Posts Tagged ‘Alejandro Santiago’

It was a year I’m sure many would like to forget; it was disastrous for the planet AND her inhabitants.  For me, on this last day of the year, I choose to reflect on the beauty, joy, love, and new adventures that I was fortunate to experience.

I welcomed 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area at my childhood home, now my younger son’s domicile.  Thus on New Year’s Day, I made æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) using my great grandmother’s recipe and her, well over 100 year old, cast iron pan.

Æbleskiver on New Year's Day 2016; a family tradition

Æbleskiver on New Year’s Day 2016; a family tradition.

Back in Oaxaca, February brought a community Día de Amor y Amistad fiesta in my apartment complex.  Have I mentioned?  I have wonderful neighbors!

Valentine's Day party

Valentine’s Day party decorations in the patio.

March was unseasonably hot, but the blue skies and flamboyant trees beginning to bloom made it bearable.

Flamboyant trees, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and agave

Flamboyant trees, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and agave.

April took me to Cuba, a lifelong dream finally realized.  It was more fascinating, confounding, and fabulous than I had ever expected.


View from the Hotel Habana Riviera.

By May, the flamboyant trees had leafed out and were in full bloom — and we needed it, as the hot-hot-hot temperatures continued.

Flamboyant trees and Santo Domingo de Guzmán looking picture perfect.

Flamboyant trees and Santo Domingo de Guzmán looking picture perfect.

A calavera on the streets of Oaxaca in June?  Absolutely!  She knows no season.

Sad calavera standing on the sidewalk.

Sad calavera standing on the sidewalk.

And, then there was July!  So much to see and do, this month warrants three images.

Indigenous pipe and drums lead off the first, and stormy, Guelaguetza desfile.

Indigenous pipe and drums lead off the first, and stormy, Guelaguetza desfile.

El Jardín Etnobotánico was again the site of the Mole Festival.  So beautiful!

El Jardín Etnobotánico was again the site of the Mole Festival. So beautiful!

Vela Vinnii Gaxheé parade float, waiting.

Vela Vinnii Gaxheé parade float waiting for the Intrepidas to board.

The rainy season was in full force in August and I loved standing on my terrace watching the storms approach, though sometimes they didn’t make it all the way to Casita Colibrí.  Microclimates!

Storm approaching the city from the south.

Storm approaching the city from the south.

September brought the second major feast day in Teotitlán del Valle:  Fiesta a la Natividad de la Virgen María.

Bringing the canastas to the church for the unmarried women and girls to carry in the convite.

Bringing canastas to the church for the unmarried women and girls to carry in the convite.

I was in California from late September to early October, and when I returned there was a new exhibition in the courtyard of the Museo de Arte Prehispánico de México Rufino Tamayo.

Some of the 2501 migrant sculptures by Alejandro Santiago.

Some of the 2501 migrant sculptures by the late Alejandro Santiago.

For the past couple of years, one of my destinations on November 1 has been the panteón in Tlacolula de Matamoros; its beauty and tranquility always take my breath away.

Under the shade of the daughters of the tule tree, the chapel in the panteón.

Light and shadows cast by the daughters of the Tule tree, play off the colors of the chapel in the panteón.

Later in November, I spent a delightful Thanksgiving with family and friends on the east coast of the USA, but returned to spend Christmas in Oaxaca for the first time in three years.  It was just as joyous and colorful as I remembered!

Nochebuena angels on a float in the zócalo.

Nochebuena angels on a float in the zócalo.

These three are the future; let’s vow to do all we can to give them a better world than the 2016 one that is departing.

Many thanks to you all; I am constantly amazed and gratified that you choose to stop by.  Wishing all the best for you, your loved ones, and your communities in 2017.  ¡Feliz año nuevo a tod@s!

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… let us walk together.  And we, in Oaxaca city, have been for the past several weeks thanks to Oaxaca born artist Alejandro Santiago.

The streets and sidewalks around Santo Domingo have been peopled with “La Ruta del Migrante – Caminemos Juntos,” his heart wrenching sculptures representing the 2,501 migrantes, men and women, who have left his pueblo of San Pedro Teococuilco almost deserted.

No two sculptures are the same; each is a tribute to the unique individuals who, most certainly with great reluctance, left the homes of their families and ancestors to make their way north in search of jobs.  The pain in their contorted bodies, their faces, and their feet causes me to pause every time I pass.  I’ll let the images speak for themselves and ask the questions societies all over the world need to answer.

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These migrantes on the streets of Oaxaca are scheduled to disappear at the end of the month and I don’t know where they are next headed.  However, two documentaries have been made about Santiago’s tribute to migrantes:  Twenty Five Hundred & One by Patricia Van Ryker and 2501 Migrants: A Journey directed by Yolanda Cruz.

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… and it never gets old, at least not for me!  Thus yesterday, returning from picking up a newly repaired sandal at the zapatero (shoemaker), a parade along the Alcalá had me happily stopping.

Women in embroidered black velvet costumes and wearing white lace head pieces arm in arm with men in black pants, white shirts, red neck kerchief and carrying a sombrero

Judging by the traje (costume), what is popularly known north of the border as Frida Kahlo style clothing, the elaborate multicolored embroidery on black velvet and the signature starched white lace head pieces, immediately said the Isthmus region of Oaxaca, the area along the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

A banda led off the procession with, of course, the requisite tuba.

Man carrying a shiny brass tuba

A marlin out-of-water  followed the band.  Actually, a friend and I had a discussion about what kind of fish it was.  Marlin (blue and black), sailfish, and swordfish are found in the waters of the Gulf of Tehuantepec.  After looking at this website, I’m thinking this guy is a marlin, but who knows???

Man carrying a large grey marlin on his head

Once home and photos downloaded, the detective work began; trying to figure out what this was all about.   Putting together the information I could glean from the banners and a little research, I think this was a parade by people from San Blas Atempa celebrating a traditional fiesta titular.

Woman carrying banner, surrounded by women in bright pink skirs and black emboidered huipiles.

Naturally, there weren’t just beautifully dressed adults.  Adorable little boys…

Little boy wearing black pants, white shirt, red neck kerchief, and sombrero

and girls kept up the pace on this bright sunny 80+ degree day.

Little girl in full embroidered black velvet attiren and including white lace headpiece, looking at the camera.

I wasn’t the only one watching… Alejandro Santiago’s growing army of Migrantes stood transfixed.  (Well, actually they are literally affixed to the sidewalks and streets with some sort of gooey glue.)

Tejuana women carrying banner, as they pass Migrante sculptures lining the street.

Just another day and another parade in paradise!

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November 5th was opening day of the inaugural Oaxaca International Independent Film and Video Festival. Having volunteered at the Mill Valley Film Festival for eight years and attending it for many more, I enthusiastically poured over the nine-day schedule and made sure to arrive at the newly reopened Auditorio Ariel for the first film a half an hour early. Of course, the theater wasn’t open, no line had formed, and the only other people not sporting official film festival badges or wearing official volunteer t-shirts, were other gringos. When will I ever learn?!!

Other days and films followed, including the wonderful documentary, Awakening From Sorrow: Buenos Aires 1997. The voices of the now grown children of the disappeared, tortured, and murdered during Argentina’s “dirty war” of the late 1970s and early 1980s, are woven, along with haunting artwork, music and archival film footage into an exquisite “tapestry of remembrance” in their quest for justice. And, come to find out, it screened at last year’s Mill Valley Film Festival.

In addition to the films, the festival also featured an English language and a Spanish language literature competition. The Oaxaca Lending Library, where I volunteer, underwrote the English competition, including bringing the winner, Charles Whipple, to Oaxaca from his home in Japan(!) and hosting a reception on Nov. 11. The evening temperatures were mild, perfect for gathering in the courtyard of the stately 17th century home of the Rufino Tamayo Museo de Arte Prehispanico de Mexico, savoring the delicious canapés created by Jean-Michel Thomas of ¿Donde esta el chef?, and listening to Charles Whipple read his awarding winning story, A Matter of Tea.

The evening closed with the Mexican premiere of, Twenty Five Hundred & One, a documentary chronicling Oaxacan-born artist, Alejandro Santiago’s sculptural tribute to the thousands of men and women who have left his pueblo almost deserted, in their search for jobs. Alejandro Santiago and several of his family members and the crew who help create the 2,501 sculptures were present, as was director, Director, Patricia Van Ryker. It was a lovely way to spend an evening…

Photos from the reception can be found in a photo album on the Oaxaca Lending Library’s website.

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