Posts Tagged ‘marimbas’

This librarian couldn’t let this go by without a mention… Today is World Book Day and, naturally, Oaxaca celebrates with music!   Under the shade of 130+ year old Indian laurel trees on the zócalo, the State Marimba Band opened the festivities.

P1030861According to the SECULTA website, the celebrations also include storytelling and a marathon of reading aloud from works by Octavio Paz, José Emilio Pacheco, José Revueltas, Julio Cortázar, Efraín Huerta, Juan Gelman, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and by the recently deceased and much revered, Gabriel García Márquez.

While the zócalo and Alcalá are the settings for book fairs several times a year, most of the public libraries are inadequate to fulfill their designated tasks and the price of books (200 to 300 pesos) is way beyond the reach of most of the state’s residents.  Thus, it should surprise no one that reports show Oaxaqueños read an average of only one book per year.   The secretary of Cultures and Arts of Oaxaca ( SECULTA ), Francisco Martínez Neri, acknowledged, “A people with few economic opportunities read little, so it requires the creation of public policies to have books at affordable prices.”  Programs like Libros Para Pueblos, try to fill the gap, but it’s only the proverbial drop in the bucket.

I’ve previously mentioned the controversial “education reform” program of Mexico’s current president, Peña Nieto.  Perhaps, a massive nationwide literacy campaign modeled after the wildly successful, Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961 would be a good place to start.  Maybe the education reformers should read, Latin lessons: What can we learn from the world’s most ambitious literacy campaign?

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Sunday morning, walking up Avenida Morelos, The Iceman Cometh.

Truck with blocks of ice

Arriving at Mercado IV Centenario, marimba rhythms start to play

2 men playing marimba

Down to the zócalo.  As Winnie the Pooh said, “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”


Sunday morning strolls through the streets of Oaxaca always make me smile.

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I love going to my little local mercado on Sunday mornings.  Steps leading up to it from Independencia are lined with vendors of street food, flowers, religious trinkets, herbs, you name it!  Inside, the cavernous building is teeming with more activity than on weekdays.  And, these guys are there to entertain diners and shoppers…

Man, teenage boy, and young boy playing marimba

I suspect this is a father and his two sons.  Marimba playing seems to be a (masculine) family affair.

Close up of young boy

It isn’t unusual to see these beautiful instruments being carried through the streets and sidewalks of Oaxaca…

Parquetry detail on marimba

… on their way to set up and play traditional “sones” from Oaxaca and/or old pop standards at a fiesta, in front of a shop, or inside a mercado.  Muchisimas gracias for a delightful soundtrack!

One of these days, I’m going to shoot video of some of them, but in the meantime, here are a couple from YouTube:

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