So much strange & crazy

One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live

Strange and crazy. For the foreigner, at least.

Since arriving in Oaxaca, I’ve seen several things that would be considered unusual in Canada, things that are a part of everyday life here.

Here’s a slideshow of things I’ve never seen in the Great North:

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Impromptu marching band parties? Across the square from that scene, a Peruvian diva was competing with her booming voice, a stage, lights, speakers and hundreds of attendees.

You could never hold two loud, late-night concerts in the same square in Canada.

How do people deal with the disruption? With patience, usually.

Like during Semana Santa at the end of April. A Good Friday parade of thousands accompanied the mourning “Virgin of Solitude” down the streets of downtown Oaxaca, blocking traffic with black clothing, bands and religious representations.

Easter Sunday, Jesus came back and again, traffic was stopped as more bands and people rejoiced his resurrection with an effigy.

* * *

The week-long teachers’ strike certainly affected Oaxaca’s downtown core. While there were thousands of demonstrators eating and sleeping on the streets, some businesses suffered from their inaccessibility.

One restaurant owner – whose entire front entrance was hidden by tarps – said that after his initial frustration, he started giving the teachers free food.

“It’s like the rain,” he said. “I could complain about it, but what good would that do?”

Similarly, drivers just had to be patient as parade after parade blocked the streets in Juchitán during the Velas de Mayo, giant parties through May. The fireworks in the picture were being lit during the last event, leading a parade of about 200 women in flowery dresses from the church to the house of the mayordomo (events co-ordinator).

* * *

While I haven’t traveled that much, I have been told these kinds of things are far more common in other countries than in North America.

Like markets. They certainly don’t look like a typical Canadian or American grocery store, where everything’s plastic-coated and waxed to perfection. Flies want this food in Mexican markets, because it’s good.

My friend from Poland told me that markets filled with rotten produce, fresh fruit, moldy vegetables, body odor and bloody meat were common in his country when he was young. He asked how I could deal with them, when similar places are non-existent in Canada and the United States.

“I just do,” I said. The meat-covered-counters might make any Canadian food inspector cry, but the orgy of scents in these markets are more real than anything back home.

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One comment on “Strange and crazy. For the foreigner, at least.

  1. Tony Brunjes
    May 31, 2011

    Of 228 countries, Canada is 11th, the U.S. 50th, Cuba at 59th, Mexico is 77th and poor Poland at 88th on the list of Life Expectancy.

    We have the second largest land mass to take care of with the 36th largest population. How do we do it?

    Also, Ontario is ranked #1 across North America with the least fatal automobile accidents per 100,000… and the second highest insurance premiums in Canada.

    Sorta a double edged sword, eh? Give up one thing to gain another?

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This entry was posted on May 30, 2011 by in Photography, Travel Tales and tagged , , , , , , .
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