I was making a list of all of the things one can do in Oaxaca for free at this time of year. Here’s the initial draft:
- Listen to music on Alcala, especially if you like accordion music.
- Catch chicatanas (giant ants) or chapulines (grasshoppers) almost anywhere after a big rain. (They are considered to be delicacies.)
- Join wedding revelers and drunk graduates and political candidates as they parade the streets.
- Window shop and browse the stands around town.
- Try to understand a (usually very aggressive to foreigners) clown show.
- Watch the dancers under the laurel on Wednesday nights.
- Pick low-hanging fruit from the surrounding trees.
- Borrow wi-fi from cafes, restaurants, and parks.
- Take pictures until you run out of memory.
- Make your own mural tour.
- Borrow shade and quiet in a church.
- Read the headlines at the magazine stand.
- Walk until your feet can take it no more.
- Listen to the conversations of the lovers kissing in Jardin Conzatti.
Just as I was about to run out of list, I came across a dance exhibition under the palms across from Santo Domingo. A group of Oaxacan folkloric dancers, young and old, were hosting dancers from Boston, New York, and San Francisco, and they were showing their respective interpretations of dance. The Flor de Piña (Pineapple Flower) dance and then a ballet solo with a perky swan in a black tutu. It was quite the juxtaposition: another dance from one of Oaxaca’s eight regions, and then a modern interpretive dance full of death.
It was such a jarring pairing that I found myself (and most of the rest of the audience) alert during Oaxaca’s energetic exhibitions and flagging at the seemingly always bleeding, drowning, or dying modern dancers.
Jarring as in clashing=desentonar (out of tune)
Although this show indeed was out of tune, it captivated me for an hour and was certainly worth the ticket price: free.