In 2016, I moved to Oaxaca for a few months and ended up signing a lease for a lot longer stay. Part of this decision came down to my battle with chronic pain, but also to the fact that the city is beautiful and delicious. After years in Asia, it is a big change. But a welcome one, as I’ve long wanted to improve my Spanish from its inauspicious, embarrassing beginnings.
To end 2016, I wanted to share some photos from the last year. In 2015, I posted my favorite pictures from the prior 12 months. This time, I’m sharing the ones that you decided you liked the most based on my Instagram feed. In addition to Oaxaca, I visited Belize, Austin, Seattle, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, and Rio de Janeiro this year. Regardless, almost all of your love went to Oaxaca. And an alpaca, but who can blame you?
What’s happening for 2017?
I’ll be in Oaxaca for the winter and spring, and I plan to maintain an apartment here when I head back to North America during the summer. I’m in the middle of writing a long guide to the city, focusing on food – of course – but also what to do, where to stay, and fun trips in the Oaxaca Valley. I’ve eaten at some lovely family-run spots and I look forward to also profiling them on the site.
For those who signed up for my writing course, check your inbox in coming weeks for course outline, costs, and a short application form. I will be taking a class of 10 people to start, and close to 100 have signed up. The application form will help with making sure the class goals fit your needs. I plan to offer these courses on a rolling basis, with a lower price for the first one. So if you are not in the first round, I hope to work with you a little later in the year.
I’ve also started this season’s food walks, and have 25 people booked in so far.
Finally, my shop now offers lightweight black tote bags in addition to the sturdy canvas ones. These are great for errands, and fold up easily to carry around when you’re not using them. Japan food map is coming soon.
It will be a busy winter and spring, and I’m excited to dive into these projects. I’ll update further in my customary annual review on 1 April — last year’s piece, 8 Years of Legal Nomads, follows that model! — but for now: thank you for reading Legal Nomads, for your support of the site through the shop, and for reaching out to share your stories.
Now: the photos! For those reading via email – you’ll need to click through to the web to view the embedded Instagram photos.
2016 in Photos
1. Day of the Dead, Oaxaca
My first muertos celebration, and it won’t be my last. Fabulous time, filled with visits to the cemeteries, marching bands, fireworks, offerings, and a face painting to end all face paintings. So fun!
Amazingly fun night in Oaxaca. Parades with brass bands, a light show on Santo Domingo, face painting, wandering, costumes aplenty and time with good friends. So lovely to spend my first Day of the Dead in Oaxaca. I’ll be writing more about the holiday’s origins and beliefs, but for now I’ll leave you with Catrina-Jodi, from yesterday afternoon.
2. Me in a Field of Marigolds, Zaachila
My friend Susanne took me and her son out to the fields near Zaachila just before Day of the Dead, so we could frolic in the flowers like nobody’s business. The farmers were amused but tolerant, aided by the fact that I bought a bunch before we departed the fields.
3. Oaxaca City at Dusk
This city’s light knows no limits.
4. Corn Husk Installation, Oaxaca
These corn husks-as-birds were installed over the Alcala, the main walking street in town, and hovered over for a few weeks before they were taken down. Lovely.
Excited to have caught this gorgeous Manuel Molina exhibit of birds flying over the Alcalá! It went up just as I left town, so I went to take a look yesterday as they were dissembling the lines. The birds are made of corn husks, decorated and glued onto wood. Love how they look, hovering quietly over the pedestrian road. Of all the photos I took I’m sharing this one because if you look closely you’ll see a REAL bird in there too! Thought the juxtaposition was funny. There were 140 birds in all, made by elementary school kids in the Oaxaca valley. 💙
5. Oaxaca at Dusk on Cinco de Mayo street
That in-between place between light and dark. I didn’t know when I took this last night that I would wake up an award-winner: just found out I won gold in the Society of American Travel Writers’ annual awards! Between this award and the outpouring of support and sharing from my chronic pain piece, I’m feeling deeply grateful. What a week. 🙏🏻
6. Hierve El Agua
I wrote a longer post with higher-res photos of the gorgeous calcified waterfalls outside Oaxaca City, but understandably this photo was a hit. Such a beautiful spot.
A beautiful day at Hierve el Agua, mineral springs that bubble into a giant cascade of rocks. Translated to “boiling waterfall” the site has both the falls themselves (made of rock worn down over the ages) and these beautiful natural infinity pools at the edge of the cliff. Looks more frozen than boiling to me! I’ll post the other photo of the rocks later, but I wanted to share this one of the calcium carbonate springs first, easily one of the more beautiful sights I’ve seen in Mexico.
7. Tornado at my Dad’s Place (RUN!), Quebec
Family reunion gone just slightly awry. Of course, seeing as how we aren’t used to tornados, we simply took photos and stared instead of running for cover. Luckily it dissipated quickly!
8. Alpacas in New Zealand
These alpacas were in my photoessay from last year also, but this time I reposted as a throwback on a day I needed some cheering up. Apparently you did too.
Spent a good while talking about alpacas yesterday eve, so I thought I would share a photo from my time in New Zealand. My friend Paul asked me if I found this farm on my travels, and I explained that no I drove all the way there to satiate my alpaca obsession. BECAUSE THEY ARE AMAZING. Love the impish grin on the right alpaca’s face. 💚
9. Me in a field of Cockscomb Celosia
The flower I love most in the world is everywhere in Oaxaca come Day of the Dead. I was a happy Jodi.
And right next to the fields of gold, fields of my fave flower on the planet, the cockscomb celosia. It’s an important flower for Vietnamese people during Tet (lunar new year) and – I’ve learned – for Oaxacans during day of the dead, when families lay it on the tombstones of their loved ones. A fun excursion out to the Oaxaca valley to find these fields! Thanks to @mexicoguide for taking me with her to frolic in the flowers!
10.Jacarandas on the Ground, Oaxaca
The trees in town bloom at different times, from bright orange flamboyantes to yellow blossoms that paper the sidewalks, to these gorgeous purple jacarandas.
The jacarandas are in bloom here in Oaxaca, their violet flowers fluttering down from the trees and onto the ground below. Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, jacaranda trees have been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, India, Fiji and parts of Africa. Given how beautiful they are, I can understand their spread to wherever they can grow successfully! The name jacaranda originates from the Tupi-Guarani language, by way of Portuguese. While looking up makes for a cloud of purple flowers, I wanted to take a photo from the pavement, awash in this carpet of purple and blue. 💜💜💜
11. Rio de Janerio from above
One from my fabulous trip to Brazil to help friends celebrate their wedding. This one was taken from atop the
Thank you again for reading, andI hope each of you have a wonderful, healthy, and happy 2017.