why I went to cafes in Oaxaca

Habits and routines can bring comfort and a sense of ease to being because we don’t have to think about doing something, we just do that something without expanding brain energy. No questioning, only action. So it was that when I was in Oaxaca in 2017 I decided I would make it a project to visit as many cafés as I could, after all this was something I did in Vancouver with regularity. I was in Oaxaca for two weeks. The first week I was in the company of six women, the second week I was on my own. The second week was tough, I missed the companionship of the women whom I had only just met that week.

Going to cafés would allow me to fill time and find moments of stillness. It also allowed me to record what I was feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting, seeing. I wrote in my journal with the intention of writing in response to these senses so that I could remember the reality rather than the memory of the experience. I thought that re-reading the details of the reality later on would allow me to create strategies for coping with loneliness when travelling solo.

But, I became ill with the flu in the second week. I had planned to volunteer but realized I had no energy for it. Unable to do much, I became sullen. I had to lower my expectations. So keeping up a routine, or a project, helped in the mornings and afternoons, depending on how much coffee I craved.

These are the cafes I went to:

  • Boulenc (I had a great experience when I went there for supper one night, a topic for another research note on loneliness)
  • Café Nuevo Mundo
  • Café Volador (they used a manual contraption to froth milk)
  • Café Brujula
  • Cafeto y Barista (great interior decoration)
  • Café at the Cultural Centre

Brujula, a Oaxacan business with several locations and very good coffee, stands out in my mind because I went there many mornings, as it was close to where I was staying. I got into the pattern of getting up early, doing yoga for half an hour, walking the streets at 7am, and going to Brujula at 8am, when it would open. I loved the quietness of the early mornings, and seating at Brujula meant looking out the large windows onto the church and grounds of Santo Domingo.

Some of the cafes I frequented (a well as Santo Domingo) are visually recorded on my Instagram — this link will show you only the shots related to cafes.