Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Barrio de Xochimilco’

“What do you do all day?”  It’s a question I’ve been asked countless times since I began my retired life down Oaxaca way and I’m not alone.  Most expats here have heard those words — a query that hints at the notion that there couldn’t possibly enough to fill the day in a place where one isn’t fluent in the language, isn’t surrounded by family and old friends, and doesn’t have a job.  A large part of the answer is, doing most everything takes longer.  And that is not a bad thing!  Perhaps, a photo diary of this morning’s grocery shopping excursion might provide an illustration.

After morning coffee and breakfast, catching up on email and the news, washing dishes, showering and dressing, I grabbed a couple of shopping bags and headed out at 10 AM.  The initial plan had been to walk up to Niños Heroes (the Pan American highway) to photograph some new murals, cross the highway to the Organic Market, and then return home by way of Sánchez Pascuas mercado where I could get chicken, quesillo, and anything else that remained on my shopping list or struck my fancy.  However, for almost an hour, I’d been hearing Guelaguetza music coming from the Plaza de la Danza.  I decided a detour was in order and found kindergartners performing Oaxaca’s traditional folkloric dances, including this one  where couples take turns “dissing” each other in a rhythmic double-entendre laden dialogue.  It always gets laughs — wish I could understand the jokes!  Needless to say, I hung out watching the kids for awhile.

P1080705I finally tore myself away and resumed my original itinerary.  Some of the murals were east of the Pochimilco Organic Market so I decided to start at the end and work my way back — a route which took me up the Macedonio Alcalá where I saw a sidewalk vignette of hats and scarves lined up in front of Santo Domingo.  There was also a small marmota (cloth globe on a pole) laying on its side, so I’m guessing there was to be a calenda (parade) of some sort.

P1080715After stopping to take a few photos (how could I resist the juxtaposition with the Peña Nieto graffiti?) I found myself behind these vendors taking their merchandise up to Llano Park for its Friday market.

P1080717Deciding to speed up my slow progress on the errands I’d set forth for the morning, I passed the gals only to stop to watch Oaxaca’s version of the dog whisperer working with four Xoloitzcuintlis (Mexican Hairless Dogs).

P1080722 (1)Eventually continuing north, I arrived at Niños Heroes and the murals and street art I’d come to find and photograph.  They deserve their own blog post, so I will save those photos for another day.  However, I also ran across this wonderful wall!  P1080752Crossing the highway, I found the newly built and landscaped stairs (almost didn’t recognize them) leading up to Xochimilco and the Pochimilco Organic Market.  I wandered and lingered and tasted — including a few of these mezcals, as I’ve got a US trip coming up and a stepson who probably won’t speak to me if I don’t bring him a couple of bottles.

P1080755Popping some gum in my mouth (didn’t want my breath to smell like I’m a lush), I headed south on Tinoco y Palacios to catch a couple of new murals I’d had fleeting glimpses of when returning from last Sunday’s trip to Tlacolula.  This one had particularly caught my eye.

P1080788By the time I arrived at Sánchez Pascuas, it was after 12 noon.  I found my poultry guy, paid a visit to the cheese vendor, picked up some veggies from my favorite produce gal, and, on the way out, bought some homemade salsa verde.  Yummm…  As I descended the three stairs down to the sidewalk, I turned around to admire the beautiful color of the flamboyant and jacaranda trees and the tranquility of this setting in the middle of the state’s bustling capital city.

P1080815It was close to 1 PM when I unlocked the door to my apartment.  If I were in California, I would have jumped in the car, driven down to the local Friday organic market (with not a drop of mezcal in sight), browsed a bit, spent way too much money, climbed back in the car to finish shopping at Safeway, before returning to the house, probably by 11 AM.

Here in Oaxaca, I’d been gone almost three hours, walked close to fifty (often hilly) blocks, and seen some wonderful, creative, and life affirming sights.  And, that doesn’t even include the scattering of conversations with my neighbors and Luís and Luci, who work here.  Just another Friday.  Not a bad way to live one’s life!

Read Full Post »

What is it about October?  If I was still living in Mill Valley (California), this weekend I’d probably be joining friends in Golden Gate Park at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco.  Of course, I’d have to weigh the days and times of “can’t miss” performers with “must see” films at the Mill Valley Film Festival, which opened October 2 — not to mention trying to catch the San Francisco Giants post-season games.  Here in Oaxaca, the song is the same!  The Oaxaca FilmFest opened Friday night (Oct. 4) and runs through October 11.  Yesterday, the Día del Amaranto (Day of Amaranth) festival was held in the Plaza de la Danza.  In addition, during the week, various communities, both in the city and out, are celebrating the Virgen del Rosario (more to come on this).

AND, on Friday and Saturday Oaxaca city’s Mercado Organico (also known as, Pochote-Xochimilco or Pochimilco) located in the plaza of Templo de Santo Tomas Xochimilco, celebrated its 11th anniversary.  There was music, folkloric dancers, stalls filled with food and drink, and people (including me) enjoying it all.

A grandmother and little girl sharing plate of food

The produce at this stand was SO fresh and tempting, even though I didn’t need anything!

Carrots, lettuce, squash blossoms, fennel, and more.

Lucky for me, I found the gal who sells my favorite jamaica (hibiscus) concentrate, as I’d run out last week.

Woman selling jamaica products

Then there was this guy selling jars of homemade chutney.  He even remembered me, even though I hadn’t been there for several months!  I wanted them all, but managed to restrain myself and come home with just the peach chutney.

Smiling young man selling jars of chutney

The chutney samples were offered on tostadas with a small slice of queso de cabra (goat cheese).  ¡My sabroso!  “Where?”  I asked.  “Right over there,” he answered.  I made a beeline for the aisle where he pointed and bought some of this yummy cheese.

Packages of goat cheese.

As always, whenever I venture up the hill to the organic market, I came home with way more than I can possibly eat in a week.  Guess I need a little help from my friends.  ¡Feliz cumpleaños, Pochimilco! — another of Oaxaca’s treasures.

For more on the market, check out the Pochimilco page on the Oaxaca Wiki.

Read Full Post »

an offering.

Apples, corn, beans, pinecone turkeys, marigolds

an integral part of the Day(s) of the Dead celebration.

Sand painting surrounded with apples

filled with meaning.

Carved owl and garlands

a beacon to the departed.

fruits, photos, flowers

an ephemeral work of art.

Marigolds, photos, fruit, vegetables, skulls, drum, baskets of nuts

the sum of its lovingly chosen parts.

Day of the Dead altarThis is another ofrenda from the previously mentioned “altar decorating” competition on the plaza in front of Santo Tomás in Oaxaca’s Xochimilco barrio.

Read Full Post »

Living and being in Oaxaca during the Días de los Muertos is hard to put into words.  There is so much to experience and to think about.  Sensory overload challenges the limits of heart and mind and my emotions are running the gamut from extreme exhilaration to a quiet joy to being moved to tears.

The latter occurred a few days ago, when I walked up to the Templo de Santo Tomás in Oaxaca’s Xochimilco barrio (neighborhood) where an “altar decorating” contest was in progress.  Altars were to be judged on authenticity, originality, and creativity.  When I arrived, friends and relatives were in the midst of putting the final touches on their altars.  Some were elaborate and some exhibited real artistry, but one really touched my heart.

He was alone — no one to help, no playful banter.  When I first arrived, he was carefully etching a cross with a piece of charred wood on a stone.

He worked silently and with purpose, pulling items out of a well-worn sugar bag and carefully placing them on his altar.

When the bag was empty, he walked over to a cart and pulled out another one.

Slowly, his vision emerged, with symbology I have only a cursory grasp of and won’t presume to explain.

I don’t know who won the 5000 peso first prize or second or third place purses, and I don’t know if he was doing it for the money (he certainly looked like he could use it).

All I do know is he and his ofrenda moved me deeply.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: