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Posts Tagged ‘Barrio de Jalatlaco’

Like doors everywhere, the doors of Barrio de Jalatlaco are doorways leading to comings and goings, the known and unknown, and the life stories we create from outside and in.

“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.” -― William Blake

“Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. — Daisaku Ikeda

“Every doorway, every intersection has a story.” — Katherine Dunn

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While visiting el norte, one of my “musts” is taking advantage of the ethnically diverse dining options on the west and east coasts. To date, twice I’ve eaten Japanese at my younger son’s favorite restaurant, had Chinese twice, and dined on Indian twice. However, I’ve now been away from Oaxaca for a month and I’m dreaming Oaxaca dining dreams. Until my return next week, photos from three recent meals I’ve eaten in Oaxaca will have to suffice.

Garnachas – Maguey y Maíz
Ensalada pulquera – Maguey y Maíz
Mole de Caderas – Las Quince Letras
Chocolate tamal – Las Quince Letras
Roasted beets with fermented lentils – Barrio de Jalatlaco Restaurante
Grilled octopus – Barrio de Jalatlaco Restaurante

Then there is the street food… tacos, empanadas, tlayudas, oh my!

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The walls of Oaxaca always have a lot to say. Now you can learn the abecedario a señas (sign language alphabet) from a wall on 5 de mayo in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

In mid April, this new mural was unveiled. Organized by Maestro Rolando Sigüenza, deaf artists Jonatan Martínez, Juan Antonio García, Moisés Antonio Orozco, María Soledad Aguilar, Blanca Flor Pineda, Miguel Eduardo Mancera, Jesús Ariel Castellanos, Mitzi Scheherazada, Rebeca Casas, Susana Hernánez, Marcial Pérez, Emmanuel Ignacio, Cristhian Yépez, and Ángel Iván Torres painted a mural of the alphabet in sign language and braille.

Benito Juárez signing.

The text below Benito Juárez explains, “On November 28, 1867, Benito Juárez founded the first school for deaf people in Mexico, which at that time was called the National School for the Deaf, despite the fact that the School was closed, the deaf continue to fight for our rights.”

Danza de la Pluma danzante signing.

The owner of the property, la señora Rosario Martínez, said she provided the space so these artists could show their work and to beautify the neighborhood.

China Oaxaqueña with canasta spelling AMOR (LOVE).

Does anyone know what Benito Juárez and the danzante are signing?

My plan is to learn a new letter each time I walk by.

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An albeit belated return to Semana Santa (Holy Week). Viernes Santo (Good Friday) in Barrio de Jalatlaco began early in the morning with a Santo Viacrusis along the cobblestone streets — a recreation of the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion. Its purpose is to allow the faithful to contemplate the Passion of Christ. The images of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, accompanied by a band and neighbors, stopped at each of the fourteen Stations of the Cross, that had been created throughout the neighborhood, where prayers were recited.

Image of Jesus being carried by Penitents.
Image of Mary Magdalene.
1. Jesus is condemned to death.
2. Jesus takes up his Cross.
3. Jesus falls for the first time.
4. Jesus meets his Mother.

At the fourth station, set up across from the Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco, Mary and John the Baptist (referred to here as, Juan, el primo de Jesús/John, the cousin of Jesus) joined the procession for the farewell encounter between Jesus and his mother.

Mary, Mother of Jesus.
John, the Baptist.
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross.
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7. Jesus falls for the second time
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
9. Jesus falls for the third time.
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments.
11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
12. Jesus dies on the Cross.
13. Jesus is taken down from the Cross.
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Following the procession, neighbors gathered in front of Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco for food and beverages that were available for sale at stalls set up on Aldama and Hidalgo. I came home with yummy enchiladas.

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Breaking news up here in el norte, relayed to me via email from friends in San Francisco and in a phone conversation with my BFF in Alaska: The most recent episode of House Hunters International took place in Oaxaca AND one of the houses featured was in my neighborhood, Barrio de Jalatlaco. My SF friends described the very distinctive building facade and I knew exactly where it was — and had taken several photographs of it.

According to the episode’s description, “A young couple decides to leave their home in Memphis and move sight unseen to Oaxaca, Mexico. They’re both fitness junkies who want a taste of the mountains and nature, and he wants a place on the outskirts, but she prefers to be near the city center.”

Sight unseen? In any case (spoiler alert), my friends informed me the young fitness junkies turned it down as it was too small and dark.

I haven’t seen the episode, but I have seen the show and it never ceases to amaze and dismay me that most of the time, the buyers and renters come to developing countries with highly developed expectations AND wanting it all for a fraction of the cost in their home countries.

The rent was $1100 (US) per month — low in most US cities but extremely high for most Oaxaqueños. Such is rental inflation wrought by, among other things, digital nomads willing to pay whatever their bank balances will bear, never mind the impact on the local economy, and the proliferation of apartments being turned into Airbnb rentals.

Something to think about from, The End of Tourism Podcast interview with Daniel Pinchbeck:

And many of the people that I know have become, you know, quote unquote “digital nomads.” So if they’re doing like lifestyle coaching or marketing or tech or whatever, they can basically do that from anywhere in the planet. And obviously because they’re wealthy and come with money to restaurants and buy goods, there’s desirability for them to make a second home someplace or whatever.

… I think that often we see in the world over the last decades kind of like homogenization, cultural homogenization.

… And so the tourism which ends up taking Western first world values and spreading them everywhere acts as kind of a larger imperialist, colonialist kind of project that can lead to the deterioration of the integrity of local cultures and very few countries and cultures have had the capacity to kind of build the defense structure, recognizing the danger of this.

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After two years of quiet contemplation, the streets of Barrio de Jalatlaco were once again alive on the sixth Friday of Lent in celebration of La Virgén de Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows).

Here in my new neighborhood even more purple and white papel picado was strung from building to building.

At the far end of Calle Hidalgo, an altar to La Virgén was lovingly assembled.

In the late afternoon, stalls were set up along Calle Hidalgo and lines of neighbors and visitors formed to sample the freely offered aguas (flavored waters), nieves (ices), and traditional arroz con leche y garbanzos (rice pudding with chickpeas).

Mass was celebrated in Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco and music filled the street.

A generous, albeit temporary, antidote to the sorrows of our current world. I feel incredibly fortunate to have landed in this amazing neighborhood!

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On the walls of Barrio de Jalatlaco, there is always dancing on the cobblestone streets.

And, it’s not just during La Guelaguetza that the sights and sounds of real life dancers can be heard and seen in the neighborhoods of Oaxaca, calendas (parades) celebrating festivals, weddings, graduations, and more are part of the life and soundtrack of Oaxaca.

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After a two-year absence, she’s back! The Good Samaritan returned to the sidewalks, streets, and church atriums of Oaxaca. The fourth Friday of Lent is Día de la Samaritana, an “only in Oaxaca” celebration. It was with great joy, I ventured onto the streets of Barrio de Jalatlaco clutching my cup, from which to drink the aguas being offered.

My neighborhood!
Jacob’s Well in front of Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco
Reenactment of the Good Samaritan offering water to Jesus

The Day of the Good Samaritan was inspired by the Gospel of John story in the New Testament of the Bible where a tired and thirsty Jesus, on his way to Galilee, asks a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well in Sychar for some water. His request was highly unusual because, according to the Old Testament, “Jews regarded the Samaritans as foreigners and their attitude was often hostile.”  The woman complied with his request and the rest is history.

Not just women are Good Samaritans
Agua stations in the middle of Calle Hidalgo
Horchata on offer at a language school

Celebrating the Good Samaritan in Oaxaca began in the atriums of churches at the end of the 19th century. It is a popular and much-loved tradition that has expanded beyond Oaxaca’s church Samaritans to businesses, government offices, schools, and even private homes.

Marimba players providing the musical accompaniment
Violet and white (colors of Lent) papel picado fluttering above Calle Hidalgo
Tejate being poured

This year the first block of Calle Hidalgo was closed to traffic so agua stations could be set up in the middle of the street and naturally, as with most celebrations, there was music — this time a marimba provided the soundtrack.

Lines going to stations on the right and left at the corner of Calles Hidalgo and Aldama
Outside Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco, most, though not all, listened to the priest (upper right corner)
A refreshing cup of tejate on a hot day

As in pre-Covid years, people of all ages, from small children to grandparents, lined up at bougainvillea and palm decorated booths to sample agua de jamaica (hibiscus), horchata, chilacayote (squash), tamarindo, sandia (watermelon), tejate, and other creative and refreshing concoctions.

The guys, gals, and aguas
The friendly Samaritan at Coffee Deep serving horchata
The end!

After an hour of wandering the streets of my neighborhood and sampling several aguas and even a cookie or two, I happily returned home with my heart full of love and gratitude for the traditions and people of Oaxaca.

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Three days ago, as I was walking up Calle 5 de mayo in Barrio de Jalatlaco to pay my cable TV bill, I came upon an artist at work.

This afternoon, I retraced my steps to see if the artist known as HAZHE IS had completed this newest mural in the neighborhood.

I don’t know if it’s finished, but I do know (IMHO) it is a welcome (and welcoming) addition to the view when departing the ADO bus station across the street. ¡Salud!

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Out of Mother Nature’s fury in August 2021…

comes neighborhood cooperation and beauty in January 2022.

Click on image to enlarge and see the names of the artists.

On Calzada de la República, between the Barrio de Jalatlaco streets, Calle Hidalgo and 5 de mayo.

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The 361 year old decidious Coquito de la Iglesia de Jalatlaco trees in the atrium of Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco are beginning to bloom.

El Coquito (aka, Pseudobombax ellipticum, Amapola, Xiloxochitl, Sospó, Clavellina, Shaving brush tree, Cabellos de Ángel, Angel hair) is one of my favorite trees in Oaxaca.

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December is a noisy month in Oaxaca. The cohetes (all bang, no bling rockets) began shattering the sound of silence yesterday and, except possibly during the middle of the night (I fell asleep to the bangs and booms) have continued unabated today. Why? you might ask. December 8 is the day Oaxaca celebrates her very own Virgen de Juquila. Next up, on December 12, along with the rest of Mexico, there will be festivities honoring the Virgen de Guadalupe, and finally on December 18 the Reina y Patrona de Oaxaca (Queen and Patroness of Oaxaca), la Virgen de la Soledad (Virgin of Solitude) will have her day.

In the meantime, under clear blue skies and temperatures in the 80s (Fahrenheit), the city sparkles with Christmas decorations.

Alameda de León, across from the cathedral
Alameda de León, across from the cathedral
Andador Turístico, Calle Macedonio Alcalá
Andador Turístico, Calle Macedonio Alcalá
Barrio de Jalatlaco
Barrio de Jalatlaco

Today’s breaking news: According to the Director of Culture and Tourism, on December 23 the annual, and extremely popular, Noche de Rabanos (Night of Radishes) will be held in person, but with reduced participation and a change of venue — the Plaza de la Danza.

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It’s been a crazy busy visit to el norte gratefully sprinkled with some fun with family and friends. However, now I’m getting ready for my return to Oaxaca and the hummingbirds in my Jalatlaco ‘hood.

The last image is a commissioned watercolor by Raul Baños hanging in my living room. How many colibríes (hummingbirds) can you see?

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The evening of October 31, I heard the unmistakable sounds of a procession coming down the street — but not the raucous cacophony of a muerteada which, given the date, I was expecting. No, this was the slow dirge-like and repetitive hymn of a religious procession. Needless to say, I grabbed my camera, keys, and cubreboca (mask) and headed out the door. The Catholic church has dedicated the month of October to honor the Virgin Mary with the recitation of the Holy Rosary. This being the last Sunday of October, María traveled through the streets of Barrio de Jalatlaco through the generous mayordomía (stewardship) of the families Robles Tamayo and García Robles.

Upon her return to Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco, she was greeted by a less than solemn scene of Día de Muertos revelers in costumes and face paint, no doubt looking for a muerteada (aka, comparsa). According to the book, Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca, the muerteada allows the dead “to ‘occupy’ a living body, either a muerteada participant or an audience member, for a time, and therefore enjoy the entertainment directly rather than vicariously.” I suspect for some, it was just an excuse to party.

However, a muerteada did come to my neighborhood the following night. Again, I grabbed camera, keys, and cubreboca and ventured out to check it out. The craziness was only just getting started and would undoubtedly go on most of the night. Besides, not even half the people were wearing masks, so, after twenty minutes and twenty plus photos, I went home.

The sacred and profane that is Mexico.

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Day of the Dead altars and their offerings to the departed vary from region to region and, within those regions, from family to family. Ofrendas (offerings) are an integral part of Día de Muertos. They are a beacon to the departed, an ephemeral work of art, and the sum of their lovingly chosen parts. As you can see from the photos below from several in Barrio de Jalatlaco, even on public display, they are intensely personal and creative.

Galería Shadai – Flowers, papel picado, candles, incense, pan de muertos, fruit, nuts, a casserole, and beverages.

And, there is a catrina tapete de arena (sand carpet) made of sand, beans, and flowers.

However, the only photo is of Maestro Francisco Toledo placed on a side pedestal.

Los Pilares Hotel and Restaurant – Flowers, papel picado, catrinas and catrins, candles, fruit, pan de muertos, and beverages.

And, there is a beautiful floral arch.

No photos of loved ones, but it’s a love story to the state of Oaxaca.

Family ofrenda – 5 de mayo at the corner of La Alianza. Family photos of the departed take center stage with papel picado, cempasúchitl (marigolds), and skeletons playing supporting roles.

Then there are those magnificent floral candles like one sees in Teotitlán del Valle.

And, lest the departed can’t find their way home in the greatly expanded city, an old photo and skeletons await outside the altar alcove to show the way.

Last but not least, my altar and offerings. It was a creative challenge to set up in the new Casita Colibrí.

It’s smaller than previous years, but I have figured out a way to make it bigger and better next year.

A yellow (color of death in pre-hispanic southern Mexico) tablecloth; papel picado (cut tissue paper) signifying the union between life and death; cempasúchitl (marigolds) and flor de muerto from the Sierra Norte, their scent to guide the spirits; and cresta de gallo (cockscomb) to symbolize mourning. There is salt to make sure the souls stay pure and chocolate, peanuts, pecans, apples, mandarin oranges, and pan de muertos (Day of the Dead bread) to nourish them. The sweet smell of copal incense and its smoke help guide my loved ones to the fiesta I have prepared for them. There is water to quench their thirst, as they travel between worlds, not to mention mezcal and cervesa (beer). And, there are the tangible remembrances of my departed — photos and some of their favorite things.

With candles lit and incense burning, I’m loving it and hoping my very dearly departed will find it warm, nourishing, and welcoming.

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