When visiting Oaxaca the sheer change of scenery and newness of it all is very alluring. You have little to no lasting contact with the locals. You are seeing places and people for the first time. It may even be your first exposure to the Mexican culture. You might even be eating things you never thought you would. You are caught up in the romance of being a “world traveler”.
Oaxaca is an amazing place to visit, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s even more amazing to live here.
Being a long-term visitor, or even a resident, allows you to really experience the depth of Oaxacan culture. You have time to establish relationships with the Oaxacans, and learn to appreciate who they are. In doing so, you will find that beneath their aloof complexity, they are a simple people who live in a not-so-simple world, all the while making the best of their situation. You may even learn a few things from Los Oaxaqueños, especially about how to enjoy life in the midst of struggle.
The more time you spend in the Valley of Oaxaca, you will see that it’s so much more than the popular tourist attractions that many come to visit, as interesting as they may be. You’ll begin to discover that there is so much more to be found, and enjoyed – whether it be a new café, a previously unseen side street, or a park you have never walked through. You may even gather up enough courage to try the Chapulines, strike up a conversation in Spanish, or give up your English newspaper for something local.
Along with the beauty of Oaxaca, you will also find the ugly: bloqueos, graffiti, trash in the streets, lack of the basics at times, etc. But over time, as you learn to appreciate the good things, the bad things will dim. They won’t completely disappear, but they will diminish to the point that you will be able to fully understand and enjoy all things Oaxaca.
So why the Valley? Why not? Step out of your mundane life, and step into an interesting, challenging, and an exciting at times way of living. I promise you that Oaxaca will not bore you, nor will it disappoint. In fact, at times it will surprise, and even amaze you. If even only for a visit.