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September 15, 2013 at 6:43 PM
OAXACA CITY, Mexico — As it can be anywhere, life can be hard for some in Oaxaca. You see poverty here, in the street beggars. Urchins selling cheap crafts show a desperation sometimes. But there’s happiness, too, with the pleasures of good food, loving family and a beautiful place to live. A local program called En Via helps promote the well-being of women in Oaxaca Valley villages by providing microloans to help them start and maintain their own businesses, from weaving workshops to small tiendas or farm plots where they grow garlic or raise a pig or a few goats, spreading the benefits throughout their families.
Visitors to Oaxaca can help En Via’s efforts by taking a $50 half-day tour during which they get to meet and ask questions of loan recipients. In turn, proceeds from the tours go for more loans.
A face can tell a lot about a place. Here are a few of my favorites from (more…)
September 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM
OAXACA CITY, Mexico — Sometimes when I travel I like to use what you might call culture-shock therapy to convince myself I’m not in Seattle anymore.
So today I ate grasshoppers for lunch. Yeah, that did it.
They call them chapulines here in Oaxaca, where I flew on Saturday to attend a week of Spanish-language school, fodder for a future travel story. Fried till they’re crispy, and served with a bit of guacamole on the side, the ‘hoppers are a local specialty.
I’ll be attending four hours of classes in the mornings starting Monday, but I’ll have afternoons to explore the city and nearby villages and report a few times in the Northwest Traveler blog.
Thursday, I’ll tour a nearby village with an organization that does microloans to local women to help them start their own businesses selling crafts, running a shop, making candles for the local church, etc. Proceeds from taking visitors to meet the aspiring entrepreneurs goes toward making more loans.
Next Saturday, I’m taking the night bus to San Cristobal de las Casas, a historical colonial hilltown in Chiapas, where I’ll join in the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16. Should be interesting in a place known for the Zapatista Rebellion of the 1990s.
Meanwhile — gustatory grasshoppers: They came in a mound inside a fried tortilla bowl. These were tiny grasshoppers, so I had to peer closely to see the legs and, uh, antennae. They were dark, reddish-brown with (more…)
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