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A midwesterner moves to Mexico - Grace in Oaxaca

And, suddenly, I heard music. A cadence of drums and horns and a rhythmic clomping that I couldn’t identify. 

I left my coffee in the hotel room and went out to the street to find an early morning parade. There was a small band followed by a group of individuals on high stilts and woman and children in colorful dress carrying bouquets and baskets of flowers. 

I walked along for blocks until the parade ended in front of a cathedral where there was more music and dancing. The flowers carried by the women were eventually offered and grace was conferred as a priest came out and sprinkled the entire encircled crowd, myself included, with holy water.

It wasn’t the first time I had thought of the word grace during my visit to Oaxaca.

The day before, we had the opportunity to visit several homesteads in the nearby village of Teotitlan del Valle, a rural area best known for the art of weaving that has been passed down generation to generation from the Pre-Columbian era.   

We watched as an elderly woman showed us how to comb wool in preparation for spinning – a process she had been doing at the same spot since the age of ten. 

As she worked, her son heated a vat of water over an open fire where the spun wool would be dyed from natural dyes picked from their garden. A daughter-in-law would weave the colorful strands into one of the many rugs that were sold from the living spaces of their multi-generational home.

We visited a small working farm, where several families shared space and worked together. One woman explained how she buys garlic raised by her husband and other local farmers and sells it at markets. Another how she is attempting to raise a few pigs to supplement her family’s income, but is finding the cost of raising the pigs nearly prohibitive. 

At a final visit to another home where weaving was learned from prior generations, the woman explained how she tries to sell rugs from her home, as space at the market is allotted among all the weavers and she only gets to sell there occasionally. A good day at the market is one where she might sell three rugs, as many days she sells none.

There was no holy water sprinkled at any of these modest homes. But grace was conferred.