There are little moments that hit you when you are sitting on a bus for six hours. An hour from Mexico City, an old woman and a little boy walk alongside six or seven goats. Three hours later, a man in a cowboy hat lines up bright red plastic dump trucks on the side of the highway, with no town in sight. Outside the town of Nochixlan, the walls have been whitewashed, but you can still see the graffiti: “Get out Ulises,” a remnant of the 2006 political turmoil in Oaxaca. The landscape changes from dry brush to pine forest to hulking mountains and back to dry brush. There are cacti that look like trees and others that look like long stalks poking through the dirt.
I am traveling on a first class bus to Oaxaca, which means the air conditioning is on full-blast and movies play constantly: The Gospel, Pirates of the Caribbean II and Brittanica. No one on the bus seems to be watching.
I arrive in Oaxaca at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday and head to my hotel, a very basic room in the center of the city. For dinner, I stop at one of the many restaurants surrounding the zócalo, where couples dance to live music. Little kids run around with massive balloons and women sell candied nuts and chocolates from baskets on their heads. The place is packed.