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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Thursday is market day in Villa de Zaachila. Thus, once we turned off the carretera, we crawled our way into town joining scores of other cars, trucks, tuk tuks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, dogs, and the occasional goat. The scenes were pure country village. Once parked, we meandered our way along the street stalls, stopping to examine their wares and chat with vendors.

However, our stomachs were grumbling and our trajectory was set — Zaachila’s mouthwatering barbacoa de chivo (goat) beckoned!

Once sated, we went in search of Zaachila’s beautifully decorated pan de muerto (Day of the Dead bread). It was still a little early in the season but, zigzagging up and down the bread aisles, we eventually found a couple of vendors and bought a few to be placed on our ofrendas.

Being members of the “clean plate club” and needing to walk off our very filling lunch, we walked toward the Templo de Santa Maria de la Natividad to begin the Muertos mural walk to the Panteón. However, before even reaching the church, we were stopped in our tracks by this massive and incredibly moving mural dedicated to the victims of Covid-19.

New Day of the Dead murals had been painted along calle Coquiza since I was last in Zaachila two years ago and I will post pictures later. In the meantime, next stop — a mezcal palenque in Zimatlán de Álvarez.

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Opposite Santo Domingo, a bolero (shoeshiner) walks up Macedonio Alcalá to work…

As the faces on the wall cry out, “Because we people of Oaxaca have memory and dignity, we demand justice” for the missing Ayotzinapa 43 normalistas (student teachers).

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Sometime last night, the recently inaugurated mural by the Tlacolulokos was defaced. And we are left asking, why?

The message, purportedly by anarchists (given the presence of their symbol) is calling the artists “Oaxaca indigenous traitors.” Due to their collaboration on the mural with the Canadian government??? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am sad and angry at this attack on the right of artists to create without censorship or intimidation.

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Feliz Día Nacional del Maíz (Happy National Day of Corn).

Mi orgullo es mi raiz, el maíz (My pride is my root, the corn).

But what would corn be without the hands that have cared for it for hundreds of years.CONABIO (National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity)

Sin Maíz No Hay País (Without corn there is no country)!

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Under the shade of the 361 year old Coquito de la Iglesia de Jalatlaco tree, onlookers (and bloggers like yours truly), dignitaries, media, and the artists of the Tlacolulokos collective gathered for the inauguration of the previously mentioned new mural in Jalatlaco.

“Nuestro sol se ha ido” mural in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

The mural, “Nuestro sol se ha ido” (Our sun has gone) is a collaboration between Rolande Souliere of the “Anishinaabe” people in Canada and the Zapotec Tlacolulokos urban art collective from Oaxaca’s central valley.

Indigenous Encounter Canada/Mexico, “Our sun has gone” by Tlacolulokos and Rolande Souliere.

The mural’s inauguration was live streamed on Facebook on the Secretaría de las Culturas y Artes de Oaxaca page.

Media and dignitaries gathered in the atrium of the Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco.

Unfortunately, Rolande Souliere could not travel to Oaxaca. However she described some of the symbolism of the mural: “We decided to portray the mythological beings of the Canadian thunderbird and the Zapotec deity of the Cosijo throne, these fantastic beings are responsible for the thunder and rain that the world experiences and that come together thanks to the clouds…. symbolic imageries such as Zapotec patterns, the route of thunder and the four directions of the first nations represented by the colors red, black, yellow and white… important signifiers in both communities since they represent the continuation of indigenous culture in contemporary society.”

Inaugural ribbon cutting (Canadian Ambassador wearing white shirt in center and artist Dario Canul on the far right) for the “Nuestro sol se ha ido” mural.

Dario Canul, representative of the Tlacolulokos colective further explained, “The mural, ‘Our sun has gone,’ is a representation of celebration, life, rain, thunder, and tears that all indigenous peoples have shed over time.”

Drone filming the inauguration of the “Nuestro sol se ha ido” mural.

The inauguration launched the 2-1/2 week long Encuentros indígenas: Canadá-Oaxaca 2021 (Indigenous encounters: Canada-Oaxaca 2021) — a series of activities in Oaxaca city and surrounding villages — that runs from September 20 to October 8, 2021.

Tlacolulokos artists in front of the mural, “Nuestro sol se ha ido” mural.. Dario Canul (center).

In remarks by Graeme C. Clark, the Canadian Ambassador, at the inaugural event and reports from this article, the collaboration seems to be an expression of the mea culpa by the Canadian government with regard to their historic treatment of the first peoples of the territory that is now called Canada. Better late than never. The indigenous peoples of the USA are still waiting.

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Today, I decided to change up what has become my Friday shopping routine. Instead of walking north to the fruit and veggie vendor, I headed south to explore the Friday tianguis — relocated from Llano Park a couple of years ago and now residing near the Polideportivo.

And, what an excellent decision it was! Only blocks from home, I came across a massive mural in progress on Calle de la Noche Triste at the corner of Calle Ignacio Aldama.

With scaffolding and tools of the trade in place, men were at work.

The style looked familiar, so I stopped to ask, and discovered they were the Tlacolulokos – my favorite artist collective from Tlacolula de Matamoros!

I think the guy I spoke to was a bit taken aback to find that this gringa was quite familiar with their work — including the murals for the Downtown Central Library in Los Angeles, California. Stay tuned…

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Decorations in green, white, and red began going up the first of September.

Papel picado flying above calle Ignacio Aldama in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

No, it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Window of a school in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

The entire month of September is designated the Mes de la Patria — a month celebrating Mexico’s independence from Spain — a war which began on September 16 1810 and finally ended 200 years ago on September 27, 1821.

Mexican flag flying in the yard of one of my neighbors in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

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In the first chapter of The Labyrinth of Solitude, Octavio Paz reflects on the face of an old man… “features are seen as a face, and later as a mask, a meaning, a history.”

Mural seen on Calle de Narciso Mendoza in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

And John Dalberg-Acton wrote, “History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.”

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Recycling in Oaxaca continues — slowly but surely. But, honestly, who can resist filling these hearts around Parque El Llano/Paseo Juarez?

Here in Jalatlaco, we are not asked to separate our trash, but I think I will begin taking my plastic agua mineral (mineral water) bottles down to this heart next to the Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco.

This is a program, begun in 2019, by the city’s Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, a governmental agency charged with strengthening and developing the welfare of the Mexican families.

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Unsurprisingly, on Monday Oaxaca went back to Covid-19 Semáforo Naranja (orange traffic light) — meaning there is a high risk of contagion of the virus. On Wednesday, it was reported there were 479 new COVID-19 patients, the highest figure of the year.

Unfortunately, having had to run a few errands over the past few days, I haven’t seen any changes in people’s behavior, business/government/museum closings, nor enforcement of the mask wearing mandate — only an announcement by the archbishop that churches would be limited to 25% capacity.

It is demoralizing and infuriating and all I can do is continue to wear a cubreboca (face mask) whenever I’m out and about, practice social distancing, and try to stay sane. As for the latter, I’m choosing to concentrate on and appreciate my favorite things.

People, real and imagined, waiting for the bus on Av. Benito Juárez.
Ensalada de pulpo (Octopus salad) at Barrio de Jalatlaco Restaurante.
A turquoise building, meters, and mural on Calle La Alianza in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
Water lily in the pond of Museo de Filatelia de Oaxaca (Stamp Museum).

We are all tired. However, unless people take this extremely seriously, get vaccinated, and continue to mask up and practice social distancing, “normal” will not return and our fellow humans (including loved ones) will needlessly continue to suffer and die. As a current meme suggests, let us all practice humility, kindness, and community.

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When last we left Casita Colibrí’s garden, it had weathered Moving days and the plants were Surviving and thriving wherever they had landed at their new home.

Much to the movers’ relief, some (though, not a lot!) of the plants were to remain on the ground floor. With those, it was within my artistic ability to create an entryway and to arrange the palms and other shade-loving plants in my new apartment’s atrium.

However, the landscaping on the rooftop, where the majority of the plants landed, was left to the imagination — as I had neither the strength nor the skill. Consequently, two and a half weeks ago, under a blazing hot and unrelenting sun, my friend and excellent landscaper Jose Ruiz Garcia and his nephew came over to move, position, and re-position trees and succulents and shrubs — oh my!

Most mornings it’s now where I begin my day. With coffee in hand, I cautiously wend my way up the narrow spiral staircase to commune with my plants, listen to the birds sing and chatter, and enjoy this beautiful and tranquil garden that Jose has created. It’s also a perfect setting to sip a glass of wine as the sun sets.

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Another year of Covid-19 means another year without an up close and personal Guelaguetza on the last two Mondays of July. Like last year performances and events are going virtual. However, unlike last year, when video of the dancing was taken from the years 2017 to 2019, this year the delegations will be performing live from their villages.

La Guelaguetza 2021 schedule of cultural events:

July 19, 2021 – Morning delegations and dances:

July 19, 2021 – – Evening delegations and dances:

July 26, 2021 – Morning delegations and dances:

July 26, 2021 – – Evening delegations and dances:

Transmissions can be viewed at CORTV– on local television, their YouTube channel, and on their Facebook page.

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In Teotitlán del Valle, the fiesta honoring Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo is the most important one of the year. It lasts eight days, includes two convites (processions), several special masses, and (in non Covid years) two fireworks’ displays. However, the highlight for visitors and villagers is the four performances of the Danza de la Pluma by the Grupo de Danza de Pluma Promesa.

El Picacho, the sacred mountain, watches over the village and the dancers.
The choreography includes athletic leaps, twists and turns, and complex footwork.
Maneuvering the penachos/coronas/headdresses as the dancers navigate the step takes strength and timing.

The Danza de la Pluma is a ritual re-enactment of the Spanish conquest.  The full version is told in 41 bailes (dances) and lasts from early afternoon into the night.  It is danced by folkloric groups throughout the valley of Oaxaca. However, in Teotitlán, it is a three year religious commitment. 

Rattles, paddles, and breastplates of old coins are part of the dancers’ costume.
In Teotitlán del Valle, Moctezuma’s penacho features the symbol of Mexico: Eagle and serpent on a cactus.
Moctezuma, accompanied by a Danzante, with Doña Marina and La Malinche

Moctezuma, Danzantes, Subalternos, Malinche, and Doña Marina are selected years in advance and make a promise to their god and, thus, their church and community to learn and perform the dance at each of the four annual major religious festivals in the village and any other special occasion they are called upon to dance.

La Malinche.
The dance divides the historic person of Doña Marina and La Malinche into two characters.
Doña Marina.

A 20+ piece orchestra accompanies the dancers, playing a musical score mostly comprised of waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, quadrilles, and schottisches. The first time I saw the Danza de la Pluma, I experienced a bit of cognitive dissonance at the contrast between the costumes and the music. A little research (after all, I’m a librarian) provided the explanation. At the end of the 19th century, when all things European were being celebrated in Mexico, an orchestra playing European music replaced the original indigenous teponaztli (drum) and chirimía (flute).

Subalterno providing a little comic relief.
Wearing their trademark cross between a boar and bear wooden black masks, Subalternos posing for the camera.
Subalterno taking a break from his Aide-de-Camp duties of offering water to the dancers, dealing with wardrobe malfunctions, clearing debris from dance floor, and entertain spectators.

On two of the days the dancers dance for four hours and the other two, they dance for seven hours. The sun can be brutal and the wind can wreak havoc with the penachos. I don’t know how they do it — their stamina is astounding! I only managed to attend a few hours each at three of the performances. However, I will be back in September for the Natividad de la Virgen María fiesta.

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A much needed pause in nesting at the new Casita Colibrí was in order. Teotitán del Valle’s patronal festival of the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo beckoned. The pandemic had closed the village for many months and precluded attending any of the 2020 fiestas. However, with mask on, I returned to spend three days. First on the schedule was Monday evening’s convite (procession) inviting the community to the fiesta.

Lining up in front of Iglesia Preciosa Sangre de Cristo for the convite.
Canastas ground level before being lifted onto the heads of the young unmarried women chosen to participate.
Cohetero (aka, rocket man) mugging before lighting the fuse.
Anticipating the big bang!
Tambor player who has walked many miles.
Young percussion player with many miles yet to walk.
As the shadows lengthened, the convite wound its way through the streets of Teotitlán del Valle.
Doña Marina, Moctezuma, and La Malinche bringing up the rear.
Villagers gather at their favorite location to watch the passage of the convite.
Convite taking over the main street in Teotitlán del Valle.
Danzantes under the watchful gaze of El Picacho.
Subalterno keeping on keeping up.
The return trip to the iglesia.
After almost an hour, the convite re-entered the atrium of the iglesia.
Watching and contemplating — the end.

The last festival in Teotitlán that I attended, before Covid-19 turned the world sideways, was the Fiesta de La Virgen del Rosario in October 2019. The warm welcome I received at the convite on Monday was incredibly touching and I admit to tearing up a little as it began.

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Coming or going…

rain or shine…

Barrio de Jalatlaco — my new neighborhood!

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