Posts Tagged ‘Istmo’

Saturday night, a spur of the moment invite from my indomitable 86-year-old neighbor had us hailing a taxi at 10:30 PM, en route to attend the 13th Gran Vela and coronation of the queen of Vinnii Gaxhee (Zapotec for “different people” — gente diferente, en español).  Vinnii Gaxhee was born, according to their website, in “July 2000, when a group of people in Oaxaca, whose sexual preferences were different, met and created a group whose members were not afraid to stand up to society and publicly accept their sexual preference or orientation.”  (my loose translation)

The venue, in an area of the city neither of us was familiar with, proved to be unknown to the taxi driver, as well.  After a few blocks, with much conversation back and forth re the location, and a call to his dispatcher, he asked (hopefully) if we would like to find another driver.  Yes, we said and crawled out, hailed another taxi, and successfully headed out to Colonia Primavera Santa Lucía del Camino.

The “suggested” per person entry donation was the purchase of a case of beer.  A case of beer, we asked?  Even though they were small bottles, there was no way the two of us could drink a case, let alone two cases!  Well, the issue was settled when we schlepped our cases over to our assigned (not sure how or why) seating area, where we were relieved of our boxes and where they joined stacks of others.  However, chilled cervesas and food were offered without charge for the duration of the evening — and into the early morning!   Besides, the floor show was worth the price of admission; a banda playing traditional music of the Istmo and hot Latin rhythms had people up and dancing, a runway-style procession of contestants (at least I think that is who they were), a Rockettes-like production number, and the crowning of the queen.  What more could anyone want for about $15 (US)?

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On a serious note…  A little background on the name of the organization, Vinnii Gaxhee.  Zapotec culture has historically acknowledged a “third” sex.  These are men who from childhood, “consider themselves women and live in a socially sanctioned netherworld between the two genders,” according to a 2008 New York Times article.  This has been traced back to pre-Columbian times, but was mostly wiped out by the Spanish colonists, except in the region around Juchitán de Zaragoza, on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca.

As Vinnii Gaxhee, explains on its website, “it is as a tribute to all those in the region of the Isthmus, who fought for a place in society, regardless of sexual preference, making this region a place where homosexuality worldwide is accepted without any remark, first by the family after by society.” (my loose translation)

(ps)  I still don’t understand how anyone can walk in those high, high heels!

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Friday was a delightful day… a late morning and early afternoon spent in leisurely conversation with one of my closest friends over desayuno at Cocina Economica Isabel, a stop at the Merced mercado to pick up some pan dulce, and a stroll through the Zócalo, before returning home.  I envisioned a late afternoon and evening of visiting with my neighbor before she is heads north for a USA visit, catching up on email, and watching a movie.  Perfection, I thought!  Who could ask for more?

“More” came via my email inbox; notice of the 10th Guelaguetza Infantil, with a calenda (parade) from Santo Domingo de Guzmán to the Zócalo beginning at 6 PM.  This definitely called for a change of plans!  And, sure enough, as I got closer to Santo Domingo, there they were; delegations of children representing the regions of Oaxaca.

Girl and boy in costume of the Istmo.

Istmo de Tehuantepec couple (a young Frida Kahlo, perhaps?) posing for photos.

Girl in Istmo costume covering her ears

There were several bands playing and it got a little too loud for this girl from the Istmo.

Girl in Tuxtepec costume holding basket of candy.

However this girl, representing the Papaloapan, didn’t seem to mind and was ready to toss candy to the crowd. She wasn’t alone — once the calenda started, candy began flying fast and furious and the pockets of the kids watching on the sidelines began bulging!

Girl wearing a costume from the Costa regionGirls from the Costa region received last-minute instructions.

Boys in white shirts and straw cowboy hats holding school banner reading "Cervantes"

Costa boys were charged with holding up their school banner.

Close up of girls in the costumes from Tuxtepec

The girls representing the Papaloapan clutched plastic pineapples, ready for the always popular Flor de Piña dance from Tuxtepec.

2 girls standing together; one in Istmo costume and one in Tuxtepec costume

A little cross cultural comparing of notes (actually, cell phone games) was happening between the Istmo and Papaloapan.

Girl in Mixteca costume dancing.

All the while, the dancers from the Mixteca danced their way down the Álcala.

Closeup of boy with Danza de la Pluma head dress.

And, the young Danza de la Pluma danzantes, representing the Valles Centrales, carefully balanced their penachos (headdresses).

Tonight at 5 pm, these 300 kids from 52 preschools, will perform traditional regional dances in the auditorium of the Universidad Regional del Sureste, Rosario campus in San Sebastián Tutla.

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