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A Few Things You Should Know About Oaxaca  

Beautiful ladys celebrating Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Credit: Aleksandar Todorovic | Shutterstock

If you will be visiting this winter, there are a few things you should know about Oaxaca. First, the city continues to be almost 100 percent masked in public. even outdoors.  We are supposed to be in the SEMAFARO VERDE (Mexico’s COVID-19 green light status) so I don’t get why everyone is still masked, but hey, I just go along.

The Oaxacan coast continues to be much more laid back, which no doubt accounts for the continuing flood of north Americans and Europeans arriving, check book in hand, to make the Oaxacan coast their permanent home. The real estate business is so good that we are on the cusp of becoming a true sellers’ market.

And, wonders of all wonders, I have recently seen with my own eyes the work being done to complete the new super highway from Oaxaca City to the Oaxacan coast, which will then connect the Oaxacan coast to the rest of Mexico’s very impressive network of beautiful toll ways.  When completed, expats and visitors will be able to travel from Nuevo Laredo on the border with Texas all the way to the Oaxacan coast without ever having to leave a four-lane toll way!

By the way, I recently enjoyed a fabulous world class gourmet meal at Pitiona restaurant in Oaxaca City.  Pitiona is one of my favorite four world class restaurants here. The other three top restaurants are: Los Danzantes, Casa Oaxaca and El Origen. When I say world class I mean the quality, presentation and service of food that receive high marks from international restaurant critics. Oaxaca City continues to live up to its ever-growing reputation as an international culinary destination.

Oaxaca’s very interesting and beautiful museums also are beginning to open up once again and lectures at our wonderful Oaxaca Lending Library, aka OLL, have resumed. The first I will attend on December 16 are Introduction to Mesoamerican art history and the Olmec to the Aztec.

Although Oaxaca just celebrated Mexico’s Revolution Day on November 20, I want to tell you a bit more about it before we get caught up in everything Christmas.

This festival and day of solemn remembrance is particularly poignant in Oaxaca due to the fact that the property ownership regime used in much of Oaxaca, as in almost the entire coastal area, is called Bienes Comunales (Communal Property) and comes from Emiliano Zapata’s Plan de Ayala. Emiliano Zapata was one of the most influential and important revolutionaries during the revolution that started in 1910 and ended in 1920.

The goal of Bienes Comunales is to entrust the native people of geographic zones with their own governance, free of political parties and federal intervention. My experience with this form of government, which is extensive, is that it works very well. The main offices of each Bienes Government are called the Comisariado. I have never been in one where a portrait of Zapata is not prominently displayed.

Finally, on December 12, we begin El Maraton Guadalupe Reyes, which signifies the marathon of partying from December 12, when the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated enthusiastically throughout Mexico and beyond. There is even a chapel dedicated to her at Notre Dame in Paris. The festivities last until January 6 when the visitation of the Tres Magos (Three Kings) to the Baby Jesus is celebrated with gifts to the children and a Rosca de Reyes cake, which contains a tiny baby doll representing the Baby Jesus as a surprise for whoever is the lucky one to bite into it. Cuidado! If you get the baby in the rosca then you have to prepare tamales for everyone on February 2, which is Candelaria, the day on which the first presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple is celebrated.

One thing we never lack in wonderful Mexico is a reason to celebrate! Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo a todos.


  1. Mexico is in green status because people are smart to wear masks and be vaccinated. It is too early to stop being careful. The crisis is not over.

    • I completely agree with your comment. I’m also surprised that John Harvey Williams wrote that he doesn’t understand the reason why we’re still complying with masks if the city is in semaforo verde. John needs to hear and understand that the reason why the city is in a low risk status is precisely because of Oaxaquenos and a large part of the expat community’s willingness to comply with safety protocols, which includes the continuation of wearing a mask. With the new variants and breakthrough infections, it’s smart and considerate to continue to follow safety protocols so we don’t slip back into semaforo amarillo or even naranja. So, John might be baffled by the need for continued mask wearing, but at least he’s complying and wearing one. Covid-19 is a terrible disease and a horrible way to die. If you can keep yourself safe and others, too, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to do it.


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