Ballerinas / Soledad square

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Dark Side

Don’t get me wrong. It is full of light, color, and beauty here, but there is a dark side ─ Oaxaca's shadow, as Becky would say. Here’s how I see it. When I first came here in 1994 with David, the outlines of the Sierras were sharp and clear against deep blue sky. Today, the high peaks are perpetually shrouded in a polluted haze, their outlines indistinct, blurry. There are more people, more cars, buses, trucks, and too much diesel fuel. Too much trash, not enough environmental awareness or funds to do anything about it. More and more vendors ─ people who’ve come to the city from the Sierras ─ selling cheap stuff in the Zocalo, the Alcalá, and Santo Domingo. You can’t see the Zocalo too well for the vendors, and there are not enough buyers to get rid of all the stuff. Women from Chiapas wearing black skirts, babies on their backs, wander the Zocalo hawking chiclets -- Jane believes Oaxaqueños are trafficking and warehousing them, giving them the skirts and the tienditas they wear around their necks. I heard there was a drug shooting in front of Santo Domingo a few months ago. Burger King has a place on the Alcalá, and guess what? -- there's more obesity here. Cell-phone ringtones have joined the cacaphony of  band music, marimbas, and pirated CDs blaring from market stalls, and kids have tattoos and face piercings. Globalization has arrived here. 

So Oaxaca is going the way of the world. Whatever violence is here still can't rival what takes place in Oakland. I feel perfectly safe walking Oaxaca’s streets at night. And for all the reasons in other posts, I'm still saying Yes.

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