Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Where am I???

P1160526

Unfortunately, not Cuba.  (One of these days…)

P1160525

Saw it yesterday walking down Tinoco y Palacios, on my way home from Mercado Sanchez Pascuas.

P1160530_crop

Leather upholstery, wood steering wheel, and paneled dashboard — it’s one very cool vocho.

P1160532

However, when it comes to telling a color story, wish it had been parked a couple of blocks down the hill, in front of this wall. ;-)

Soledad’s morning glow

Yesterday, I opened my front door to the Basilica de la Soledad glowing in the morning light.  I grabbed my little Lumix and ran out to compose a photo to send as a Feliz Cumpleaños greeting to a friend celebrating his birthday.

P1160523

And the song, Morning Has Broken by Yusuf Islam (aka, Cat Stevens), began playing in my mind.  Ahhh…

Feria del Carrizo 2016

Because last year’s fair was so much fun and I’m still loving my lampshades, blogger buddy Chris and I returned to San Juan Guelavia yesterday for the 5th Feria del Carrizo.  Upon arriving, our first surprise was being directed to a dirt estacionamiento (one of my favorite words, means parking lot) next to, what looked to be, a rodeo arena.  It was quickly followed by surprise number two:  The plaza crowded with people — at least ten times the number as last year!  Aside from two friends who were leaving (arms filled with purchases), we didn’t see many extranjeros.  However, we ran into several friends from Teotitlán del Valle and Tlacolula and at lunch sat across from some visitors from Mexico City.

P1160386

P1160395

P1160456

P1160397

P1160406

We arrived just in time for the official ribbon cutting that signaled the opening of the fair.  We didn’t recognize any of the dignitaries, though most everyone else did and masses of cell phones rose high in the air to record the event.  Once the ceremonial duties were done, chairs were pushed back and a children’s folkloric dance group marched in to the familiar music of the China Oaxaqueña delegation heard during La Guelaguetza.  There was even a mini-torito (toritito?) wired with fireworks that was lit, though one of the little girls didn’t appear too thrilled.  And, as we wandered around, we could hear music that we recognized from some of the other regions of Oaxaca and we caught glimpses of more of the kids dancing.

P1160433

P1160417

P1160428

P1160446

P1160449

P1160462

Unfortunately, woven plastic baskets have become a more common sight at the markets in the valley of Oaxaca.  So, the growing popularity of the fair is good news for a community that has seen a decline in the demand for their beautiful handcrafted baskets made from carrizo (aka, Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed) — a tall perennial cane that grows along river banks in Oaxaca.  Besides traditional baskets and bird cages, the artisans have branched out to making lamps and shades, weaving decorative bottle covers for your mezcal, fashioning toys, and much more.  Naturally, I again couldn’t resist and happily came away with a new hamper.

P1160383

P1160455_port

P1160467

P1160492

The Feria del Carrizo is also happening next Sunday, February 7.  SO, if you are in the neighborhood (San Juan Guelavia is only about 20 minutes east of the city), I highly recommend a visit and be sure to also stop at the tiendas on road into town — that’s actually where I bought my new hamper (above).

Game of drones

Drones have arrived in Oaxaca; their hummy-buzzy sound is unmistakable.  My first “close encounter” of the drone kind down here was 2+ years ago at the Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos (baseball stadium) when a drone made an appearance at the Lluvia de Estrellas charity home run derby and softball game.

However, two weeks ago as I walked onto the Alameda, that telltale sound caught my ear and a low flying drone caught my eye.  Apparently, it was being used by the Pasión por Oaxaca to draw attention to their (political) organization’s booth.  “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!”

Then early yesterday morning, there was that sound again.  Looking out the window I could see a drone in the distance.  Of course, I grabbed my camera and went out to investigate.  I guess the operator/pilot saw me, because soon the drone was flying toward my terrace, then stopped to pose for several seconds, before flying off.

Sheesh, Señor DeMille, I was still in my pajamas and definitely NOT ready for my close-up!

Ahhh… a return visit to Centro de las Artes de San Agustín in early December still resonates.  The CASA, a former spinning and weaving factory, was re-imagined by artist Francisco Toledo and architect Claudina Morales Lopez.  Now it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing spaces I’ve ever experienced.  But, why have I never before noticied this?

Inside and outside, seen in black and white or color, wherever one looks, the attention to detail and design strikes, delights, and often surprises.

Worms in Oaxaca?

Have I mentioned most of the potting soil here leaves much to be desired?  As a result, over the past 6+ years, I’ve been experimenting with ways to enhance the soil I’ve been dealt to help my rooftop garden grow.  Besides, freezing (to speed up the fiber break down) and then adding green kitchen scraps, augmenting the soil with sawdust and sand, I’ve added worm farming to my arsenal.

Back in early August, blogger buddy and gardening guru Chris and I, armed with our new red bins, headed out to Sikanda (just outside Santa María del Tule) to purchase and be schooled in earthworm (lombriz, en español) farming.  P1130268

Our goal was to provide a nurturing environment for earthworms to go forth and multiply and to produce worm casting (aka: vermicompost, worm humus, worm manure) to enrich our soil.  Since then, I’ve spent the last five months keeping their home moist and feeding my worms more green kitchen waste, coffee grounds and tea leaves, and garden clippings.  Saturday, I finally harvested my first castings.

P1160366

There are several ways to separate the worms from their castings.  I chose the photosensitivity filter method — laying cheesecloth over another bin filled with compost and placing it in the sun, I transferred a thin layer of my worms and their castings onto the cheesecloth.

P1160365

Earthworms hate the sun and most quickly started burrowing down through the cheesecloth in search of cool moist darkness..  Once the worms had made their way into the moist compost of their new home (stragglers received hand-picked assistance), I removed the cheesecloth, now filled with worm-free castings, and dumped it onto my sifter, where I sifted the nutrient rich castings into my soil bin.

P1160372It’s rather time-consuming, but what else did I have to do on a Saturday?  It was well worth it and I get to do it all again in three to five months!

Women of the street

In Oaxaca city…

P1140033

P1150610

P1160356_copy

In Tlacolula de Matamoros…

P1140990

P1100121

P1100113

They are seen and they are watching.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in Teoti

As with all of life, there are changes going on in Teotitlán del Valle.  A large new Cultural Center is nearing completion.  It’s courtesy of the federal government and, according to the sign at the construction site, not a peso is coming from the state or village.  From what I’ve been told, it will house the museum, a library, and a performance space.

And, with their final Danza de la Pluma performance on Día de Guadalupe (Dec. 12), the three-year commitment of the last Danzantes de Promesa group was at close.  The new group has already begun the demanding work of learning the steps of the 40+ dances that make up the Danza de la Pluma.

P1160284

P1160279

P1160275

Under the watchful eye of El Picacho, Moctezuma, Malinche, Doña Marina, Teotitles, Capitánes, Reyes, and Vasallos practice from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Saturday through Monday to be ready for their debut the first Wednesday in July 2016 during the festival of the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.  A major and meaningful commitment, it is.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

Changes by David Bowie (descansa en paz)

Drivers’ ed Oaxaca style

If you drive in Oaxaca, you might want to take a stroll down the Alcalá today.  In front of MACO, there is an exhibition of rules of the road for the municipality of Oaxaca.

Who knew Oaxaca has an actual motor vehicle code???

 

If you have ever walked, biked, driven, or ridden, this comes as a pleasant surprise — *surprise* being the operative word!

However, I’m not sure how many drivers stroll the Alcalá…  Something tells me that those who need these lessons the most, probably don’t spend their Saturdays promenading along the capital city’s Andador Turístico.

Just so you know…  Licensing drivers is up to each state in Mexico and, according to Alvin Starkman, Oaxaca “has done away with virtually all licensing requirements relating to safety: no written test, no road test, no eye test.”  Consider yourself forewarned. ;-)

Brooms in waiting

Back in Oaxaca and it’s scenes like this that make me smile…

P1160198

At the Tinoco y Palacios entrance to the Mercado Sanchez Pascuas.  Otate waiting to be made into escobas (brooms)?

Hoops with a view

Basketball is big right now in the San Francisco Bay Area; as I write the Golden State Warriors are 35 and 2 and a new, albeit controversial, 18,000 seat arena is in the works.  But, I’ll bet it won’t have views like these…

P1150713

P1150709

Unlike in wider mestizo Mexico, where soccer reigns supreme, in the Sierra basketball is king. The sport was introduced in the 1930s by president Lazaro Cardenas as a way to bring Oaxaca’s disparate and historically rebellious indigenous groups into the national fold.

Cardenas’ dream of a unified national identity didn’t take root in the Sierra, which has historically been isolated and impoverished, but basketball soon became tied to the region’s most significan traditions, and to indigenous identity itself.  — Jorge Santiago

P1150706

P1150708

One of several canchas de baloncesto (basketball courts) in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca.

Masked and anonymous

A friend (who shall remain anonymous) was persuaded to model the mask I gave one of my sons for Christmas.

P1160177copy

It is the work of Apolinar Sosa, the son of distinguished carver Jesus Sosa Calvo and Juana Vicente Ortega Fuentes of San Martín Tilcajete.

P1160174crop

This mask won a prize and had actually been worn during the unique Carnaval celebration in the village.

P1160186

Don’t you love the tongue of dried chiles?

Gifts of nature & talent

I’m still in el norte, now on the west coast in the San Francisco Bay Area and it’s grey, raining, and cold.  The rain is a much needed gift in drought stricken California, but the ground has rapidly become supersaturated and this morning’s news reported a giant ficus falling across Mission St. in San Francisco, taking down streetcar lines.  I immediately flashed on Oaxaca’s ubiquitous, often topiaried, ficus trees.

However, I headed out into the storm and tuned into a Spanish language music station (I must be missing the soundtrack of my Mexican life) and was reminded today, January 6, is El Día De Los Reyes Magos (aka, Epiphany), when the Three Kings bring gifts to the children of Mexico.

P1030927 copy

My (grown) children received their gifts on December 25, not January 6, and last year each received a tapete woven by the talented Sergio Ruiz Gonzalez — brother of Antonio, who wove my new rug.  In the photo, that’s Sergio, his beautiful wife Virginia, and his lovely mother Emilia (of Lila Downs’ El Palomo del Comalito video fame).

However, I did receive an (unexpected) gift today — my former piano teacher (and forever friend) Greg Johnson stopped by to catch up.  And, besides his always upbeat and delightful company, he brought me his new CD, Crystalline Thrilled.  The guys of Glass Brick Boulevard are fabulous (as always) and guest artist Carlos Reyes shreds it on violin.  Check out Carlos playing  with Glass Brick Boulevard at the CD release party.  What a great regalo I received!

 

 

Murals of Callejón Hidalgo

In the category of “your just never know,” the two-block long Callejón de Hidalgo is a treasure-trove of murals.

P1150617P1130455

P1130457

P1130459

P1150618

And, there are more!  Located between Tinoco y Palacios and Porfirio Diaz above Calle Jesus Carranza, it’s well worth the trek up the hill.

Scenes from 2015

Muchisimas gracias to all my wonderful blog readers — for reading, for commenting, for sharing, for the opportunity to meet some of you, and for inspiring me to continue.  A look back at Oaxaca scenes that never made it into the blog…

January – Although spring was a couple of months away, the Primavera (Tabebuia chrysotricha) was already in bloom.

P1060506

February – Cattle car on the carretera outside Tlacolula de Matamoros on Sunday market day.

P1060782_crop

March – A quiet morning on Monte Albán.

P1080138

April – Decorating with agave flowers on Easter Sunday in Mitla.

P1080428

May – Police temporarily remove and replace Sección 22 on the zócalo.

P1090407_b&w

June – Though we arrived hours early for a festival in San Juan Guelavía, the sacred and profane were already present.

P1100087

July – A favorite view from my terrace, the African tulip trees in full bloom.

P1110098

August – At Casa Colonial the water lilies and hyacinths were stunning.

P1130550

September – Cochineal (the “perfect red” dye) exhibition at Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO).

P1130721

October – Returning from Teotitlán de Valle one morning, a globo was landing near San Mateo Macuilxochitl.

P1140703

November – On the way to Mercado Hidalgo in Colonia Reforma to buy Thanksgiving groceries, Our Lady of the Wires (?).

P1150510

December – Rooftop still life in El Centro.

P1150667

A long, strange, and fascinating trip it continues to be.  As another song says, Próspero año y felicidad!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 591 other followers

%d bloggers like this: