Melissa writes about little known places at her blog Undiscovered Oaxaca.
I’m a foreign language teacher, and I got a job teaching English at a small engineering university here in 1998.
There is a lot of information out there in English for tourists visiting Oaxaca City and the villages immediately outside of it. But Oaxaca is a huge state with so many wonderful places to “discover”. I started the blog to reserve the name Undiscovered Oaxaca because I imagined that name for a guided cultural tour company I may or may not one day start if I decide to move out of teaching. I’m not so sure I like the name anymore though as it has a slight colonial vibe going on with the idea of outsiders “discovering” the place.
I still love the tag “Beyond the known” though. Anyway, as I said, the blog is supposed to be travel information for places outside Oaxaca City. I have a ton of ideas and notes, but not a load of free time to work on it as I work full time and have three kids. My husband works 80 hours a week so I do most the domestic things. I also do freelance translations (specializing in academic articles).
I volunteer with an organization that promotes linguistic rights of indigenous peoples. We are also building a house in my in-law’s hometown where we have also built the town a library and are trying to establish a food forest, so blogging is a pretty low priority for me right now.
As for the purpose and why I do it I want to get information out there in English about lesser known places, but not really *for* the tourists/travelers, but rather *for* the places. There are a lot of communities in Oaxaca right now that are trying to establish ecotourism or cultural tourism as an income stream for their community, and those are places I want to promote. Oaxaca and Oaxacans have given me so much I want to help make these ventures of theirs successful.
It’s difficult finding time to write! I have always written. I kept a journal of my travel experiences from 1991 to 2003, but writing for oneself is different from writing for the public. I also have participated in online forums and Facebook groups quite extensively since about 2000. I’ve written tons of things there that could have been blog posts, but mostly in response to people questions. I find I have a harder time just organizing something that’s for the public not in response to a question. In fact, several of my blog posts have actually been written because someone asked something in a Facebook group and I didn’t feel like I could respond adequately in that format, so I wrote a blog post then linked to that in the group. Hopefully, I will get up to a post a month!
I’ve lived pretty much all my adult life in Mexico, so my best life experiences have happened in Mexico, but not necessarily because of Mexico, you know what I mean? Like becoming a mother, successful moments in my career, etc. By becoming part of a Mexican family, doors that tourists don’t even know are there have been opened to me. That’s part of why I think about running a tour company some day. I could arrange experiences most tourists would never have access to.
Five years ago we moved to another small community in another region of Oaxaca, we moved there because we felt like we were needed there and could make a positive impact through our work in education. Our house was broken into during Semana Santa, our dogs were poisoned and everything that could fit out the window was stolen, even things that didn’t have much value. What did I learn? I think mostly that there are too many people in the world. For every young person I see use education as a path to transform their reality, there are 5 more who are so desperate they will poison other living beings for trinkets.
My advice for those planning on coming to Mexico is don’t be afraid to try new things, new foods, go places that don’t look nice. Unwinding on a beach resort is great and has its place, but that’s not all there is to a trip to Mexico.
I can be found at: