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The art of marketing

For the first time since February 25, 2020, I ventured out of Oaxaca city. The pull of my fully vaccinated family in el norte and with no word regarding when the second Pfizer vaccine would be given in Oaxaca, I booked a flight up to California for April 15 (five weeks after my first jab) and a 10:00 AM vaccination appointment at CVS for the next day. Needless to say, I was very grateful to not have to stand in line for hours. However, I am already missing my weekly Friday morning hike up to Pochote Xochimilco Mercado Orgánico y Artesanal.

Click HERE for close-ups of the art in the last photo. Nothing like a little culture to add to the shopping and dining experience!

By the way, the city began offering the second dose of the vaccine the day I left.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Container gardening, Oaxaca style.

Recycled garden planter

I chuckle every time I pass by this planter on the sidewalk of Calle Heroico Colegio Militar in Colonia Reforma.

Yellow to green

The headline in NVI Noticias announced, despite an increase in COVID-19, the federal government declared that, as of tomorrow, Oaxaca will move from semáforo amarillo (yellow traffic light)…

Art by Berza and ARCH on the Calle Constitución side of El Tendajón.

… to semáforo verde (green traffic light).

Mural signed by Hiko in Barrio de Xochimilco.

Inquiring minds are wondering if the downgrading of COVID-19 risk has anything to do with the upcoming elections on June 6.

Easter Sunday, Peter Cottontail, with a little help from his friends, hippity hopped his way to Casita Colibrí, bringing platters full of Easter joy.

Easter eggs dyed with hibiscus, chili, turmeric, and beets with designs imprinted by cilantro, parsley, epazote and bougainvillea.
Marinated and roasted pork shoulder with organic baby carrots, potatoes, and shallots from the Sierra Norte.
Peter Cottontail’s favorite salad of radishes, cucumber, bell peppers, onions, and lettuce.
Choux pastry filled with creamy coffee with caramelized peanut cream.

A muchisimas gracias to my many-times-mentioned friend, neighbor, and talented cocinera, Kalisa, who dyed the eggs and prepared all but the dessert. The latter yummy decadent delight was purchased from Masea Trigo y Maíz. To quote another rabbit, “That’s all folks!”

(ps) My alebrije rabbit is by Bertha Cruz from San Antonio Arrazola, Oaxaca.

Sound of silence

Alas, another silent Viernes Santo in Oaxaca due to the pandemic. No early morning processions from churches throughout the city converging in front of the Cathedral to reenact the encuentro where Jesús meets María going towards Calvary. No worshipers praying and reciting appropriate devotions as they moved from one sidewalk Estación de la Cruz (Station of the Cross) to another. And, no rhythmic beat of a tambor, high-pitched tones of a chirimía, and the sputtering sounds of rachets punctuating the hush of the crowds gathered along the route for the early evening Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence).

Only silent sacred vignettes accompanied yesterday morning’s Good Friday walk through Barrio de Jalatlaco…

Unlike last year when church doors remained closed and services were broadcast remotely, the Archbishop announced that this year the churches will be open for liturgical acts on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, albeit with a “limited presence of the faithful.”

A new day

Yesterday morning a new day dawned and my first night blooming cereus flower of the season greeted me.

Today marks 21 days since my first Pfizer vaccine, yet the date, time, and place of my second vaccination is still unknown. However, during these challenging times, I’m channeling Nina Simone singing, Feeling Good.

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That’s what I mean

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me

Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel

Cactus down!

It’s the time of year when late afternoon winds come up, landing patterns change to often bring planes very low over the city, and the occasional top heavy plant topples over.

Tuesday morning I came out on the terrace to find my Euphorbia Trigona down. Prone, though it was, neither it nor its beautiful old maceta (flowerpot) suffered any damage. Both are now safely cradled in a wrought iron plant stand.

Indomitable bugs abound

In varying states of repair and disrepair and in a rainbow of colors, old but indomitable VW Beetles (known as Vochos in Mexico) are still seen tooling and sputtering their way around Oaxaca — an ideal car for navigating the narrow streets and limited parking in the city.

As the old Timex watch commercial used to say, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking!”

Today, March 19, we celebrate Día de las Artesanas y los Artesanos. Apparently anticipating this day, in less than one month I have purchased three beautiful hand woven blouse length huipiles — and they each have a story.

On a walk up Macedonio Alcalá, en route to somewhere else, my neighbor Kalisa and I stopped to say hi to her favorite textile street vendor, Vicente, at his stall just beyond Santo Domingo. My eye was immediately drawn to the subtle color combination and style of the huipil above. As it turns out, it, unlike most of the textiles he had in stock, was dyed with natural dyes (including the rare caracol) and woven by his mother who lives in the Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in the Mixtec region.

The indigo and coyuche brocade huipil above is from the Mixtec village of Pinotepa de Don Luis and was the first in my trio of purchases. It was woven by a woman named Sebastiána and I bought it in response to an appeal by Stephanie Schneiderman to help support the weavers of that area during these pandemic days. It spoke to me the minute I saw it among the selection of huipiles for sale. Stephanie helped facilitate shipping it from Pinotepa de Don Luis to Oaxaca city and within a couple of weeks, it was hanging in my closet.

The third of my huipil purchases was another impulse buy. For several months, on Friday mornings, Kalisa and I have been making the trek up to the Pochote Xochimilco Mercado Orgánico y Artesanal in Colonia Reforma to stock up on fabulous fresh produce from the Sierra Norte, the occasional duck and chicken, cheeses, and fun shaped clay garden pots. However, the vendor of the plants and pots also sells a selection of huipiles from the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca and I fell in love with this Chinanteco one.

¡Feliz Día de las Artesanas y los Artesanos!

Fluttering in the wind

Looking up never ceases to make me smile, especially when papel picado (cut paper) garlands flutter in the breeze — images with holiday themes, celebrating rites of passage, and advertising local products.

They are even imprinted on walls.

We are in the midst of Cuaresma (Lent), though pandemic restrictions have canceled most public celebrations, we have the Liturgical colors of violet and white papel picado to remind us.

Even the neverías of Jardín Sócrates have gotten into the act.

Route to the vaccine

Tuesday night, Kalisa and I ventured out on another vaccine reconnaissance mission and found the number of people planning to spend the night in line wasn’t nearly as long as the night before. Ruling out sleeping on the sidewalk, we agreed to give it a try early Wednesday morning.

Route to the vaccine.

We rendezvoused at 6:15 AM, set off to find the end of the line, discovered it was already a block and a half longer, reassured each other that we can do this, and joined the line. Armed with reading material, we set our stools down and prepared to wait for our first jab of the Pfizer vaccine. Eating wasn’t a problem, as vendors regularly came by with food and drink and Mercado IV Centenario was only a few steps away. As for the “call of nature,” public bathrooms are available at the Mercado and Jardín Socrates nearby and a few businesses along our route had signs reading, “Baños 5 pesos.”

7:33 AM – After 1 hour of waiting on Independencia.

We froze for the first 3 hours in the morning. The temperature was in the low 50s (Fahrenheit) and we both were wearing sandals, short sleeve cotton blouses, and only had cotton rebozos (shawls) to keep us warm. The vaccinations were scheduled to start at 8 AM but our line didn’t start moving until 11:30 AM. It turns out, they gave the people in line on Morelos a number when they stopped vaccinations at 5 PM the day before, so they got first priority, along with anyone in a wheelchair.

2:07 PM – Entering the Plaza de la Danza.

One of the enjoyable aspects of our ordeal was getting to know our neighbors in the queue. Like most, they were sons, daughters, and grandchildren holding places in line for elderly relatives. This is the ethos of Oaxaca! Once the sun rose above the buildings and began beating down on young and old, we all sweltered in 80+ degree (F) heat. Despite bringing sun hats, Kalisa and I succumbed to purchasing umbrellas from one of the vendors going up and down the line. Another enterprising vendor was selling plastic stools, but since we had brought our own, he ignored us.

2:32 PM – Post vaccination arrival in observation area.

Once the line actually started moving, it only took 2 hours to get to the Plaza de la Danza, where our paperwork was processed, we got the vaccine, waited in an observation area for 15 minutes, and then left for home. 7-1/2 hours, door to door.

2:44 PM – Post vaccination debriefing.

We were lucky, as they ran out of vaccine by 3:30 PM and Thursday’s vaccinations at the Plaza de la Danza were canceled. More is supposed to arrive, but no one knows when. As for our second dose, we were told they will announce via media when it will be offered AND promised to be better organized. Keep your fingers crossed!

The headline in this morning’s newspaper read, “Without strategy to avoid crowds, vaccination against COVID-19 begins in Oaxaca.” Here in the greater Oaxaca de Juárez metropolitan area, there are 11 vaccination sites, distributing 23,090 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to people over 60 years old who have registered on a federal government vaccine eligibility site. Because I am a Residente Permanente (official permanent resident), I also was able to register last month. The vaccinations are scheduled to be given today, tomorrow, and Thursday, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM and my plan had been to walk over to the Plaza de la Danza, my designated site, at 7:30 this morning.

Given it’s only a block away, early last night my neighbor and I walked over to scope the set up out. Boy, were we in for a shock — masses of people already lined Avenida Morelos, the street leading to the Plaza de la Danza.

The young man above looking at his cell phone, sitting on a stool in front of the School of Fine Arts, was number one in line. He arrived at 8:00 AM yesterday — 24 hours early.

Looking at the photos, I’m sure you are thinking, those people in line are awfully young looking to be over 60 — and you would be correct.

The overwhelming majority of people who were camping out on the sidewalks of the city were holding places for their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, and maybe even neighbors who were too old to spend the night on the streets.

The two guys in the foreground below were the last in the line on Galeana near Trujano at about 8:00 PM last night, though a couple more people were approaching as I was taking the photo.

The line snaked along at least six blocks. And, no, I did not join last night’s vigil. I will be patient, check the progress of the line a couple of times a day, and wait comfortably at home. According to a representative from Oaxaca’s Secretaría de Bienestar (Ministry of Welfare), there are enough doses for those registered and, should there be a need, they will get more. ¡Ojala!

March 8 is International Women’s Day. In the words of a recent article by Nancy Rosenstock, a woman I knew back in the day, “In these challenging times, all women — from those of us who were involved in second-wave feminism to those just entering the struggle — need to come together as equal fighters and chart a course forward.”

We may have come a long way, but the struggle for equal rights, respect, freedom from violence, and control of our own bodies continues and the women of the walls of Oaxaca are not silent.

Many of the images also carry a written messages. Below, Nuestros sueños no caben en sus urnas / Our dreams do not fit in their ballot boxes carries an indictment against the capitalist political parties.

The next one lets the symbols of the ancestors speak.

From a women’s graphic campaign that seeks to express “what our bodies go through every day and what we are seeking when we scream: Vivas Nos Queremos / We Want Ourselves Alive.

And, a promise that women will not be silenced and will march forward Sin miedo / Without fear.

Then there is the mural, La Patria / The Homeland, which adorns the wall of a school in Barrio de Jalatlaco. La Patria, originally a painting by Jorge González Camarena of an indigenous woman surrounded by patriotic imagery, graced the covers of textbooks from the 1960s into the 1970s.

To honor and celebrate International Women’s Day, on March 8, La Mano Magica Gallery/Galería inaugurates an exhibit of women artists, Exposición de Arte Colectiva Mujeres Artistas, curated by Mary Jane Gagnier, at their gallery in Oaxaca and online on their Facebook page.

Sky blue

It is the time of year when the temperatures begin to reach 90º F and the Primavera amarillas, Jacarandas, Clavellinas, and Palo de rosas trees bloom.

It’s almost spring and Oaxaca has entered her sky blue period.

Prickly in Oaxaca

This article, Tourists are welcome in Oaxaca, Mexico. Their increasingly bad behavior is not, is one of the reasons these images from my garden express how I’m feeling these days.

Then there is the fact that I haven’t set foot out of the city for exactly one year. Color me prickly and awaiting the vaccine.

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