By Gwen Hyatt
I am drawn to public places, enticing spaces to soak up the vibe and the culture of the local area. The world is full of lugares publico, or public places.
I am drawn to public places, enticing spaces to soak up the vibe and the culture of the local area. The world is full of lugares publicos, or public places. These engaging community centers are urban pockets of local activity and energy in Mexico and many other Central and South American countries. Urban parks, plazas, squares, piazzas, green spaces—all are meeting spaces set aside for human enjoyment, recreation, and the preservation of natural habitat. Often thought of as “green lungs” because many places are filled with lush vegetation; they offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life and the heat of the city. They improve the quality of life for city dwellers. Many of these public spaces provide concerts, artisans, local foods and cafes, along with a varied assortment of activities and festivals for families, locals, and visitors. As you stroll through these areas, there is a palpable sense of belonging.
Parque El Llano is my favorite, and one of the major parks in Oaxaca, Mexico, where families and individuals come to pass time. In the morning you will find a Zumba class, Tai Chi, HIT workout groups, an array of runners, walkers, bicyclists, and dog walkers.
You might pick up a chess game, read a book, enjoy a bite to eat from one of the local food stands, have your shoes shined, or just sit and people watch.
Parque El Llano is often a site for temporary civic and cultural events and exhibitions. A monument dedicated to Don Benito Juárez graces the center of the park with fountains and paved and green areas radiating from the center.
In the late afternoon and evenings, the area is a hub of activity when the locals flock to the park—children bicycling and skating, teenagers skateboarding and families strolling, meeting up and enjoying the small food stands. A welcome reprieve from work and home life.
Colonial architecture surrounds the park with the striking Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Chapel of Bethlehem gracing the north side. Located on the east side of the buildings are the offices of the National Institute of Anthropology and History. To the west is the historic La Casona Del Llano hotel.
Whatever the country you choose to move to—search out the lugares publicos for relaxation, engagement, and insight into your local living. You won’t be disappointed.
What are your favorite places to explore when landing as a new expat?
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