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Posts Tagged ‘monos’

In Oaxaca, the sound of rockets and music in the streets means there must be a calenda — and early last evening, one seemed to be only a few blocks away.

It was the ideal excuse for putting off emptying my massive wooden kitchen counter for the termite extermination crew’s arrival the next morning.

To what, or who, did I owe this timely interruption?  Saint Cecilia!  November 22 is her feast day and, at least in Mexico, festivals to the saints aren’t just one day events — hence  yesterday’s mass at Iglesia de San Felipe Neri, followed by the calenda.

And, by the way, Santa Cecilia isn’t just any saint, she is the patrona de los músicos (patron of musicians) and so, of course, there were two bands playing in the church atrium.

Alas, though the party was only just getting started, given the chore that awaited me at home, I forced myself to leave after a half and hour.  However there is more on Santa Cecilia’s dance card today and tomorrow…

 

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Another day, another parade.  Today, the Gran Calenda del Mercado de Abastos (parade of the markets) passed within a block and a half of Casita Colibrí.  I couldn’t miss it — the cacophony of multiple bands, cohetes (rockets), and honking horns announced its arrival in my ‘hood!  In the words of Octavio Paz, from The Labyrinth of Solitude

“The solitary Mexican loves fiestas and public gatherings.”

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“The art of the fiesta has been debased almost everywhere else, but not in Mexico.”

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“Our poverty can be measured by the frequency and luxuriousness of our holidays.”

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“Do they forget themselves and show their true faces?  Nobody knows.  The important thing is to go out, open a way, get drunk on noise, people, colors.”

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“In the confusion that it generates, society is dissolved, is drowned, insofar as it is an organism ruled according to certain laws and principles.”

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“Everything is united: good and evil, day and night, the sacred and the profane.  Everything merges, loses shape and individuality and returns to the primordial mass.”

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“The fiesta is a cosmic experiment, an experiment in disorder, reuniting contradictory elements and principles in order to bring about a renascence of life.”

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This week the city of Oaxaca celebrates her 485 birthday.  Yes, we know she is older…  However, we are talking the colonial city, here.  And, despite her age, this birthday girl began the festivities by inviting the best cocineras from the eight regions of the state to cook for her citizens and visitors — from 1 PM until 9 PM — under the shade of a giant tent covering the Plaza de la Danza.  The Primer Encuentro de Cocineras Tradicionales de Oaxaca was not free, but quite reasonable.

The food was riquísima (beyond delicious) and, while we were there, the guys from Santiago Juxtlahuaca in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, performed the Danza de los Rubios.

I returned home satisfied and sleepy, but the day wasn’t over.  There was a calenda (parade) scheduled for 5 PM and a procession of “Gigantes” at 7 PM — route for the latter was unclear.  I was hot, tired, and torn.  To go, or not to go?  That was the question.  Thunder began rumbling and I figured my answer was to stay in for the evening.  However, at 7:30 PM, when a the sounds of a procession came practically to my doorstep and not a drop of rain had fallen, I had to run out to join it.

The “Gigantes” were supposed to represent the giants of all time that Oaxaca has given to the world.  Most were a mystery to me, though I think I saw Benito Juárez and maybe Porfirio Díaz (both Oaxaqueños) and I’m guessing the bunny is a nod to the alebrije wood carving and decorating tradition.  In any case, it was great fun!

Just as the calenda reached the Plaza de la Danza, it began raining on this parade and everyone made a beeline for the cover of the Cocineras tent.  I’m sure they will eat well!  And the rain?  It was probably the best birthday gift Mother Nature could bestow on Oaxaca’s parched earth and dusty sidewalks.

This was just day one of the anniversary festivities.  Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Oaxaca’s actual birthday and the church bells will begin chiming at 6:45 AM.  So I’d better get to bed!  By the way, the Encuentro de Cocineras Tradicionales de Oaxaca opens again at 1 PM tomorrow and lasts until 8 PM or whenever the food runs out.  For a complete schedule of events, click HERE.

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It’s halftime in Oaxaca and all is quiet.

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Local vendors are selling food, drink and paraphernalia. Though El Financiero is reporting that grocery chain Soriana is temporarily closing some of their stores in Oaxaca and Chiapas, blaming blockades and security concerns.

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The teams have retired to their respective locker rooms to tend to the wounded and bury the dead (literally).

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Mascots continue to fire up their supporters in a war of Tweets, Facebook posts, and media talking heads…

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As fans (fanáticos en español) await the resumption of play.

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But, all most Oaxaqueños want is a peaceful and fair end to this infernal battle.  Let’s hope something can be worked out when negotiations resume on Monday.

During this lull, English speaking readers might want to check out Dave Miller’s blog and/or listen to an interview with Laura Carlsen (Center for International Policy) for background on the issues involved between the education workers and the government.

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Pick a color, any color, and you will find it in Oaxaca, be it people…

Places or things…

Today, I choose orange.  Tomorrow, who knows???

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Tuesday morning, from the plaza in front of the Basilica de la Soledad, the sound of speeches, music, and explosions announced Día del Barrendero — a day celebrating the founding of the Sindicato Independiente 3 de Marzo.  These are the street sweepers, garbage collectors, and laborers of Oaxaca.

Earlier in the morning, a procession brought union members, their families, and friends from Cinco Señores to the Basílica, where a special mass was celebrated to honor the patron saint of Oaxaca, la Virgen de la Soledad.  Raul, a lifelong street sweeper whose work day begins at 3 AM, is quoted as explaining, “We have to thank our mother, the Virgin of Soledad, for the blessings every day gives us.”

March 3rd — brought to you by the gals and guys who keep the city clean.

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Ahhh, it feels good to be back in the warm and wonderful Oaxaca.  There are the sounds…  I awake to church bells, followed by the loudspeaker cry of “Gas de Oaxaca” from the propane vendor.  Last night, as I was heading to bed, rockets exploded and, just now, the camote man’s steam whistle sounded, announcing tooth-achingly sweetened hot sweet potatoes and bananas.  Then there are the sights…

The walls continue to talk…  On Thursday, I saw this on Calle Morelos as I walked to the Alcalá and comida with friends.  It remembers Leonel Castro Abarca, one of the 43 still-missing students from Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

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On the way home from comida, I detoured to see what was to be seen on the zócalo.  Teacher tents remain pitched around the bandstand, but the walkways were free of ambulantes, and, as always, the Cathedral presided over the scene.

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Thursday, the familiar sounds of protest were irresistible.  I grabbed my camera and headed out the front gate to see a massive march by healthcare workers on their way to the Plaza de la Danza.  To be honest, tubas and cohetes would have had me out the door, too!  It was way too quiet in el norte.

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And, what can I say about last night’s sunset from the terrace?

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Naturally, a marmota and pair of monos were waiting on the plaza in front of Santo Domingo this afternoon, awaiting a bride and groom to emerge.  After all, it is Saturday — wedding day in Oaxaca!

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I wonder what my ears will hear and my eyes will see, mañana…

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Yesterday, I was walking along calle de Flores Magón, and what to my wondering eyes did appear?

Pickup truck with 2 monos in back

Husband and wife?  Novia y novio??  “Just” friends???

Female mono laying in back of pickup gtruck

I’ve got to say, they looked rather stiff and not very comfortable.  Hope their trip was a short one!

Heads of male and female monos in back of truck

By the way, if you want to read a little about my journey to Oaxaca and expat life, Expat Blog recently published an interview with me, American Expat Living in Mexico – Interview with Shannon.  There is even a photo of a couple of monos supervising a banda.  Perhaps friends of the above???

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A mono in camo, seriously???

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I guess it really is a jungle out there.  But, it isn’t easy to stay hidden when your buddy is laughing at you.

Just another day crossing the Plaza de la Danza on my way to the market.  As I keep saying, you just never know what you will uncover walking the streets of Oaxaca.

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Yesterday was another of the “ya just never know…” days.  Returning to the city from Xoxocotlán after looking at the house my (soon-to-be-former) neighbor is building, the taxi driver pointed down Independencia and said something that we interpreted as, “day of the garbage collector.”  So, instead of going home, my camera and I walked in the direction he pointed and, sure enough, a side street was lined with decorated garbage trucks.

decorated garbage trucks

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However, this day wasn’t for just any old garbage collectors; being March 3rd, it celebrated the founding of the Sindicato Independiente 3 de Marzo of the municipality of Oaxaca.  Depending on which newspaper report one reads, it is either the 34th, 38th, or 39th anniversary.

Marmota with banner

These are the city workers who keep the state’s capital clean — the garbage collectors, street sweepers, drivers, and laborers.  And, the city of Oaxaca IS clean, putting San Francisco to shame!  After a Thanksgiving mass, most of the 1,200 “trabajadores de limpia” and their families filled the plaza in front of the Basilica de la Soledad.  And, like all good Oaxacan celebrations, there were monos, dancers, marmotas, bands, toritos, and the whistles, whirrs, and booms of fireworks (of the all bang, no bling variety).

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So, now you know where to be and what to do next March 3rd!

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Hmmm… hope you didn’t need a taxi in Oaxaca today.  It’s not that they weren’t around; they were everywhere!  August 12 is Día del Taxista and, instead of picking up fares, taxis are decorated and parade through the city, accompanied by banners, bands, monos, and the Virgen de Guadalupe.

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I think I managed to capture one of each of the (color-coded) taxi organizations participating — 13 by my count.  However, the procession didn’t seem as long this year and I’m thinking some of the organizations were missing.  Charges of corruption, going back to the previous governor have been ramping up and the July 25th blockade that paralyzed transportation into and out of the city, by some taxistas, seemed to put the issue on the front burner.  But, who knows???  Certainly not this gringa!

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And, then there was the Festival de los 7 Moles opening buffet lunch set amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Jardín Etnobotánico.  Serendipity and synchronicity brought us there… running into a friend, conversation, investigation (see pots below), and her enthusiasm and powers of persuasion (gracias, Rosa!) had us purchasing tickets on the spot.

While kitchen staff prepared the serving platters and bowls…

Woman in apron and wearing hairnet, scoops cooked rice out of a large bucket.

Dancers gathered on the Alameda for a calenda that would lead people the luncheon.

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They included a number of small children…

Woman squatting down and clasping hands with a toddler-age boy - both in indigenous dress

The calenda, including the requisite marmota (giant cloth balloon), monos (giant puppets), band, dancers with canastas (see yesterday’s post), and the sponsoring banner of CANIRAC (national association of the restaurant and food industries), made its way up the Alcalá…

Procession with marmota, monos, and banner

before turning onto Constitución and entering the Jardín, where wait staff and divine moles awaited.

Wait staff, wearing black, white, and grey gathered next to table.

Yummm, mole negro

Large green pottery bowls filled with black mole.

Mole amarillo

Green pottery bowls of red colored moles

Mole coloradito

Green ceramic pot with red mole.

Mole verde

Green mole in green ceramic pot

There was also mole chichilo, mole manchamanteles, and mole rojo.  I tried them all!!!  And, I haven’t even mentioned the cervesa, mezcal, aguas, and appetizers of quesillo, chicharon, and tacos filled with guacamole and chapulines (grasshoppers).  You’ll have to switch over to Chris’s blog to see those and much more.  Oh, and for dessert, a scoop of each of my favorite nieves (sherbet); leche quemada (burned milk) and tuna (cactus fruit).

A day filled with light, color, music, fabulous food, and, most of all, wonderful friends — the recipe for a perfect day!

(ps)  There are almost 50 restaurants around town that will be featuring mole as part of this 12-day festival.

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