I Deleted Social Media…

© Chesnot/Getty Images

Recently I deleted my social media accounts. It’s been about a week. The reason I did it is because I felt it was a crutch and taking too much of my time. I’ve been on social media for about fifteen years including Myspace, twenty years if you include forums. It was time for a change. During my trip to Oaxaca, I forgot to buy a chip for my phone which would allow me to use my phone in Mexico. Since I didn’t have that, I wasn’t able to use my phone how I normally do but it was a good. I’m grateful for that.

Not having access to my phone didn’t hinder my experiences in Oaxaca and I actually think it enhanced my social exchanges. One conversation I had was about the use of phone’s with friends and family after I was given access to WiFi. Someone pointed out how we were all on our phone and a discussion- without phones- took place. It made me think, what would my life be like without social media? I have literally spent hours on it daily mindlessly scrolling hoping to stumble upon something, anything, that would be exciting. During this time that we scroll, we can be learning new skills, spending time with loved ones, or just being bored. A luxury that has been lost in the social media revolution.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I love being able to communicate with friends who I don’t see daily and I love finding out about local events and going to them, taking pictures, and writing about them. The truth is, though, I can do that without social media. Whenever I’m on there and around people, we stop talking except for the occasional, “hey, look at this meme.” that we found on Instagram or Facebook. The truth is, during this first week, I was forced to find something else to talk about. I didn’t have the security of my phone where I could stick my head in like an ostrich when things got awkward.

How we look when we get on our phones.

This is why I’ve decided to take a year off social media.

Every year, I take about two breaks from social media: one of about a week or two and another of about thirty days or so. So this is nothing new. The only difference this time is that I want to go longer. During this time, I don’t just want something else to take the place of social media-i.e., use other apps in place of social platforms, etc.- but I want to grow. I want to learn new things and live life to it’s fullest potential.

This past week alone, was fulfilling. I helped a friend paint their house and I got so much done. I can only imagine what a year without it will be like.

What about you? Have you taken a break from social media? What was it like?

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My First Time in Oaxaca

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Oaxaca, Mexico. While there, I learned a lot about the state and history of Huayacac, “The Place of the Seed”, as the ancient Aztecs called it in Nahuatl. The fifth largest state of Mexico’s 31 states, Oaxaca is home to 16 deeply rooted indigenous cultures. The Zapotecs and Mixtecs being the largest. Located at the southwestern edge of Mexico, Oaxaca is the perfect destination for tourists and explorers alike. With archaeological sites like Monte Alban, cathedrals such as Santo Domingo and Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, and caves in the San Sebastian mountains, and beautiful coasts like Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca will leave you admiring its beauty even after you’ve left.

Covering an area of 33-miles, the city of Oaxaca has a lot of to be explored. From the famous Santo Domingo cathedral, to the Mercados de Abastos, Cuidad de Oaxaca has an experience for everyone.

Founded in 1572 A.D., the Santo Domingo cathedral was originally a monastery and convent that served as not only a parish, but also a military base during the Mexican Revolution. It took 200 years to complete (completed in 1731), the cathedral still holds services but now doubles as a museum containing artifacts from the local archaeological site of Monte Alban. Perhaps the most visited of the cathedrals, Santo Domingo’s walls are covered with 23.5 karat gold. I always wondered why people were so fond of this cathedral and until my recent visit, I understood its because of its baroque architecture used in its design.

Home to the ancient Zapotec people between 500 B.C. to 800 A.D., Monte Alban was one of the earliest cities in pre-Hispanic Mexico. Speaking to a local, I was told that the ancient Zapotec actually flattened and dug out the mountain to build the ancient city’s location. Meaning that the mountain originally had a peak. There is this feeling of awe when walking through the site, almost unbelievable. Just knowing that people before us took on such a feat. Just twenty minutes away from the zocalo of Oaxaca, Monte Alban is a place you don’t want to miss when you visit Oaxaca.

Mural in Mercado de Benito Juarez, 2019.

Mercados, plazas, tianguis, or remates- whatever you know them by, Oaxaca is filled with them. I got a chance to visit three of the famous mercados of Oaxaca City; 20 de Noviembre, Mercado Benito Juarez, and Mercado de Abastos. Each mercado has similarities, but have their unique features.

20 de Noviembre is primarily food vendors, from what I could capture. There is an entire section dedicated to food. An area where you can purchase the meat and they’ll cook it for you carne asada style as you wait at a table. Fresh grilled veggies can also be bought by separate vendors to add to your meal. Mercado de Benito Juarez is similar to 20 de Noviembre in style, but has more clothing, hats, shoes/ sandals, and accessories. It also has it’s food court but feels like an extension to its across the street counterpart.

Mercado de Abastos, Oaxaca City, 2019.

The famous Mercado de Abastos is an interesting mercado. This is where the local people of Oaxaca from neighboring cities or colonias, come sell and/ or trade their homegrown or homemade products. A few women I had the opportunity to share a taxi with for example, where taking “orders” of organic nopales, mangos, and tomatoes. Here you can find coffee, bananas, toiletry, tools- anything you might need at home for a much cheaper price than other mercados. As with the case of any mercados, carrying cash is ideal to make purchases.

During my trip I had the privilege of visiting the San Sebastian caves about an hour south of Oaxaca city but due to a no flash allowed policy, very little photos and footage was captured. The Grutas are about 400-800 feet below ground and features a natural underground river which empties out into nearby canals and runs through the local cities.

That being said, to travel to Oaxaca you need to be in somewhat great shape (which I am not), due to it being majorly a mountainous region. This is why very soon, I’m going to start a fitness journey so that, in the future, I won’t get as tired.

Have you been to Oaxaca? Have you been to any of these locations and if so, what did you like most about them?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/OaxacaSources: http://www.houstonculture.org/mexico/oaxaca.html

Downtown Visalia Carshow

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”- Forest Gump

Isn’t it though? Sometimes, when we least expect it, life gives us something a little better than what we hoped for. This weekend of May 18, 2019, we experienced just that. Considering that rain was prognosticated for pretty much the entire weekend, something that will keep many indoors (including us), we had a pretty good time.

After making up our minds to not be couch potatoes and decided to get out and search for a car show in Hanford, Ca, we set out but were fairly disappointed to find only two cars parked at the event we originally planned to attend. Nearly making up our minds to head back home, my wife and I decided that we were going to drive to a nearby city called Visalia, Ca. Our destination was its downtown to “just walk and get to know the place.” But were we in for a surprise.

Many enjoyed the different models of cars available to see.

About a block away from Main Street, we began seeing many people crossing the street- large groups of 10+ people using the crosswalks. My first thought was simply that their downtown was just very active on weekends. But no, as we made our way and were preparing to turn, we seen that it was blocked off due to a massive car show! This car show was huge, spanning about four to five blocks and there was a little bit of everything- lowriders, offroad vehicles, racing vehicles, and even music! It was a car lovers dream. The car show, called the “Downtown Visalia Car Show” is a charitable event hosted by the Visalia Breakfast Lions Club. But if cars weren’t enough, we also found murals on garbage enclosures, on walls, and even on fire hydrants.

Mural on Trash Enclosure in Downtown Visalia.

The Urban Art Project

The murals found throughout Tulare County are part of an urban art project being carried out by several muralists within the Urbanist Collective group. Much of their art involves the community. From walls, to trash enclosures, to fire hydrants- the Urbanist Collective group is showing us that with the right perspective, anything can be transformed into a work of art.

If you’re ever in the Visalia area, stop by their downtown, you won’t be disappointed.

Follow me on Instagram for more pictures of Visalia and its surrounding cities.

“El Morro”, The Crown of the Bay

Man, was it warm this weekend or was it just us? It was beautiful nonetheless. My family and myself took advantage of the great weather to visit the coast and man, was it worth it. We hit a small beach town called Morro Bay, Ca. A beautiful coastal town about 40 minutes southwest of Paso Robles, Ca.

After a wet season of storms, many families, surfers, and sightseers were out and about enjoying the amazing views. We even had a chance to build our very first sand castle! It was a fun experience but hard work digging into wet sand with your bare hands. Next time we’ll go prepared with shovels and buckets. Sand dollars were abundant on the beach and we even seen some which were still alive (we left them alone because well, they were alive). I had never seen them live before. I always thought that they were a rock of sorts but apparently, they’re a breed of sea urchin. Who knew! We also got to see a mamma sea otter with her baby in a nursing area. It’s beautiful to see how caring they are with their young.

Morro Rock, March 2019.

The views were amazing. Morro Rock, a mountain sized stone which gives Morro Bay it’s distinguished name, looked amazing as the sun moved across the sky. Fun fact: Morro Rock was originally called “El Morro” by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, which means “crowned rock”. (more about Morro Bay’s history here http://www.morrobay.org/about) . The coastal town was also used as a military base during World War II. Much of the coastal strip was built for the sole purpose of training Naval soldiers.

Now the strip features many family owned businesses and murals of the Morro Bay landscape. We had the opportunity to eat at Giovanni’s Fish Market. The fish and sticks are phenomenal! If you’re ever in the area, I recommend eating there. If you need a coffee for the trip back home or just that extra energy to keep exploring, stop by the Sun-n-Buns Bakery and Espresso and they’ll give you the best coffee in Morro Bay, Ca.

From hiking, fishing, cruises, and canoeing- there is no shortage of activities for everyone. I hope you enjoy Morro Bay just as we have. Until next time!

Edit: original post was from March 2019.

Hasta La Bahia!

Chicano Park, 2013.

Traveling, I love it. Ever since I was a kid, my parents would take me to places with beautiful sights: La Piedad, Michoacan; Guadalajara, Jalisco; Sonora; and not to mention the travelling I did within the states ranging from California to Tejas with a local boxing club. Back then though, we didn’t have social media and cameras were a little expensive for us, a rural Central California Mexican family. Recording or capturing certain moments was difficult but remained deeply ingrained in our memories. To be forever cherished by those who were there.

After I went out on my own, graduated high school and began to learn a bit about life, my traveling life went into a drought with work and school, and then just work. It wasn’t until six years later, 2013, that I would once again, fall in love with traveling. What was meant to be a day at the beach turned into a mini-road trip to San Diego, California, and a place where I returned to the love of my roots, mis raices.

My love for my culture and La Raza has always been a prevalent one. Cathedrals, Aztec dancers, Chicano art, and tacos have always been a love of mine. Where many travel to San Diego to visit The USS Midway Museum (although I did visit it and it’s very nice), I was attracted to the famous Chicano Park, a Mexican-American park in the Lincoln Heights area, Logan Heights to be specific.

Located in the oldest Mexican neighborhood in San Diego, Chicano Park was built in the 1970s after the California Interstate-5 was built. Many of the people living in Logan Heights wanted a park for a long time and when their request was continually denied, they protested, halting machines and negotiated the terms for the construction of a park. The murals are part of the Mexican Mural Movement, a movement which began during the Chicano Civil Rights Era. Each year in April, a great celebration called Chicano Park Day is held with mariachis, Aztec dancers, and lowriders.

The area is growing rapidly as people begin to learn more about the history of the park. When there, it’s almost mystical as you gaze at murals of Chuatemeoc and Emiliano Zapata on the freeways pillars. On opposing arches you have the words, “All the Way to the Bay” and “Hasta La Bahia” shouting in English and Spanish that culture and the artistic spirit, flows from San Diego to the Bay.