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I returned to Teotitlán del Valle late Friday afternoon to view the convite of of unmarried women of the village and Grupo de la Danza de la Pluma 2019-2021 danzantes (dancers) process through town — an invitation to further festivities honoring La Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Though that wasn’t the only activity on my agenda; I would be spending the weekend with my amiga K, who was house-sitting for another amiga N. It would be a weekend in the countryside for this city gal!

I arrived late afternoon on Friday…

Canastas (baskets) lined up in front awaiting the procession under the gaze of the sacred mountain, El Picacho.

Grupo de Promesa de la Danza de Pluma 2019-21 arriving in front of the church, waiting to process.

Guys who launch the cohetes (all bang, no bling rockets) announcing the procession.

The convite begins — unmarried women of Teotitlán del Valle carrying the aforementioned canastas (baskets).

After the convite, an early evening encounter with a burro as mi amiga K and I walked to Restaurante y Galería Tierra Antigua .

Saturday…

Early morning view of the campo in Teotitlán del Valle.

Breakfast gathering of cocineras (cooks) and friends in the cocina de humo at Restaurante y Galería Tierra Antigua.

Encounter with a bull while walking back to the house.

Returning to the church to watch the late afternoon performance of the Danza de la Pluma.

Following the Danza de la Pluma, late night watching the toritos, castillo, and fireworks in front of the church.

Sunday…

During mass, shopping baskets parked in the church atrium.

Off to market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros. The upside down St. Peter encountered in the Señor de Tlacolula chapel.

Taekwondo competition in front of the municipal buildings in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Returning to Teotitlán del Valle, still life in front of the sacred mountain, El Picacho, seen while walking back to the church in the afternoon.

Final Danza de la Pluma performance in the church atrium at the 2019 Fiesta de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.

It was a lively, delicious, and exhausting weekend. Did I mention, I walked an average of 4.5 miles per day?  Wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Muchisimas gracias to all who made it an unforgettable weekend!

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Let us all raise a glass to the hummingbirds and bats of Oaxaca.

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Without the work they do pollinating the flowers on the quiotes (stalks) that shoot up from the agave,

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there would be no maguey piñas to harvest and cook…

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and no mezcal to drink!

*Mural by Lapiztola on the side of the Palenque Mal de Amor (makers of Ilegal mezcal) 2+ miles north of Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca.  Check out their other mural at the palenque HERE.

 

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Ya got your herbs, ya got your spices, ya got your smoker — smoked turkey, Oaxaca style!

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San Antonino Castillo Velasco delegation, Guelaguetza desfile, July 21, 2018

In addition to my fabulous family, friends, blog readers, and indigenous peoples who survived genocide, colonization, and other inconvenient turkey day truths, I’m also feeling grateful for guajolotes.  ¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

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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.

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X currently marks the spot in OaXaca — be it for HOT weather, blockades, or orb weaving spiders.  Regarding the latter, another, in a long line of Argiopes, has chosen to take up residence on my terrace.

Argiope spider in middle of web with stabilimentum

Fun fact:  The purpose of the white zigzag of silk, known as a stabilimentum, is disputed. It reflects UV light and may act as camouflage, attract insect prey, or prevent larger creatures from accidentally destroying the web.  Whatever the function, this gal’s (yes, it is a female) is one of the best I’ve seen!

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This morning’s ecumenical gathering of the birds at the fountain — seen through my (dirty) kitchen window.

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I think the orange one is a Bullock’s Oriole — the first I’ve seen on my rooftop garden.

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The roof dogs of San Martín Tilcajete wish you luck in the Year of the Dog.  (And, the Virgen de Guadalupe is there to help, too.)

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Happy Chinese New Year!

 

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As I write, I should be winging my way from Houston to San Francisco.  But, alas, I am not.  An ice storm in Houston has postponed my trip until tomorrow.

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Goat at the bus stop

Luckily, United sent me an email on Monday advising that “travel disruptions” were possible in Houston on Tuesday and offering me the option of rescheduling my flights — without fees.  After checking several weather websites, I opted to make the change.

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Bougainvillea among the razor wire

And it was a good thing I did, as this morning’s Oaxaca to Houston flight was canceled.  So another day spent where sights like these are the norm, brighten my day, and warm my heart — even when a cold front has us all donning our wool socks and sweaters.

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Anafre with hot coals on the sidewalk

Sigh… I don’t think I’ll be seeing scenes like this on the streets of San Francisco.  But, on the upside, I will see family, friends, and the Pacific Ocean!

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This morning’s entertainment on the terrace…

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Birds of a feather awaiting…

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Bath time at the fountain.

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Yippee, my turn!!!

Fun at the fountain is for the birds.

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There may be a population explosion of Casita Colibrí’s namesake…

Hummingbird nest under construction on the far spindle branch of a tree near my balcony.

Mama waiting until the coast is clear — in front of a Guaje tree reflection on my neighbor’s window.

She comes, she sits briefly to test its strength and expansion potential, then is off again in search of more materials.

Next up, she and we await the show male colibríes will put on — hoping to strike her fancy.

The librarian in me can’t help but offer a few references:

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Lunch coming down out of the mountains in Colorado…

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Tacos at Carniceria Sonora in Clifton, CO

Back in Oaxaca in time for a comida of September’s traditional dish…

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Chiles en Nogada at Las Quince Letras Restaurante in Oaxaca de Juárez

And, not to be left out, Argiope showing off her freshly caught brunch…

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Flies or bees or one of each on the terrace at Casita Colibrí

Gals, be they human or arachnid, have got to eat!

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If you suffer from arachnophobia, you might want to click away from this post.

You were warned, so I will continue…  Two spiders, a Neoscona oaxacensis and an Argiope, have taken up residence on my terrace.  This isn’t the first time I have played hostess to these two kinds of orb weaver spiders.

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Neoscona oaxacensis (back)

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Neoscona oaxacensis (underside)

My latest guests arrived a week ago and have been settling in ever since.  Their webs are strung across neighboring plants, though the Argiope’s also extends across a walkway onto the deck.  Unfortunately, a few days ago, I inadvertently walked through it but, undeterred, she rewove it in the same place.  So I have blocked the route with an extremely spiky cactus, to prevent further human destruction.

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Argiope (top)

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Argiope (underside)

Aren’t my new visitors beautiful?  By the way, they eat insects and are harmless to humans, so nothing to be afraid of!

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… from my rooftop garden in the city.

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Opuntia – April 2017

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Lizard on the terraza – June 2017

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A feathered friend watching from a distance – June 2017

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Hibiscus flower this morning – June 2017

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Along with much-needed rain and sparkling green cantera, tropical storm Beatriz also brought the one-day-a-year appearance of chicatanas (aka, tzicatana, tzicatl).

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What, you might ask are chicatanas?  They are giant flying ants that emerge with the first rains of the season — and by giant, I mean about 4 cm from the head to the tip of the wings for the females.  (As in much of the insect world, males are smaller and wingless.)  Known by the Nahuatl long before the arrival of the Spanish, they were mentioned in the 16th-century Florentine Codex which talked about the tzicatana living below ground and cultivating fungus to eat.

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By this morning, the rain had stopped and when I returned from an early errand, I found chicatanas — queens (wings) and soldiers (wingless with vicious front pincers) — crawling around on my terrace and balcony.  There were probably many more earlier, but I had been in a hurry and hadn’t noticed.  By 10:30 AM they were gone.

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Oh, and have I mentioned that they are a delicacy and a great source of protein?  I’ve had chicatana salsa and chicatana mole several times.  Below is Mole de Chicatanas I sampled during the Mole Festival in 2014.  It’s from the Sierra Sur region of Oaxaca and made with chicatanas, pork ribs or loin, chile costeño, peanuts, and much more.  It was yummy (and I was a picky eater as a child!), so I had it again at last year’s festival.

If you won’t take my word, check out this Bizarre Foods episode set in Oaxaca.  (Chicatanas start at 1 min. 40 sec.)  By the way, these are the dreaded leaf-cutter ants.  However, it is the much smaller workers who can strip a tree overnight and are the bane of gardeners here.  At least their queens and soldiers are good for something!

Post script:  On a somber note, tropical storm Beatriz also brought flooding, mudslides, more downed trees, collapsed roads, and a current death toll of three.

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I have to chuckle every morning when I turn on the fountain — within seconds the birds begin arriving.  Apparently, there is a pecking order for bathing.  The chain link fence provides an open-air waiting room — a perfect perch for keeping an eye on the bathers below.

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Some, like this little guy, are more patient than others.

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