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Danzantes on parade

Teotitlán del Valle’s Danza de La Pluma Promesa 2016-2018 guys (and two little gals) came, saw, and conquered Oaxaca city yesterday.

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Quetzalli del Rayo Santiago Ruiz (Malinche) and Elizabeth Hernández Gutiérrez (Doña Marina)

After a rehearsal at the Guelaguetza Auditorium, followed by a lively (if various Facebook videos are to be believed) luncheon with the other delegations, they arrived, raring to go, at the Guelaguetza desfile (parade) gathering point in front of Jardín Conzatti.

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Marcos Vicente Gutiérrez (Capitán de puerta 1º)

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Juan Pablo González Gutiérrez (Vasallo 3º)

Along with the other Guelaguetza delegations, they posed for photos requested by the crush of media, tourists, and locals.

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Sergio Gutiérrez Bautista (Moctezuma) on right

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Florentino Martínez Ruiz (Subalterno 2º) and Juan Bautista Zárate (Subalterno 1º)

And this year, unlike their last appearance two years ago, it didn’t rain on their parade.  Following their banner and band, they danced their way through the streets of the city under a brilliant late afternoon sun.

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Tapete by the late Pedro Gutiérrez, father of danzante, Denes Luis Gutiérrez Martínez

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Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz (Vasallo 8º) in foreground

For more of the danzantes from Teotitlán del Valle at the desfile, check out the blog post from Chris.  Next up, tomorrow morning’s performance up on Cerro Fortín!  For those of you, like me, without tickets, check THIS SITE and/or CORTV for live (en vivo) links to each Guelaguetza performance.

As I’ve mentioned before, the ubiquitous aprons (mandiles) worn by the Zapotec women of the valley of Oaxaca have been elevated to an art form.  Each village has developed their own unique style and none is more distinctive than those worn by the women of San Miguel del Valle.

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Their full-skirted pinafore style aprons, made from poly-cotton plaid fabric, are elaborately machine-embroidered with colorful flowers and birds.  Worn daily, they are the “uniform” of the women of the village beginning when they are little girls.  And, most women have a wardrobe full — one to match each dress.

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Thanks to microfinancing assistance from Fundación En Via, many of the women have developed profitable business selling these aprons and have branched out to making tote bags and purses.  The Fundación recently held a 3-day expo-venta in Oaxaca city and guess what I came home with?

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I’m hoping to go on one of the Fundación microfinancing tours next month — to meet and learn from the women who benefit and to further contribute to this worthwhile endeavor.  Empowering women empowers communities!

Below is the Guelaguetza 2018 calendar of the main events.  For details of these and other “Julio, mes de la Guelaguetza” (July, month of the Guelaguetza) activities in and around the valley of Oaxaca, click HERE.

calendario guelaguetza 2018

The list of delegations by date, time, and the dance they will be performing follows.  By the way, a note about the dancers:  Seeing it as an honor, they come to perform at their own expense.  However, one way to give back, at least to the artisans of their communities, is to do your shopping at the Expo Feria Artesanal (listed above).

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And, bookmark THIS SITE and/or CORTV for live (en vivo) links to each performance.

(ps)  For those in town:  People keep asking me what the route will be for the two Saturday Desfiles de Delegaciones — which over the past several years keeps changing.  Unfortunately, I don’t know and the only answer I get is the tourist kiosk reps pointing to the Calendario de Eventos Principales  (top of page).  If I find out anything more substantive, I will try to post before Saturday.

Dorothy in Oaxaca

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

All you have to do is click your heels together three times and say “There’s no place like Oaxaca.”

And you too can be a Tehuana in Oaxaca.

Seen on the wall outside Wearable Art Textile Studio, Gurrión 110 — across from the south side of Santo Domingo.

Rattles and paddles

The Danza de la Pluma weapons of war consist of a small paddle (pala/macana) held in the left hand and a sonaja (rattle) held in the right (see images of danzantes in July 9 post).

The sonajas are decorated gourds attached to a deer leg or antler.  During the dance, they mark the compass points and their sound is used to scare the opponents.

Each wooden pala is uniquely carved and decorated and serves as a baton and a shield in this dance that recreates the battles between the Spanish conquistadors and Moctezuma, his warriors, and allied kings.

Even Malinche (Quetzalli del Rayo Santiago Ruiz) carries a sonaja and a pala during parts of the dance.  And, check out the reversible pala of Juan Pablo González Gutiérrez — red weaving surrounded by alebrije-like painting on one side and blue weaving and painting on the other.  You can click on images to enlarge them.  The creativity never ceases to amaze!

Going to Guelaguetza

Yippee!!!  After an “exhaustive” (see news report) selection process that took the Comité de Autenticidad (Committee of Authenticity) to 89 communities throughout the state of Oaxaca, they announced the delegations that will be participating in this year’s Guelaguetza.  And, drum roll please, one of the 56 delegations chosen will be Teotitlán del Valle’s Danza de La Pluma Promesa 2016-2018!

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I’m so happy for the entire group, many whom I’ve come to know, but especially for Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz (above in red shirt), one of the two dancers blogger buddy Chris and I are sponsoring.  He missed out when the group performed at the Guelaguetza two years ago, as he was recovering from surgery and this is his last opportunity — their three-year “act of devotion” to dance for their community ends this year.

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The group will be performing at La Guelaguetza on the morning of July 23.  If you can’t be up on Cerro del Fortín, it is usually broadcast live on local TV and streamed on the internet.  I’ll keep you posted!

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The above photos of the Danza de la Pluma Promesa 2016-2018 are from the previously mentioned and recently concluded festival honoring La Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo — the most important annual festival in Teotitlán del Valle.

Why we protest

Yesterday, feeling angry, horrified, and ashamed and, with less than a week’s notice, 50+ citizens of the USA gathered on the sidewalk below the U.S. Consular Agency office in Oaxaca to protest the inhumane, unconscionable, and illegal actions by “our” government regarding refugees seeking asylum.

Yes, illegal actions!  The following is courtesy of Fact Sheet No.20, Human Rights and Refugees from the United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner:

These rights are affirmed, among other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, for all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which together make up the International Bill of Human Rights.

(a) “No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 9);

(b) “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 14);

(c) “Everyone has the right to a nationality” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 15);

(d) “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State” (Universal Declaration of Human rights, article 13; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 12).

What is even more heartbreaking and infuriating, is WHY asylum seekers feel they have no choice but to leave the only homes most have ever known to make a perilous journey of thousands of miles to present themselves at the U.S. border.  Hint:  It’s not “the economy, stupid!”

And, lest you fear that these refugees are MS-13 wolves in sheep’s clothing:

1. MS-13 Is Not Organizing to Foil Immigration Law
2. MS-13 Is Not Posing as Fake Families at the Border
3. MS-13 Is Sticking Around, but It’s Not Growing
4. MS-13 Is Preying on a Specific Community, Not the Country at Large
5. Immigration Raids and Deportation Can Only Go So Far

From the recent article published in ProPublica, I’ve Been Reporting on MS-13 for a Year. Here Are the 5 Things Trump Gets Most Wrong.

Kids of the convite

Late yesterday afternoon in Teotitlán del Valle — along with village officials, church committee members, 200 unmarried young women, Danza de la Pluma Promesa 2016-2018 dancers, players of the traditional teponaxtle (drum) and the chirimía (small oboe), pyrotechnicians, and two bands — children gathered.

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Boys came holding carrizo poles topped with mini marmotas (fabric globes), sheep, turkeys, giraffes, airplanes, and other images whose significance escapes me — though this year Quetzalcoatl made an appearance.

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Little girls came wearing miniature versions of the traditional red wool enredo (wrap skirt) and embroidered or crochet blouses.

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They assembled in the atrium of the church for the start of the *convite (special kind of procession) honoring the Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, the patron saint of the village and whose image, attributed to Oaxacan painter Miguel Cabrera, resides in Teotitlán’s church.

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The procession wound its way from the atrium, through the principal streets (mostly cobblestone) of the village, and back to the atrium — approximately two miles (3.2 km)!

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Giving a group of boys long poles has the potential for high jinx, but most was limited to clever ways to evade overhanging tree limbs.

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The littlest girls were beginning their years long conditioning in order to develop the arm strength needed to hold a canasta (basket) above their head for over an hour — SO much harder than it looks!

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And, there were boys in the band — some already affecting a cool “Blues Brothers” look.

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This was just the beginning of the festival — there will be the danzantes performing the Danza de la Pluma, fireworks (including toritos and castillos), and another convite.  So, stay tuned for more to come.

*Convite:  According to Harrap’s Spanish and English Pocket Dictionary, convite means reception.  Larousse Standard Diccionario translates convite to “invitation” or “banquet.”  And, if one turns to Google or Bing translation programs, a convite is a “treat.”

Highs and lows

Last night, AMLO’s victory brought the sights and sounds of celebration to Oaxaca.

Fireworks exploding in night sky

This morning, Mexico’s World Cup loss to Brazil brought the sights and sounds of silence to the city.

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The highs and lows of life in Oaxaca over the course of twelve hours.

Despite Mexican elections tomorrow and the Mexico vs. Brazil World Cup elimination game on Monday, the walls of Oaxaca will not be silenced.

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The latest from the walls of Gimnasio Universitario Centro Histórico of UABJO (Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca city center gymnasium) on Av. José María Morelos.

It began this morning, as la Selección mexicana took the field in Russia for game three of their Group F stage.  Even with two victories under their belt and leading their group, the people of Mexico held their collective breath.  During the game, you could hear a pin drop in Oaxaca.  I swear, the buses that usually grind their gears and emit clouds of exhaust on Crespo, were few and far between.  El Tri held off a tenacious Swedish team in the first half, but it all fell apart in the second and the green, white, and red lost.  The Mexican World Cup team and the country had to rely on South Korea to knock Germany out of the Copa del Mundo and assure Mexico goes on to the next round.  Every tenth person I passed this afternoon seemed to still be sporting the team jersey, but nobody was smiling.

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Oaxaca de Juárez — June 27, 2018, 7:00 PM

Today is also the last day of electioneering in Mexico — no more campaign materials are to be distributed, no more surveys disseminated, and no more robo campaign calls (gracias a dios).  Mexicans go to the polls on Sunday, July 1 for Mexico’s biggest election in memory.  Not only is a new president to be elected, but also 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies, 128 members of the Senate, 8 governors, and the mayor of Mexico City.  And, coming on top the deadliest year in Mexico’s history, 2018 has also been one of the most violent campaign seasons in recent history.  Tonight, final campaign rallies are being held all over the country, including one next door in the Plaza de la Danza — filled with amplified speeches and heavy-on-the-bass pounding music.  Let’s hope we awaken only to World Cup scores and not rising political violence tallies.

However, in the midst of all this, gringos gathered this afternoon to attempt to come up with a plan to show our opposition to the inhumane actions by the United States government and our support for all peoples escaping violence and in search of a better life for their families.  If you are in Oaxaca, on July 5, at 3:00 PM, there will be a peaceful protest in front of the U.S. Consular Agency under the slogans, ¡Todos Somos Migrates!  ¡Familias Unidas — No Divididas!  For more details, see the ¡Engage Oaxaca! Facebook page.  By the way, for a little background on the reasons men, women, and children are risking their lives to flee their home countries, I highly recommend, So we’re gonna pretend these refugees aren’t a result of our actions in Central America?

Palm to plastic

Once upon a time, I went to Linda Hanna’s house in San Andrés Huayapam — the B&B Casa Linda.  In addition to running a B&B, she leads artisan tours, is a major collector of textiles, art, crafts, and you name it, AND holds occasional yard sales.  I always try to attend the latter and always buy a thing or two or three or four.  Thus, 2-1/2 years ago, this loveseat found it’s way onto the terrace of Casita Colibrí.  Linda wasn’t sure where or when she originally purchased it and it had long been relegated to a bed for a member of her animal menagerie, as the palm had completely disintegrated on one side, leaving only the jute webbing to prevent one’s bottom from landing on the ground.  However, it had “good bones” and I had fallen in love with it.  I figured that with a couple of decorative pillows to hide the hole, it would look great and be relatively functional.  They did and it was.

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Over the course of the past couple of years, the elements have caused more wear and tear to the palm and the wooden frame needed work.  Into the story comes Sebastián, of Talavera transformation, part 4 fame.  As if it wasn’t enough to be a carpenter, stonemason, electrician, plumber, and glazier, he and his wife Elizabeth had taken classes in weaving with plastic and started a business — primarily making baskets/purses.  A couple of months ago, he stopped by to show me their latest projects and I had an inspiration.  Could they refurbish my loveseat?  His eyes lit up, said yes, we talked colors and designs, and a few weeks later he hauled it away.  On Wednesday, it came back home.

I suspect you are asking, why plastic when the palm looked so beautiful?  Two reasons.  Firstly, it was a spur of the moment decision, but I knew Sebastián, trusted the work he does, and loved the creative possibilities he showed me.  Secondly, I’d bought the loveseat to live outside on the terrace (albeit, under the gazebo) and in the back of my mind, as the palm seat, back, and arms continued to deteriorate, I’d wondered if there might be something more long lasting that could be used.  Thus, plastic.  However, it’s not just any plastic, Sebastián and Elizabeth’s business uses recycled plastic.

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By the way, they also refinished the wood, using a marine varnish to help contribute to its longevity.   I think, in its new incarnation, my loveseat still looks right at home and what is old is new again!

To fathers everywhere

Wishing a very happy Father’s Day to fathers, stepfathers, and father-figures throughout the world.

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Parenting is the most valuable job you will ever have.  May you fulfill your role with great love, care, and respect.  And, may you never be separated from your children by the inhumane, unnecessary, and illegal action of a despotic government.

Walking in the rain

Cocijo (Zapotec god of rain, thunder, and lightning) has finally awoken!

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Street dogs huddle in doorways.

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Street vendors batten down their hatches.

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Pedestrians watch for sidewalk waterfalls.

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Streets become deserted.

Walking home in Oaxaca in the rain.

A garden endures

June in Oaxaca city, the mornings are grey.

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Bougainvillea

The sun eventually appears.

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Plumbago

Afternoon clouds gather and thunder rumbles in the distance.

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African tulip tree

Then darkness descends.

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Night blooming cereus

Alas, this June only a minimal amount of rain has fallen.  But the garden endures.

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