Yep, finally made up my mind. After eight months and 26+ cities, traveling all over Mexico, I've settled on Oaxaca.
That wasn't my intention. After the month of March in Queretaro, I thought I'd definitely go back there and get a place. As I've written further down in the blog (with photos), Queretaro is spectacular. But I've grown very comfortable with Oaxaca. It's a much poorer region of the country. The middle class isn't as evident here. For the last 2 months, the town square has been taken over by a protest led by the teachers' union. In conjunction with them, the casual street vendors staked out individual territories for their stands: pirated CD's, balloons, food, embroidered blouses, whatever. It looked a jumble, like an endless flea market. That was sad, because the zocalo is normally one of the prettiest in all of Mexico, with lovely big shade trees, fountains, and a bandstand. Ugly graffiti was painted all over the ancient building facades, folks were peeing in the flower beds, and there were political posters glued everywhere. At Santander Bank, which faces the Alameda plaza, the front door was broken off by protesters, and one of the ATM machines was battered with a blunt object, smashing the glass display. And for a variety of reasons, the police did nothing. I'm not going to argue the politics of the situation, since I really can't. But all I know is that there is a palpable sense of relief that the situation is over (for now), and the city has spruced up the historic center in preparation for the big annual folkloric dance festival, the Galeguetza. Everything is now, as the Mexicans say, "tranquilo" (tranquil). Everyone, including the locals, feel as though we can now breath the fresh air and enjoy the world cultural patrimony (UNESCO) of Oaxaca's Centro Historico. With the peak tourist season upon us, it's good that they put their best foot forward. Tourism employs a whole lot of folks here. My wish is that the economy recovers fully, and soon.
As for me, I've fallen into comfortable patterns. Life is pleasant and good. I'm incredibly grateful for that. I've met a number of people I enjoy spending time with. I like the American library. It's the perfect "hang-out" place for a cup of coffee and the local newspapers. It took a while to recognize, but I did a little personal inventory, and came up with the fact that I'm simply happy in this place. And what more can any of us ask for?