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Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Why I love Oaxaca, reason number 2,022 — music is heard everywhere and seemingly all the time. November 22 is Día de Santa Cecilia who, among other things, is the patron saint of musicians.

July 4, 2022 – Convite for the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo patronal festival in Teotitlán del Valle
July 23, 2022 – Guelaguetza Desfile Magesterial in Barrio de Jalatlaco
July 9, 2022 – Calenda celebrating the anniversary of La Mano Magica Galería in Oaxaca de Juárez
September 16, 2022 – Independence Day parade in Oaxaca de Juárez
August 25, 2022 – 35th birthday celebration in Barrio de Jalatlaco
August 20, 2022 – Strolling Tuna Band from URSE in Barrio de Jalatlaco

And, since this post honors musicians, how about a little music…

Traditional teponaxtles and chirimía played outside the panteón of San Antonino Castillo Velasco on Palm Sunday 2022 and brass band in Barrio de Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez on the 6th Friday of Lent, Viernes de Dolores 2022.

A big muchisimas gracias to musicians all over the world who provide the soundtrack of our lives.

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Under the sun dappled light filtering through the 500 year old ahuehuete trees, there was stillness and peace.

November 2, 2022 in the panteón of Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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Every Día de Muertos, I love seeing the artistry of public ofrendas, feel honored being welcomed into the homes of friends and placing pan de muertos on their very personal ofrendas, and enjoy assembling my own ofrenda to departed loved ones. (Click on each image to see the details.)

Mitla – Ofrenda in the home of master weaver Arturo Hernandez Quero.
Mitla – Public ofrenda in the main plaza. Note the intricately decorated pan de muertos.
Teotitlán del Valle – Ofrenda of the weaver Pedro Montaño and cocinera Carina Santiago family in the Tierra Antigua restaurant and gallery.
Teotitlán del Valle – Ofrenda in the family home of weaver Zacarias Ruiz and Emilia Gonzalez.
Barrio de Jalatlaco – Private ofrenda open for public viewing at the corner of 5 de mayo and La Alianza.
Barrio de Jalatlaco – Family adding the finishing touches to their ofrenda. (They graciously gave me permission to take the photo.)
Casita Colibrí – My ofrenda in the daylight.
Casita Colibrí – My ofrenda at night awaiting the arrival of my departed.

I love the spicy and welcoming scents of cempasúchitl (marigolds), lacy flor de muerto from the Sierra Norte, pan de muertos, and incense of copal.

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The Día de Muertos murals in my Barrio de Jalatlaco neighborhood continue to go forth and multiply…

As do the crowds. Love the former. No comment about the latter.

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Everywhere one looks, skeletons can be seen hanging around my Jalatlaco neighborhood.

They are even floating above us.

At least they order something when they enter a restaurant.

All in all, they look pretty happy, even if some of their poses look mighty uncomfortable.

Hmmm, I wonder what they are waiting for. Día de Muertos, perhaps?

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One day there was a blank wall. By the next day, the wall had turned into a canvas for a gigantic mural. The story soon unfolded…

The piece was commissioned to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of INFONAVIT (the federal government’s home loan institution). Ricardo Ángeles designed the mural and the work was carried out with the collaboration of the acclaimed, Taller Jacobo y María Ángeles.

That first day, after chatting with María, she scrambled up on the scaffolding to continue working along with the team of painters.

A couple of days later, there was Jacobo, in his signature white shirt, on his knees painting details on the image of the dog.

Despite late season rains, the work went quickly and I couldn’t believe my eyes at the progress by day five.

The team (listed above) did an amazing job. With pots of plants replacing caution cones and scaffolding, the finished mural was inaugurated yesterday. It is located on 5 de mayo, between Calle de la Noche Triste and Calle de la Alianza in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

By the way, the people in the mural sure look a lot like a young Jacobo, Ricardo, Sabina, and María — la familia Ángeles.

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For two days following the previously mentioned convite inviting the villagers of Teotitlán del Valle and guests to the festival honoring the Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary), the Danza de la Pluma was performed in the atrium of the church. The Danza de la Pluma is a ritual reenactment of the battles between the Aztec and the Spanish conquistadors. There are thirty nine dances that tell the story. This is the Chotis de 4 Reyes– a Schottische performed by the four kings allied with Moctezuma.

As you can see, the dance steps are complex and made all the more challenging by the wind, which comes up most late afternoons this time of year, catching the massive penachos (the headpieces) worn by the dancers. By the way, this day was the actual feast day so they danced for seven hours. I don’t know how they do it!

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As the days become shorter and the sun appears lower in the sky, in Oaxaca the shadows play.

September 7, 2022, 3:11 PM. White-winged dove on my rooftop terrace.
September 30, 2022, 6:00 PM. Convite in Teotitlán del Vallle.
October 6, 2022, 8:42 AM. My staircase from the atrium to the rooftop.

Between funny and witty
Falls the shadow

-Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles

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A BFF since age twelve (don’t ask how long ago that was) and her husband are visiting. I took them to the weaving village of Teotitlán del Valle for the Santísima Virgen del Rosario festival — three days of witnessing the weft of Spanish conquistador Catholicism woven onto the warp of indigenous Zapotec culture. The public festivities began with Friday evening’s convite — a formal 45 minute procession, through the streets of the village, that serves as an invitation to the festival.

Canastas, with images of Mary and Jesus, waiting to be carried on the heads of unmarried young women and girls.
Young boys waiting with marmotas on tall carrizo poles.
Band #1 leads off the convite with a giant Viva la Virgen marmota.
At least 100 young unmarried women and girls, in traditional festival dress, carry canastas on their heads through the cobblestone streets.
Band #2 provides the music for the danzantes who follow.
Danza de la Pluma danzantes, with rattles shaking, march and dance their way through the streets.

I think my friends were impressed!

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Several weeks ago, at the weekly Friday market on Calle del Refugio, I bought a hibiscus plant in a 6 inch pot. It had a single brilliant yellow with red highlights flower, but was filled with promise from multiple buds. I immediately transplanted it into a larger pot and it has proceeded to put on quite a show. As one flower folds up and falls off, another opens to take its place.

September 10, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 16, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 22, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 26, 2022 hibiscus flower
September 27, 2022 hibiscus flower

Each flower is unique and ready for its close-up!

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After a two year absence, thanks to the pandemic, Mexico’s Independence Day parade returned to the streets of Oaxaca’s capital. There were lots of drums that had me hearing snare drums in my sleep that night. But, note all the young women drummers! (Click on each image to enlarge.)

Being that this was a civic and military parade, there were the requisite scary guys and gals with guns and military hardware.

But there were also contingents of firefighters, federal disaster relief, and the Red Cross.

There were horses with stunningly dressed male and female riders.

And, there were the young riders… from toddlers to preteens. Did I mention there were lots of horses?

And, to end the parade, there was a patriotic float with beautiful young women, dressed in the green, white, and red of the Mexican flag, singing the national anthem, “Himno Nacional Mexicano.”

¡Viva México!

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Barrio de Jalatlaco played host to an invasion of tunas a few weeks ago. No, not the smelly fish or succulent cactus fruit. These were of the 13th century strolling university musician variety. The tradition of Tuna bands originated in Spain and Portugal, spread to Latin American, and remains alive and well in Oaxaca. Thus, the Tunas from the Universidad Regional del Sureste (URSE), one of four groups participating in the Barrio’s first Callejoneada, gathered on my block.

They serenaded the neighborhood.

We followed these pied pipers.

How could we not, with exuberant ballads like this?

Tuna de la URSE came, we saw, and two days ago they conquered La Tuna de Montes de Madrid (Spain) and La Tuna de Derecho de San Martín de Porres (Peru) — winning the Gran Final Internacional de Tunas Universitarias competition. ¡Felicidades!

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Adding some welcome color to these grey rainy season days, on the first of September my neighbors raised their ginormous flag marking the beginning of the Mes de la Patria — a month-long celebration of Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain.

The war lasted eleven years — from September 16, 1810, with Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s call to arms (Grito de Dolores), to September 27, 1821, when the Army of Three Guarantees triumphantly marched into Mexico City.

Merchandise in green, white, and red (colors of the Mexican flag) fill store shelves, vendors ply the streets selling flags and tchotchkes, and patriotic displays decorate public and private buildings.

As for me, I’m jonesing for the season’s traditional dish of chiles en nogada. It’s been four years since I savored its complex combination of flavors and textures at Restaurante Catedral (photo above).

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Over the past several years, one can’t help but notice that Oaxaca has become much more pet friendly.

In place of the formerly ubiquitous roof dogs menacingly peering down and barking at pedestrians, images of silent dogs and cats look out from walls along the sidewalks.

Veterinary offices have sprung up all over the city, dog walkers have become a “thing,” many businesses are placing water bowls outside their entrances, and restaurants are welcoming pets — cat photos that follow are from the mural outside La Selva de los Gatos Cat Cafe vegetarian restaurant.

Thanks to the efforts of various sterilization clinics in the valley, one doesn’t encounter nearly as many street dogs and feral cats.

If you are so inclined, Huellas de Ayuda Oaxaca and Teo Tails are a couple of clinics that could use financial and volunteer assistance.

Just look at these faces. What’s not to love?

Of course there is the occasional big cat.

And, not to be overlooked, armadillos are known to appear.

No matter the species of animal, on August 31, in celebration of the feast day of San Ramón Nonato, they can accompany their humans to be blessed at Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced at 4:00 PM. If years past are any indication, it should be a colorful and lively event.

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Sometimes, you just have to stop and marvel at the artistry of organ cactus planted against a wall.

Calle Pajaritos, Barrio de Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez
Casa Ocho Regiones, Av Benito Juárez, Oaxaca de Juárez
Calle 5 de mayo, Barrio de Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez

The sculptural effects of organ cactus always seem to create a WOW factor.

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