Oaxaca life

Park Life: Living Outdoors in Oaxaca

 Many times, when people have asked me what they should do in the city of Oaxaca, I have said; go down to the park. Which park? It doesn´t matter. You will find what you are looking for, whether it is colour, company, energy, or a place to unwind.

The wind catchers, twirling red, blue and white, seem to show up for sale just as the sun’s rays are at their richest and shallowest and dusk makes the hills glow. A mass of shiny balloons passes by like a cloud, possibly with a person selling them, completely lost to view underneath.


A very pregnant woman is doing laps of a small park called Conzatti. She has her hands firmly bracing her lower back, and is blowing bright pink bubble-gum bubbles that I can hear pop from metres away. At the other end of the space, fathers playing with their little kids make me smile. You can never quite tell who is having the more fun, as paper planes fly in and around branches and plastic action figures tumble in and out of fountains.


I love these shared spaces. If I am feeling lonely, I can find the comforting and inclusive rhythm of society there. Coming from a world where people spend most of their recreational time in private backyards, the intimacy and vibrancy of this public life is a delight to me.

Bible study groups and Zumba dance aerobics classes, use the same space respectively. The white coated medical students, seeking a little fresh air, fall down in heaps under the trees to rest. I always peek at the pages of the drawing classes from the local high school as I walk by, but my favourite demographic is made up of the old men who do Tai Chi in the morning. I feel relaxed just watching them, and more than once I´ve considered ditching the office to join in.

A formidable herd of running shoes pound the concrete footpath of the Llano Park of a morning and early evening. Leather sandals are kicked off on the grass. The young couples, kissing on park benches, hardly notice that the whole world is traipsing by.
Casual picnics appear at lunchtime around the variety of food vendors. Hamburger carts sizzle noisily in the midday heat. Elotes, which are whole corn cobs, dripping in mayonnaise, lime and chili, inevitably get all over your chin. The last bites of popsicles fall stickily and tragically off their sticks into the dust. The tortas from La Hormiga in Conzatti Park are delicious and worthily famous. Another favourite of mine is a chorizo, papas and quesillo empanada made as you watch by a young woman at the south end of the Llano.
Kids run, soaked to the skin, through the fountains that seem coordinated to music, on the North end of the Llano. Skateboards carve out territory here and there. Books stalls, markets, and community fairs appear sporadically. You can always find a conversation with the shoe shiners, and get a chance to read the newspaper in the shade.

And it is not just human life you will encounter. Many birds and bees call the parks their home. I remember, back in my very first weeks in Oaxaca, saying to Samantha, LOOK, LOOK, and running over to see a furry brown thing scurrying all about a tree. She raised her eyebrows good naturedly. “Don´t tell me you´ve never seen a squirrel before?”

The wet season is no reason to dampen your enthusiasm for the outdoors. It has brought with it the potential of jumping in puddles and singing in rain. I recommend a pair of waterproof boots, preferably bright yellow, like the ones you had when you were five years old. Go out, swing an umbrella in hand, take a friend, and explore the secret life of the park in Oaxaca. 

1 thought on “Park Life: Living Outdoors in Oaxaca”

  1. wish I could be there it sounds like parks here when I was young and people played and walked in parks rather than sitting infront of a TV. POP

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