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Posts Tagged ‘Oaxaca’

After a three year absence (two due to the pandemic and last year due to a blockade), blogger buddy Chris and I finally returned to San Martín Tilcajete to experience the mayhem and magic of their Carnaval (aka: Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras) celebration. We arrived in the late morning and, thanks to an invitation from our friend Gabriel Sosa of Matlacihua Arte, we were just in time to visit several devils preparing to take to the streets.

There is face paint involved.

And, there is body paint — a mixture of vegetable oil (with the possible addition of motor oil) and the same powdered paint used on the intricately decorated masks and alebrije the village is famous for.

Preparation is definitely a cooperative activity.

There are also cowbells worn to issue a clamorous invitation to residents and visitors to join the festivities.

Once the finishing touches are completed — cowbells tied around each devil’s waist and paint touch-ups — they leave the family compound.

Once out on the dusty streets (it is the dry season) of San Martín Tilcajete, they join with other devils issuing their clanging invitation throughout the village and, occasionally “tagging” a suspecting or unsuspecting bystander with a little of their oil based paint.

A word to the wise, if you go, don’t wear your favorite clothes and especially, don’t wear white!

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Día de Carnaval (aka, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival, day before the beginning of Lent) is coming in two days and, in order to promote the varying celebrations in the state of Oaxaca, the Secretaría de Fomento Turístico (Secretariat of the Promotion of Tourism) invited delegations from various villages in the state to showcase their unique traditions in a grand parade down the city’s walking street, Macedonio Alcalá. The costumes and body paint were outstanding, but it was the masks and faces that spoke to me.

My photos were from the gathering point at the Cruz de Piedra. The route proceeded down Macedonio Alcalá, turned right onto Morelos, and ended at the Plaza de la Danza. According to the poster promoting this wild, wacky, and surreal parade, participating delegations were from Chalcatongo de Hidalgo, Villa de Zaachila, San Blas Atempa, San Pedro Amuzgos, Santa Catarina Minas, Magdalena Teitipac, Santiago Juxtlahuaca, San Bartolo Coyotepec, San Juan Cacahuatepec, Santa Maria Zacatepec, San Pedro Totomachapam, San Andrés Huaxpaltepec, San Sebastián Tecomaxtlahuaca, Oaxaca de Juárez, and Santa María Coyotepec. I’m not sure if I saw them all, but I do know San Martín Tilcajete was also there — and that’s where I will be celebrating Día de Carnaval on Tuesday.

For more from Saturday’s parade, check out video footage shot by Chris over at Oaxaca-The Year After.

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This morning I woke to the sound of music — a live trio singing traditional Mexican boleros drifted through an open window. Though it was 6:15 AM, I couldn’t help smiling at being awakened to romantic songs like these sung by Trio Los Panchos.

On this Valentine’s Day, known in Mexico as Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship), some much loved person was being serenaded.

Once the calendar turned to February, hearts, flowers, balloons, candy, and stuffed animals have been featured in windows and sidewalk vendor displays.

¡Feliz Día del Amor y la Amistad! And, because International Mother Language Day is coming up on February 21, learn to say “I love you” to lovers and friends in 7 of the 69 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico — including Zapoteco, Mixteco, and a couple of other languages spoken in Oaxaca.

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The wedding industry is booming in Oaxaca and some of the biggest and most elaborate bodas (weddings) happen at the gold leaf laden Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán. While the doors of the church are closed to the public during the ceremony, all are welcome to enjoy the celebration that follows once the newly married couple emerges through the massive wooden doors. Wedding planners provide traditional wedding calendas (parades) that include a brass band, bride and groom monos, marmotas emblazoned with the couple’s first names, dancers dressed in regional costumes, and often mezcal! This was one of last Saturday’s contributions…

Bride mono alongside a perro piñata.
Marmota waiting to be twirled in celebration of Marcela and Alonso’s boda.
Istmo dancers waiting with mezcal and canutos de carrizo necklaces to drink it from.
China Oaxaqueña dancers and their canastas waiting in the shade.
Putla de Guerrero unmasked tiliche dancer with cell phone in hand before the calenda begins.

Needless to say, there is a lot of “hurry up and wait” for both participants and onlookers. The anticipation builds before the band strikes up tunes familiar to Oaxaqueños and anyone who has attended La Guelaguetza, the bride and groom step into the atrium, and the dancing begins.

Young marmota dancer and spectators with cameras.
The bride and groom emerge and dancing begins.
Flor de Piña dancers dancing with their pineapples.
Danza de la Pluma dancers and marmotas.

The band, dancers, bride, groom, and wedding guests will eventually dance their way down Oaxaca’s walking street, the Macedonio Alcalá (aka, Andador Turístico), stopping traffic at intersections and tourists on sidewalks, before arriving at the reception destination — wherever that may be. By the way, if you are wondering about the cost for all of this, according to this website, the price for a wedding with the reception at the beautiful Jardín Etnobotánico (originally part of the Santo Domingo convent complex) is 4,000 pesos per person. Doing the math: For 100 people, at the current exchange rate, that would be over $20,000 (US) — well above the price range for most Oaxaqueños but quite popular among the well-heeled destination wedding crowd.

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One of the joys of living in Oaxaca de Juárez is being able to walk most everywhere I need to go. On this particular day, I headed 2 km. south to Veana Oaxaca Mayoreo in search of more plastic chairs for my terrace. Though the route, which took me down Calle de Xicoténcatl, wasn’t one I normally followed, nor along the most scenic and/or quaint of streets, it still had scenes to surprise and delight.

Given that my mission was successful, the young male sales clerk hoisted the six chairs I’d purchased and carried them half a block, where he set them down on the sidewalk at the next intersection, telling me this was the best location to hail a taxi. An empty taxi appeared within three minutes. More reasons why I love Oaxaca!

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While I was in el norte, I had no worries about my plants, as I knew my neighbors A&P would take good care of them. It has taken me a week to unpack, put things away, clean (oh, the dust!), and get reacquainted with my garden’s flora and fauna.

I was surprised and delighted this tiny cactus welcomed me with one of its flowers.

Another delight was the presence of Eddie Lizard still hanging out on the outer side of the screen between the atrium and my office. He’s been here a month and a half!

A less welcome sight were these small caterpillars. Thankfully, P took on the task of picking them off with my garden tweezers. They have been munching on my Passion Flower leaves for months and I can’t figure out how to eradicate them. Any suggestions?

After being gone for a month, it’s good to be back home, be warm and dry, and enjoying my garden!

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It has now been almost a month of wind, rain, and fifty shades of grey skies and I am more than ready to return to the land of light and color. In the meantime, I’m channeling the murals of Oaxaca’s Barrio de Xochimilco — where even greys come with rainbows of color.

¡Hasta pronto Oaxaca!

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After two weeks of San Francisco Bay Area grey skies and cold atmospheric river weather, I’m dreaming Oaxaca winter blue sky dreams.

October 2, 2022 – Roof dog in Teotitlán del Valle
October 30, 2022 – Papel picado on my Barrio de Jalatlaco rooftop.
November 14, 2022 – View of waning Gibbous Moon from my Barrio de Jalatlaco rooftop.

Singing Blue Skies along with Ella Fitzgerald.

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2022 began with rainbows and ended with fab food, friends, and family — a good way to say hello and goodbye to a year that continued to bring serious challenges to this planet we call home. In my little Oaxaca corner of the world, the year had its circumstantial complexities but also was filled with visits from old friends, becoming more familiar with my Jalatlaco neighborhood, “any excuse gatherings” with my most excellent neighbors, and several adventures with BFFs in and out of the city.

January 13, 2022 – A rainbow surprise from my rooftop terrace in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
February 19, 2022 – Efedefroy stencil outside Xiguela Tienda, Barrio de Jalatlaco.
March 23, 2022 – Classic car on a street in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
April 12, 2022 – Agave quiote decorating the outside of Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco.
May 30, 2022 – Rainy day streets in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
June 4, 2022 – Found objects art on the rooftop of Restaurant Oaxaca Mía, Teotitlán del Valle.
July 15, 2022 – Grasshopper on my rooftop terrace in Barrio de Jalatlaco.
August 27, 2022 – Calenda dancing its way along the streets of Barrio de Jalatlaco.
September 29, 2022 – Chiles en Nogada at Casa Oaxaca Reforma.
October 28, 2022 – Spiffed up La Hormiga food trailer at Conzatti Park.
November 6, 2022 – Murals at the entrance to Barrio de Xochimilco in Oaxaca.
November 6, 2022 – Ensalada Tehuana at La Biznaga on the corner of Magarita Maza and Benito Juárez (one of my favorite intersections).

Words can’t begin to express how grateful I am to you all for reading, commenting, and following my blog. You kept me going during the worst days of the pandemic and continue to inspire me. Thus, my 2023 wish for you is…

I Hope You Dance
Written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion, always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

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December 18th is a day fit for a queen. It is the day Oaxaca honors her patroness and queen, La Santísima Virgen de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude). Always rendered with hands clasped in prayer, this portrayal of the Virgin Mary contemplates the death of her son.

Image of La Virgen de la Soledad on a garden altar at Almú restaurant in San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca.
Image of La Virgen de la Soledad at a grave site in Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca.
La Virgen de la Soledad painted into the crevice of an Indian Laurel tree in the Zócalo of Oaxaca city.

Though currently 2000 miles away from my Oaxaca home, I’m sending happy feast day wishes to Our Lady of Solitude and the people of Oaxaca.

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In Oaxaca, at any time of year, images of la Virgen de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) are never far away.

April 8, 2022 – Wall of a building on Calz. de la República, Oaxaca city.
March 24, 2022 – Wall inside Casa Ocho Regiones, Oaxaca city.
November 2, 2022 – Cemetery in Tlacolula de Matamoros.
February 3, 2022 – Guadalupe (on the right) at the restaurant Almú in San Martín Tilcajete.

However, today, December 12, is Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe and she and her image are being celebrated — including by the danzantes of Danza de la Pluma Promesa 2022-2024 in Teotitlán del Valle.

The legend of La Virgen de Guadalupe is known to every Mexican, every person of Mexican descent, and probably every foreigner who calls Mexico home. The image of this dark-skinned Virgin Mary who spoke Náhuatl is as imprinted on the national consciousness as she was on Juan Diego’s legendary tilma (cloak).

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This morning, before dawn broke, the booms of cohetes celebrating Día de la Virgen de Juquila woke me from a dreamy sleep. A rude awakening? Not really. After all these years, the sound makes me smile. The all-bang-no-bling rockets mean something is being celebrated. Since mid November, pilgrims from all over Latin America have been traveling to Santa Catarina Juquila, Oaxaca, Mexico. They arrive by bus, bicycle, motorcycle, on foot, and on their knees to pay homage, give thanks, and ask for blessings in front of the tiny image of la Virgen de Juquila. According to this article, they will continue to make the pilgrimage until December 28.

Image of the Virgin of Juquila on display in the booth of Santa Catarina Juquila at an exposition of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos held in Oaxaca.

Why do they come? According to legend, in 1633, when a fire burned the Chatino village of Amialtepec to the ground, a small wooden statue of the Virgin Mary was rescued amidst the ashes. She was undamaged, save for her light skin color, which was permanently darkened by the smoke, causing her to more closely resemble the Chatino people, who live in this remote mountainous region between Oaxaca city and the Pacific coast. Local priests declared her survival a miracle and her veneration commenced. However, that wasn’t the end of the story; the priest in the village of Santa Catarina Juquila convinced the “powers that be” that she should be moved to the bigger and better church in Juquila. She, however, had other ideas and returned to Amialtepec. This back and forth continued another three times. Finally, in 1719, La Morenita (the dear dark one), as she had come to be known, gave up her traveling ways and agreed to call Santa Catarina Juquila her permanent home.

Image of the Virgin of Juquila nestled on an altar in the garden of the restaurant Almú in San Martín Tilcajete.

She “is a symbol of love, of protection, of justice, of peace, of respect for human dignity.”  And, because of her indigenous roots, “the homage to the Virgin of Juquila is similar to that rendered to the Virgin of Guadalupe, not only in Oaxaca, but also in Puebla, Tlaxcala, State of Mexico, Veracruz and Chiapas, as well as in the United States, for the religiosity of migrants.”

Image of the Virgen of Juquila on the home altar of a family in Teotitlán del Valle.

On October 8, 2014, la Virgen de Juquila received a papal coronation — hence the crown seen in images one, two, and four. And, on October 26, 2022, a delegation from Oaxaca traveled to Rome to present Pope Francis with a very special image of la Virgen de Juquila. It was a collaborative work carved and painted in the Jacobo and María Ángeles Workshop in San Martín Tilcajete, with metalwork by Conrado Villegas Alcázar and filigree work by the jeweler José Jorge García García, both from Oaxaca city. Her vestments were made by Elsa Abigail Mendoza Antonio from Santo Tomás Jalietza.

This is the Virgen de Juquila presented to Pope Francis. The photo is from the Jacobo and María Ángeles Workshop website.

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Autumn light catches plant shadow play against my garden’s new blue wall.

Epiphyllum hookeri (Night blooming cereus)

Beaucarnea recurvata (Elephant’s foot)

Pachypodium lamerei (Madagascar palm)

Blue makes for a far more dramatic scene than the former lifeless cream color.

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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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