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Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Cocijo (Zapotec god of rain, thunder, and lightning) has finally awoken!

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Street dogs huddle in doorways.

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Street vendors batten down their hatches.

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Pedestrians watch for sidewalk waterfalls.

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Streets become deserted.

Walking home in Oaxaca in the rain.

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The roof dogs of San Martín Tilcajete wish you luck in the Year of the Dog.  (And, the Virgen de Guadalupe is there to help, too.)

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Happy Chinese New Year!

 

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“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!

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Under a cloudy sky, the faithful and their mascotas (pets) gathered in the plaza in front of the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced for the Bendición de los Animales (Blessing of the Animals).
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This annual event, held on August 31, celebrates the feast day of San Ramón de Nonato (aka, St. Raymond Nonnatus), patron saint of women in labor, persons falsely accused, and keeper of animals.  This last, though not often mentioned, seems to come from the story that he was raised on a farm and, according to this website, “chose for his occupation the care of the sheep, in order to gain more time for prayer and meditation.”  Today’s El Imparcial states that La Merced is the only church in the city with an image of the saint.
Figure of San Ramón Nonato
Here in Oaxaca, instead of sheep, San Ramón was surrounded by dogs of all sizes, shapes, and temperament.  By far, they outnumbered all other animal species put together — except humans.  Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in pet (as opposed to roof and street) dogs in Oaxaca.  Perhaps a sign of a growing middle class?  And, many dressed for the occasion.  However this dalmatian must have also paid a visit to a makeup artist.  Lipstick on the collar (muzzle, forehead, and ear) of a new friend tells the tale (tail?).
2 dogs nuzzle to nuzzle
There were also the other usual pet suspects — cats and kittens, though most looked like they would like to be anywhere else but there, and canaries and cockatiels, the latter both in cages and perched on shoulders.  This guy seemed more interested in the pin-up girl lining his cage than getting blessed by a few drops of holy water from the temple’s priest, Víctor Hernández Antonio.
Parakeet in cageHowever, my vote for the most exotic pet of the day goes to the hurón, known in English as a ferret.  Oh those piercing eyes and those claws.  I’d hate to get on her wrong side!
Ferret with red bow on head
I wonder…  What do you think the abuelas and abuelos, who remembered the old days when it was donkeys, goats and farm animals who were led along Oaxaca’s dirt streets to be blessed, thought?

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Four days of non-stop sights, sounds, and adventures in Mexico City with my BFF is coming to a close.  So much to do and see, there’s been no time for blogging.  However, all my bags are packed and I have a few minutes…

Today, L and I ventured out to the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Xochimilco, at the southern end of Mexico City.  The museum houses her extraordinary collection of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s work (25 of her pieces and 145 of his), 6000 pre-Hispanic figurines and sculptures, exquisite Chinese ivory, porcelain, cloisonné and lacquer, along with other works of art and artesania.  The gardens of this former 16th century hacienda are beautifully landscaped and provide a tranquil escape from the big city.  And, they are home to a muster of peacocks.  I have no idea how many, but they seemed to be everywhere.

And that’s not all.  A pack of Xoloitzcuintles (Mexican hairless dogs) also reside on the grounds, seeming to “pose” for visitors; they especially like the Xolo sculpture in their part of the garden.  As anyone who has seen the dogs depicted in pre-Columbian figurines can see, their origins date long before the Spanish ever knew of the Americas. 

Museo Dolores Olmedo isn’t easy to get to — it took several metro lines, a train, and a bus to get us there and back — but it was well worth it!!!

Now back to Oaxaca for desfiles (parades), ferias, artesania, and Guelaguetzas.

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Female and male, big and small, menacing growlers and annoying yappers, the roof dogs of Oaxaca are on the job patrolling rooftops in the city and in the countryside.  They are so ubiquitous, San Pablo Etla, Oaxaca is the setting for an illustrated children’s book, Pipiolo and the Roof Dogs.

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But sometimes one has to ask, “Is it real or is it Memorex?”

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What do you think?

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A Sunday scene in the zócalo…

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Happiness is a warm puppy.  — Charles M. Schulz

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Dog days

In Mexico City…

Small dog on leash, sitting, wearing pink sweater and gray ruffled skirt.

In Oaxaca…

Large black mangy dog lying on the plaza

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