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Zipolite, Mexico Beach for Christmas

ZIPOLITE, Mexico- Business as usual was the carol that was sung on Christmas 2010 in Zipolite — a beach town on the coast of Oaxaca. All the shops were open, people went to work, and tourists walked through the street as if this holiday was just another day at the beach. It was. I could [...]

ZIPOLITE, Mexico- Business as usual was the carol that was sung on Christmas 2010 in Zipolite — a beach town on the coast of Oaxaca. All the shops were open, people went to work, and tourists walked through the street as if this holiday was just another day at the beach.

It was.

Mexican Christmas tree

I could find little sign of Christmas cheer here in Zipolite save for a gaggle of blond hippie girls onerously chanting carols on their walk to the beach, two little family shrines set up in homes on the outskirts of town, and a plastic evergreen that was tied to the roof of a shop — a Christmas tree, even a false one, is a surreal sight in the shinning sun of an 80 degree day in the tropics.


I remember celebrating Christmas around a decade ago in a small village in the jungle of Peru, and it was truly a wild drunk fest with too much chicha, loud music, and lots of dancing. My friend Craig from Travelvice.com just emailed me his story of Christmas from Lima, a place that saw massive amounts of fireworks and celebration, and I know that Puerto Angel, a town a few kilometers away, had a large street party.

I am in Mexico, a fiercely Christian country that celebrates Christmas with gusto, but I am in a beach town. Beach life, ultimately, is like one long day played out over and over again; that damn Bob Marley album on perpetual repeat. In such a setting, holidays are truly inapplicable. Christmas day rolled into Zipolite like a wave, and rolled back out with a similar amount of consequence: I am unsure if anybody even noticed.

I went to the store and bought some essentials from the grumpy lady who works the counter every day. She added up my bill, I paid, as I was leaving I considered wishing her Feliz Navidad, but then thought better of it.

We are on the beach, and like the waves, the rolling sand, and the blowing wind, each day blends into the next indistinguishably, forming some sort of insoluble whole. Some call this whole a vacation, some call it life.

I have no idea what day of the week it is.

Filed under: Beaches, Celebrations, Culture and Society, Mexico, North America

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3441 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Bob L December 30, 2010, 5:22 pm

    That is one thing I miss when in a beach area during Christmas. I LIKE Christmas eve and day to be special. The rest of the Christmas season (snow, shopping, clogged roadways) I can do without.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may your New Year be the best one yet for you and your family.

    One town in North Carolina will be doing New Years dropping something other than a Lighted Ball. One suggestion was to name it Fleas Navidad

    http://www.npr.org/2010/12/16/132115552/North-Carolina-Town-Itching-To-Ring-In-New-Year

    Bob L

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  • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com December 30, 2010, 5:55 pm

    Thanks Bob,

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you too. New year’s eve should be fun, we made friends with a half American/ half Mexican family here that has a little girl, and we should be going over to have dinner and drinks with them.

    That is funny about the flea, maybe we should drop a giant mosquito.

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