Diario de Oaxaca
(Oaxaca Diary)
Peter Kuper
(PM Press)
Oaxaca is all here: the snakes and bugs and butterflies and donkeys and crickets and dolls and pyramids and the cats dreaming of baking powder. Kuper came to Oaxaca in 2006 and landed in the middle of the teacher's strike which roiled the city for five months until the federal police arrived. He lived through that ... and the aftermath.

His Diary includes all that and the monarch butterflies, the pelicans, and the beaches (at nearby Puerto Ángel and Puerto Escondido). There are graffiti, Mayan temples, grackles, Montezuma's revenge, the Mexican-American War ... and a tee-shirt seen on the city streets that said,

    They gave us their Bible and told us to close our eyes and pray to their God. When we opened our eyes we found they had stolen our land.

    (Nos dieron su Biblia y nos dijeron que cerráramos los ojos y le rezáramos a su Dios. Cuando abrimos los ojos nos dimos cuenta que nos habían robado la tierra.)

It's colorful as hell, obviously a work of love of someone who came from New York City and stayed long enough to be bowled over by the cultural richness of one of the most dynamic cities in Mexico. Those of us who have lived in Oaxaca will find something on every page to remind us of the warmth of this buggy paradise, from the sketches of street vendors (and street dogs) to the "hormigas" on the page of reminders for himself: "Lost that ethnic shirt that was perfect in Oaxaca; it will look like a clown suit back in New York City;" or "Cada quien puede hacer de sus calzones un paplote" ("Every man is entitled to make a kite from his pants.")

--- Carlos Amantea
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