Anna12345's Travel Journals

Anna12345

 
What is your traveling philosophy?

Talk to everyone you can, ask good questions, and be respectful.

  • 31 years old
  • From New Jersey, United States
  • Currently in Oaxaca, Mexico

England, Oaxaca, and onto Costa Rica..!

Six weeks, three countries, work, pleasure, and everything in between!

A crazy Oaxaca wedding!

Mexico Oaxaca, Mexico  |  Dec 18, 2009
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 I might have one of the coolest jobs ever. For work, I am currently living in one of the most beautiful and fun cities in the world, Oaxaca, Mexico. 

I might have one of the coolest jobs ever.  For work, I am currently living in one of the most beautiful and fun cities in the world, Oaxaca, Mexico.  I am then heading to San Jose, Costa Rica on Christmas Eve to help lead IEP's Alternative Spring Break for Towson University.  On my way from New Jersey, I also stopped by London, England to visit my Oaxacan boyfriend and got a chance to visit our partner university in London...what a strange life I lead these days...!

This is my third time in Oaxaca and this time feels quite different.  I am only here for three weeks, but I am lucky that I already have a fantastic base of local and expat friends.  I am here with my fantastic ProWorld and IEP colleagues and having a great time showing them around and finding new parts to Oaxaca through them.  Almost every day, I am catching up with friends from my last time here or running into them in front of Santo Domingo.  I have been experiencing the nightlife perhaps a bit too much, but it's a great way to connect with my Oaxacan friends who love to chat over a cerveza about the Mexican Revolution or teach me new cumbia moves at the local salsa bar.

Probably my most unique experience this time around was when I attended my first Oaxacan wedding.  As is typical here in Oaxaca but also traveling anywhere, random events like this come up and because you are in a new place and must be open minded to aprovechar the experience, you just roll with it.  My roommate Rachel is a great salsa dancer and is close friends with a local salsa instructor.  We invited him to a party on Friday night and he brought one of his best students, an enthusiastic 20 year old from a small town just outside of the city named Pepe.  We barely spoke, but somehow in the course of conversation, we were invited to a wedding he was somehow involved with (was he performing there?  was it someone in his family?  was he getting married himself??  hence not much was communicated in advance..!) 

He met us at the dance studio Saturday afternoon and we took a taxi to a cute part of town about 15 minutes from the centro.  As we walked in, we realized we were the only gueras (foreigners) out of about 500 wedding attendees who were all enjoying a nice meal of tortillas, beans, and chicken with a large helping of tequila and looked a bit confused to see us there (though to be honest, we probably had a look of confusion as well).  Pepe's family was overjoyed to meet us and welcomed us immediately with a pack of 10 tortillas each and hugs, kisses, and conversation.

The rest of the night was basically an overwhelming amount of cultural learning for me.  First, Pepe's mom grabs me to move my chair to the back area where the band is setting up because they are going to "throw candy".  Nice idea for the kids, right....in reality,  many people ran to the crowd of attendees and started chucking candy, fruit, peanuts, and later, buckets, hats, and spoons.  Again, not just throwing, but literally hurling these objects at everyone with loud music and scrambling guests both trying to get away from this dangerous event and trying to grab any products that fell on the ground for a good 20 minutes.  I was hit in the face twice, once by a lemon and once by an orange.  And sadly, I think the old woman next to me got to the orange first!

From there, they brought out goats and turkeys to present to the novios.  Then, the important men in the family danced around with four turkeys!  From there, a fantastic 10 piece band strolled in wearing black bellbottoms with so much glitter and played amazing norteno music, including banda and durangense that Rachel and I had wanted to learn since we were here in the summer.  Pepe's uncle, a man in his 60s or 70s, also taught me danzon, an elegant dance from Cuba that only people over the age of 60 dance.  Normally, these old, elegant dancers come to the Zocalo every Wednesday with a live band, but I've never been able to figure out the steps, so I was relieved that he invited me to dance a number of times to teach the nearly helpless guera!

We made it home by midnight, but only after hours of playing with Pepe's young cousins, dancing with his aunts and uncles, and somehow leaving with a bottle of tequila and 10 pieces of chicken given to us by the bride and her mother.  We also were given beautiful rebosos, typical scarves, and I know I'll wear it when back on the road in the spring visiting universities so that when I get compliments about it, I can tell this story!

So, hopefully I can have equally interesting experiences as I travel on to Costa Rica to travel with my family and then to volunteer with students from Towson University.  Hasta luego!

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    Julie wrote: Wed Jan 6, 2010
    Anna,

    I really enjoyed reading your entry here. I have applied to go to Oaxaca and hope to have the opportunity to experience some of the things you talk about! Do you have any suggestions for a new traveler/intern like myself?
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    ElsieStorm has read Anna12345's journal and gave it a thumbs up Fri Dec 18, 2009
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    Hhahahaha this is fantastic! That sounds like a wedding that you will never forget!
  • A crazy Oaxaca wedding!

    December 18, 2009
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