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Archive for the ‘Parks & Plazas’ Category

They came, they saw, they styled, and they carried flowers!  This past Friday, it was the turn of Prepatoria No. 6 to continue the “only in Oaxaca tradition” of Viernes del Llano — aka, Paseo Juárez el Llano or Paseo de los Viernes de Cuaresma.

For the first five Friday mornings of Lent, young women in their second, fourth, and sixth semesters at the prepatorias (grades 10-12 in the USA) of the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO), circle the statue of Benito Juárez in Llano Park, collecting bouquets of flowers, in this 45-year old tradition that traces its origin back to the nineteenth century — some say, even further.

There seemed to be a record number of young women this week — at least 30 — being cheered on by their families and home room supporters and ably assisted by their male flower-carriers.

Yes, there are winners in various categories (I think, largest number of flowers collected, most photogenic, best social media, and one or two others) and an overall “Madrina del Viernes” (Godmother of Friday) is chosen.  However, all seem to leave in great spirits — and blogger buddy Chris has even spotted a few down at the local salón de billar shooting a little pool later in the morning.

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If you’ve been to Oaxaca, you have probably gazed up at the palms along Constitución next to Santo Domingo — an area known as Jardín del Pañuelito.  In early 2012, color changing mood lighting was added to illuminate the trees.

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However, last Thursday, on my way to the Oaxaca Lending Library, I noticed something was amiss; fronds had been removed from the tops of two of the palm trees.

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Saturday, the image was more ominous; one of the denuded palms was missing and crowds were focused on another.

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Most everyone had their cell phone cameras out, aimed aloft.  And then…

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Timberrrr!!!  Down it went, amidst oohs and aahs.  Then the soundtrack turned to the buzz of chainsaws, as workmen began cutting the trunk into manageable pieces.

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Sad…  I know about the where and how, but I’m not sure about the who, what, and why.

 

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Friday morning I returned to Llano Park for this year’s fifth and final Viernes del Llano, an only in Oaxaca Lenten tradition sponsored by the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca.  A few weeks ago, when I arrived at 8:30 AM, the crowds were already four deep and, initially, I couldn’t get anywhere close to the action.  Not wanting a repeat, this week I got there at 8:00 AM to discover not many people and preparations just beginning.  Looking for something to find, I came across Litzy, one of the 18 contestants having her makeup applied.

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Like most of the young women, Litzy wasn’t alone.  A team of industrious and enthusiastic supporters were there before, during, and after to help, wave banners and balloons, and cheer as she passed by.

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Like the other contestants, she was presented with bouquets upon bouquets of flowers — way too many for one person to carry.  Thus, a team of her admirers was required to follow along to assist.IMG_0755

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The time came for the winners to be announced:  Five young women were recognized for their efforts and dedication, two for their truncheon(?) and organization of their groups, another for her eloquence, and another was named Miss Photogenic.  But, what about Litzy?  The suspense continued to build as the announcer spoke and paused and spoke and paused and then the name, Litzy Guadalupe González Montes was announced as the Madrina del Quinto Viernes del Llano!P1170423

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Felicidades to a lovely and very gracious young woman.  It was a pleasure to briefly tag along on her journey.

(ps)  Chris has more photos from this week at Viernes del Llano – Beauty abounds.

 

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Viernes del Llano, where young hip Oaxaqueños and flowers, music, and tradition meet.

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The five Friday mornings following Ash Wednesday, Llano Park is the place to be.  For early risers, only — by 9:30 AM, it’s all over but the clean-up.

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Basketball is big right now in the San Francisco Bay Area; as I write the Golden State Warriors are 35 and 2 and a new, albeit controversial, 18,000 seat arena is in the works.  But, I’ll bet it won’t have views like these…

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Unlike in wider mestizo Mexico, where soccer reigns supreme, in the Sierra basketball is king. The sport was introduced in the 1930s by president Lazaro Cardenas as a way to bring Oaxaca’s disparate and historically rebellious indigenous groups into the national fold.

Cardenas’ dream of a unified national identity didn’t take root in the Sierra, which has historically been isolated and impoverished, but basketball soon became tied to the region’s most significan traditions, and to indigenous identity itself.  — Jorge Santiago

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One of several canchas de baloncesto (basketball courts) in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca.

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Tuesday morning, from the plaza in front of the Basilica de la Soledad, the sound of speeches, music, and explosions announced Día del Barrendero — a day celebrating the founding of the Sindicato Independiente 3 de Marzo.  These are the street sweepers, garbage collectors, and laborers of Oaxaca.

Earlier in the morning, a procession brought union members, their families, and friends from Cinco Señores to the Basílica, where a special mass was celebrated to honor the patron saint of Oaxaca, la Virgen de la Soledad.  Raul, a lifelong street sweeper whose work day begins at 3 AM, is quoted as explaining, “We have to thank our mother, the Virgin of Soledad, for the blessings every day gives us.”

March 3rd — brought to you by the gals and guys who keep the city clean.

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Fridays during Lent must mean the “only in Oaxaca,” Paseos Florales del Llano or Viernes del Llano, the Friday pageant through Llano Park by young female preparatoria (high school) students and their spear, oops, I mean flower, carriers.

Some will teeter on spiky heels (tacones, en español); others will opt for the less sexy, safer, maybe even edgy, and definitely more comfortable “flats” look.

According to this article, there was a tradition in Oaxaca to pay homage to women — to honor them for the important role they play in the support of the family.  The ritual died out, but was resurrected in the seventies by the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO) to recover religious and family values.  And so, for five Friday mornings during Lent, action in Oaxaca centers in Llano Park.  Along with the young women, there will be fans…

and bands…

Monos and clowns.

But the stars of the show are the young women; this Friday from Preparatoria 6.  They ranged from the natural to the glamorous.

There are winners — I think based on the number of flowers they collect from their friends, families, and fans.  However, in what seems to be a popularity contest, there is joy and sisterhood expressed by all; that is where their beauty shines through.

If you are in Oaxaca, or will be in Oaxaca in the next few weeks, check it out for yourself.

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Please note, the early start!  I arrived around 8:15 AM and, unlike previous years, couldn’t get close to the paseo.  Chris at Oaxaca-The Year After rolled in at 9 AM and it was all over but the posing, departures, and detritus.

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February 2, besides being Groundhog Day in the USA, is Candelaria in Mexico.  And so, late Monday morning, I went in search of Niño Díos.  None was to be found in the vicinity of the Cathedral.  Only the traditional red huipiles of the female Triqui members of MULT caught my eye.

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I continued my quest, heading up to Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.  However, as I walked through Llano park, no one was carrying a Niño Díos, dressed in this year’s finery, to the church to be blessed.  Only a giant red horse sculpture by Oaxaqueño artist, Fernando Andriacci (and its red feedbag?) was there to see.

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I turned west and headed for home, hoping I might possibly spot a Niño Díos as I passed Templo del Carmen Alto.   But no, only a red-shirted water delivery man caught my eye.

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Funny, if we allow ourselves to see things as they are and not as how we expect them to be, we can return home with something completely different and delightful from what we had set out to find.

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Today is Guadalupe’s feast day.  This Queen of Mexico, Empress of America, and patron saint of Mexico is being celebrated all over Mexico and, apparently for the first time in Vatican history, today Pope Francis to Say Mass in Honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

In Mexico, it’s not just a one-day event.  Wednesday afternoon, while Chris and I were giving our previously mentioned presentation at the Oaxaca Lending Library, only blocks away festivities began with a religious ceremony at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the side of Llano Park.  It was followed that night with a calenda through the streets of the city.  Yesterday, Guadalupe’s children, the little Juan Diegos and their peasant sisters, were brought by parents (and grandparents) to the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (at the north end of Llano Park), where they waited patiently in long lines to enter the church to be blessed and then be photographed in “Guadalupe” scenes.

However, on the streets of Oaxaca, Guadalupe is seen everywhere and everyday…

The other big news from Rome, that Oaxaqueños are celebrating, is the Wealth of Oaxaca craft present in the Vatican Museum — a Christmas tree and Nativity scene decorated with artesania crafted by 142 Oaxacan families from 25 municipalities in the state.  The exhibition was inaugurated on December 10 and will run through February 2015 — should you be planning a trip to Italy!

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In the words of Flannery O’Connor, “Everything that rises must converge.”

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In front of the Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the lonas rise and the ropes converge.

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As an extranjera (foreigner), I can do nothing more than observe…

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report…

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and feel.

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Signs on the Alameda and zócalo this week.

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Tonight, from the valley where corn was first cultivated, I’ll be watching my San Francisco Giants play game one of Major League Baseball’s, 2014 World Series.

I was amazed to discover that one of San Francisco’s ace relief pitchers, Yusmeiro Petit, the Giants’ do-everything man, played for the Oaxaca Guerreros in 2011!!!   The Guerreros, a Triple-A team in the Mexican League play at Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos, within walking distance (albeit, a long walk) from my apartment.  I attended several of the Guerreros’ games in 2011 and, who knows, maybe I saw him.

When I was in Mexico, I always said to myself, “This is going to be my goal, to go back to the United States and be successful,” said Petit, through a translator. “I always knew that this could happen. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew this could happen.”  (from article, Giants’ do-everything man Petit ready for any task)

 (AP Photo/Don Boomer, File)

(AP Photo/Don Boomer, File)

And, from another article:

Petit thinks his experience with the Oaxaca Warriors was crucial in his career surge.   In Mexico he learned to mix his pitches and mastered the curve.  “I was in a slump, which happens to anyone,” he said. “But in Mexico I learned that I had to work harder to keep going and to reach what I was looking for, which was to come back (to the majors) and stay here.”

¡Felicidades Yusmeiro Petit y vamos Gigantes!

 

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Eight hours today in Oaxaca…

Tuna band in Llano Park

Tuna band in Llano Park

A queen and her consort at Viernes in Llano.

A queen and her consort at Viernes del Llano

Huevos Divorciados at Cocina Economica Isabel

Huevos Divorciados at Cocina Economica Isabel

Día de la Samaritana agua on the Alcalá

Día de la Samaritana agua on the Alcalá

PRI march and rally at Plaza de la Danza

PRI march and rally at Plaza de la Danza

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A mono in camo, seriously???

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I guess it really is a jungle out there.  But, it isn’t easy to stay hidden when your buddy is laughing at you.

Just another day crossing the Plaza de la Danza on my way to the market.  As I keep saying, you just never know what you will uncover walking the streets of Oaxaca.

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After more than two weeks of frente fríos (cold fronts) sweeping down from el norte, the weather has turned downright hot, with temperatures in the mid 80s (F).  What’s a person to do?  Today, this person headed to her favorite ice cream parlor, Nevería Malena at Jardín Socrates.

I previously mentioned this nevería when the Jardín underwent an image enhancement a year and a half ago.  And, as before I ordered leche quemada (burnt milk) and tuna (nopal cactus fruit).  It may not have been the most nutritious lunch, but it hit the spot!

Parfait glass with leche quemada and tuna

As you can see from the photo, Nevería Malena now sports spiffy new seat covers for the backs of their wrought iron chairs.  And, on the back of the laminated menu of flavors, the story of Malena and the “tradition that flatters your palate” is told.  (My translation follows.)

Placard with an image of Señora Malena and a granddaughter

Señora Malena is the 5th child of Ángel Armengol and Anacieta Hernández.  They taught her the craft and soon she became one of the most prestigious and famous for the seasoning and flavors of her frozen dessert.  

Initially, Malena walked around the Zócalo, offering her frozen dessert in glasses.  Later she relocated next to the Cathedral where she continued to offer her delicious frozen dessert.  (Note:  At that time natural ice was brought from the community of “La Nevería” in the Sierra Juárez.)  She then moved to the Alameda de León to a space which already had a laminated roof.  It was here she affectionately began to be called, “Malenita” and the stall was named Malena.

Malena became famous for traditional flavors like burnt milk, sorbet, walnut, pear, and lemon.  Fame grew with an invitation by the Secretariat of Tourism to participate in the “Week of Oaxaca in Mexico,” at which Malena participated for 15 years.  The stall subsequently was transferred to “Socrates Garden” where it is currently run by her children and grandchildren, with love and affection — to continue the tradition and increase the variety of flavors.

Hanging plaques listing flavors

And, increase the flavors they have!  So many to choose from.  Hmmm… next time, Beso de Ángel or Diablo???

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