Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Behind every mask

I wonder…  What is artist Nicko Foster saying along the walls of calle Constitución?

Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.
–Marty Rubin

P1130219The human face is, after all, nothing more nor less than a mask.
Agatha Christie

P1100946I believe in my mask–The man I made up is me
I believe in my dance– And my destiny
Sam Shepard

Last night in B&W

Late last night, twelve buds on my pitaya burst open; my favorite the cluster of four at the top of the eight foot tall chain link fence.

P1130210cropB&WAlas, now, less than twenty hours after their night-blooming show began, they are no more.  Hopefully, the brilliant white flowers with their sweet scent attracted the desired pollinators, Dragon Fruit will begin forming at the base of the blossoms, the fruit will ripen to a blush red, and be ready to pick in 45 days (más o menos).

Very special Guelaguetza

The Plaza de la Danza was filled with cheering crowds early Sunday evening as ten girls and eight boys from Los Ángeles de Luz took the stage for the 13th edition of this very special Guelaguetza.  Perhaps it is because I have a special needs nephew or that both my sister-in-law and daughter-in-law are special ed teachers that I am drawn to this event every year.  In any case, the joy and pride exhibited by these young people with Down’s Syndrome, as they make the requisite costume changes and perform traditional dances from the eight regions of Oaxaca, always lifts my heart.

I had to leave before it ended, but hopefully through this slideshow I can share a little of the professionalism and accomplishment of these performers and the emotion experienced by those of us who had the privilege of being in the audience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

President of Los Ángeles de Luz, Flor Verónica García Ávilan explained in El Imparcial, that the group was formed after “realizing that contact with music, dance, and the audience makes them happy, cheerful, communicative, committed and disciplined beings, facilitating their development holistically within society.” [translated from Spanish]

And, I would like to add, for those of us watching their performance, it facilitates our acceptance of those who many be a little different from us.  If you are in Oaxaca for next year’s Guelaguetza festivities, try to attend this heartwarming and uplifting event.  Also, there is always a calenda (parade) a couple of days before AND scrambling for gifts tossed into the crowd after each dance.

A pause in La Guelaguetza action to remember…

It’s been ten months since that unspeakable night 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero went missing in Iguala.  They are not forgotten.  On the lower block of the Alcalá, an exhibition of sculptures by two Oaxaqueño sculptures, Victor Robinson and Emmanuel Guzman Sanchez is on display.

P1120991

One of the pieces, Faltan 43 y Faltamos Más (43 missing and we are missing more) speaks to the 43 students and to the countless others who have disappeared.

Guzman explains, that he feels it is necessary to speak out on social issues.  “I’m also installing a piece by the 43 missing normalistas; in this piece we find human remains and missing persons who do not know where they are; others that have been found in mass graves, and a broken country.”

P1120993

Three other students and three bystanders were killed outright and two dozen people were taken to hospital that horrific night.  Today’s CNN Mexico profiles one of the hospitalized students, Aldo Gutiérrez Solano, who remains in a coma.  The family must travel seven to eight hours to go from their home in Tultepec, Guerrero to Mexico City to sit at Aldo’s bedside.  According to his brother, Ulises, the bullet damaged 65% of his brain and “The prognosis is very bad.  Still in that state, is not yet known what will happen, how it will be.”  His family hopes for a miracle and that he will awaken to end the nightmare of Iguala.

Last Saturday, in the end, it did not rain on the parade.  With only minutes to spare before the first desfile of the Guelaguetza delegations was to begin, the torrential downpour stopped, the rockets sounded, bands played, and the delegates danced their way down Independencia.  I can’t believe how UN-bedraggled and energetic they were!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s hoping I managed to include one photo from each of the delegations in the slideshow above.

By the way, if you are in Oaxaca and planning to attend the second desfile tomorrow (July 25), see below for the parade route  — it has been changed!

Desfile2 ruta

Gastronomy, Oaxaca style

Oaxacan cuisine, with its pre-Columbian roots, is a major attraction and the state’s tourism board and restaurant association continue to do their utmost to promote this cultural heritage during the Guelaguetza festivities.  Last Friday, set amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Jardín Etnobotánico, it was the opening degustación (sampling) for the Festival de los Moles.       P1110341This was my fourth time attending this buffet luncheon celebrating the 7 moles of Oaxaca.  And, like the previous years, my plate was swimming in moles and I came away sated and smiling!

P1110337 The Expo Feria del Queso y Quesillo in Reyes Etla beckoned on Saturday.  When we arrived, students from the Universidad Tecnológica de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca were giving a demonstration on the cheese making process.

P1110422Despite how tempting the various cheeses looked, I only managed tiny tastes of a couple; Alas, I was just too full from the previous day’s feast to fully appreciate them.

P1110426However, by Sunday, my mouth was watering for wild mushroom empanadas, but we were foiled in our attempt to head up into the mountains for the Feria Regional de los Hongos Silvestres in San Antonio Cuajimoloyas.  A bike race had closed the highway and several of the major streets getting into and out of my part of town and, as you can imagine, alternate routes were gridlocked.  Grrrr…  I think the Guelaguetza events committee needs to rethink the schedule and transportation logistics!

Lucky for me, the Plaza de la Danza is only a block and a half from Casita Colibrí and so, late this morning, there were no impediments to walking over to the 10th Annual Feria del Tejate y el Tamal.  The women from the municipality of San Andrés Huayapam (about 7 kilometers northeast of the city), were ready and waiting to welcome visitors with their ancient drink and variety of tamales.

P1120599 The leis the women (above) are wearing are made from Rosita de Cacao flowers, one of the ingredients in tejate.  For the uninitiated, tejate is a foamy, quite refreshing, and nutritious non-alcoholic pre-Columbian beverage made from nixtamal corn, mixed with tree ash, toasted cacao beans, mamey seeds, and Rosita de Cacao flowers and is called, “la bebida de los Dioses” (the drink of the Gods).

P1120562The tejateras of the Unión de Mujeres Productoras del Tejate prepared and served their tejate to inquiring novices and aficionados, alike.  The sale of tejate is the main economic activity in San Andrés Huayapam.

P1120565

And then there were the tamales… Pots and baskets, covered with hand embroidered and crocheted tea towels, were filled with steaming tamales nestled in corn husks — verde, chapulin, amarillo, frijol, dulce, rajas, chepil, and chichilo.  If you’ve never tasted tamales in Oaxaca, you are missing something!

P1120551Huayapam’s chichilo tamales are well-known and loved.  Chichilo is one of the seven moles of Oaxaca and it is only served on special occasions, such as weddings and christenings or when the crops have been harvested.  It is made from chilhuacle negro, mulatto, and pasilla chiles; blackened tortillas and seeds of the chiles; and avocado leaves, the latter imparting a subtle anise flavor.  Of course, no tamal festival would be complete without mole tamales wrapped in banana leaves…

P1120557Today and tomorrow (July 22 & 23), if you are in Oaxaca, the Plaza de la Danza is THE happening place for tasting some delicious local specialties between 10:00 AM and 8:00 PM.  ¡Buen provecho!

Before the rains came to put a damper on Saturday’s Guelaguetza pre-parade photo-ops, there were these moments with with moms and dads readying their impossibly cute kids for the desfile.

This last was my favorite moment.  I think dad was hoping for a lovely portrait of his beautiful daughter in all her finery, but as he began to take her digital device away, she gave him a look that said, “If you think your going to get a smile out of me, you’ve got another think coming.”  So, I said, let her keep it — still no smile, but there was another hour before the scheduled start time and parental experience told me, better to keep her occupied!

To watch or listen to this year’s Guelaguetza performances live from Cerro Fortín today (July 20), and next Monday (July 27), at 10 AM and 5 PM (Central Daylight Time):  http://www.viveoaxaca.org/2015/07/Guelaguetza2015EnVivo.html

2015_07_20 delegaciones2015_07_27 delegaciones

Enjoy!

It was all about the braids as the delegations and storm clouds gathered along Independencia for the Guelaguetza desfile (parade).

P1110451P1110452P1110481P1110485P1110505The heavens opened, umbrellas unfolded, rain ponchos were donned, and cover was sought by spectators and delegations, alike. But, stay tuned, the show DID go on!

Mother Nature’s easel

Late yesterday afternoon, before the rains came, the African tulip tree in full blush against a sky drained of color…

African tulip tree in full bloom

Half and Half on Mother Nature’s easel in Oaxaca.

 

Masks of Juxtlahuaca

I love the carved masks worn in many of the traditional dances in Mexico and, thus, made a bee-line to the current exhibition at the Palacio de Gobierno, Máscaras de Juxtlahuaca — part of the month-long celebration of Guelaguetza.

Most of the masks in the show are the work of  Alejandro Guzman Vera, a native of Santiago Juxtlahuaca in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca.  He was born in 1972 and, as a young child, made his first mask of cardboard and painted it with crayons.  At age 12, he carved his first wooden mask.  He went on to study at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas and has become one of the premier mask-makers in Mexico.  He has exhibited world-wide and is one of the honored Grandes Maestros del Arte Popular de Oaxaca, profiled in the book by the same name.  By the way, he is not only a mask-maker, but also an accomplished musician and is playing a role in the rescue of the traditional music of Juxtlahuaca.

(Click on an image to enlarge it and to enable a slideshow.)

Dancers from Santiago Juxtlahuaca will be performing the Danza de los Rubios in the morning Guelaguetza presentation on July 27 and will, no doubt, be wearing masks, cracking their whips, and jingling their spurs during the Procession of Delegations on the preceding Saturday.  For a glimpse at the Danza de los Rubios and to get a feeling for some of the music Alejandro Guzman Vera is involved in saving, here is a snippet from last year’s Guelaguetza performance:

Masks are donned not only for the Danza de los Rubios, but also for the Danza de los Diablos and the Danza del Macho, which are performed at various annual festivals in the region.  Once carved and painted, the wooden masks can be embellished with glass eyes and real animal teeth and horns of bulls, goats, or deer.  They are an amazing sight to see!

The Máscaras de Juxtlahuaca exhibition at the Museo del Palacio in Oaxaca city closes August 28, 2015.

(This blog post is especially for you, Jane and Ken!)

Next Monday, the the 83rd annual modern Guelaguetza will commence on Cerro Fortín.  And so, the last of my photos from last year’s evening performance…

I’ll resume my coverage with the San Paliluú of San Antonio Huitepec a village from the Valles Centrales region.

IMG_4882IMG_4884IMG_4895San Pedro Comitancillo performed the Danzas y Sones de Mi Tierra from the Istmo de Tehuantepec region.

IMG_4908IMG_4918P1010316IMG_4920And then there was the Danza de la Pluma.  Moctezuma, Danzantes, Malinche, and Doña Marina from San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, in the Valles Centrales region, performed one of the dances that reenacts the story of the Conquest.

IMG_4943IMG_4966IMG_4961Loma Bonita in the Tuxtepec region, very near the the state of Veracruz, then took the stage with its rousing Rinconcito Oaxaqueño.

IMG_4983IMG_4997IMG_5018The sun began to set as 36 beautiful women from San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec in the Papaloapam region, wearing their with brightly colored huipiles, took to the stage for the crowd pleasing Flor de Piña.

IMG_5026IMG_5038

Darkness began to fall (making for challenging photography from 1/3rd of the way up from the Guelaguetza Auditorium stage), as the lively Sones and Chilenos danced by the delagation from the Costa region village of San Juan Cacahuatepec kept the energy flowing.

P1010363La Dote y el Tercel Día e Fandango from the dancers of San Antonino Castillo Velasco in the Valles Centrales region closed the evening’s performances.

P1010371As fireworks exploded over the Guelaguetza Auditorium, the band played, the audience took to its feet, and delegations reclaimed the stage to dance the evening’s Guelaguetza performance to a close.

Now on to La Guelaguetza 2015!

Calendas (parades) are already occurring on the city’s streets and banners advertising Guelaguetza events are hanging from street lights on the major calles.  Below are just a handful (or two) of the activities coming up.  (Click each poster for a larger and more readable image.)

For a more complete list, check out this schedule of events from the Secretaría de Turismo y Desarrollo Económico (Ministry of Tourism and Economic Development):

1HsFHBT

Storm clouds were gathering on Tuesday afternoon, as we drove out to Teotitlán del Valle for this year’s first performance of the Danza de la Pluma.  However, the clouds were chased away and the plaza in front of Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Jesucristo was bathed and blessed with the light and shadows of the golden hour.

P1100717P1100713P1100725P1100756Ahhh…

(ps)  For a Moctezuma eye view of the dance, check out Chris’s Moctezuma Cam post.

If you want an up close and personal fireworks experience, come to Oaxaca.  Of course, there are no guarantees you won’t find yourself in the line of fire.  No barricades, no yellow caution tape, no police!  I’ve seen hair singed, had a friend get pinhole burns on the inside of his glasses, and last night a projectile came careening toward us and had me ducking for cover.  However, as the saying goes, “no harm, no foul” and the spectacle was espectacular!

P1100852 cropIt began with 45+ minutes of the quema de toritos and angelitos.

They were followed by a spectacular castillo, a “firefall,” and traditional fireworks exploding against a clear black sky.

P1100930Late Tuesday night during this week’s fiesta honoring la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.  It was a fabulous — well worth spending the night in Teotitlán and staying up way past my bedtime!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 549 other followers

%d bloggers like this: