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Posts Tagged ‘Jardín Sócrates’

Though rain began falling, clutching camera, umbrella, and my ten peso bag of pan bendito (blessed bread), I left the cozy dry confines of my apartment to join the faithful in a ritual promenade.  It’s Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus, the washing of feet,  and the apprehension and imprisonment of Jesus.

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San José de Gracia, Oaxaca de Juárez

Tradition in Oaxaca calls for visiting seven churches (la visita de las siete casas) with one’s pan bendito and palm leaves.  The faithful use the latter to touch images of Jesús and María.  This year, I again committed myself to the mission.  My first stop was just around the corner at Templo de San José and the second was even easier — the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, just across the Plaza de la Danza from the former.

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Watery entrance to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Oaxaca de Juárez

While inside, attempting (unsuccessfully) to get a good shot of Nuestra Señora, the heavens opened up in a downpour.  Needless to say, I hung out with Soledad until the torrential rain calmed to only a steady drizzle.

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Neverías at the Jardín Sócrates, Oaxaca de Juárez

However, the rain didn’t stop the faithful and tourists, alike, from stopping to enjoy a nieve (iced dessert) right outside the Basilica, before continuing on.  I kept on moving — down the steps to Calle Independencia, on my way to the Templo de San Felipe Neri.

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Exit sign at Templo de San Felipe Neri, Oaxaca de Juárez

By the way, Jueves Santo is such a big deal, to avoid gridlock from those coming and going, the churches designate one door as the “entrance” and another as the “exit.”  It’s a great idea in theory but in practice, especially on a rainy night, it was almost meaningless.

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Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Oaxaca de Juárez

Next stop was across the street at the inconspicuous Iglesia San Cosme y Damián, then on to the very prominent Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, where the three front entrances were providing tourists, vendors, and believers shelter from the storm.

After navigating my way through the Cathedral, I exited stage right, dashed across the zócalo and into La Compañía (the Jesuit church).  On my way out the side door, I stopped briefly to buy a bag of homemade gingersnaps and, with umbrella raised, headed to my seventh and final church of the night, El Carmen de Abajo.  Though tempted by the aroma of some yummy looking food several “church ladies” were selling in the side foyer, I didn’t have enough hands to hold a paper plate, my camera, and my umbrella.  So, home I went, basking in the warm feelings I always have after being with my Oaxaqueño neighbors.

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September is El Mes de la Patria in Mexico (the month of the homeland) and green, white, and red decorations have gone up all over the city.  The governor is scheduled to recreate “El Grito” (the Cry of Dolores) from the balcony of the Government Palace at 11 PM on September 15.  The following day, there will be an hour-plus long patriotic parade through the streets of the city celebrating Mexico’s independence from Spain.

Neveria decorated with green, white, and red

Neverías in Jardín Socrates

The teachers’ planton (encampment) on the zócalo expanded again to adjacent streets yesterday, though it is supposed to end by September 9.  Oaxaca is holding her collective breath.

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After more than two weeks of frente fríos (cold fronts) sweeping down from el norte, the weather has turned downright hot, with temperatures in the mid 80s (F).  What’s a person to do?  Today, this person headed to her favorite ice cream parlor, Nevería Malena at Jardín Socrates.

I previously mentioned this nevería when the Jardín underwent an image enhancement a year and a half ago.  And, as before I ordered leche quemada (burnt milk) and tuna (nopal cactus fruit).  It may not have been the most nutritious lunch, but it hit the spot!

Parfait glass with leche quemada and tuna

As you can see from the photo, Nevería Malena now sports spiffy new seat covers for the backs of their wrought iron chairs.  And, on the back of the laminated menu of flavors, the story of Malena and the “tradition that flatters your palate” is told.  (My translation follows.)

Placard with an image of Señora Malena and a granddaughter

Señora Malena is the 5th child of Ángel Armengol and Anacieta Hernández.  They taught her the craft and soon she became one of the most prestigious and famous for the seasoning and flavors of her frozen dessert.  

Initially, Malena walked around the Zócalo, offering her frozen dessert in glasses.  Later she relocated next to the Cathedral where she continued to offer her delicious frozen dessert.  (Note:  At that time natural ice was brought from the community of “La Nevería” in the Sierra Juárez.)  She then moved to the Alameda de León to a space which already had a laminated roof.  It was here she affectionately began to be called, “Malenita” and the stall was named Malena.

Malena became famous for traditional flavors like burnt milk, sorbet, walnut, pear, and lemon.  Fame grew with an invitation by the Secretariat of Tourism to participate in the “Week of Oaxaca in Mexico,” at which Malena participated for 15 years.  The stall subsequently was transferred to “Socrates Garden” where it is currently run by her children and grandchildren, with love and affection — to continue the tradition and increase the variety of flavors.

Hanging plaques listing flavors

And, increase the flavors they have!  So many to choose from.  Hmmm… next time, Beso de Ángel or Diablo???

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On my first visit to Oaxaca, I was introduced to Jardín Sócrates, part of the Templo de la Soledad/Plaza de la Danza complex, between Independencia and Morelos.  The original Jardín Sócrates was constructed as a public garden in 1881 and remodeled for its 100th birthday.

Pink and white iron chairs and umbrella in front of a neveria stand.

I have a weakness for ice cream, sherbet, and gelato and, thus, was completely “in heaven” being surrounded by stands selling the most amazing flavors of  milk and water based frozen desserts.

Green and yellow iron chairs and umbrellas in front of a neveria stand.

Everyone has their favorite vendor, my friend G was partial to Nevería Malena, and so we sat down at one of their yellow and white iron tables.

Yellow and white iron chairs and umbrellas in front of the Nevería Malena stand.

It was SO hard to decide what to order; being tempted by too many choices and being mystified by what many of the flavors actually were.

Nevería Malena sign listing 34 flavors

What in the world is Beso de Angel?  I settled on a scoop of Leche Quemada (burnt milk) with a scoop of Tuna (fruit of the nopal cactus NOT the fish) on top.  I was hooked!

Bowl of leche quemada and tuna nieve on yellow and white iron table.

As it worked out, two years later I moved into an apartment only a block away and I pass by Jardín Sócrates at least a couple of times a week.   However, in mid October 2011, carpenters began constructing wooden puestos along Independencía below the Jardín.  Ready for a feria?  I wondered.  Then they were painted!  These took on a semi-permanent character.  Hmmm…

Wooden puestos lining sidewalk.

Soon, a sign went up explaining the Jardín Sócrates was undergoing an “image enhancement,” courtesy of the federal and municipal governments.

Programa Habitat 2011; Gobierno Federal sign.

Demolition soon began, including the removal of the original green cantera (stone) pavement.

Pile of old paving stones

And, the neverías began moving down to the temporary puestos on Independencia.  I found Nevería Malena, ordered my usual, and asked how long the relocation was going to last.  “No sé.”  (“Don’t know.”) was the answer.

Iron tables, chairs, and puestos on sidewalk.

Eight new stalls were constructed, the cantera was replaced with red terracotta tile, and new tables, chairs, and umbrellas materialized.  After five months,  the newly “enhanced” Jardín Sócrates opened on March 29, 2012.

Fountain and green umbrellas on terracotta paved terrace.

It does look lovely — orderly and coordinated — but I kind of miss the color and funkiness of the old.

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