Pineapple grows on my terrace

A year and a half ago, I cut off the top of a pineapple (piña, en español), stuck it in a ten inch pot in full sun, watered it very occasionally during the dry season, and it actually began to grow.  This member of the Bromeliaceae family is thought to have originated in the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay and spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Reaching Mexico, it was cultivated by the Mayas and Aztecs.  Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese conquerors took it across the pond, and the rest is history.  No surprise, as the fruit (which resembles a pine cone — hence the name) is sweet, succulent, and ridiculously easy to grow!


A symbol of home: warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality.  The Welcoming Pineapple

Grown in the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca, the pineapple has inspired elaborate embroidery designs and the crowd-pleasing Flor de Piña dance.   What’s not to love?!


Sidewalk safety 1.0

Ahhh… the joys of navigating Oaxaca’s sidewalks.


And, this is nothing compared to manholes minus their covers!  I tell visitors they must ALWAYS watch where their feet are going; if they feel compelled to look up at the bell towers of a colonial church or at a gal balancing a basket of sweets on her head — STOP, then look!P1150492

However, in the absence of municipal action to remedy these hazards to one’s health and safety, Grupo Salvando Vidas Oaxaca (Saving Lives Oaxaca Group), an organization of concerned citizens, has come to the rescue.  According to this news report, the volunteer group was born last year after the founder of the group, Manuel Chávez Nuñez saw a disabled person fall into an uncovered sewer drain.P1150489

Yesterday, the group, which numbers around 15, set up a display of the wooden covers they use to replace gaps and holes in sidewalks around the city.  In addition to showcasing their work and recruiting volunteers, they were collecting donations for materials and giving away free books.  What’s not to like?!!!

P1150496“Everything that is done is for love… We put ourselves in the place of the other person and get down to work.”  (translated from article in today’s Noticias)  Grupo Salvando Vidas Oaxaca, those of us negotiating the sidewalks of Oaxaca offer you our very grateful muchisimas gracias!

Now if only someone could do something about vehicles making right and left turns without stopping or signaling.  Sigh…

Saturated in Guadalajara

Yesterday, 20 de noviembre, was el Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day), but you wouldn’t know it in Oaxaca.  For the second year in a row, the parade was canceled — last year it was due to protest threats by Sección 22 of the teachers union and this year because the governor declared that it was a work and school day, so there should be no desfile to distract students and their maestros.

Besides, in 2005, Article 74 of Mexican labor law established the third Monday of November as the “official” holiday — thus following the USA’s “time-honored tradition” of creating 3-day holiday weekends and setting the stage for 3-day shopping frenzies.  Mexico is following the latter also — we got caught up in the crowds of “Buen Fin” shoppers in Guadalajara last Sunday.  However, Monday, I was en route from the Guadalajara to Oaxaca aboard the new non-stop flight by TAR airlines.  Upon my return in the afternoon, I didn’t see or hear of anything special happening in Oaxaca city and there weren’t even any fireworks from the zócalo or Plaza de la Danza that night.

So, in lieu of a revolution-related blog post, I’m returning to the above mentioned visit to the state of Jalisco for a few super-saturated scenes from my seven hours in Guadalajara.


View from a courtyard at the Instituto Cultural de Cabañas


Cathedral of Guadalajara


View from the old bus terminal in Guadalajara

It’s great to be back under Oaxaca’s spell!  However, though not enchanted with Guadalajara (hence the desire to add pixie dust to the photos), it has some spectacular Orozco murals at the Palacio de Gobierno and the Instituto Cultural Cabañas.


Music to shop by

Monday, I returned to Oaxaca following a mini-vacation to the state of Jalisco to visit mi amiga J in Ajijic and to attend the annual Feria Maestros del Arte in Chapala.  It’s a nice place to visit, but I must admit, its appeal escapes me.  I guess I’m spoiled by Oaxaca’s countless charms, like today’s “music to shop by” at Mercado Sánchez Pascuas.

Muzak, it most definitely is not!

Looking up

Looking up in Villa de Etla last week.

P1150313The conversation continues…

Call me, maybe


“Telephones” on the street in Oaxaca.  Call me, maybe.   ;-)

Pretty in pink

Pretty in pink on the streets of Oaxaca…P1140835





And, this doesn’t even include the pink and lime green of Correos de México (Mexican post office).

Loving hands of San Antonino

Young and old, male and female…

it’s a family affair, labor of love…

as the tombs of San Antonino Castillo Velasco are painstakingly decorated on November 3.

Calacas & calaveras for Leo

This year, around and about Oaxaca during Día de Muertos, especially for my skeleton loving grandson.  (Click on images to enlarge)

Besos y abrazos, Abue. ;-)

Veruche vendor

Today I ventured down to Calle de Ignacio Rayón (the block between the Benito Juárez and 20 de Noviembre mercados) to purchase flowers for my Día de Muertos ofrenda (an altar of offerings).  On the list was cockscomb (cresta de gallo or borla de Santa Teresa), marigolds (cempasúchitl), and veruche (also known as flor de muertos).  I wasn’t alone, the sidewalks were crowded with other shoppers in search of the same traditional flowers, fruits, nuts, copal, and other items to place on their ofrendas.


Veruche is a tiny relative of the marigold that grows wild in the valley of Oaxaca at this time of year.  Yellow was the color of death in southern Mexico, long before the Spanish set foot on the continent and, along with the scent of the flowers and smoke from the candles and copal, it is thought to attract the difuntos (spirits of the dead) to bring them to the ofrendas prepared for them.

Muchisimas gracias to Shawn D. Haley for his informative presentation at the Oaxaca Lending Library on the Zapotec celebration of Día de Muertos.  Needless to say, I also purchased the book he coauthored with photographer Curt Fukuda, The Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca.

To borrow from Meredith Willson, it’s beginning to look a lot like Muertos…P1150004

Everywhere you go.


No “five and tens” here…


Just a street stall set up in Tlacolula de Matamoros.


Beginning to shop for my Día de Muertos ofrenda.

Visitors are coming…

The difuntos (departed) will be returning on November 1 and 2, but it’s the impending arrival of my very-much-alive friends from el norte who have inspired last minute painting and decorating.IMG_0044New outside entrance color to highlight wall hanging from Colima, gifted by my neighbor.

I miss you, too

She’s gone…

P1090814_copyAs feared, by order of the government, the beautiful and moving mural by Lapiztola, on the side of Museo Belber Jimenez, has been erased.

P1140922copyOnly her ghost remains.

P1140920 copyI miss her, too.  Color and culture, indeed, seem to be unwelcome.

I love going into Oaxaca’s cathedral at this time of year, when the fragrance of thousands of flowers, especially lilies, perfumes the air.


The Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción is being readied for October 23, the day Oaxaca celebrates Señor del Rayo.


Like Guelaguetza, Noche de Rabanós (Night of the Radishes), and Día de la Samaritana (Good Samaritan Day), this is an “only in Oaxaca” celebration.


This carving of Christ on the Cross was brought to Oaxaca during the 16th century and was placed in the temple of San Juan de Dios, a church which had adobe walls and a straw (or possibly wood) roof.


Legend has it that lightning struck the church and everything was destroyed, save for this figurine.  A miracle!


The statue became known as Señor del Rayo (Lord of Lightning), was placed in his own chapel (the furthest capilla from the main entrance on the left) in the newly built cathedral, and has been much venerated ever since.

P1140855October 21, in anticipation of his special day, the cathedral is festooned with lilies and Señor del Rayo is moved out of the glass case in his chapel, to the main altar of the cathedral.


October 22 will be filled with religious and cultural events and at midnight, when the calendar day changes, the cathedral bells will peal and cohetes (rockets) will announce the arrival of Señor del Rayo’s special day.


In honor of His day, on October 23, there will more spiritual and cultural festivities, culminating in a castillo and fireworks.


As the color and scent of the lilies fade, on October 24 Señor del Rayo will be returned to his chapel.

señor del rayo 2015 - copia

The end of eleven days of festivities celebrating Señor del Rayo.

Art of agave

Before a “suspendida” order is slapped on this stunning piece celebrating the human face of agave cultivation, here is another moving work of art for the people, seen on Tinoco y Palacio near the Sanchez Pascuas mercado.  It tells a story…

P1140381The wisdom of cultivation handed down from generation to generation.

P1140382From the agave comes mezcal.

P1140382lgThere are 199 “recognized” species of agave.  How many can be used to make mezcal?  The Mezcal PhD explores the answer.  And, for an illustrated guide to many of the more popular varietals, click The Many Varieties of Mezcal.


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