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Fridays during Lent must mean the “only in Oaxaca,” Paseos Florales del Llano or Viernes del Llano, the Friday pageant through Llano Park by young female preparatoria (high school) students and their spear, oops, I mean flower, carriers.

Some will teeter on spiky heels (tacones, en español); others will opt for the less sexy, safer, maybe even edgy, and definitely more comfortable “flats” look.

According to this article, there was a tradition in Oaxaca to pay homage to women — to honor them for the important role they play in the support of the family.  The ritual died out, but was resurrected in the seventies by the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO) to recover religious and family values.  And so, for five Friday mornings during Lent, action in Oaxaca centers in Llano Park.  Along with the young women, there will be fans…

and bands…

Monos and clowns.

But the stars of the show are the young women; this Friday from Preparatoria 6.  They ranged from the natural to the glamorous.

There are winners — I think based on the number of flowers they collect from their friends, families, and fans.  However, in what seems to be a popularity contest, there is joy and sisterhood expressed by all; that is where their beauty shines through.

If you are in Oaxaca, or will be in Oaxaca in the next few weeks, check it out for yourself.

viernes del llano 2015 ciudad de Oaxaca

Please note, the early start!  I arrived around 8:15 AM and, unlike previous years, couldn’t get close to the paseo.  Chris at Oaxaca-The Year After rolled in at 9 AM and it was all over but the posing, departures, and detritus.

Rebellion shout the people

It’s been five months since 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero went missing.  Their parents, the people of Mexico, and growing numbers around the world continue to ask, Who is Really Responsible?

A mural recently appeared along a very long wall at the entrance to Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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As I’ve previously mentioned, one of missing is Cristian Tomás Colón Garnica from Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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I realized, as I was processing the photos, each panel of the mural incorporates a letter.  One has to stand back (in the street) to see words materialize.  However, when we went back to Tlacolula on Sunday, there were cars and trucks parked in front of most of the mural and all we could see was, “Vivos 43.”  I would love to hear from you, if you know the full text.

Flags flying

Yesterday was Día de la Bandera (Flag Day) in Mexico.  Hmmm, I don’t think these were the flags they had in mind…

The flags that were flying on the streets of Oaxaca were those carried by the members of the Integrantes del Frente de Organizaciones Sociales, Campesinas, Urbanas, Pesqueras y del Transporte (FOSCUPT), an umbrella group of more than forty social organizations, peasants, urban workers, fishers, and transport workers.  Thousands marched from the Fuente de las Ocho Regiones (Fountain of the 8 Regions) to the zócalo.  Besides flags, there were banners and burros…

And Devils Dance street theater from an Afromexicano group, probably from the Costa Chica.

After marching and playing for miles, the destination was reached; the bote player took a break and gals from San Pablo Tijaltepec went and got something to drink.

According to this article, the mobilization was to reject bad structural policies and funding cuts being made in the peasant sector and requesting the federal government turn their eyes to Oaxaca.  In addition, Jesus Romero López, leader of FOSCUPT, among other demands, called for justice for the social and political leaders who have been killed and for better urban planning, stating that the city is growing in a disorganized way, often resulting in neighborhoods with no water, electricity, or paved streets.

If it’s Domingo…

If it’s Sunday, it must be market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Women doing their marketing.

Women doing their marketing, and the men who follow.

Carne for the carnivores

Carne, right off the hoof, for the carnivores.

Delicious dining for the rest of us!

And, delicious dining for all!

Another delightful domingo in Oaxaca.

White limousine

We used to ride, baby
Ride around in limousines  P1060799We looked so fine, baby
You in white and me in green

P1050480Drinking and dancing
All inside and crazy dream

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Well now look at your face now baby
Look at you and look at me

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We used to shine, shine, shine, shine
Say what a pair, say what a team

P1060804We used to ride, ride, ride, ride
In a long [white] limousine*

Saturday is wedding day in Oaxaca.

*Lyrics from Black Limousine by the Rolling Stones.

 

Masked and anonymous in Oaxaca

Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete means devils…

Pirates and clowns…

Unknown creatures from the imaginative minds of their creators…

And these masterpieces from this village known for its wood carving…

Carnaval in San Martín Tilcajete also means men dressed as women, a mock wedding, and young men covered in motor oil running through the village with belts of cowbells ringing.  Stay tuned…

I’ve looked at clouds today

Rows and flows of angel hairP1060825

And ice cream castles in the air

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And feather canyons everywhere

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I’ve looked at clouds that way.

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell.

Love and friendship

February 14th isn’t just a day for lovers.  In Mexico, it is known as the Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship).  Oaxaca’s balloon, chocolate, and flower vendors do a booming business and restaurants are usually filled to capacity with friends, sweethearts, and families.

Heart decorations hanging on tree

I fell in love with Oaxaca the first time I saw her when visiting a friend in 2007.  Who wouldn’t when the guitars and harmonies of Trio Santo Domingo drew us to the zócalo on a balmy August evening!  Thus, my gift to you on this day of love and friendship:

La amistad es lluvia de flores preciosas”  (Friendship is like a shower of precious flowers) —  line from a Nahuatl poem.

Return to Guelavía

Sunday, we returned to San Juan Guelavía, in search of Teresa, the gal from last week’s post about the Feria del Carrizo.  With her address, family name, and measurements in hand, I was hoping to commission her to make a couple of lampshades for me.  However, there are no detailed street maps for these small villages, so we had to rely on the tried and true, stopping to ask for directions, method.

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Outside the church (which, for some reason, was closed this week) we asked, “Where is calle 5 de mayo?”  This is a village with a population of less than 3,000 people, thus the reply, “Who are you looking for?”  We said, “Teresa.”  He responded, “She makes baskets?”  Us, “Yes.”  Him, “Hmmm… which family?”  Fumbling with my notes, I came up with, “Hipolito!”  “Ahhh, sí!”

Then directions rapidly cascaded from his mouth to our ears.  They included many derechos, derechas, a puente, and dos tienditas.  All of this was in Spanish and we turned to each other and asked, “Did you get all that?”  We concurred, probably 80%.  Hey, we’re getting better at this.  Of course, we made a wrong turn or two, went too far south on 5 de mayo, and had to ask a few more people along the way, but eventually we found it!

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On the right side of the dirt road, heading south, there is a painted number 46 slightly visible on concrete pole.  It made sense that #48 might be behind the Mini Super and so we pulled in and began walking to the back.

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People began materializing and we kept repeating, “Teresa.”  Then, there she was, emerging from sitting under a tree, recognizing us from last week, and smiling broadly!  Immediately, two chairs were brought out and placed in the shade for us.  The warm and welcoming hospitality of Oaxaqueños is something to behold.

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It’s a family business and once Teresa and I had worked out the size and shape for the two lampshades, the littlest guy above, brought out a small basket with a 15 peso price sticker.  I asked him if he had made it, and he very proudly nodded “yes.”  Needless to say, I couldn’t resist.

We will return in ten days to pick up my new lampshades and, perhaps, make a few other purchases.

Men at work

Lots of street action around the city these days, and I don’t just mean marches and blockades!  They’ve been hard at work on an Andador Semipeatonal (semi-walking street) since ground was broken on November 24, 2014.

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Garcia Vigil has been a construction zone from Templo del Carmen Alto up to the Cruz de Piedra.  No cars and trucks allowed, but we pedestrians can walk right on through.

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The work on this and the four other downtown streets that have been earmarked for “rescue” and “beautification” is mostly done the old-fashioned way.  What can I say?  I love the sound of hammer and chisel!

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According to news reports, the street will be spiffed up with garbage bins, benches, and planters.  Ramps for people with limited mobility and signs for the visually impaired are in the plan, though a bike lane is only contemplated.

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Oaxaqueñ@s work really hard!

 

My security blanket

Coiled razor wire on roof

Seeing red

February 2, besides being Groundhog Day in the USA, is Candelaria in Mexico.  And so, late Monday morning, I went in search of Niño Díos.  None was to be found in the vicinity of the Cathedral.  Only the traditional red huipiles of the female Triqui members of MULT caught my eye.

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I continued my quest, heading up to Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.  However, as I walked through Llano park, no one was carrying a Niño Díos, dressed in this year’s finery, to the church to be blessed.  Only a giant red horse sculpture by Oaxaqueño artist, Fernando Andriacci (and its red feedbag?) was there to see.

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I turned west and headed for home, hoping I might possibly spot a Niño Díos as I passed Templo del Carmen Alto.   But no, only a red-shirted water delivery man caught my eye.

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Funny, if we allow ourselves to see things as they are and not as how we expect them to be, we can return home with something completely different and delightful from what we had set out to find.

A-tisket, a-tasket…

This poster for a Feria del Carrizo arrived in my email inbox a few weeks ago.  There are ferias (fairs) for just about everything, so why not, carrizo?  Plus, I’d never been to San Juan Guelavía, though I’ve noticed the sign announcing its exit every time I’ve gone to or from Teotitlán del Valle and points south on route 190.

feria del carrizo 2015 guelavia_med

The uninitiated might ask, what is carrizo?  As the Wikipedia entry advises, “Carrizo” should not be confused with “chorizo” the pork sausage.  Carrizo (aka, Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed) is a tall perennial cane that one can easily spot growing along river banks in Oaxaca.  (It kind of looks like bamboo.)  In fact, if you see a stand of carrizo, you can be almost certain there is a stream nearby.  Along with constructing shade structures, window coverings, and mezcal cups, one of its most common uses is in woven basketry.

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They range from the simple and utilitarian to the elegant shapes and complex designs that make them a works of art.

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And, to those in search of hard-to-find lamps and lampshades, check out the work of Teresa.  With measurements of my cast iron standing lamp (in desperate need of a new lampshade) in hand, I plan to pay a visit, muy pronto, to her studio at 5 de mayo, #48 in San Juan Guelavía.

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In the meantime, a-tisket, a-tasket I bought a carrizo basket.  And, it’s already elicited several compliments!

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Of course, when the band played, La Mayordomía, this little girl knew exactly what baskets are for!

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Artistry under blue sky and sun, with delicious food, a terrific all-girl band, surrounded by warm and welcoming people.  It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

Two hours in Oaxaca

4:40 PM - Bloqueo by motos at  the corner of Morelos & Crespo

4:45 PM – Bloqueo (blockade) by moto-taxis at the corner of Morelos & Crespo

5:10 PM - Lucha Libre presentation at Oaxaca Lending Library by artist Charles Barth

5:10 PM – Lucha Libre presentation at Oaxaca Lending Library by artist and Lucha Libre fan, Charles Barth

6:50 PM - Fire above Xoxocotlán seen from Casita Colibrí.

6:45 PM – Fire above Xoxocotlán seen from Casita Colibrí.

Dancing in the dark

For the past six months, the zócalo has played reluctant host to a game of “now you seem them, now you don’t” by the ambulantes (unlicensed vendors) who are “attached” to Sección 22 of the teachers who have been occupying the zócalo since the summer.  During that time, behind-the-scenes negotiations seem to have occurred that has the vendors departing for various “high season (tourist) events.  Most recently, a last-minute deal cleared the zócalo and Alameda de León of vendors for Noche de Rabanos.

When I returned two weeks ago, the walkways were still open.  However, sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning the ambulantes returned…

Meanwhile, the real story of the still missing Ayotzinapa 43 has yet to be told, teachers and just about every other sector of Oaxaca’s working class continue to march, occupy, and blockade.

Sheesh, a simple trip out to Etla for lunch on Friday had the us coming up to a blockade (this time by state police) just after Santa Rosa.  My taxi was forced to turn left and take the “scenic route” down by the Rio Atoyac and then back up to the Carretera 190 at Viguera, where we came up to the massive statue of Benito Juárez (in the middle of the road) that presides over this major intersection, but also with more flashing red and blue lights and state police with automatic weapons than I have ever seen before.  This is where I got out; you can pick up the rest of the story on Chris’s blog.

My new favorite website is the Facebook page, bloqueos y accidentes en oaxaca.  But, mostly, we’re just dancing in the dark…

 

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