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Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Sorry folks, the bus doesn’t stop here.  Why?  You ask.  Doesn’t red mean “stop”?  Not here.  Not now.  There is DANGER; this edifice is in a bad state!

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And, make sure to produce, disseminate, and teach about the dangers of buildings in hazardous states of disrepair.  As Mother Nature has reminded us twice within the past week, this is earthquake country.

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Slowly the cars began to move.  Slowly they climbed the steep hill.  As they climbed, each little steam engine began to sing:  “I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I-think-I-can!  I think I can – I think I can – I think I can I think I can–”  (The Little Engine That Could)

In this case, the little engines that could are Volkswagen Beetles, known in Mexico as vochos.  These indomitable VW Bugs are ubiquitous on the streets of Oaxaca — in a rainbow of colors and in every stage of repair and disrepair imaginable.

Fuschia vocho parked on street

They can even be spotted traveling along the walls…

“Vocho art” isn’t limited to murals on street corners.  Check out this Huichol beadwork “Vochol” I saw on exhibit at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City last October.  It is the work of Francisco Bautista, Kena Bautista, Roberto Bautista, Diego Díaz González, Emilio González Carrillo, Víctor González Carrillo, Alvaro Ortiz, and Herminio Ramírez.

And, that isn’t all…  Mexican artist, Héctor Garnelo Navarro has covered a 1994 VW Beetle  with “19,800 semi-precious stones (e.g., obsidian, jade) that form images of pyramids, animals, ancient deities (Quetzalcóatl [Feathered Serpent, Creator God] and the Mictlantecuhtli [God of the Underworld]).”  It is known as the Vocho Teotihuacano (Teotihuacán Beetle) and according to this article, he is finishing a Vocho Maya and is considering a Vocho Alebrije — the latter inspired by the wood carvers and painters of Oaxaca.  So, keep your eyes open!

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Prior to heading to el norte, I stumbled on the delightful exhibition, Ciudad BICible, at the Casa de la Ciudad.  It is a glimpse into the history of the bicycle — its role in society, culture, and its importance today as a means of transportation in the city.

The exhibition invites visitors to reflect on how the bike has managed to point cities towards a more tolerant, healthy, equitable, and human way of living, and how we can make Oaxaca a “Bike City.”

Ciudad BICible opened October 7, 2016 and runs until January 29, 2016.  The Casa de la Ciudad is located at Porfirio Díaz 115, at the corner of Morelos in Centro Histórico, Oaxaca.

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The morning of August 12:  Almost continuous explosions of cohetes (rockets), shrill incessant traffic whistles, honking horns, and the distant sounds of a band (or two or three).  What in the world?  I had errands to run, so out into the cacophony to confront the unknown, I went.  It only took walking to the end of my block to realize what I’d forgotten.

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It’s Día del Taxista, the day when cab drivers and their families decorate their taxicabs and process en mass through the streets of the city, accompanied by bands, monos, and pirotecnicos (hence the booms and bangs).

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I not only forgot what day it was, but I also forgot my never-leave-home-without-it little Lumix, so the above were taken with my iPhone — something I almost never do and which explains the “creative” image below.

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I have NO idea how it happened, but I’ve got to say, it does illustrate what riding in a taxi in Oaxaca often feels like!

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In a time long ago, in a land far away, my mother bought a 1955 red and white Ford Fairlane convertible with red and white leather upholstery and a V8 engine.  What a car!  With top down, several road trips from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles ensued.  And, “Betsy” even bumped along dirt roads and forded streams on camping trips up to Mount Lassen.  We had her for ten years before repeated repair trips had my mother saying, “Enough!!!” and trading her in.  It was a very sad day.  What almost 16-year old wants to learn to drive a big boring pale yellow 1965 Ford Fairlane station-wagon?!

However, Betsy lives on the streets of Cuba!!!  Last week’s Havana vacation had me seeing her and her older and younger Ford brothers and sisters everywhere — even Edsel!

Also there were her cousins.  Most of the vintage cars, known as almendrones in Cuba, are taxis and, once destination and price are agreed to, they ply the streets taking passengers from point A to point B.

Though often they just cruise up and down the Malecón seeing and being seen enjoying the sea breeze and spectacular setting.  It’s an especially popular pastime among tour groups and wedding parties.

The Stills and Young wistful elegy to Neil Young’s first car, Long May You Run, keeps playing in my mind.

Long May You Run

We’ve been through
some things together
With trunks of memories
still to come
We found things to do
in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Well, it was
back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift
on the long decline
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Maybe The Beach Boys
have got you now
With those waves
singing “Caroline No”
Rollin’ down
that empty ocean road
Gettin’ to the surf on time.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

To the vintage cars of Cuba, long may you run!!!  And, for those concerned, as we were, about collectors coming in and sweeping up many of the 60,000 old American cars, according to a couple of articles I’ve read, that might not be the case.  Because of their age and the US embargo, “the cars have jerry-rigged modifications” that make them undesirable to collectors.  Then there is the pride owners have in their cars…

Cristian Paez, 40, said he has no intention of letting go of his 1956 purple and beige Bel Air convertible, purchased long ago by his grandfather. ‘Not possible,’ declares the burly 40-year-old, not for any price. ‘I love driving this car.'”

Stay tuned here and on Oaxaca-The Year After for more on the Havana adventure.

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And a slightly squashed Beetle, at that!

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Street sweepers and their escobas (brooms) de otate, excepted.

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Unfortunately, not Cuba.  (One of these days…)

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Saw it yesterday walking down Tinoco y Palacios, on my way home from Mercado Sanchez Pascuas.

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Leather upholstery, wood steering wheel, and paneled dashboard — it’s one very cool vocho.

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However, when it comes to telling a color story, wish it had been parked a couple of blocks down the hill, in front of this wall. 😉

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If you drive in Oaxaca, you might want to take a stroll down the Alcalá today.  In front of MACO, there is an exhibition of rules of the road for the municipality of Oaxaca.

Who knew Oaxaca has an actual motor vehicle code???

 

If you have ever walked, biked, driven, or ridden, this comes as a pleasant surprise — *surprise* being the operative word!

However, I’m not sure how many drivers stroll the Alcalá…  Something tells me that those who need these lessons the most, probably don’t spend their Saturdays promenading along the capital city’s Andador Turístico.

Just so you know…  Licensing drivers is up to each state in Mexico and, according to Alvin Starkman, Oaxaca “has done away with virtually all licensing requirements relating to safety: no written test, no road test, no eye test.”  Consider yourself forewarned. 😉

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Ahhh… the joys of navigating Oaxaca’s sidewalks.

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And, this is nothing compared to manholes minus their covers!  I tell visitors they must ALWAYS watch where their feet are going; if they feel compelled to look up at the bell towers of a colonial church or at a gal balancing a basket of sweets on her head — STOP, then look!P1150492

However, in the absence of municipal action to remedy these hazards to one’s health and safety, Grupo Salvando Vidas Oaxaca (Saving Lives Oaxaca Group), an organization of concerned citizens, has come to the rescue.  According to this news report, the volunteer group was born last year after the founder of the group, Manuel Chávez Nuñez saw a disabled person fall into an uncovered sewer drain.P1150489

Yesterday, the group, which numbers around 15, set up a display of the wooden covers they use to replace gaps and holes in sidewalks around the city.  In addition to showcasing their work and recruiting volunteers, they were collecting donations for materials and giving away free books.  What’s not to like?!!!

P1150496“Everything that is done is for love… We put ourselves in the place of the other person and get down to work.”  (translated from article in today’s Noticias)  Grupo Salvando Vidas Oaxaca, those of us negotiating the sidewalks of Oaxaca offer you our very grateful muchisimas gracias!

Now if only someone could do something about vehicles making right and left turns without stopping or signaling.  Sigh…

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Yesterday, 20 de noviembre, was el Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day), but you wouldn’t know it in Oaxaca.  For the second year in a row, the parade was canceled — last year it was due to protest threats by Sección 22 of the teachers union and this year because the governor declared that it was a work and school day, so there should be no desfile to distract students and their maestros.

Besides, in 2005, Article 74 of Mexican labor law established the third Monday of November as the “official” holiday — thus following the USA’s “time-honored tradition” of creating 3-day holiday weekends and setting the stage for 3-day shopping frenzies.  Mexico is following the latter also — we got caught up in the crowds of “Buen Fin” shoppers in Guadalajara last Sunday.  However, Monday, I was en route from the Guadalajara to Oaxaca aboard the new non-stop flight by TAR airlines.  Upon my return in the afternoon, I didn’t see or hear of anything special happening in Oaxaca city and there weren’t even any fireworks from the zócalo or Plaza de la Danza that night.

So, in lieu of a revolution-related blog post, I’m returning to the above mentioned visit to the state of Jalisco for a few super-saturated scenes from my seven hours in Guadalajara.

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View from a courtyard at the Instituto Cultural de Cabañas

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Cathedral of Guadalajara

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View from the old bus terminal in Guadalajara

It’s great to be back under Oaxaca’s spell!  However, though not enchanted with Guadalajara (hence the desire to add pixie dust to the photos), it has some spectacular Orozco murals at the Palacio de Gobierno and the Instituto Cultural Cabañas.

 

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Pretty in pink on the streets of Oaxaca…P1140835

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And, this doesn’t even include the pink and lime green of Correos de México (Mexican post office).

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El auto del pueblo (the car of the people)…

P1130666The Volkswagen Beetle, known in Mexico as a Vocho, has been plying the highways and byways of Mexico since it made its debut in Mexico City at the “Alemania y su Industria” (Germany and its Industry) exhibition in 1954.

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As the announcer used to say, “And now for something completely different…”

Apparently, when the Minions went in search of their next evil boss, they must have stopped off in Oaxaca.  My first sighting was on the bus back to the city from the Guelaguetza in Etla two weeks ago.

P1130164Then, there they were today, as taxis paraded through the streets of Oaxaca, celebrating Día del Taxista.

P1130381P1130383Hmmm…  Is there something about the movie that resonates with the transportation workers of Oaxaca?

P1130396copyScarlett Overkill (the Supervillainess):  DO you know who this is?
[points at a British Royal portrait]

Kevin (the Minion):  Uh… la cucaracha? 

Minions

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