Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Hot town…

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head…

Weather

Two and a half months of 10º F above average temperatures.  This is getting ridiculous!!!

 

Fool on the wall

Day after day, alone on the [wall]
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still…

P1190515

The Fool On The Hill
by Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Day after day, alone on the hill
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he’s just a fool
And he never gives an answer

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around

Well on the way, head in a cloud
The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him
Or the sound he appears to make
And he never seems to notice

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around

And nobody seems to like him
They can tell what he wants to do
And he never shows his feelings

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around

He never listens to them
He knows that they’re the fools
They don’t like him

The fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around

 

Birds of a feather

Sitting in the morning sun…

P1190521

Watching my feathered friends find my new fountain.

Beginning again

Sunday, May 15 was Día del Maestro in Mexico.  In Oaxaca the day honoring teachers was marked by the teachers of Sección 22 marching back into the zocalo, setting up their tents, and installing the ambulantes (vendors) under their protection.  Sunday night and again Tuesday night, Tlaloc unleashed massive thunderstorms on the city.

Despite weather, dwindling support for the union (93% of schools are reported to be open), and threats to strikers of being fired, the occupation remains and a federal police helicopter makes its daily low-flying circle of the city.

And so it goes…

I know I promised that Talavera transformation, the end was the end of the talavera tile projects.  However, what can I say?   It’s been almost two years and the outdoor counter was too small to be functional, not to mention that the 25+ year old glass tiles kept loosening and falling off the sink area.

P1040210

Modeled after my kitchen sink project, two other kitchens in my apartment complex had recently received a facelift and had used up most of the tiles squirreled away in the bodega.   But, I was determined and the expansion project began.

P1190284

Despite the lack of tiles, the previously mentioned, Sebastián and Leonardo began framing the new counter top.  The first attempt at purchasing more tiles at Materiales Venecia (on the way to Tule) ended in a police bloqueo.  We (thank you, Chris) turned around and headed over to Home Depot.  No talavera tiles.  Then Romasa.  Also, no dice.

P1190379

Push came to shove, the tiling needed to begin!  So, the following day, we again set out for Materiales Venecia — this time, smooth sailing and success.  With dimensions, a design, and a calculator in hand, the math was done (while squatting on the sidewalk) and boxes of green and dark terracotta tiles were purchased.

P1190389

I’d bought the accent pieces years ago at a Oaxaca Lending Library bazaar, had planned the design around them, and was SO glad to finally see them being put to use.

P1190392

After two weeks of on again/off again work, depending on their work schedule and my ability to obtain materials, the counter was finished and I immediately went out in search of stools, so I could belly-up to the bar to sip my morning coffee and sunset glass of wine.

P1190499

I love it!  And, besides serving as a delightful place to eat breakfast and dinner, the added storage under the counter is fantastic.  No more looking at the plastic garbage cans holding dirt, stacks of buckets, and leftover paint cans — thanks to shower curtains.

P1190482

What’s next?  Who knows…

Tree of fire

Today, Santo Domingo de Guzman served as a backdrop to the red/orange of the Flamboyán trees (aka, Delionux regia, Tabachín, Poinciana, Árbol de fuego) that line her front entrance.

P1190407

Their fiery brilliance provided a much-need antidote to the malaise brought about by two months of temperatures in the nineties (Fahrenheit) almost every single day.  I can assure you, this is NOT the norm.  However, today it’s only 86º F — as the Weather Underground forecast announced, “much cooler” than yesterday!

Cultural callejón

Back to Havana… and the colorful and captivating Callejón de Hamel, in Barrio Cayo Hueso.  (For a more in depth and fascinating history of this neighborhood, see Neighborhood as Refuge: Community Reconstruction, Place Remaking, and Environmental Justice in the City  by Isabelle Anguelovski.)

It was our first full day and serendipity and synchronicity brought us Dayan, an enthusiastic guide with boundless energy and pride.

Without hesitation, Dayan immediately made a beeline to this alley  — the creation of self-taught artist, Salvador González Escalona.  It is a living, breathing gallery and studio, where artists were welding and painting as we stopped to watch and wonder at their creations.

The cultural character of this community cannot be separated from its religious traditions and practices — a syncretism of African religions brought by slaves and Catholicism brought by the Spanish conquerors.  Salvador Gonzáles Escalona explains, “I am talking about the religion known as Santería, which comes from the Yorubas; Palo Monte, which comes from the Congo; Abakuá, which has to do with Calabar [the Cross River Delta in Nigeria]; and maybe some manifestations of spiritism, a cultural expression of working class people, the ordinary folks in our country.”

Callejón de Hamel is also home to a vibrant musical scene.  “In this alley many years ago, in the 40’s, a cuban musical movement was born, known as ‘filin,’ songs of feeling, with our friend Angelito Díaz and his now deceased father, Tirso Díaz. There were figures such as Elena Burque, the late Moraima Secada, aunt of Jon Secada, Omara Portuondo [featured in Buena Vista Social Club], César Portillo de la Luz, and many others.” — Salvador Gonzáles

On Sundays, around noon, the street comes alive with musicians, dancers, and the sights and sounds of Cuban rumba.  Alas, around that time, we were in the midst of changing hotels.  Next time, for sure!

Eyes are watching

Back in Oaxaca… I don’t know the story of this mural that recently appeared at the corner of Allende and Tinoco y Palacios.  However, on this Mother’s Day (in the US), it seems appropriate.

A mother’s eye is always watching…

Whose Paseo de Prado?

A week and a half ago, we were strolling Havana’s Paseo de Prado.  It was a sunny, blue-sky, already hot and humid Saturday morning.  Amid the backdrop of crumbling, but not abandoned, buildings, vendors had set up their stalls…

P1180603

and were ready to sweet talk a tourist or two into buying a tchotchke or three or four.

P1180601

Locals walked purposefully down the uncrowded promenade.

P1180602crop

All was tranquil, save for those gathered on one of the blocks (middle of the image below) to buy and sell properties.

P1180600

The scene and the people were a far cry and a world apart from the glitz and glamour of the Chanel fashion show staged along that same paseo yesterday.  The average monthly wage in Cuba is the equivalent of $20 (US), thus I find the spectacle of European haute couture prancing down the Prado, in the center of Havana, deeply troubling — never mind the exploitative use of stereotypes.   Here’s what local Cuban designer, Idania del Rio had to say:

“I think that catwalk is going to be more for Chanel than for Cuba. I don’t know whether the people here in Cuba are ready for this type of product.”

Nevertheless, as a fashion designer she was curious: “I want to see what $40,000 clothing looks like,” she said.

Afterwards, the 33-year-old was not entirely impressed: “It was very interesting and maybe too nostalgic. A lot of Cuban cigars, colours and hats from another era. It represented a Cuba that doesn’t interest me right now, because today’s Cuba is another, more contemporary Cuba.”

I’m glad we weren’t still there; I don’t think I could stomach the over-the-top excess versus the real need we saw around every corner.  I don’t know…  Does Cuba really want to return to it’s decadent pre-revolutionary role of being playground to the world’s wealthy?  Trickle down economics has an abysmal track record, so I’m not sure that it’s the best model for Cuba to follow

Crosses & construction

This morning, I awoke to the familiar, if startling, sounds of cohetes (rockets).  Oh right, it’s Día de la Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross).  Alas, no pilgrimage hike up Cerro Picacho for us this year; we are still in recovery from our island adventure AND, more importantly, even at 7:30 AM, it is too darn hot!  Have I mentioned Oaxaca has been experiencing 90º – 96º F temperatures for the past month?  That’s 10º F above average.  Exhausting it is and sweltering we are.

However, before the sun was directly overhead, I returned to Benito Juárez mercado hoping my coffee guy would be there.  He wasn’t, but many of the stalls had beautifully decorated alters, fragrant with the sweet scent of flor de mayo (plumeria) blossoms.

P1190351

In Mexico, it is also Día del Albañil, the feast day of the stonemason/bricklayer/builder because, according to this article (en español):

Before the Conquest, the indigenous Mesoamerican related to the cross with the cardinal directions of the Indian cosmography north, south, east, west and central graphically formed the cross.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, this evocation was eradicated and replaced by religious symbolism of the Holy Cross.

Since then the celebration of this feast with the construction of houses, churches, monasteries, and other buildings with Indian labor was established.

P1190368

However, Sebastián and Leonardo continued working on my new counter.  And, yes, there will be tile!

No place like home

A pause in the Cuba coverage to echo Dorothy, “There’s no place like home” — especially if that home is Oaxaca.  I needed (yes, needed!) chocolate and coffee and, thus, headed toward the Benito Juárez and 20 de noviembre mercados.  As always, even just a grocery shopping trip is a feast for the senses.

P1190316

First, a calenda on Calle Independencia of students, academics, and workers to launch the registration of candidates for rector of Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UAJBO).

P1190325

A peek into el pasillo de las carnes asadas (ahhh, the smells) in 20 de noviembre mercado, while waiting for my chocolate guy to finish with other customers.

P1190329

A look at the finished murals (and merchandise) in a newly opened shop at Calle Macedonia Alcalá 100.

P1190332

Stopping to gaze up at the “Aves Sin Paraíso” exhibition above the Alcalá.

 

P1190340

Almost back to Casita Colibrí, a new stencil at the corner of Morelos and Tinoco y Palacios.

By the way, I got the chocolate, but couldn’t find my coffee guy in the maze of temporary stalls set up on the streets surrounding the Benito Juárez mercado (it’s undergoing a much-needed renovation).  There’s always mañana — I’m not completely out, yet.

What can one say about a country that celebrates a poet/essayist/philosopher/journalist as a national hero?  Granted, José Martí was also a fierce fighter for Cuban independence from Spain and died in battle on May 19, 1895, shot by Spanish troops in Dos Ríos, Cuba.

However, it is his writings that appear to be his most powerful and lasting legacy.  Exiled from Cuba due to his political activity against Spain, he spent many years in the United States and while there, he wrote a passionate report following the 1886 execution by hanging in Chicago of the Haymarket martyrs.  And so, let’s commemorate this May Day with words from José Martí…


Every human being has within him an ideal man, just as every piece of marble contains in a rough state a statue as beautiful as the one that Praxiteles the Greek made of the god Apollo.  — José Martí

P1180398

Memorial José Martí, Plaza de la Revolución, Havana

To educate is to give man the keys to the world, which are independence and love, and to give him strength to journey on his own, light of step, a spontaneous and free being.  — José Martí

P1180432

Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, Havana

Men are like the stars; some generate their own light while others reflect the brilliance they receive.  —José Martí

P1180440

Display at the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, Havana

Man can never be more perfect than the sun. The sun burns us with the same light that warms us. The sun has spots (stains).  The ungrateful only talk about the spots (stains). The grateful talk about the light.  — José Martí, La edad de oro

P1180268

Courtyard of El Sitial Moncada, Havana

In a time of crisis, the peoples of the world must rush to get to know each other.  — José Martí

P1180702

Bookseller stall in the Plaza de Armas, Havana


I have a white rose to tend
In July as in January;
I give it to the true friend
Who offers his frank hand to me.  — José Martí

P1180353

Dagoberto, our waiter at a bar on the grounds of Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, Havana — the white rose he made and presented to me

If translated back into Spanish, those last words may sound familiar to you…

Cultivo una rosa blanca,
En julio como en enero,
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.

This Playing for Change YouTube video may refresh your memory, then there is Pete Seeger.  The above is one of four stanzas from Martí’s Versos Sencillos that are often used as lyrics to Guantanamera.

Vintage cars of Havana

In a time long ago, in a land far away, my mother bought a 1955 red and white Ford Fairlane convertible with red and white leather upholstery and a V8 engine.  What a car!  With top down, several road trips from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles ensued.  And, “Betsy” even bumped along dirt roads and forded streams on camping trips up to Mount Lassen.  We had her for ten years before repeated repair trips had my mother saying, “Enough!!!” and trading her in.  It was a very sad day.  What almost 16-year old wants to learn to drive a big boring pale yellow 1965 Ford Fairlane station-wagon?!

However, Betsy lives on the streets of Cuba!!!  Last week’s Havana vacation had me seeing her and her older and younger Ford brothers and sisters everywhere — even Edsel!

Also there were her cousins.  Most of the vintage cars, known as almendrones in Cuba, are taxis and, once destination and price are agreed to, they ply the streets taking passengers from point A to point B.

Though often they just cruise up and down the Malecón seeing and being seen enjoying the sea breeze and spectacular setting.  It’s an especially popular pastime among tour groups and wedding parties.

The Stills and Young wistful elegy to Neil Young’s first car, Long May You Run, keeps playing in my mind.

Long May You Run

We’ve been through
some things together
With trunks of memories
still to come
We found things to do
in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Well, it was
back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift
on the long decline
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Maybe The Beach Boys
have got you now
With those waves
singing “Caroline No”
Rollin’ down
that empty ocean road
Gettin’ to the surf on time.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

To the vintage cars of Cuba, long may you run!!!  And, for those concerned, as we were, about collectors coming in and sweeping up many of the 60,000 old American cars, according to a couple of articles I’ve read, that might not be the case.  Because of their age and the US embargo, “the cars have jerry-rigged modifications” that make them undesirable to collectors.  Then there is the pride owners have in their cars…

Cristian Paez, 40, said he has no intention of letting go of his 1956 purple and beige Bel Air convertible, purchased long ago by his grandfather. ‘Not possible,’ declares the burly 40-year-old, not for any price. ‘I love driving this car.'”

Stay tuned here and on Oaxaca-The Year After for more on the Havana adventure.

Mi piña

Remember the pineapple growing in my rooftop container garden?  Upon returning from a week-long magical mystery trip (more about that to come) last night, I discovered mi piña was more than ready to harvest.

P1190258

The fragrance beckons… breakfast tomorrow!!!

Walls of Oaxaca

The murals may be disappearing, but the walls of Oaxaca continue to radiate with messages.

P1180042

P1170440

P1160805

2016_04_26 Blog Walls of Oaxaca

P1170834

Oaxaca, never a dull moment and never a dull wall.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 603 other followers

%d bloggers like this: