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JasonKoivu

JasonKoivu

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Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen, Anna Quindlen

Viva Oaxaca: An Insider's Guide to Oaxaca's Charms

Viva Oaxaca:  An Insider's Guide to Oaxaca's Charms - Robert Adler, Jo Ann Wexler There's more to Oaxaca, Mexico than mezcal, mole, and fierce women, right? Get this and get the facts!

Down in southern Mexico, nearly at the border to Guatemala and too close to the Equator for comfort, is a land of poor but seemingly happy people.

Why is this so? Possible reasons point to a pride in tradition and culture. Simple but delicious food. Satisfaction in providing for one's family with a hard day's work, day-in day-out. However...

Todo trabajo y nada de juego hacen de Jack un chico aburrido.

...and Oaxacans know how to play. Holidays are an important part of life and with thousands of years of heritage to draw upon, the people have quite a few holy days and historically significant events to celebrate. They seem to be able to turn just about everything into a soul-lifting, smile-raising good time. It's hard to resist the grin that creeps up on you when you think of something like the Radish Festival...

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A friend living there said they'd had a recent and uncommon period of rain which had washed the sidewalks clean of dog turds. The only lament? No dog turd festival. (I kid. There's no festival celebrating dog poo...to my knowledge.)

Viva Oaxaca does a superb job of sharing the Oaxacan vitality with the uninitiated. Aside from the cover, it's all b&w and low-budget design, but don't let that deter you. Let Robert Adler's extensive knowledge of the region and especially of the capital city help you enjoy Oaxaca for the first time, filling your stay with rich encounters culled from his vast experience.

Within you'll find recommendations on just about everything you'd find in the usual travel guidebook. Beyond the basics, it's the advice that I found most valuable. Without it, a first timer might arrive and drink straight from the tap, then spend some time being sick from the contaminated water. Yes, there are good things and bad things about visiting Oaxaca. However, though warnings of theft and kidnapping abound throughout Mexico, Oaxaca is one of the only regions that consistently gets a green light from the U.S. State Department's travel alerts.

"Viva Oaxaca is the book we wish had existed before we first came to Oaxaca," says Adler and I couldn't agree more!