like small beach town called San Carlos
in northern Mexico with my beloved husband and 2 wonderful kids.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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