Oaxaca Journal, V.14

By    Monday June 23, 2008

To avoid the inevitable pitfalls of returning to Manhattan this week, after a two year hiatus in Oaxaca, Mexico, I've decided to give myself a set of rules and reminders to help weather the transition.

Draw in sketchbook every day -- religiously.

Left: Madre Mexico, Time Travels. Right; Buggin' Out! From Peter Kuper's sketchbook, copyright and courtesy of the artist.

Avoid peppering every conversation with Spanish words or phrases, comprende?

Don't pretend to be an authority on all things Mexican.

It is now O.K. to drink tap water -- really.

Don't bitch about how expensive everything is in the USA.
Conversely, don't regale people with how much cheaper everything is in Mexico.

Don't forget to draw in your sketchbook every day.

Try to maintain the hugging/kissing social manners of Mexico without being taken for a masher or child molester.

Lose that ethnic shirt that was perfect in Oaxaca; it will look like a clown suit back in the city.

Don't wear sandals after Halloween.

Stop shaking out your shoes each morning for fear of scorpions -- on second thought, better safe than sorry.

Contrary to what you've been told repeatedly for the last two years--
mescal is not the answer to all of life's problems.

Lastly, draw in your sketchbook every day.

If you have been following my Oaxaca Journal entries over the last couple of years, I hope you've enjoyed the bumpy ride on cobblestone streets through town and along dirt roads that lead to monarch butterfly preserves. From the descriptions of the teacher's strikes and the attacks of the government troops to the images of daily insect assaults and street odors, thanks for letting me bend your ear and eyes.

As the old Mexican proverb goes:
Mar tranquilo hace mal marino.
Calm seas make sorry sailors.
Or as they also say:
Cada quien puede hacer de sus calzones un papalote.
Every man is entitled to make a kite from his pants,
whatever the hell that means.

So, until the next trip south, north, east or west of the border, adios, see you around,

This is the fourteenth and last installment in a series from Peter Kuper, a cartoonist and illustrator who moved with his wife and daughter to Oaxaca in 2006. Diario de Oaxaca, a collection of his drawings, writing and photos from Mexico, will be published in a bilingual edition this fall.