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Posts Tagged ‘California’

I’m back in Oaxaca… arrived last night after a brief trip to El Norte.  However,  over the last three years, culture shock (on both sides of the border) has subsided and I am struck and heartened that despite our differences, humans share so much more… especially the compulsion to make even the most common and utilitarian, beautiful.

Artist, Zio Ziegler added a little pizzazz to a car in Mill Valley… (Yes, I know, a Porche!)

Porche painted decoration

Car in Oaxaca… (Ahhh, a VW bug!)

VW bug painted with decoration

Wall in Mill Valley (also by Zio Ziegler)…

Painted horned creature riding a bike.

Wall in Oaxaca…

Savannah scene, with elephant in foreground, painted on wall.

Veggies in Mill Valley…

Vegetables in bins at outdoor market

Veggies in Oaxaca…

Vegetables mounded in mercado

From one of my favorite journalists, Linda Ellerbee:  “People are pretty much alikeIt’s only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities.”

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Lost or discarded?

Roof of car decorated with found objects

Artist found and created in Sausalito, Ca.  You better believe it!

Old car decorated with found objects with word "believe" in front.

And please, don’t “liberate” any of the found objects, in other words… stop stealing!!!

Found objects with clenched fist and peace symbol.

La lucha continúa.  Paz y amor a todos.

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I grew up and lived most of my life twenty minutes from the Pacific Ocean.  I learned to drive on the road up over Mt. Tamalpais out to Stinson, Muir, and Bolinas beaches.  Needless to say, countless trips followed and continue!  So, yesterday I made my regular “Bay Area visit” pilgrimage to the beach.  Even on a foggy day, the sights, sounds, and smells of Stinson Beach are magical…

Alas, it’s 6 hours by car up and over the long and winding roads of the Sierra Madre del Sur to reach Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca’s closest Pacific Ocean beach.  The alternatives:  10+ hours by bus (by way of Salina Cruz) or a short but costly flight.  Still waiting for the long-promised highway that is supposed to cut auto travel time to two hours!!!

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Like the space shuttle Endeavor, I am making a brief visit to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Endeavor shuttle in distance above the hills of the Marin Headlands

As you can see, I wasn’t the only person who decided Fort Baker in Sausalito offered a great viewing site for yesterday’s shuttle tour of the Bay Area.  Take off from Edwards Air Force Base was delayed an hour to avoid San Francisco’s ubiquitous fog.  However, we eventually spotted Endeavor as it flew in over the Marin Headlands.

Close-up of space shuttle Endeavor riding on top of Boing 747 against clear blue sky

I arrived crammed in the Economy class of a Boeing 737, my view limited to a porthole size window.  Endeavor had a bird’s-eye view as it rode piggyback on top of a Boeing 747.

Endeavor above Golden Gate Bridge

Endeavor circled around and buzzed the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a spectacular sight!

Endeavor above the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands

I will be landing at OAX in a few days on my way back to Casita Colibrí, while the Endeavor has already landed at LAX en-route to its new home at the California Science Center, where it will eventually be put on permanent display.

Cars and motorcycle waiting to go through tunnel of Marin Headlands.

I suspect Endeavor didn’t encounter this much traffic as it left the Bay Area.  However, just wait until it has to navigate Los Angeles freeways!

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In the last month, several articles in the US press referencing Oaxaca have been called to my attention.  They aren’t the usual travel features enumerating the “10 must see sites,” “best places to stay,” and “local fare dining.”  Nor do they cater to the ever more popular fear mongering and demonization of Mexico and her citizens.  Instead, these articles provide a window on Oaxaca’s indigenous past and challenging present.

Triqui women sitting on a sidewalk

Triqui women and children in front of the Government Palace in Oaxaca de Juárez

From the June 15, 2012 New York TimesThe Past Has a Presence Here by Edward Rothstein.

OAXACA, Mexico — The past casts a sharp shadow here, wherever you look. You see it on mountaintop plateaus, where the ruins of ancient pyramidal staircases and capital-I-shaped ball fields hint at mysterious rituals that disappeared over a millennium ago.

<snip.

We are not dealing here with imagined reconstructions, but with the past’s palpable presence. And most of these ancient cities and monuments were abandoned some six centuries before the Spaniards plundered the region. After 80 years of archaeological research, their meanings are still unclear, though much has been written about Zapotec social hierarchies, gladiatorial-style games and stone carvings.

What is more clear is that remnants of those worlds also exist in the valley, where the slow-changing cultures of this buffeted but protected region still reflect Zapotec and Mixtec heritages. So here everything is plentiful that in the United States is rare: indigenous ruins, ancient languages, signs of direct lineage. And there is an edge to it all. Centers like Monte Albán are monuments to power and accumulated material wealth; they are also clearly evidence of a large-scale political organization, relics of perhaps the earliest state in the Americas.  [Read full article]

From California’s June 7, 2012 Monterey County Weekly, Native speakers and local missionaries work to save an indigenous Mexican language by Sara Rubin.

Gloria Moreno walks with a slight limp under the weight of the black messenger bag slung over her shoulder. It holds something of a botanical encyclopedia, petals and leaves gathered from the streets of Greenfield, which Moreno says help alleviate any number of ailments – pain, anxiety, weak bones.

Moreno says her collection is part of a medical tradition she began practicing as a teenager in Mexico. It was there, at 15, that she says she was instructed in a dream to take up herbal medicine.

Moreno dreamt her directive in Triqui de la baja, an indigenous language of the Copala region of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

As native Triqui speakers disperse, leaving behind a notoriously violent region, there’s pressure both to preserve that language, and to leave it behind.

Of an estimated 40,000 Triqui speakers worldwide, about half of them are thought to have migrated away from Oaxaca, and as many as 10 percent live in the Salinas Valley.

<snip>

Moreno hopes for a generation of trilingual children, but many younger Triqui speakers are encouraged to trade their native tongue for English or Spanish, says a Salinas-based interpreter (who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal), because indigenous Mexicans are viewed as inferior. He trekked two hours to school from his childhood home in Oaxaca where he says he was bullied for being different.

“Because of the discrimination, parents don’t want their kids to learn [Triqui],” he says, “but then we lose tradition and culture.”

To reverse that, he hopes to get a grant or some cash to revive a bimonthly Triqui class piloted at the Greenfield Public Library two years ago. It drew about 35 students; of those, only a quarter were native speakers. The rest, mostly service providers, were there to learn Triqui.

“To speak Spanish, I used to think you had more value,” he says. “When I came here, I learned it is not that way. If you know three or four languages, you can explore and learn more.”

View Barbara Hollenbach’s Spanish-Triqui dictionary at www.sil.org/~hollenbachb/Posted.htm  [Read full article]

And finally from the May 28 Los Angeles Times, Epithet that divides Mexicans is banned by Oxnard school district, by Paloma Esquivel.

Rolando Zaragoza, 21, was 15 years old when he came to the United States, enrolled in an Oxnard school and first heard the term “Oaxaquita.” Little Oaxacan, it means — and it was not used kindly.

“Sometimes I didn’t want to go to school,” he said. “Sometimes I stayed to fight.”

“It kind of seemed that being from Oaxaca was something bad,” said Israel Vasquez, 23, who shared the same mocking, “just the way people use ‘Oaxaquita’ to refer to anyone who is short and has dark skin.”

Years later, indigenous leaders are fighting back against an epithet that lingers among immigrants from Mexico, directed at their own compatriots. Earlier this month the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project in Oxnard launched the “No me llames Oaxaquita” campaign. “Don’t call me little Oaxacan” aims to persuade local school districts to prohibit the words “Oaxaquita” and “indito” (little Indian) from being used on school property, to form committees to combat bullying and to encourage lessons about indigenous Mexican culture and history.

Indigenous Mexicans have come to the U.S. in increasing numbers in the last two decades. Some estimates now put them at 30% of California’s farmworkers. In Ventura County, there are about 20,000 indigenous Mexicans, most of whom are Mixtec from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero who work in the strawberry industry, according to local organizers.

Many speak little or no Spanish and are frequently subjected to derision and ridicule from other Mexicans. The treatment follows a legacy of discrimination toward indigenous people in Mexico, said William Perez, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University who has interviewed and surveyed numerous indigenous Mexican students.  [Read full article]

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Wanna see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?

Creature with long nose with rabbit in hat

Happy first day of summer.

Creatures painted on wall

From the walls of Oaxaca…

Creatures painted on wall

To the walls of Mill Valley…

Reclining bull painted on side of wall

by artist, Zio Zieler

Enjoy!!!

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Italy…

Oval sign: Il Fornaio biologico

California…

Oval sign: Il Fornaio Authentic Italian Restaurant and Bakery

Oaxaca…

Oval sign: Il Fornaro Cucina Italiana Oaxaca - Mexico

Triplets, separated at birth?

 

 

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I’m from the cradle of modern mountain biking; Marin County, California.  In fact, it has become so popular in Marin over the past 30+ years, traffic jams have ensued at trail heads and battles between hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers over safety and environmental issues frequently make the headlines of local papers.

With this recent article in the Wall Street Journal, it looks like mountain biking has “officially” come to Oaxaca.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the wise Zapotec elders up in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte will find a way to keep the peace.  And, more than that, I’m hoping all you mountain bikers out there will be respectful of this beautiful land and her people.

From Friday, April 13, 2012 online Wall Street Journal…

Blazing Trails in Mexico

Mountain biking is rare in Oaxaca—but not for long

By TREVOR CLARK

[mexbike]
Mountain biking on the Tequila Trail near Oaxaca, Mexico – Trevor Clark

IT WAS EARLY. Hours from sunrise kind of early. My wimpy headlamp struggled to break through the predawn drizzle, and I could barely see my front tire or the trail ahead. Roots, rocks and stumps all seemed to be in cahoots, working together to upend me.

MEXBIKE

WHEEL WORLD | Riding out of the village of Benito Juárez in Oaxaca –  Trevor Clark 

I tried to become one with the bike. I tried to feel out the trail with my other senses. I tried to anticipate obstacles, but I am no Zen master. My mountain biking skills are rough under the best conditions, and I was in the jungle in the dark.

My mate’s more powerful headlamp suddenly provided a snapshot of a sharp turn and a wooden footbridge ahead. Then, lights out. I made an educated guess, went straight and took a hit that emptied my lungs: “Huhhhhh!” Cold water rushed into my clothes and pack as I lay in the stream, bike still on my feet, straight up in the air.

For a few moments, I laughed hysterically at my predicament and the fact that I was OK after missing the bridge. Then I picked myself up and kept moving.

We made it to the peak of Piedra Larga, a 10,761-foot-high lookout, for breakfast, corn-based hot chocolate and sunrise. As the sun slowly emerged from a thick layer of fog, we found ourselves hovering above a golden sea of clouds. The scenery was worth every blind pedal stroke.

MEXBIKE
HIGH ROAD | Taking in the view from a rock spire in the Sierra Norte – Trevor Clark

Seven of us had come to the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico, a forested mountain range in the northern part of the state. Oaxaca is known as the country’s culinary and cultural center, and many visitors experience it through cooking classes and gallery walks in the capital city. We, instead, were mountain-biking part of an ancient Zapotec network of walking trails that have connected eight villages to each other and the rest of the world for eons.

Mountain biking is fairly new to Mexico…. [Read FULL ARTICLE]

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As someone who spent most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area and has experienced a fair share of earthquakes, including the deadly Loma Prieta quake in 1989, I think the Mexican government seems to take warning it’s population more seriously — placing a higher value on preventing the loss of life, in the case of earthquakes, than the powers-that-be in el Norte.

Though I didn’t hear the early warning siren in Oaxaca for Tuesday’s 7.4 earthquake (or, perhaps I wasn’t tuned in to what it was), I did hear it for a couple of aftershocks.

By the way, I arrived in Chiapas yesterday morning, and the talk is about the highly publicized drill that was conducted statewide, with sirens blaring, only minutes before our 7.4 terremoto hit.


Why California Lacks an Earthquake Warning System Like Mexico’s (via The Bay Citizen)

Early alerts gave people time to go to safe areas before large quake hit By John Upton, Matt Smith on March 22, 2012 – 5:43 p.m. PDT Alicia Montiel Rodriguez was in an office building in southern Mexico City Tuesday when alarms began to sound, piercing the air with beeping tones and recorded messages…

(more…)

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Apparently, I’m not the only one who has made the journey from Oaxaca to California.  The San Francisco Bay Area has been basking in sun and Oaxacan-blue-skies.  Even though the temps don’t match-up, the coast beckoned…

Wall art on sea wall

And, wall art greeted us in Bolinas.

Wall art of surfer in wetsuit carrying surfboard

Gosh, except for the subject matter, I felt like I was in Oaxaca!

Wall art of whale on seawall

Wait!  Who is that I see?

Wall art of Benito Juárez on seawall

None other than Oaxaca’s favorite son, Benito Juárez.  The subject matter IS the same!!!

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Chapulines, illegal???  Say it ain’t so, Joe!!!

Woman selling chapulines from two large baskets.

One of the ubiquitous chapulines vendors in a Oaxacan mercado.

Article from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle’s Inside Scoop:

La Oaxaquena banned from selling grasshopper tacos and fried tarantula

Posted on 06/08/2011 at 1:29 pm by Paolo Lucchesi in Controversy

A Channel 7 news report last night brought to light an insect crackdown at popular Mission taqueria La Oaxaquena.
In short, the health department said that La Oaxaquena could no longer sell its grasshopper tacos, because the insects — imported from Mexico — don’t come from an FDA-approved source.
Owner Harry Persaud tells Scoop that the ban actually happened about two months ago, and that it also put the kibosh on La Oaxaquena’s fried tarantula tortas.
“The City is worried people will get sick,” he says, pointing out that no one has gotten sick in the two-and-a-half years the exotic treats have been on the menu.
Persaud says it’s not a substantial loss in revenue, though the unique menu items definitely helped lure out-of-state visitors who wouldn’t otherwise head to La Oaxaquena. Also, he’s sent the tacos to different universities who want to do something clever for their biology department dinner or something like that. The City suggested he raise his own grasshoppers, so he’s flirting with that idea.
(But as Jonathan Kauffman points out, you can still get grasshoppers in San Jose.)
So why did the health department crack down now, after over two-plus years of carefree grasshopper and tarantula dining?
Persaud has a simple answer:
“Because we were in the news too much!”
SF won’t let restaurant owner sell grasshopper tacos [ABC]
La Oaxaquena: 2128 Mission Street, between 17th and 18th; (415) 621-5446

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