Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Nature & Science’ Category

No Danza de la Pluma, no convite, no patronal festival.  The Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo in Teotitlán del Valle on an ordinary day…

P1040237_crop

El Picacho up close and personal…

P1040240_enh

And, the hills where my young Zapotec friend, Sam,  “grew up… looking after [his] crazy goats!”  He is currently finishing a PhD in Sustainable Manufacturing at the University of Liverpool.  I see a connection.

P1040243_enh

Even unplugged, the hills were alive with the sound of music — a banda could be heard in the distance — a Teotitlán del Valle soundtrack.

Read Full Post »

They say, “politics makes strange bedfellow.”  Rivers do too, as US, Mexico reach pact on Colorado River water sale.  Hopefully, Mexico isn’t getting the short end of the stick, like Southern California’s Imperial Irrigation District is accusing its SoCal neighbor, the Metropolitan Water District, of handing it.

Having grown up and spending most of my life in Northern California and suffering through a couple of major droughts that included water rationing, while water flowed south to fill LA’s swimming pools and water its lawns, the only answer to stave off the upcoming worldwide “water wars,” is the recognition that water is a precious resource that must be conserved and not wasted.

Hmmm… I wonder how these neighbors on the 500 block of Avenida Morelos get along?

Front of Iglesia Evangelica Bautista

Outside of vegetariano Flor de Loto restaurant

Sign on building, Mezcalería In Situ Torrentera

The mezcalería is the newest addition to the ‘hood and for some reason it tickled me that the vegetarian restaurant is the only thing standing between it and the Baptist church.

Read Full Post »

Like the space shuttle Endeavor, I am making a brief visit to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Endeavor shuttle in distance above the hills of the Marin Headlands

As you can see, I wasn’t the only person who decided Fort Baker in Sausalito offered a great viewing site for yesterday’s shuttle tour of the Bay Area.  Take off from Edwards Air Force Base was delayed an hour to avoid San Francisco’s ubiquitous fog.  However, we eventually spotted Endeavor as it flew in over the Marin Headlands.

Close-up of space shuttle Endeavor riding on top of Boing 747 against clear blue sky

I arrived crammed in the Economy class of a Boeing 737, my view limited to a porthole size window.  Endeavor had a bird’s-eye view as it rode piggyback on top of a Boeing 747.

Endeavor above Golden Gate Bridge

Endeavor circled around and buzzed the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a spectacular sight!

Endeavor above the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands

I will be landing at OAX in a few days on my way back to Casita Colibrí, while the Endeavor has already landed at LAX en-route to its new home at the California Science Center, where it will eventually be put on permanent display.

Cars and motorcycle waiting to go through tunnel of Marin Headlands.

I suspect Endeavor didn’t encounter this much traffic as it left the Bay Area.  However, just wait until it has to navigate Los Angeles freeways!

Read Full Post »

Warning:  If you are an arachnophobe, read no further!

Remember Argiope, one of the orb weaver spiders who hung around Casita Colibrí’s garden from September of last year through January of this year?  When last seen, she was laying eggs on my screen door.  Alas (or perhaps, thank goodness), a workman who was coming in and out of my apartment must have brushed her and her eggs away,  thus relieving me of answering the question, “Do I really want thousands of little spiders beginning to explore the world from my screen door?”

However, I suspect that wasn’t her first attempt at motherhood.   One day this past June, I was surprised to find…

Argiope spider in the center of her web

Argiope’s daughter?  That is what I would like to think!  And she is just as beautiful as her mother…

Close-up of back of Argiope

… both back (above) and front (below).

Close-up of back of Argiope

And, she is just as good as catching her lunch!  I watched as she finished wrapping up the unfortunate fly above.  I guess she needs all that nourishment…

Bright yellow tear-drop shaped egg sack attached to an agave cactus

Another generation of Argiopes in waiting!  And, as I write, the hunting continues…

Close-up of Argiope wrapping up fly

More to come?  La vida may be loca, but on it goes!

Read Full Post »

Just before this afternoon’s rains came, Casita Colibrí’s first African tulip tree blossom of the season.Orange red African tulip tree blossom .

And that means, colibríes (hummingbirds) won’t be far behind!

Read Full Post »

I’m from the cradle of modern mountain biking; Marin County, California.  In fact, it has become so popular in Marin over the past 30+ years, traffic jams have ensued at trail heads and battles between hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers over safety and environmental issues frequently make the headlines of local papers.

With this recent article in the Wall Street Journal, it looks like mountain biking has “officially” come to Oaxaca.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the wise Zapotec elders up in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte will find a way to keep the peace.  And, more than that, I’m hoping all you mountain bikers out there will be respectful of this beautiful land and her people.

From Friday, April 13, 2012 online Wall Street Journal…

Blazing Trails in Mexico

Mountain biking is rare in Oaxaca—but not for long

By TREVOR CLARK

[mexbike]
Mountain biking on the Tequila Trail near Oaxaca, Mexico – Trevor Clark

IT WAS EARLY. Hours from sunrise kind of early. My wimpy headlamp struggled to break through the predawn drizzle, and I could barely see my front tire or the trail ahead. Roots, rocks and stumps all seemed to be in cahoots, working together to upend me.

MEXBIKE

WHEEL WORLD | Riding out of the village of Benito Juárez in Oaxaca –  Trevor Clark 

I tried to become one with the bike. I tried to feel out the trail with my other senses. I tried to anticipate obstacles, but I am no Zen master. My mountain biking skills are rough under the best conditions, and I was in the jungle in the dark.

My mate’s more powerful headlamp suddenly provided a snapshot of a sharp turn and a wooden footbridge ahead. Then, lights out. I made an educated guess, went straight and took a hit that emptied my lungs: “Huhhhhh!” Cold water rushed into my clothes and pack as I lay in the stream, bike still on my feet, straight up in the air.

For a few moments, I laughed hysterically at my predicament and the fact that I was OK after missing the bridge. Then I picked myself up and kept moving.

We made it to the peak of Piedra Larga, a 10,761-foot-high lookout, for breakfast, corn-based hot chocolate and sunrise. As the sun slowly emerged from a thick layer of fog, we found ourselves hovering above a golden sea of clouds. The scenery was worth every blind pedal stroke.

MEXBIKE
HIGH ROAD | Taking in the view from a rock spire in the Sierra Norte – Trevor Clark

Seven of us had come to the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico, a forested mountain range in the northern part of the state. Oaxaca is known as the country’s culinary and cultural center, and many visitors experience it through cooking classes and gallery walks in the capital city. We, instead, were mountain-biking part of an ancient Zapotec network of walking trails that have connected eight villages to each other and the rest of the world for eons.

Mountain biking is fairly new to Mexico…. [Read FULL ARTICLE]

Read Full Post »

This morning, I was awakened from a sound sleep by the insistent siren and recorded voice alerting the neighborhood of an impending earthquake.  I bolted upright, moved to the side of the bed and slipped on my flip-flops — ready to head out the door if shaking commenced.  As I’ve mentioned before, I think Mexico’s Earthquake Warning System is terrific and something the US should emulate.

However, this time, no rocking and rolling occurred, but I was left wide awake and wondering if and where an earthquake had occurred.  So I pulled out my iPod Touch and opened my iEarthquake app and found that at 5:10 this morning, there was a magnitude 5.7 earthquake about 105 miles WSW from the city of Oaxaca in the mountains near the coast.  The epicenter was 6.2 miles northwest of Pinotepa Nacional, in the Costa region of the state of Oaxaca.

So, I decided to use this event for a geography lesson.  The state of Oaxaca has 8 regions (it used to be 7, but not too long ago the Sierra Region was split into two):

These regions are home to 14 distinct ethno linguistic groups and the regions vary dramatically in topography, vegetation, and climate.  One can catch a glimpse of the unique costumes, dances, and dancers of each region during the Guelaguetza celebration in Oaxaca in July.   The city of Oaxaca is located in the Valles Centrales (“Centro” on the map below).

Color coded map of the regions and districts of Oaxaca

Map from Wikipedia

For a painless way to learn more about the geography of Mexico, you might want to take a look at the Mexican States games.

Read Full Post »

Mazunte was the first beach on Oaxaca’s coast I visited.  The beach is stunningly beautiful and uncrowded and accommodations lean toward the small and environmentally conscious.

View of Mazunte beach from hill above.

In addition to the appeal of the warm clear waters of its beach and digging your feet in the sand as you dine on fresh fish tacos, Mazunte is home to the Natural Cosmetics Cooperative, established by Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop.  The cooperative’s products (soaps, lotions, oils, mosquito repellent, etc.) are available in the city of Oaxaca at the weekly Friday/Saturday Organic Market in the plaza of Santo Tomás in the Xochimilco neighborhood.

Mazunte also houses the National Mexican Turtle Center, whose successful work is the subject of Tim Johnson’s recent blog post, Turtle Hatchlings Head for the Sea.

 

 

Read Full Post »

As someone who spent most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area and has experienced a fair share of earthquakes, including the deadly Loma Prieta quake in 1989, I think the Mexican government seems to take warning it’s population more seriously — placing a higher value on preventing the loss of life, in the case of earthquakes, than the powers-that-be in el Norte.

Though I didn’t hear the early warning siren in Oaxaca for Tuesday’s 7.4 earthquake (or, perhaps I wasn’t tuned in to what it was), I did hear it for a couple of aftershocks.

By the way, I arrived in Chiapas yesterday morning, and the talk is about the highly publicized drill that was conducted statewide, with sirens blaring, only minutes before our 7.4 terremoto hit.


Why California Lacks an Earthquake Warning System Like Mexico’s (via The Bay Citizen)

Early alerts gave people time to go to safe areas before large quake hit By John Upton, Matt Smith on March 22, 2012 – 5:43 p.m. PDT Alicia Montiel Rodriguez was in an office building in southern Mexico City Tuesday when alarms began to sound, piercing the air with beeping tones and recorded messages…

(more…)

Read Full Post »

…under my feet.  Well, actually I didn’t feel the 7.4 terremoto (earthquake) about noon today.   I heard it!  I was walking up the Álcala and the windows on one of the university buildings started rattling and people began pouring into the streets, murmuring “un terremoto, un terremoto!”

People standing around in the Plaza de la Danza in front of the Palacio Municipal

The above photo was taken from above the Plaza de la Danza, outside the Palacio Municipal, about a half an hour after the initial shake and shortly before sirens went off and a 5.0 aftershock struck — which I also didn’t feel!

Representative of the Proteccíon Civil Municipal de Oaxaca in a yellow vest giving a press conference.

I continued on with my shopping and when I passed by the Palacio Municipal again, the media was all over the place, and more press conferences out on the sidewalk were being conducted.  The fellow above is from the Proteccíon Civil Municipal of Oaxaca.  The fellow below was speaking about the schools.

Video cameraman focused on man speaking.

Though there is concern for the rural villages closer to the epicenter, currently all is well in the city.   And one of the members of the municipal police force assured me the daughter of “my” president was fine.

Read Full Post »

Southern exposure

Sunset last night…

as it unfolded.

Sometimes, looking south is the best!

Read Full Post »

Be it looking down from the windows above, strolling through the gardens on a tour, or peeking through openings in the wall on Reforma or Berriozabal on the way to someplace else, Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden is always a soothing and uplifting sight.

Looking out from window above Ethnobotanical Garden

Check out this informative and enlightening article by Jeff Spurrier discussing the origins and vision of  Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden — from the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Garden Design:

Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden

“I am not a gardener.” Francisco Toledo is sitting in the courtyard of the graphic art institute he founded in downtown Oaxaca City, Mexico, sipping on a glass of agua de jamaica. His fingers are paint-smudged, and he moves stiffly from a sore back. Toledo, 71, is one of Mexico’s best-known living artists; his paintings, sculptures, and textiles are in galleries and museums around the world. At home in Mexico, he is identified with a fierce and outspoken defense of the indigenous arts and culture of the southern state of Oaxaca. He also, as it turns out, helped to create one of the world’s most original public gardens.

“The professionals are the people who live in the country,” he says. “The campesinos and workers — I don’t have the patience.”

Nearly 20 years ago, the Mexican military moved out of a 16th-century Santo Domingo monastery complex it had used as a base for more than 120 years. Mexico’s president gave the exit order after being lobbied by Toledo and other leading artists and intellectuals belonging to Pro-Oax, an advocacy group urging the promotion and protection of art, culture, and the natural environment in Oaxaca. Soon, a great clamor began: The state government wanted the five-acre parcel in the heart of downtown Oaxaca City to create a hotel, convention center, and parking facility. A restoration team brought in by the National Institute of Anthropology and History wanted to establish a European garden in the 17th-century baroque style. Some of Toledo’s fellow artists wanted to use the grounds for workshops and exhibition space.

n 1993, when Toledo knew the army would be leaving, he asked Alejandro de Ávila B., who had family roots in Oaxaca and training in anthropology, biology, and linguistics, what he and other advocates would propose. De Ávila suggested making the space into a botanic garden — or, more precisely, an ethnobotanic garden, one that would “show the interaction of plants and people.”

I highly recommend reading the Full Article.

h/t  Norma and Roberta

Read Full Post »

Remember Argiope, from my September 20 and October 8 posts? She has continued to hang around, catch flies, and do all manner of spidery things. However, four days ago, her web was abandoned…

empty web

Apparently, my screen door is the perfect place, in her mind, to lay her eggs!

Argiope laying eggs on screen door

A friend asked, how do I feel about having hundreds of little Argiopes hatch practically INSIDE my apartment?

Argiope and eggs

I’m trying not to think about it, says I.

 

Read Full Post »

…at Hierve el Agua.  Well, it doesn’t actually boil; cool, mineral rich water burbles up from underground springs,

Water burbling up into a small pool

depositing calcium carbonate as it cascades over the two cliffs, forming the Cascada Grande…

Calcium carbonate "waterfall"

and the Cascada Chica.  To reach the latter, one must bounce along a dirt road that twists, climbs, and descends for at least a half an hour from Mitla, pay a 20 peso admission, park, and then walk a short way down a steep and rocky path to come upon a spectacular sight.

Tree in foreground, with pool and mountains behind.

More than 2,500 years ago, a uniquely designed irrigation system was constructed to channel the waters.  (More information:  Ecotourism – Hierve el Agua)

Water and stone pockets

Iron stained troughs bring the mineral rich and supposedly healing water…

Rust-red stained trough

to two artificial, but tranquil pools above the Cascada Chica; peaceful at least on weekdays.  Rumor has it, the weekend scene is much more lively!

Green tinged water in pool on side of cliff.

Yesterday (a Friday), this dramatic take on an infinity pool had us all saying, aaahhh.

Pool dropping off over the cliff, with scenic background of mountains.

(ps)  A word to the wise (from the unwise), bring bug spray… though you may not see them, they (whatever they are) are there!  There are also food and trinket vendors, swimming is allowed, and bathrooms and changing rooms are available.

Read Full Post »

The crescent moon keeps a watchful eye over the sand paintings in the Plaza de la Danza, by day…

Painting handing on wall above the Plaza de la Danza

and by night…

Crescent moon between the bell towers of San Jose church, in Oaxaca

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: