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Mask up!

Even if you’re just going out for coffee, mask up!

A reminder from the shutters outside Café Brújula in Plaza Santo Domingo on Macedonio Alcalá. Artist: Mister D.

Who’s on first?

Does anyone remember the Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” baseball routine? If not, check out the link — it’s still pretty funny and, at least to me, speaks to the confusion regarding news of Oaxaca beginning to lift the “quédate en casa” orders.

Mexico is using a stoplight system (Semáforo) to illustrate the COVID-19 risk of spread, with rojo (red) being the highest level of contagion, thus only essential services allowed to operate and people instructed to stay home. Oaxaca is still at red and for the past three months, in addition to closed museums and canceled church services, shuttered restaurants, hotels, businesses, and street stalls have been the norm.

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However, given much of the state’s population relies on the informal economy and there is essentially no social safety net, economic hardship pushed the governor to announce on Sunday a reopening of businesses (albeit with restrictions on capacity, mask wearing, etc.) beginning July 5. Then on Monday morning, merchant leaders announced they would be reopening on July 1.

No matter if it’s July 1 or 5, I’m continuing as if nothing has changed. You will not find me dining in restaurants, shopping for a new falda (skirt), or browsing in art galleries. And, according to an article in today’s NVI Noticias, some of the hoteliers are not one hundred percent on board, either. The (translated) headline read, “We could go bankrupt, but we are not going to expose lives while the light is red.” With this accelerated reopening, it’s no doubt going to get worse before it gets better. So, to all the people who are anxious to visit Oaxaca, I continue to say, “For your safety and the safety of Oaxaca, please stay away until the light turns green.”

Update: In an extraordinary session yesterday (July 1, 2020), the city council of Oaxaca de Juárez unanimously voted to to extend the restrictions and preventive measures against COVID-19 while the light continues to be red.

Pretty June pictures

When the outings are few and far between and limited to walking distance, I’m appreciating the views from and around Casita Colibrí even more.

June 3, 2020 – Templo de San Felipe Neri in early morning

June 3, 2020 – Jasmine in the afternoon

June 4, 2020 –  Wind chimes in the late afternoon

June 5, 2020 – Crocosmia around noon

June 5, 2020 – Looking southeast over the city in early evening

Be safe and well and look for the beauty.

What next?

This morning’s headline in NVI Noticias: Oaxaca revive pesadilla de los sismos en lo más álgido de la epidemia por COVID-19 (Oaxaca relives the nightmare of earthquakes in the height of the epidemic by COVID-19). I wasn’t in Oaxaca for the 8.1 earthquake September 7, 2017, so I don’t know what it felt like. However, I still have vivid memories of experiencing the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. As scary as that one was, yesterday’s 7.5 temblor was definitely more violent and lasted longer.

The good news is I, my neighbors, and all my friends in Oaxaca are okay and the city sustained mostly minor damage. However, there is much devastation to roads, homes, and other structures closer to the epicenter near Huatulco. And, saddest of all, the death toll is now up to seven. For a more complete report, with dozens of photos, click on the article, Suman siete muertos por el terremoto.

Two months ago work stopped on the roof and bell tower of Templo de San José — due to virus restrictions on construction sites. This morning, workers returned to check out earthquake damage.

This, and the state of Oaxaca’s coronavirus statistics, like most of Mexico, continue to rise precipitously. And, unfortunately, many of the hospitals near the quake’s epicenter sustained damage. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Side by side statistics: June 19 and June 23. Grey=cases notified; green=negatives; orange=suspected; red=confirmed; turquoise=recovered; black=deaths

Oh, and did I mention, we have had massive rain storms the last two nights? We are all wondering what is next, locusts?

Yikes, look what I found on my screen door this morning! At least in Oaxaca, we know what to do with chapulines (grasshoppers) — toast them on a comal with lime and salt. They are a great source of protein. Yummm…

Mood on the streets

From the streets of Oaxaca, Benito Juárez is masked and throwing hand sanitizer, as the Covid-19 denier-in-chief looks down from el norte.

Police violence and protests captured on cell phones and broadcast live on the internet fill our screens and walls.

George Floyd, plus countless others, are dead but not forgotten.

There is no joy in Oaxaca as the twin plagues of the virus and racism command our consciousness here, there, and everywhere.

Seriously cereus bees

It was early morning in the garden and the clock was ticking. She isn’t called a Night Blooming Cereus for nothing.

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First one approached.

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It was followed by others. However, these weren’t friends and this wasn’t a party, it was seriously cereus work.

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That is about as exciting as it gets at Casita Colibrí during these days of Covid-19 under the “semáforo rojo” — the red stoplight — as contrasted with orange, yellow, and the much longed for green. Stay safe!

Last Sunday’s scenes

Last Sunday morning’s walk took us up and across Niños Heroes (aka, highway 190) into Barrio de Xochimilco and Colonia La Cascada. The (albeit sporadic) rains have begun, the field-burning has ended, and planting has begun. Thus, the air was fresh and the sky was varying shades of blue — depending on direction and hour. Humans and Mother Nature showed off their creativity. So, we kept walking…

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Dancing on the walls

There will be no dancing in the streets or up on Cerro del Fortín this year. Due to Covid-19, La Guelaguetza, Oaxaca’s “máxima fiesta” has been canceled. However, thanks to the artist Bouler (Uriel Barragán), a few of the dancers can be seen dancing on the walls of Barrio de Jalatlaco.

Image of male China Oaxaqueña dancer carrying star

Image of Flor de Piña dancer

Image of male China Oaxaqueña dancer carrying a marmota.

If his work looks familiar, it is because this image from two weeks ago is part of the above series. In addition, he also painted the mural honoring Macedonio Alcalá in Jardín Carbajal.

Dear friends and lovers of Oaxaca,

While the areas where you live may be loosening up on Covid-19 precautions, Oaxaca is not. Cases and deaths continue to rise at an alarming rate and, as a result, a few days ago the governor instituted a ten-day shelter-in-place order. Masks are mandatory in public, we are not to leave our homes except for groceries, medications, or medical treatment, limits have been put on bus service, and the hours and days of the mercados have been significantly reduced.

Photo from Facebook page of the Mexican Dreamweavers

While tourism provides the economic life-blood of Oaxaca and restaurants, hotels, and artisans would welcome your business, the people and medical infrastructure cannot afford the Covid-19 virus that might come along with you and your dinero. Oaxaca is one of the poorest and most indigenous states in Mexico and, as a result of poverty and inadequate health care, it has high rates diabetes and heart disease — both high risk factors for coronavirus mortality.

While right now you can only dream about coming to Oaxaca, there are ways you can help. You can join those of us living here by financially helping out your Oaxacan friends, by donating to your preferred hotels and restaurants, and by placing an order with your favorite weaver, carver, or other artisan. Buying mezcal futures from traditional mezcaleros is even an option — and the bottles will be waiting for you when next you return.

While I have no place to wear it right now, I bought this beautiful rebozo (shawl) from the Mexican Dreamweavers. Patrice Perillie, the Dreamweavers’ Director, knew I’d been admiring and wanting one for years, so she recently contacted me to (gently) suggest that ordering one now would have a greater and much-needed financial impact on the cooperative’s members. It is made from brown coyuchi cotton, yarns dyed with indigo, purple tixinda, and red cochinilla, and woven by Amada Sanchez Cruz on a backstrap loom. Isn’t it stunning?

 

From the Mexican Dreamweavers “About” page on Facebook”

In the community of Pinotepa de Don Luis, situated on the Costa Chica of Oaxaca, artisans of Mixtec origin, masters in the art of weaving on back-strap looms, weave beautiful cloth that they use in different types of dress. There is the posahuanco which is a type of skirt of pre-hispanic origin; the huipil, a tunic dress used for special occasions; and the reboso, a shawl used by the women both for warmth and to carry things, including their babies!

The women weavers of this community have formed a cooperative called “Tixinda” which has over 60 women, both young and old, who are passing down the 3,000+ year old tradition of spinning and weaving from one generation to the next. In addition to producing their traditional dress, Tixinda also produces table linens, bed linens, throw pillows and bags, using both traditional and contemporary designs.

To view the Mexican Dreamweavers inventory and to buy, click their Facebook Shop
For more information, please contact Patrice Perillie, Director:
Telephone USA – (212) 629-7899
Telephone Mexico – (954) 102-1792
Email – mexicandreamweavers@hotmail.com

Given the barrage of bad, sad, depressing, and infuriating news these days, I’m finding it difficult to string together more than a few words. However, who needs words when Mother Nature is speaking from my terrace — succulents and cactus to the rescue.

Quaqua

 

Monadenium

 

Cleistocactus

 

Gymnocalycium

 

Jatropha podagrica

Wishing all health, safety, and a bounty of beauty!

Busy bees

Remember my Pitahaya (Dragon fruit)? In just a few years, five stalks, picked up from the field of a friend in San Martín Tilcajete in 2012 and planted in my garden, became a year-round green wall along the chain link fence that separates the terrace of Casita Colibrí from the neighboring property. Its perfumed massive white glow-in-the-dark flowers beckoned bats and bees and the resulting luscious red fruit were garden highlights.

Do you also remember that a taproot grew into the wall and down into the apartment below? Alas, the result, in the fall of 2016, was having to cut down the entire wall of Pitahaya. However, some the stalks were saved and planted along the wall adjacent to the apartment’s garbage can/recycling collection area. Lucky us, last night into early morning, the Pitahaya put on quite a show and put the bees to work!

A win win for all concerned!

 

From blue to pink…

Sunday’s walk went from blue to pink — with a few colors in between.

The colors were kind of like my mood over the course of two hours of walking.

From here to there…

From the walls of Oaxaca… mural by artist Efdot.

To the streets of the USA… music and lament by singer-songwriter Alex Call.

The message is the same.

Lurking around the corner from the birds. Perhaps this is what they were talking about.

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Hmmm… Could this be the cat that swallowed the canary?

For the birds

Wandering around the streets and alleys of the Marcos Perez / Lic. José Vasconcelos neighborhood, I began to see birds gathering — and they seemed to be talking.

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“Ahhh, what a comfortable perch.”

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“Is anybody home?”

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“What did you say?”

And then there were the hummingbirds…

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“Please don’t tie me down!”

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“Come fly with me.”

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“I’ll race you!”

What delightful gifts the Argentinian artist Jesus Flores (aka, Walpaq) has left for the people of Oaxaca!

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