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Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

Remember these guys from my Everyone loves a parade post? They are known as Tiliches (aka, Los viejos, old ones) are a staple in the 3-day celebration of Carnaval in Putla de Guerrero, and a colorful part of the delegation from Putla during La Guelaguetza. Seeing them, it should come as no surprise that “tiliche” can be translated into English to mean junk, stuff, or rag.

Entering this year’s Festival de los Moles at the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca (Oacaca Ethnobotanic Garden), guests were greeted by an exhibition of Tiliches — hosted by the newspaper archive, Hemoeroteca Néstor Sanchez.

Viejo de Tiliches – wearing the traditional costume of the Viejos/Tiliches during Carnaval in Putla.

Made of cloth, palm, and gourd with a mask of animal skin, suede gloves, and leather boots. It took one person a week to make.

Viejo Tapitas

Made from plastic water and soda bottle caps and hat of rafia. It took two people 45 days to make for a Carnaval 2018 costume contest in Putla and it weighs 30 kg. (66 lbs.)

Viejo Mecatero

Designed by Ángel Álvarez de Jesús and made from plastic rope, plastic thread, cardboard and silicone. It took seven people 45 days to make for the 2019 costume contest in Putla. It weighs 60 kg. (132 lbs.)

Viejo Azteca

Designed by Amando Herrera Villa and made of palm. It took him two months to make and weighs 15 kg. (33 lbs.)

The creativity here never ceases to amaze me. Unfortunately, the exhibition only ran from July 15 to 30, 2019. However, what fun it would be to to go Putla for three day Carnaval celebration, where one can see hundreds of Tiliches dancing though the streets!

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The marathon that was La Guelaguetza 2019 has been run and not a day too soon for most residents. It was an exhausting and at times grueling two weeks — so much to do and so little time — streets choked with traffic and sidewalks clogged with people. According to state government figures, at its height, hotel occupancy reached 97%, which I’m guessing doesn’t include the growing Airbnb presence.

Woman pouring tejate

My participation ended as it began with food and drink — at the 13th annual Feria del Tejate y el Tamal. Fortunately (for me), it’s held at the Plaza de la Danza, only a block away from Casita Colibrí. On July 30 and 31, seventy five women of the Unión de Mujeres Productoras de Tejate de San Andrés Huayapam came to my neighborhood to prepare and pour this prehispanic drink for the thirsty and curious.

Tejate with rosita de cacao blossoms

Tejate is a labor-intensive frothy, refreshing, nutritious, and (supposedly) aphrodisiacal non-alcoholic beverage made from corn mixed with tree ash, cacao beans, mamey seeds, rosita de cacao (Quararibea funebris) flowers, and peanuts or pecans (depending on the season).

Preparation takes at least twelve hours, as the beans, seeds, flowers, and nuts must be toasted on a comal and corn must be nixtamalized.  Ingredients are taken to a molino to be milled, then kneaded together, left to cool, eventually being hand-ground on a metate to make a thick paste — which is then thinned with water and (literally) mixed by hand.

jícaras

Tejate is traditionally served in brightly painted gourds (jícaras) which fits right in with this year’s effort by the feria organizers to eliminate the use of plastic, in keeping with recent legislation in Oaxaca to prohibit the sale and use of most single use plastic and styrofoam containers. Known as the beverage of the gods, as it was once reserved solely for Zapotec royalty, today tejate is for everybody and is also being made into cookies, ice cream, and nicuatole (traditional Oaxacan corn-based molded dessert).

nicuatole de tejate

However, this food fest wasn’t just about tejate. The other headliner of this event was the versatile tamal. Numerous varieties in steaming pots sitting on anafres (portable cooktops) sat behind rows of banquet tables filled with giant serving baskets covered in colorfully embroidered tea towels. Proud cocineras (cooks) listed their offerings and provided free samples to taste-test.

embroidered tea towel

Where to begin? There was a mind-boggling selection of tamales — at least a dozen kinds to choose from. Many are readily available daily at local mercados (of course, each family puts their own unique spin on the basic recipes). However, here in the city, tichinda (fresh water mussel) tamales are rarely seen. I tasted and they were yummy.

list of tamales

My primary goal, when it came to tamales, was “para llevar” (to go) and I came prepared with my own containers. On day 1, I wanted to bring home tamales for the staff who works at my apartment complex and a couple of carpenters who were onsite building door and window screens for a friend’s apartment. I made several rounds of the numerous vendors, studying their offerings (along with their lovely tea towels) and then just dove in! Besides buying a tamal de camaron (shrimp) for myself, I bought a mole verde (chicken with green sauce) and a mole negro (black mole sauce with chicken) for each the crew back home, along with tejate cookies for their dessert!

On day 2, I was in search of tamal de chichilo, made from chilhuacle negro, mulatto, and pasilla chiles; blackened tortillas and seeds of the chiles; and avocado leaves — the latter imparting a subtle anise flavor. It’s one of my favorites and isn’t usually seen in the mercados, as it is usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings and baptisms or when the crops have been harvested.

tamal de chichilo

Besides eating a tamal de chichilo as soon as I returned home and another for dinner last night, six more currently reside in the freezer compartment of my refrigerator. Ahhh, preserving and celebrating the prehispanic riches of tejate and tamales — a couple of reasons why Oaxaca is a food lovers’ paradise.

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With dancers and props arrived and prepped and streets blocked to traffic, this past Saturday’s second Guelaguetza Desfile de Delegaciones (Parade of Delegations) set off from Calzada Porfirio Díaz to again wind its way through the city’s streets.

San Carlos Yautepec, Sierra Sur

Santa Catarina Ticuá, Mixteca

San Francisco del Mar, Istmo

Danza de los Rubios – Santiago Juxtlahuaca, Mixteca

Huautla de Jiménez, Cañada

Danza de los Jardineros – San Andrés Zautla, Valles Centrales

Danza de los Diablos – Llano Grande, Mixteca

Loma Bonita, Papaloapan

H. Cd. de Huajuapan de León, Mixteca

Santiago Pinotepa Nacional, Costa

Asunción Ixtaltepec, Istmo

Danza de la Pluma – Teotitlán del Valle, Valles Centrales

Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz, Sierra Sur

Mezcal, pride, and joy were all in abundance!

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Saturday was a beautiful day for this year’s second Guelaguetza Desfile de Delegaciones. Nothing but sun and blue sky greeted the dancers as they arrived in buses, their large props arrived in trucks, and spectators arrived on foot — as Calzada Porfirio Díaz, north of Niños Heroes was blocked to traffic, except for the aforementioned mentioned official vehicles.

Did I mention, mezcal flowed freely, as dancers fortified themselves and the gathered onlookers? It’s all part of the prep and, by the time the parade began at 6:00 PM sharp, everyone was feeling good and more than ready!

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There has been so much happening in Oaxaca, this week seems to have gone by in a colorful blur. It’s already Saturday and the city is gearing up for the second Guelaguetza desfile (parade) of delegations from the eight regions of Oaxaca. And, I realized that I never did cover the first parade last Saturday — other than a single photo in the Snapshots from Oaxaca post of the China Oaxaqueña delegation huddled in the rain. I am happy to report that the storm passed and it didn’t rain on the parade.

Chinas Oaxaqueñas Genova Medina, Valles Centrales

Chinas Oaxaquenas Doña Genova,
Valles Centrales

Ejutla de Crespo, Valles Centrales

San Sebastián Tecomaxtlahuaca, Mixteca

Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Sierra Norte

San Blas Atempa, Istmo

Putla de Guerrero, Sierra Sur

Tiliches of Putla de Guerrero, Sierra Sur

Chalcatongo de Hidalgo, Mixteca

San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec, Papaloapan

San Pedro Pochutla, Costa

Chinas Oaxaqueñas Casilda, Valles Centrales

San Francisco Sola, Sierra Sur

San Felipe Usila, Papaloapan

This wasn’t even all the delegations! Today, a few of the same, plus many more — including “our” Danza de la Pluma guys (and little gals) from Teotitlán del Valle. The sun is shining and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t rain on today’s parade. By the way, they changed the route this year, beginning in Colonia Reforma and ending at Mercado de La Merced — making it longer AND closing Calle Niños Heroes (Carretera Federal 190 — known in the USA as the Pan American Highway) for more than an hour. Glad I wasn’t stuck in that traffic jam!

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It’s Guelaguetza time in Oaxaca… so many festivals, parades, and food festivals. However, not so much time to blog.

July 18, 2019 – Olga Cabrera (Tierra del Sol) and Carina Santiago (Tierra Antigua) following their mole demonstrations.

July 19, 2019 – Festival del los Moles at the Jardín Etnobotánico.

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July 20, 2019 – Mariachi concert at Hotel Las Golandrinas, in honor of founders, Señor and Señora Velasco.

July 20, 2019 – Gathering, in the rain, of one of the China Oaxaca delegations at the Guelaguetza desfile.

July 21, 2019 – Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (wild mushroom festival) in Cuajimoloyas, in the Sierra Norte.

So much fun and so much more to do! Stay tuned…

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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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Yesterday, Teotitlán del Valle’s new Grupo de Promesa de la Danza de la Pluma 2019-2021 did battle, not only with Cortes, but also with the wind — which grabbed their penachos/coronas/headdresses like sails, challenging their balance, intricate footwork, and Busby Berkeley-like choreography.

Moctezuma holding on to his penacho/corona/headdress

Danzantes holding on to their penachos/coronas/headdress

Danzante appealing to the gods to stop the wind?

Throughout the day, wind continued to challenge the danzantes

Grasping their penachos/coronas/headdresses, Moctezuma, his warriors, and allied kings kept to their feet

The danzantes of Teotitlán del Valle didn’t miss a step at this most important festival day honoring the patron saint of their village, La Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.  Alas, the wind didn’t bring much needed rain to this agricultural community.

Stay tuned, the festivities continue for another three days.

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Oaxaca is filling with tourists as “Julio, Mes de la Guelaguetza” (July, month of the Guelaguetza) is upon us — a time when Oaxaca recognizes and celebrates the sixteen indigenous groups whose languages, traditions, and rich cultures long predate the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors (both military and religious) and permeate the character of the state.

San Francisco Sola delegation – Guelaguetza July 28, 2018 desfile

Every year more parades, food and artisan fairs, concerts, and regional Guelaguetzas are added.  Drawing both foreigners and nationals, it has become THE major tourist attraction for Oaxaca. [Click on images to enlarge]

While the streets are filled with a party atmosphere and those who can afford the high-priced tickets are treated to a true spectacle — fabulous views, colorful costumes, music and dance — people question how the indigenous communities (over 50% of the state’s population and some of its poorest) actually benefit.

San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec delegation – Guelaguetza July 21, 2018 desfile

The dancers are not professional dancers, are not paid to perform, and most must travel from villages hours and hours away.

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July 22, 2018 morning

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July 22, 2018 evening

They do it for the love of their villages, pride in their heritage, and to share a little of their traditions with the world outside their communities — and I can’t help but be swept along in the joy and moved by their dedication.

Chinas Oaxaqueñas Genoveva Medina delegation – Guelaguetza July 28, 2018 desfile

To support their communities, I strongly recommend you do your shopping at the craft fairs in the city and visit the indigenous villages — buy directly from the artisans or shops that can show provenance.

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July 29, 2019 morning

Guelaguetza2PM

July 29, 2019 evening

The above four Guelaguetza performances, along with Donají, La Leyenda (tragic legend of the love between a Zapotec princess and a Mixtec prince — it doesn’t end well, but her face graces the official shield of the city of Oaxaca de Juárez) are usually shown live on CORTV — both on their television station and their YouTube channel.

Putla Villa de Guerrero delegation – Guelaguetza July 28, 2018 desfile

Friends are arriving and my calendar is rapidly filling. Perhaps I’ll run into you at a regional Guelaguetza, at one of the desfiles in the city, the Festival de los Moles, the Feria de Hongos Silvestres in Cuajimoloyas, the Expo Feria Artesanal, the Feria del Tejate y Tamal, or at any one of the scores of other events happening here in July!

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On my way to the supermarket this morning, look what I came upon in the Plaza de la Danza.  The candidates vying to become Diosa Centéotl, the fertility goddess of corn who presides over July’s Guelaguetza festival, were rehearsing the blocking for this evening’s first stage of the competition.

Down the stairs of the Plaza de la Danza they processed to the solemn sound of the Himno a la Diosa Centéotl.

According to the Secretaría de las Culturas y Artes de Oaxaca (Seculta), this year there are 43 women, all over 18 years old, hoping to be the one selected.

Onto the stage to their assigned seats, where, cued by the director, they each, in turn, practiced walking up to the microphone.

Representing the regions of the state, twelve are from the Central Valleys, eleven from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, six from the Sierra Sur, five from the Mixteca, four from the Papaloapan, four from the Coast, and one from the Cañada.

Accompanied by their shadows, they climbed the stairway to the stars to start all over again.

Tonight’s competition begins at 6:00 PM, when each participant will talk about the myths and legends, gastronomy, traditions, and tourist attractions in their village.  The second stage of the competition begins tomorrow (June 30, 2019) at 11:00 AM.

(ps)  This is not only a venue change, the date of the competition was moved up almost three weeks — perhaps to have Diosa Centéotl preside over more of the Guelaguetza’s ancillary events.

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As previously mentioned, I am currently in el norte.  Visiting my family and friends has taken me from Oaxaca to New York, across the country to California, followed by Colorado, and then back to California.  I have been on multiple airplanes, traversed through multiple airports, and been complimented multiple times on my earrings.  We are not talking gold or silver filigree, we are talking about earrings made from jícara — the fruit of the Crescentia cujete (aka, Calabash tree).  [Click on images to enlarge.]

 

Earrings are not the only things made from the dried fruit of these humble trees that grow in less-than-ideal environments.  The Tacuate women of Santa María Zacatepec (Oaxaca) use them as hats.

The gourds are cut in half, washed, and with seeds removed, set out in the sun.  Once dry, throughout southern Mexico, they frequently are lacquered, decoratively painted, and used as cups for tejate and other traditional beverages.

 

As youi can see, in Villa de Zaachila, in the valley of Oaxaca, this use is even celebrated in a Día de Muertos mural.

Larger jícaras, known as jicalpextles, are a specialty of Chiapa de Corzo (Chiapas).  However, they have assumed a special role in the Zapotec village of Teotitlán del Valle (Oaxaca), where they are filled with handmade sugar flowers and carried during weddings, religious celebrations, and other important fiestas.

 

And, recently there was an exhibition of carved jícaras by Salomón Huerta and José Cruz Sánchez from Pinotepa de Don Luis (Oaxaca) at the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular Oaxaca (MEAPO).  At last, the talent of the artisans who create these pieces is being given the recognition it deserves and their creations are being appreciated as works of art.

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IMG_2285So, hurray for the not-so-humble jícara and the ingenuity and creativity of the indigenous peoples of the world whose traditions teach them to honor and not waste the gifts of planet earth.

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May 18 is Día Internacional de los Museos (International Museum Day).  Instituted in 1977 by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the goal is to raise awareness of the role museums play in “cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”  Traditionally, the primary mission of museums has been collecting, conservation, communication, research, and exhibition.  However, according to the ICOM:

Museums have transformed their practices to remain closer to the communities they serve. Today they look for innovative ways to tackle contemporary social issues and conflict. By acting locally, museums can also advocate and mitigate global problems, striving to meet the challenges of today’s society proactively. As institutions at the heart of society, museums have the power to establish dialogue between cultures, to build bridges for a peaceful world and to define a sustainable future.

The museums of Oaxaca seem to have embraced this expanding and dynamic role — exemplified by this past winter’s exhibition at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Intervención Índigo, created by Laura Anderson Barbata, in collaboration with The Brooklyn Jumbies, Chris Walker, and Jarana Beat.

Performance and textiles meld the Zancudos (stilt walkers) of Zaachila, Oaxaca with the Afromexicano devil dance of Guerrero, the color indigo (a natural dye important to indigenous cultures in both Mexico and Africa), batik and beading techniques of Africa, with political commentary about the realpolitik of the African diaspora in North America.

Indigo is one of the oldest natural plant based dyes, used all over the world and ritually embedded with symbolism and spirituality; power and nobility…. Barbata employs textiles hand woven and dyed in Burkina Faso,Guatemala and the United States. The color historically represents absolute truth, wisdom, justice, and responsibility.

So, get thee to a museum near you — you will, no doubt, be enriched, enlightened, and maybe even empowered.

 

 

 

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Happy International Workers Day!

Food vendors at the mercado in Teotitlán del Valle

Fireworks castillo builders in Oaxaca de Juárez

Flower vendor in the Villa de Zaachila market

Teamsters unloading maguey piñas near Santiago Matatlán

Snack vendor on market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros

Construction worker preparing a new roof, Oaxaca de Juárez

Life… brought to you by the workers of the world.

 

 

 

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Since I went to the market today and we are on the topic of murals in Oaxaca…    

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The Calle Porfirio Díaz entrance to my “go to” Mercado Sánchez Pascuas has undergone a make-over to commemorate the 487th anniversary of the elevation of Oaxaca de Juárez to the status of city.

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On April 25 (Oaxaca’s official birthday) city officials, market Board of Directors, and the artists gathered for the mural’s inauguration and ceremonial ribbon cutting.

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Javier Santos, professor of sculpture at the Taller de Artes Plásticas Rufino Tamayo, explained that the mural represents a collection of symbolic images, contextualizing life in the city and market.  How many of these symbols (many Prehispanic) do you recognize?

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Javier Santos continued, “It is important that there is availability and openness on the part of the Municipal Government to bring people the great talent of Oaxacan artists through the exhibition of works in public spaces, because in them people have the opportunity to visualize the graphic quality of our state.” (Google translation)

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Here is to the artists!  May the magic of their creativity continue to illuminate the past, find truth in the present, and inspire the future. 

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And, let us hope the city of Oaxaca will see more mural construction and less mural destruction.

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Yesterday, the village of Teotitlán del Valle and its Comité del Museo Comunitario (Community Museum Committee) welcomed the public to the inauguration of the first phase of the restoration of the archaeological zone beneath the Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.  Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area had been a Zapotec ceremonial plaza.

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Before:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site, December 2013

A little background:  In 1553, Oaxaca’s Archbishop Albuquerque ordered the demolition of all Zapotec structures, including those in Teotitlán del Valle.  And, as was the practice of the day, in 1581 the Dominican friars began building their church atop the original Zapotec ceremonial complex.

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During:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site restoration, February 2019

They scavenged building materials from the Zapotec site (some can be seen in the exterior walls of the church) and tried to erase all evidence of the rich and complex belief system that was already in place.

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During:  Sidewalk supervisor dog keeps an eye on the restoration work at the Teotitlán del Valle archeological site, February 2019.

As regular readers of my blog know, I visit Teotitlán often and am always amazed at the construction projects that pop up — new buildings, additions to homes, and street repairs.  However, this past February, when touring out-of-town friends around Teotitlán, I was surprised to see work being done in the archeological zone.

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During:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site restoration, February 2019. Note the numbered pieces.

After three years of effort to obtain the necessary permits from the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History), the work on the restoration of the “basement” began in January 2019.  The end goal is to reclaim, rehabilitate, and restore the Prehispanic Zapotec ceremonial complex.  Teotitlán’s site is concurrent with nearby Mitla, thus the presence of grecas, the fretwork that characterizes the site 15 miles to the southeast.

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After:  Teotitlán del Valle archeological site restoration inauguration day, April 22, 2019.

I’m looking forward to what the next phase will reveal!  By the way, as is the custom in Teotitlán, this major civic event included not only speeches by gathered dignitaries, but also a procession, a performance of dances from the Danza de la Pluma, food, and a concert.

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