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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Coming or going…

rain or shine…

Barrio de Jalatlaco — my new neighborhood!

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I know, the recent blog posts have been few and far between — and they will continue to be so for a couple of weeks. After twelve years, I am moving across town to a new-to-me, but old to the city, neighborhood. In the meantime, enjoy photos from our recent comida at the Tierra Antigua cocina de humo (traditional outdoor kitchen).

Tierra Antigua cocinera, Carina Santiago
Sopa de guías
Tortillas hot off the comal
Mole almendrado
Kalisa and the sheep
Nieve de mango

Stay tuned for news from the new Casita Colibrí neighborhood and home.

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Several days ago, I finally returned to Teotitlán del Valle.

This was my first visit since the 30th anniversary celebration of Tlamanalli on February 14, 2020.

The pandemic hit soon thereafter and my adventures outside the city ceased.

Needless to say, I got a little emotional as I reconnected with sights, sounds, and, most of all, friends.

There wasn’t nearly enough time to check in with everyone as we (visitors from California and I) had been invited for comida at Tierra Antigua.

We spent hours and hours dining on delicious food prepared by Carina Santiago and her staff and catching up with her family and Kalisa, who is now based in Teotitlán.

However, now that I and many of my older friends in Teotitlán are fully vaccinated, I will be back soon!

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It feels so good to be back in this walkable city where simple errands offer the opportunity for exercising one’s body and mind.

“Free Palestine! Colombia lives!”

Connections are made and internationalism lives.

Reading the walls of Oaxaca is like reading the news.

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After a canceled 2020 season, Mexican League baseball returns to action and Oaxaca city officials have given the okay for fans of the Guerreros to return to the stands at estadio de béisbol “Eduardo Vasconcelos”, though capacity will be limited to 35%. And, this season the Guerreros will be led by their new manager — former Guerreros player and fan favorite, Erik Rodríguez.

VW bus often parked near the Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos, home of the Guerreros.

The Guerreros open their 2021 season on May 21 in Puebla against the Pericos and then return to Oaxaca on May 25 for their home opener. Looking at their schedule, I might just have to put a game or two or three on my calendar. Post vaccinations, it feels good to be able to get out and about once again!

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In Oaxaca, murals, stencils, and other forms of street art are ubiquitous — and often with cultural and political themes.

The same is true for San Francisco and her neighboring cities of Oakland and San Jose — primarily thanks to significant populations of color and the cultural expressions they bring.

However, in my white-bread hometown of Mill Valley, it’s only in the past several years that murals have begun popping up and they have seldom addressed social and political issues — until now.

In response to the killing of George Floyd and a controversy in the town regarding the tone-deaf attitude toward the Black Lives Matter movement and its own issues of racial discrimination and profiling, artist Wesley Cabral painted these two murals which now adorn a prominent wall in downtown Mill Valley.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mother figures out there!

“Mi Segunda Madre” woven by Mario González Pérez using wool dyed with natural dyes.

The above wall hanging (photographed in February 2021) was part of the art exhibition, “Sangre y Herencia” (Blood and Heritage) at Hotel CasAntica. By the way, Día de las Madres is celebrated in Mexico on May 10.

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As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m alive and well and, at long last, in California — my childhood home, to be exact. While I’m loving spending time with family, seeing friends, and happily able being able to wash my clothes in my own washer and dryer, it also means I’m having to cook. Looking back with envy at the meals prepared by my amiga, vecina, and cocinera extraordinaire, Kalisa.

February 12 2021 – Vegetables, queso panela, and basmati rice.
February 15 2021 – Codillo, mole, beans, and salsa.
February 24, 2021 – Eggplant and spinach lasagne.
February 28, 2021 – Duck pozole.
March 2, 2021 – Duck tostada.
March 7, 2021 – Leftovers of chard, broccolini, potatoes, and black beans.
March 8, 2021 – Chicken mole.
March 12, 2021 – Salad of Pochote bounty.
March 25, 2021 – Marinated chicken, green salad, basmati rice, and green salsa.
April 7, 2021 – Michoacán tacos with flores de frijol.
April 10, 2021 – Michoacán las corundas.
April 11, 2021 – Chicken tacos.

As you will note, the occasional vegetarian meal popped up over the past couple of months on Kalisa’s menu, along with inspiration from the recent visit to Oaxaca by Cynthia Martínez, chef owner of La Conspiración 1809 in Morelia, Michoacán. All delicious and works of art!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!”

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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!

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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.

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