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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

The Zocalo

Oaxaca, Mexico

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Oaxaca's main square, officially called the Plaza de la Constitucion, but commonly referred to as the Zocalo, is the heart of the city.

In previous visits to this enchanting city, the Plaza was open, filled with flowers, and we enjoyed free concerts by the city's magnificent orchestra. One could sit peacefully on benches and enjoy the verdant environment. Or have a meal, a specialty coffee or a beer from one of the many restaurants lining the Plaza and let the afternoon drift by in the unagitated, restorative surroundings.

Unfortunately at this time, the teachers union was protesting and what was once beautiful, turned disturbing.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption

This Cathedral took 200 years to construct (beginning in 1535), and due to earthquakes before completion, had to be restored several times before it finally was consecrated in 1733. You can see the different colored stones, called cantera stone, naturally formed by millions of years of compression of volcanic ash and lava. There are shades of green, beiges, browns and some pink tones.

This is the best shot we could get of the Cathedral, as there were protest vendor stalls in front of the church.

Taco stand

Freshly grilled meats with onions looked delicious and the aroma wafted through the air. This is a typical taco stand, found all over Mexico set up in the plaza to feed the protesters.

Restaurants lining the Plaza

Here you see the established restaurants that line the Plaza. Normally, those plastic lines above the umbrellas would not be there, and the view to the Church would be a clear shot.

These are tie lines, holding the vendors' tarps up to create shade. A person who now sits at any of these restaurants no longer has a view, just the back of vendor stalls. Businesses were suffering, and so were their employees, since tourists would prefer not to have their view obstructed.

At the time of our visit, this protest had been going on for a couple of months.

Another view of restaurant seating

 

Here you can see that the view from these outdoor cafe tables is simply the back of the vendor stall tarps (on the left). There are not many tourists ordering meals at this time. It's pretty quiet.

Carrot juice, beer and chips!

Somehow we got all color coordinated here at this restaurant. Billy's red shirt, my red blouse, the orange/coral/yellow tablecloths, Billy's golden beer and even my carrot juice!

As you can see, the restaurant tables behind us are empty also.

Our bill

The beer and juice we ordered came to 75Pesos, or at this time, about $4USD. Tip was not included. Due to the Mexican Peso trading around 18.50 to the Dollar Mexico is a real bargain.

Free education what the people need

Unfortunately (at least in my view) there was destructive graffiti everywhere. This just happened to be a blank wall, but the graffiti was even painted on the gorgeous cantera stone buildings throughout the Historical Center.

Someone, somewhere, has to pay for this clean up, or the graffiti stays indefinitely.

Ever onward to victory

Teachers had blocked 20 or more highways in various locations that effectively paralyzed two Mexican states, Chiapas and Oaxaca. Fuel, supplies and food were not able to be transported to cities in the central valleys, towns on the beach, and even Oaxaca City had shortages on the shelves.

No schools were open, so children were not attending school.

The Teachers' Union was in locked horns with the government, but the local people were the ones who were suffering. 

Tents were set up in make shift campgrounds

Here you see the tents where some protestors were sleeping. I don't know what they used for sanitary services, but these protests made businesses powerless to function.

We were born to overcome

More graffiti here mixed with some artwork. Notice that the man with the scarf over his face has a slingshot with a stone ready to be fired off. 

The Interior Secretary said civil society in both states had been the victim of “profoundly damaging” actions of the teachers union which affected the lives of millions of people by impeding their freedom to move, blocking the flow of goods and preventing businesses from operating.

More tents

 

Tents were everywhere, sidewalks were blocked, the beautiful view of the Zocalo was obstructed, and it was difficult to walk around. Streets were closed and both pedestrians and cars had to take alternative routes to work or to go back home.

Peak lunch rush hour

Those who worked in offices downtown still had to go somewhere for lunch. The Plaza offered restaurants that were in convenient walking distance from their building, so obviously, there was lunch traffic. But tourists tended to stay away, preferring not to get involved in the political tug-of-war.

Usually, we would go to the Plaza almost daily during our visit, enjoying the view and people watching. This time, we went twice.

No forgiveness, nor forgetting

Ugh. Politics can be so intense and ugly.

This is why we stay out of any local demonstrations and don't participate in any discussions when we are visiting a foreign nation. Who knows what might happen?

The government, in negotiating with the teachers unions, made only one condition; That the actions of the union demonstrators not affect other citizens.

However, it seems that with the tents, the blockades, the shortages of food, supplies and fuel, the expensive defacing of buildings and the businesses being negatively impacted, the demonstrators were not being very cooperative. They were using every bit of muscle to influence the government to approve their demands. 

Another graffiti sign

This sign speaks for itself.

We would all love justice, everywhere. Ideas?

Even though the Zocalo is indefinitely filled with protestors, there are still many places to enjoy in the city of Oaxaca. You definitely must go to the Maya ruins of Monte Alban. Get there early before the busloads of tourists arrive, and bring sunscreen, your camera and drinking water.

The Church of Santo Domingo at the end of the walking street Alcala is a wonderful day outing. Just walk from the Zocalo on Macedonia Alcala to the end (about half a kilometer) until you arrive at the Church's Plaza. Take your time along the way enjoying various restaurants, wine bars, shops and cafes. Have a cappuccino, get some lunch, stop by a Mezcaleria later in the day, enjoy the musicians of the weekend and generally people-watch.

And of course, going to Oaxaca's day market just behind the Zocalo about a block and enjoying the local BBQ of various meats is also recommended. Or take a break from city living and hop on a 30 minute flight and go to the beach!

At some point these protestors will move on and disband, it's just that no one knows when this will happen. Oaxaca is a fascinating city known for its delicious cuisines, the historical architecture, museums, music and good weather.

Keep it on your list!

For more stories and photos of Oaxaca, click here

For more stories and photos of Mexico, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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