“Everything you can imagine is real” Pablo Picasso
The Oaxacan coast is filled with wonder and magic. This fairytale-like quality took me by surprise when I first moved, in 1997, to the village of Mazunte. It was much quieter than it is now and I rented a cabaña on the beach for less than 100 USD a month- no electricity and the floor was sand, but the view was glorious. I spent my days swimming and my nights reading by candlelight. When reading by candlelight started to strain my eyes, I would walk across the field of the elementary school, where there was a bare bulb I could turn on and lie on one of the pews to read. Occasionally, we would get gypsies passing through and in the evening everyone from the village would clamber into their makeshift theater to watch a movie for five pesos. There was also a small fair that came with a merry-go-round that had dancing wooden horses and sold cotton candy. One night having burned down my candle and unable to fall asleep, despite the lulling of the pounding surf, I decided to go read in the church. I allowed my feet to follow the well-worn path- I was not organized enough to have a flashlight! It was a moonless night which made for a very dark sky, except for the glow of the stars. I often found it hard to believe how little a role nature had played in my everyday life before my Mexico life- not counting snowstorms! As I made my way down the path, my head in the clouds, my hand clutching my book, my foot hit something. I looked down to see a large metal cage, I peered closer, squinting my eyes in the darkness to see what was there. Before I had a moment to be afraid, a large pair of eyes was looking out at me. I was face to face with a lion! He didn’t growl or swat at me, nor was he drugged up and lethargic. He was just looking at me. I smiled and kept walking to the church. Surreal is the word that would later come to mind. The next day all the kids were talking about how the circus was in the village. Of course we went and I saw my friend the lion perform- he was grand and majestic and the clear star of the show in this tiny family run circus. This month our writers explore the Oaxacan coast and we even have a piece about the Mermejita Circus- an animal free circus based out of Mazunte which makes me feel that despite the fact that you would be hard pressed to find a cabaña like mine from so many years ago, the magic lives on.
See you next month,