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I’ve been in Oaxaca for only two days and I’ve fallen in love. This place makes me feel like I’ve finally found a piece of me I never knew I was missing. While I have the privilege of living a life in the U.S with citizenship and all the resources that comes with it, I can’t help but think my soul was denied of something important for the sake of survival.

I’ve fallen in love in a different way than tourists do. Tourists come here, absorb the culture, the beauty, the struggle, but they don’t fully understand it, become it, or live it. I am mourning a part of me that I never knew was gone. This place feels like home. I am finally absorbing who I am and everything that raised my parents to be the beautiful people they’ve become. Oaxaca is magical in more ways than one.

The people I’ve met so far are genuine, kind hearted people that preserve their identities of Oaxaqueñxs and work hard everyday. I’ve never been so in love with Mother Nature, not like this. The mountains are gorgeous and the clouds remind me my loved ones are there too, the screams of the clouds as it begins pouring remind me that there is beauty and pain here. I realize they love Mother Nature here in a different way, a love that U.S folk haven’t truly given to her over there. I love Mother Nature here, I am falling in love, making up for time lost.

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#LocalLens: Walking your Senses through Oaxaca with @fcoronado

In this series, local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around where they live. To see more photos of Oaxaca, Mexico, through Frank’s eyes, follow @fcoronado on Instagram.

(This interview was conducted in Spanish.)

“Oaxaca is color, flavor, smells and sounds. Walking through its streets you get a unique encounter with your senses,” says Frank Coronado (@fcoronado), a photographer and painter from the region in southern Mexico.

The Mexican state is known for its cultural diversity, something that Frank aims to capture. “The differences between the eight regions of Oaxaca can be found in their gastronomy, in their textile richness. Every regional costume is made in a different way with colorful threads, which weave traditions inherited throughout generations.”

Frank spent 18 years away from his hometown and was amazed with everything he rediscovered when he returned. “Many people believe that due to the fact that Oaxaca is a small city, not a lot of things happen here. But you just need to walk through its streets to realize there are endless things going on,” he says.

Oaxaca Under Siege

Oaxaca has been militarized by federal and state police on the weekend of Guelaguetza festivities. The Peña Nieto administration has issued 35 arrest warrants for leaders of Oaxaca’s CNTE teachers’ union, freezes bank accounts and has sent thousands of riot cops to occupy the city.

Days earlier, governor Gabino Cué took the extreme measure of dismantling IEEPO, State Public Education Institute of Oaxaca.

A major CNTE march is planned for Monday, July 27. With EPN under pressure after El Chapo’s escape and Oaxaca militarized, things may come to a head. Stay tuned as we bring you more details.