Resistencia, Amor, Comunidad and Fortaleza, are just a few words that linger in my mind as I reflect on my experience in Oaxaca. Now that I am back home, part of me feels like I left part of myself in that beautiful state. I miss the people, the pueblos, the food. I miss the nights walking past Santo Domingo, the rain and the thunder. I miss my conversations with my host mom, and the lovely encounters with the lady from the coffee shop.
There were moments throughout this trip that really pushed me and made me want to come back home. I experienced an internal conflict, as I discovered myself and my background while seeing the realities and beauty of this country. However, these experiences also allowed me to be more reflective and conscious of many things. There was something new every day, a new experience a new encounter. I tried to embrace every moment with gratitude and appreciation. My privilege to study, travel and learn was constantly present in every space I occupied. I became more conscious of the reason why I was tired, my sick days, my emotions and the things I complained about. Although it took time and practice, I took the opportunity to use this trip to be more mindful.
I became aware of the big issues surrounding Oaxaca. I paid attention to the streets and to the people. I began to ask questions and constantly became curious about the politics surrounding the state. I became aware of the social issues affecting the communities and the individuals from the city to the pueblos.
During our time here, Oaxaca was surrounded by teachers protesting the education reform. To me this was one of the most impressive forms of solidarity and community resistance. Everywhere I walked the presence of social issues and political problems were manifested through graffiti and street art. Every person had a different impression regarding this issue, some were in favor and some were against it. People from the pueblo expressed their concerns about the protest since it affected their business and blocked their access into the city. Through every conversation I learned something new, for many people it wasn’t just about the protest, they expressed anger towards the government and the corruption of the system. While others expressed concerns that were related to poverty, health, safety and economic security.
As days passed and I tried new food, new coffee shops and discovered new places surrounding the city, I fell more in love with Oaxaca and the people. Regardless of the circumstances in Oaxaca that many pointed as negative, I became aware of the strengths of individuals and communities.
Oaxaca embraces the importance of community, culture, religion through rituals and daily life, food and language. There was nothing more beautiful for me than to see the close family bonds. Seeing women in San Miguel Del Valle embrace their culture through their clothing was very powerful. In many ways it showed resistance and strength. Seeing families teach their children the weaving techniques reflected the importance of each and every family member. Sitting down to have food with our host families, saying good morning and provecho became part of my ritual and daily life in Oaxaca.
I know there was physical things I wanted to bring back from Oaxaca, tapetes, mescal and mole negro to name a few. Every item has a story. I meet the people who made them, the families who continued the traditions, the owners who made the food, the individuals who were inspired to create the art and make a change. What I take back with gratitude and respect is not only the time and effort that people put into cooking and weaving a rug, but also the passion and dedication they express in the process of this. Resistencia, Amor, Comunidad and Fortaleza was everywhere in Oaxaca and that Is what I will remember from this trip.