What I Mean by Mexico

Oaxaca-city_jpg_600x498_q85James Fenton at the NY Review of Books:


Birds everywhere. Fish everywhere. And when we came near the ocean we began to encounter fishermen of clearly African descent. Their village, with its two aspects, the tourist side facing the ocean and a great expanse of beach, the fishing side facing the lagoon, looked like a little paradise. One had to remember that, if its isolation had been an advantage for its founder members, peons of the lowest class of the society of the day, it must also—as was the whole coast—have been plagued with disease and other forms of daily risk. The fishing (crocodiles apart) might have been the easiest thing about it. As it is, today the village is painted with propaganda about public health, explaining the risks and symptoms of tuberculosis, influenza and so forth.


The houses are often painted in bright colors, combinations that can probably be traced to the availability of individual pigments at the time of painting. But sometimes a color plan is evident: an imposing bright green facade with a yellow trim, or a yellow facade with magenta stripes. One small inn showed boldly in bright green at the base and different hues of blue on an upper story, but set off by contrasting panels of chocolate and hazelnut. Gardens, where they existed, pushed in the direction of a riot of reds. A Catholic church, with no priest or weekly service, used mainly for weddings and baptisms, was painted in the colour known to Benjamin Moore as Bermuda teal. And in this pleasant environment, women with hair combed out in Afrostyle, but men—obeying the current international fashion—tending towards the faux-hawk.

more here.