Posts Tagged ‘Basilica de la Soledad’

This morning, sun and blue sky welcomed the Solsticio de verano in Oaxaca — a beautiful way to begin the longest day of the year.


View from the terrace:  Templo de San José, founded by the Jesuits in 1559, on the left; Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude), constructed between 1682 and 1690, on the right; and the green mountain in the far distance between the two is Monte Albán.

Happy Summer Solstice to all!

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I had put off making the trek down to Soriana long enough.  Supermarkets, even in Mexico, are not one of my favorite destinations and this is one of the smaller and less pleasing stores in the chain.  However, I do enjoy the quiet of the streets on Sunday mornings and besides, I was curious about the drum and bugle corps I could hear practicing.

Stop number 1:  Watching a little drummer girl and boy in the Plaza de la Danza.P1250293

Stop number 2:  Noticing a newly installed cross in the atrium of the Basílica de la Soledad.P1250298

Stop number 3:  Feeling like a queen strolling under a canopy of Royal Poinciana trees (Arbol de flamboyán) on calle Independencia.P1250311_port

A seven minute walk that took twenty seven — that’s how it is in Oaxaca.


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Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is the patron saint, queen, and mother of Oaxaqueños — and she is my vecina (neighbor).  Thus, I shall not want for revelry!

Inside the Basílica, Soledad -- Dec. 17, 2016

“Inside” Soledad, in the Basílica — Dec. 17, 2016

Despite her name, there is no solitude for Soledad or her neighbors on her December 18 feast day  — or the days and nights leading up to it.  Like her sister December virgin images, Juquila and Guadalupe, she seems to thrive on the cacophony that is fiesta life here — after all they are Mexican Marías.

So, bandas playing traditional music (loudly), fireworks and rockets booming and banging, church bells urgently chiming, and lively recorridos (travels) through the streets of the city, beginning early in the morning and continuing well beyond midnight, are welcomed.

The celebrations began at 5:00 AM on December 7, with a ringing of church bells and a “dawn journey” and culminated with a grand fiesta yesterday, December 18, her feast day.  She seemed to enjoy the festivities, including these guys from the Istmo performing for her, *La Danza de los Negros.

Soledad’s fiesta will end tomorrow (Dec. 20) with a concert of Christmas carols at 7:00 PM.  It’s been great fun, but I’m already looking forward to Noche de Rabanos on December 23!

Outside Soledad in the Basílica courtyard - Dec. 18, 2016

“Outside” Soledad in the Basílica courtyard – Dec. 18, 2016

*La Danza de los Negros is another of those complex and multilayered dances traditional to specific indigenous cultures in Oaxaca.  For more information, check out the article (en español), Los Negros, tradición bixhahui, ícono de Chihuitán.


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Jesus and Mary up close and in color from their Viernes Santo (Good Friday) morning meeting in front of Oaxaca’s Cathedral.








I know, some photos just beg for a caption.  Once all the Marys and Jesuses had gathered, prayers had been recited, and rituals performed, they all processed back to their home churches to rest up for the evening’s Procession of Silence.




… including Soledad.  Since she was going my way, I walked her home.




And, yes, she made it back to the Basilica safe and sound.

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Yesterday, I opened my front door to the Basilica de la Soledad glowing in the morning light.  I grabbed my little Lumix and ran out to compose a photo to send as a Feliz Cumpleaños greeting to a friend celebrating his birthday.


And the song, Morning Has Broken by Yusuf Islam (aka, Cat Stevens), began playing in my mind.  Ahhh…

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We had spectacular electrical storms Sunday and Monday nights, with thunder rumbling continuously, lightening flashing in all directions, and torrential rain.  And, today, I awoke to a rare early morning downpour — 8 inches of pergola runoff collected in my buckets.  Noticias, the Facebook group Bloqueos y Accidentes en Oaxaca, and Reportes en Oaxaca, Mexico all show major flooding throughout the city from this morning’s surprise.

This morning's view of Templo de San José and Basilica de la Soledad.  Where did Monte Albán go?

This morning’s view of Templo de San José and Basilica de la Soledad. Where did Monte Albán go?

All of this has me asking, is this the beginning of an early rainy season?  Then, there is the report from Conagua (Mexico’s national water commission) that, due to El Niño, there could be a significant increase in the number of Pacific Coast hurricanes this season.  Hmmm… it looks like we may be in for a bumpy and wet ride!

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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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As if Thursday’s Thanksgiving of 2 turkeys, 2 styles of stuffing, 2 kinds of cranberry sauce, 2 types of potatoes (sweet and garlic mashed), and 2 desserts (pumpkin pie and chocolate cake) weren’t enough….  Believe it or not, Friday night, eating was again on the minds of neighbors (and co-Thanksgiving Day cooks) David and Marilyn and I, as we walked over to the Plaza de la Danza for the kickoff cena (dinner) of Oaxaca’s annual El Saber del Sabor gastronomy festival.

The transformation of the Plaza de la Danza began on Wednesday.

By Friday night’s dinner, it had morphed into an elegant banquet hall, with an open air rotisserie pit.

Fifty traditional cooks from the eight regions of Oaxaca offered guests a sample of the culinary wealth of the state.

The results were dazzling and delicious.  All for only 300 pesos (a little over $20 US)!

On a clear cold night, with the Basílica de la Soledad looming above, there was also mezcal and music to warm body and spirit!

Following Thursday night’s inaugural banquet, the festival moves to Oaxaca’s upscale restaurants and other venues where, along with workshops and lectures, seventeen renowned chefs from around Mexico will be offering specially created gourmet menus.  El Saber del Sabor closes tomorrow afternoon with a tribute to chef Pedro Ortega of Grupo Estoril, accompanied by a comida prepared by Ortega and three other distinguished chefs.  Yummm…  Alas, at 1500 pesos, it’s a little too pricey for me.

In previous years, El Saber del Sabor was held in late August and early September.  I don’t know why this year it was moved to the end of November, but I do know Friday night was a little chilly for an outside venue and, for gringos, it was way too close to Thanksgiving — the gluttony was almost (but not quite) too much!

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As a treat for residents and visitors during the Muertos festivities, last night and tonight, the City of Oaxaca is presenting, “Manjares de Todos Santos” — a video mapping light and sound show at Santo Domingo de Guzmán and the Basílica de la Soledad.  Last night was a mob scene at Santo Domingo, so we opted for Soledad, where we had a ringside seat.

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Chris, of Oaxaca-The Year After fame, shot video and I will post a link when he gets it uploaded to YouTube.  Update:  And the link is: http://oaxacanyear.blogspot.mx/2014/11/mapping-la-soledad.html

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The calm after the storm.  What a difference 36 hours makes!

Basilica de la Soledad and blue sky

The beginning of the dry season?  Only Mother Nature knows…

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Yesterday, the Virgen del Rosario convite beckoned us to Tlacolula (more to come).  After an hour and a half of photographing and relishing in the music, marmotas, monos, impossibly cute kids, and hospitality, we began losing the light as a dark and threatening sky began moving in.  However, Mother Nature put on quite an extravaganza for our drive back to the city — towering clouds, sheets of rain, lightening streaking towards the ground, brilliant sun, and rainbows.

Basílica de La Soledad with red-gray sky

Once home, a weird and wondrous sunset.


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I moved into the bigger and better Casita Colibrí (aka, my apartment) almost 16 months ago — and there’s been some big changes made!  First on the agenda was screens on doors and windows because, as I’ve mentioned before, Mexican mosquitoes love me.  Next up was the swimming pool…

Empty swimming pool

I know, living in a climate where the daytime temperatures hover between the high 70s and low 90s (Fahrenheit) year round, a swimming pool sounds like perfection.  I love to swim and have always wanted a swimming pool.  HOWEVER, the pool hasn’t seen anything more than rainwater (and the aforementioned and unwanted mosquitoes) for the past 15 to 20 years.  In addition, as we were reminded last week, this is earthquake country, so who knows how many cracks there may be hidden behind those tiles.  Then there is the not-so-little problem of water shortages in the city.
P1080300Thus, making it my personal aquatic paradise was out of the question.  What to do?   Besides being unsightly, I was constantly afraid someone (including myself) might become so enchanted with the view and/or engaged in such captivating conversation, they (I) would unwittingly fall in — a thought that brought nightmares!  As you can see above, my solution to that possibility was to barricade the pool with plants.  However, the combination of the still conspicuous and ugly gaping hole behind, not to mention the waste of valuable space, finally got to me and, though only a renter, I decided to build a deck!

Deck being constructed over empty pool

In October, Juan (of Adios mosquitos fame) and I boarded a bus for the La Asunción to pick out the lumber from their mind-boggling selection of wood.  They delivered four days later and Juan and Nacho, his trusty assistant, commenced to building, what is probably, the strongest deck in all of Oaxaca.


The space.  The view.  What an improvement!  However, that wasn’t the end of the story.  Do you see those four posts sticking up from the deck?  Because the deck faces south, those were for a much-needed shade structure.  Alas, Juan also has a “day” job at Gorilla Glass and they have gotten extremely busy.  Good for them, bad for me!  After I returned from the trip to the US in late February, I began a search for someone to complete the project.  Tom (a friend’s husband) came to the rescue.  He designed the structure, recruited Carlos and his assistant Chivo to build it, selected the materials, delivered said materials and crew, and supervised construction.  Needless to say, I owe Tom big time!

Shade structure under construction

Yesterday, after less than two days of construction, the long-awaited pergola was ready to shield yours truly and her visitors from the sun’s skin damaging rays, not to mention sweltering heat.  Almost immediately after the guys finished, the heavens opened and we were treated to a massive, five-hour long thunderstorm.  The timing couldn’t have been better!

Lamina & wood shade structure on wooden deck

By this morning the rains had departed and, with Templo de San José and the Basilica de la Soledad as a backdrop, my new outside room was ready for her close-up.  All day today, in between trying to get work done around the house, I kept running outside to admire it.

View from above of deck & shade structure

And, it has already been put to good use — a little after noon today, when the sun was at its zenith and sitting outside in days past would have been the last thing we would have considered, my neighbor Marga and I sat comfortably shielded from the sun in those green chairs.  Ahhh…

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Today is the feast day of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, the mother, queen, and patron saint of Oaxaqueños.


If you enter the word “soledad” into a Spanish to English translation program, “solitude” and “loneliness” result.  However, for the past ten days, Our Lady of Solitude hasn’t had much of an opportunity to be lonely.  On December 15, she was taken down from her glass encased niche in the Basílica, that bears her name, and carried out into the fresh air of the church plaza.  On the 16th, she took a road trip through the streets of Oaxaca, stopping to visit several other churches along the route.

The faithful have been coming to honor her.

And, over the past 24 hours, she has been entertained by fireworks, bands, and the ringing of bells.

Food stalls surround her from Morelos to Independencia…

along with vendors of the sacred…

and the profane.

There is even a carnival for the kids.

With crowds, like these…

Nuestra Señora de la Soledad might just be looking forward to returning to the solitude of her glass enclosed niche.  I know I’m looking forward to a quiet night’s sleep!

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Crossing the Plaza de la Danza, on my way to the market this morning, I saw stilt people!

Stilt dancers sitting on ledge, Basilica of Soledad in background

The all-male stilt dancers of Villa de Zaachila were waiting to perform the Danza de los Zancudos at the 22nd conference of the Oaxaca-Centro Alcoholics Anonymous.  Once they took the stage there was much cheering and good-natured catcalls from the 75% male audience

The Dance of the Zancudos originated in the San Pedro neighborhood over 100 years ago and is one of the few places the dance can still be found. The origin of the Dance of the Zancudos is in a promise the inhabitants of Zaachila made to Saint Peter. The story behind it states that an old man encountered an apparition of Saint Peter who asked the community build a church in his name. The apparition appeared each day until it was captured by the local people and enclosed in a small church. Guards were posted at the entrance with rifles and machetes. However, the next day, it was discovered that the saint was no longer there, and he appeared again to the old man who had originally seen him, indicated that God had sent him to protect the village. Eight days remained until the feast of Saint Peter, and the saint asked that the villagers form pairs on stilts to dance. On the feast day, the men danced on stilts while the women surrounded them with candles and incense. The dancers arrived at the foot of a hill where an image of the saint was found, which was brought to the San Pedro neighborhood where a church was constructed for it.  [Wikipedia.  Retrieved, 11/10/2013]

They performed several dances and, to the cries from the audience of, “Otra, otra, otra,” they were ready with an encore.  Baskets that had been tied to their costumes were thrown into the crowd (a la La Guelaguetza) and they exited stage right.  By the way, getting down off the stage on stilts requires a lot of help from your friends.  But once that complexity is navigated, you get to stroll over to a ledge high above everyone’s head, and have a seat.

5 stilt dancers sitting on a ledge.

Reason number 521 to never go anywhere in Oaxaca without my camera!

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… go out in the midday sun!

For more than a week, most afternoons have found me holed up inside my apartment with curtains drawn against an unrelenting sun — a semi-successful attempt to retain the cool air I’d ushered in when doors and windows were thrown open first thing in the morning.

Empty sidewalk with sliver of shade

These May-like temperatures, in the mid to high 90s F during the day, have been THE major topic of conversation amongst Oaxaqueños, ex-pats, and visitors, alike.   If you must venture out, as I did yesterday, you hug that sliver of shadow.  Umbrellas come in handy too!

Woman walking in a sliver of shadow

The multiplex theaters on the outskirts of the city are some of the very few buildings with air-conditioning.  However, to get there, one must take a sweltering bus or taxi ride through traffic clogged streets, never knowing when a bloqueo or road construction will bring your retreat to a scorching halt.  A better alternative is to follow the lead of these priests processing into the Basilica and head to the nearest church.  Mil gracias to the architectural gods for their thick stone walls and soaring ceilings!

Procession of priests entering the Basilica

¡Hace mucho calor!  Time for a siesta…

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