Ah, the beautiful state of Oaxaca, one of my favorite places in Mexico.
I've been to Oaxaca in southern Mexico only once but remember vividly its many riches. The deep intensity of the colors, with vibrant pink, sunny oranges and sky blue buildings a common sight on many streets. The variety of crafts, from night-black pottery to beautifully woven rugs. The delicious cuisine, which ranges from street vendor delicacies of fried grasshoppers to chocolate-flavored mole. Yummy!
Oaxaca is undoubtedly a land of many treasures, with its natural beauty and talented people, but, sadly, that's not the reason I've been thinking about it. I've been reading a lot about how the flu swine virus claimed its first fatality in the city of Oaxaca, and worrying about how people there will fare now. The swine crisis has put a damper on tourism in Oaxaca and the rest of Mexico, though warring drug gangs had already wiped out a good portion of this.
Of course, I wouldn't be showing you the best of Oaxaca without this:
I had the pleasure of meeting Francisco Toledo, one of Mexico's greatest artists, during my trip there a few years ago. My mom and I were walking by a gallery when a man standing in the doorway stopped us, then shook our hands, telling us we were welcome to attend the gallery party, which certainly didn't seem to need any more guests. Being tourists, we didn't know anybody there but enjoyed ourselves anyway, taking in the artwork and what we were told was a traditional Oaxacan reception. I found out later that the man who invited us in was Francisco. This was the kind of hospitality for which Oaxaca is known for.
A native of Oaxaca, Toledo is its greatest champion, spearheading many projects to promote arts and crafts to try to preserve the state's cultural heritage.
Traditional Oaxacan market wares such as mole, cheese, mezcal and coffee