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Unlike last Saturday, there was no rain on yesterday’s Guelaguetza parade.  There was music, mezcal, and tepache. (Click on photos for full image.)

There were headdresses and bling.

There was awesome pride and joy.

And, there were kids to carry on the traditions.

Muchisimas gracias to the extended family of Hotel Casa Catrina who allowed me to seek shelter from last Monday’s rain and yesterday, saw me across the street and invited me for a shot of mezcal and to watch the desfile with them.  That’s Oaxaca — warm, welcoming, and wonderful!!!

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Late yesterday afternoon, under a dark and threatening sky, we gathered in front of Teotitlán del Valle’s church for the first *convite of the Fiesta Titular a la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, the village’s patron saint festival.

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Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo

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Peeking out from the canastas

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Danzante and daughter

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Subalterno entertaining the crowd

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Kids in the ‘hood patiently waiting and posing

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Leaving the church

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Through the streets with one of several marmotas

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Hundreds of unmarried girls and women parade through the streets

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Balancing canastas with dignity and pride

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The debut of the new Grupo de Danza de Pluma Promesa (2016-18)

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The rain held off, as the procession returned to the church

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And, the banda played on…

Major festivities of the Fiesta Titular a la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo continue through Sunday.  We shall return!

* Convite:  According to Harrap’s Spanish and English Pocket Dictionary, convite means reception.  However, if I drag my weighty Larousse Standard Diccionario down from the shelf, convite translates to “invitation” or “banquet.”  And, if one turns to Google or Bing translation programs, a convite is a “treat.”  To me, it is all of the above!

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September 16, 2015 marked the 205th anniversary of the beginning of Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain.  Like all such occasions worldwide, it was celebrated with patriotic parades.  Here in the city of Oaxaca, civic and military contingents marched from the corner of 20 de noviembre and Trujano, passed the Government Palace, east on Guerrero, then north on Pino Suarez, to wind up at Paseo Juárez (aka, Llano Park).

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Oaxaca’s Palacio de Gobierno, with images of Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez and José María Morelos y Pavón, two of the heroes of struggle for independence.

Before you could see a contingent, you could hear it; often drums and drummers heralded the arrival of both school and military groups.

IMG_9648IMG_9653Like most patriotic parades, military and police elements dominated the civic.  In Oaxaca, we are talking federal, state, and municipal, including units from the thousands of members of the Gendarmaría Nacional, who have been in town for at least a month.  I do have to say, besides the usual, some of the camouflage face paint had an “only in Mexico” flair.IMG_9691

IMG_9719IMG_9717copySpectators lined the streets along the route, but mostly reserved their applause for the bomberos (firefighters)…

IMG_9710IMG_9711Cruz Roja (Red Cross) workers, especially the canine unit and young volunteers…

IMG_9731IMG_9727and, last but not least, the riders from the Asociación de Charros de Oaxaca, who brought up the rear.  I guess the thinking was to keep the streets free of horse manure until the end!

IMG_9742IMG_9743IMG_9758IMG_9757IMG_9750That’s all, folks!

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Last Saturday, in the end, it did not rain on the parade.  With only minutes to spare before the first desfile of the Guelaguetza delegations was to begin, the torrential downpour stopped, the rockets sounded, bands played, and the delegates danced their way down Independencia.  I can’t believe how UN-bedraggled and energetic they were!

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Here’s hoping I managed to include one photo from each of the delegations in the slideshow above.

By the way, if you are in Oaxaca and planning to attend the second desfile tomorrow (July 25), see below for the parade route  — it has been changed!

Desfile2 ruta

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Before the rains came to put a damper on Saturday’s Guelaguetza pre-parade photo-ops, there were these moments with with moms and dads readying their impossibly cute kids for the desfile.

This last was my favorite moment.  I think dad was hoping for a lovely portrait of his beautiful daughter in all her finery, but as he began to take her digital device away, she gave him a look that said, “If you think your going to get a smile out of me, you’ve got another think coming.”  So, I said, let her keep it — still no smile, but there was another hour before the scheduled start time and parental experience told me, better to keep her occupied!

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It was all about the braids as the delegations and storm clouds gathered along Independencia for the Guelaguetza desfile (parade).

P1110451P1110452P1110481P1110485P1110505The heavens opened, umbrellas unfolded, rain ponchos were donned, and cover was sought by spectators and delegations, alike. But, stay tuned, the show DID go on!

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Is it cheating to post photos from the 2013 Mexican Independence Day desfile in Oaxaca?  What can I say?  It was raining today and, if it counts for anything, I never got around to posting these photos last year.

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However, I do have some news from this year:  The state police staged a protest and, besides your’s truly, Governor Cue did not attend — and I don’t think it was the rain that stopped him!

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Walking down the Alcalá… on the way home late yesterday afternoon… sounds of a band… I look up towards Santo Domingo… and see a calenda coming down the street.

Universidad La Salle Oaxaca on parade.  Reason # 552 why I love living here!

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Today Mexico is celebrating el Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day).  It commemorates the beginning of the bloody revolution that quickly drove dictator/president Porfirio Díaz from his 31-year long reign.  A November 22, 1910 headline in the Palestine [Texas] Daily Herald proclaimed, “Revolution Is Now On In Mexico: The Real Thing is Reported Under Way in State of Chihuahua, Mexico.”  However, the civil war raged on for ten years, as various factions battled for power and the peasantry fought for, in the words of Emiliano Zapata, ¡Tierra y libertad!  (Land and liberty!)  It is estimated to have cost 1.9 to 3.5 million lives.

At least here in Oaxaca, 20 de noviembre is not celebrated with as much pomp, circumstance, and military hardware as September 16th, Independence Day.  However, there were school floats…

The Government Palace was decked out in green, white, and red and the Governor, along with other dignitaries, presided from its balcony.

As always, the bomberos (firefighters) received much applause as they passed by the crowds gathered along the parade route.

Not so much love given to these guys from the Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones, an agency of Oaxaca’s Attorney General’s office.

And then there was this gal, directly across from the Government Palace…

Octavio Paz writes in The Labyrinth of Solitude, “The Revolution began as a demand for truth and honesty in the government…. Gradually the movement found and defined itself, in the midst of battle and later when in power.  Its lack of a set program gave it popular authenticity and originality.  This fact accounts for both its greatness and its weaknesses.” [p. 136, Grove Pr. 1985]

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The souls  have departed.   And, following 33 hours of travel, my BFF (along with her alebrijes by Alberto Perez and the Xuana family, a traditional black and white rebozo, bottle of Del Maguey mezcal from Chichicapa, several bags of Conchita chocolate, and a fabulous mohair rug woven by Antonio Ruíz Gonzalez), has returned home to the frigid climes of Alaska.  However, gal pal, souls, and the mortals with whom we shared the past, have left warm and lasting memories.  They have also left an exhausted gringa, whose brain feels like one of those overloaded small trucks one (more than occasionally) sees on the roads here.  With every nook and cranny filled, they move at a snail’s pace, be it along a pot-holed dirt road or the carretera, balancing their top-heavy loads.

Our week began on October 29, when the sounds of a band Pied Piper-ed us down the street and around a corner to a comparsa of high school students, who were taking part in a competition of using recycled products for their costumes and floats.  Alas, the rains came and eventually chased us home.

On October 30, delectable dining (lunch at La Biznaga and dinner at Los Danzantes) nourished multiple museum visits and allowed us to join the standing-room-only crowd at the Oaxaca Lending Library (without rumbling stomachs) to watch the wonderful new documentary, La Festividad de los Muertos, chronicling Day of the Dead in Teotitlán del Valle.

Then there was Thursday, the 31st….  A shopping expedition for flowers, sugar skulls, bread (pan de muertos), and two 10-foot long stalks of sugar cane to form the arch over my altar.  I carried them the 10-blocks home on my shoulder (sheesh, they are heavy) and carefully navigating the busy sidewalks.  According to BFF, I provided pedestrians and passengers in buses,cars, and taxis much entertainment.  I didn’t see a thing — I was just trying not to trip, fall, or whack anyone in front, behind, or to the sides of me!

Once the candles, photos, bread, chocolate, beverages (cervesa, mezcal, and water), and meaningful objects to our departed were in place; flowers arranged and cempasuchitl (marigold) petals scattered; and the arching sugar cane affixed to the wall surrounding our ofrenda, we made our way down to the beginning of the CEDART comparsa.

Later in the evening, we drove up to the panteón in Santa María Atzompa.  Passing the bright lights and crush of food, flower, pottery, and other vendors that line the entrance and finally emerging from under the arched gateway, the candlelit ethereal beauty of the cemetery on this night never ceases to take my breath away.  Of course, it wasn’t all exquisite and unearthly enchantment.  This is Mexico and so there was also a (very loud) band and the cervesa and mezcal flowed freely.  I’m sure the difuntos (deceased) enjoyed themselves and partied hardy with the living until the sun rose.  And then all slept.

On the other hand, we left at a reasonable hour, as we were only at the mid-point of our Día de los Muertos marathon.  More to come…

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What do the guys do while waiting for an Independence Day parade to begin?

Men in military uniforms taking photos

And, what do gals do? Pose for them!

Young women in military uniform posing

A mother takes twenty years to make a man of her boy, and another woman makes a fool of him in twenty minutes.  — Robert Frost

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Wading through the 900+ Guelaguetza photos and wondering…  Where do I start?  Where do I stop?  Today, it will be with two delegations from the Jamiltepec District in the Costa Region of the state of Oaxaca.

I begin with photos from last Saturday’s desfile of these fierce (and one not-so-fierce) looking guys from San Juan Colorado.

And, I will end this post with San Andrés Huaxpaltepec delegation.

With the crowds that line the parade route and the contingent of family, friends, and aides (providing props and costume repair, along with much-needed water) that accompany each delegation, it was hard to photograph, let alone video, the dancing along the way.  However, click HERE to watch a video of the La Mayordomía de San Andrés Huaxpaltepec from last Monday’s performance at the Guelaguetza Auditorium.  And, you can click HERE for a video I found of the Danza los Chareos of San Juan Colorado.

 

 

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Today is Día de los Niños (Children’s Day) and it’s a big deal here.  Oaxaca began her celebrations days ago.  The 6th Festival of Children’s Story Telling opened on Saturday, yesterday an exibition of traditional toys (Colección Hanni Sager Juguete tradicional) had its inauguration at the Museo del Palacio, and Friday, the Guelaguetza Infantil calenda filled the streets from Santo Domingo to the Basilica de la Soledad.

As several bands played, the children from Oaxaca’s preschools wearing the traditional costumes from the 8 regions of the state of Oaxaca waited, posed, walked, danced, and threw candy to the appreciative crowds gathered on the sidewalks along the ten-block long route.  (Note, some of the little girls already practicing holding canastas (baskets) on their heads!)

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Parents and teachers, many also wearing traje from the Cañada, Costa, Istmo, Mixteca, Papaloapan, Sierra Norte, Sierra Sur, and the Valles Centrales regions, proudly walked alongside the children.  Vive Oaxaca concluded their article,

With such events from the early years of life are taught to love our Oaxacan culture, traditions, music and preserve the best legacy we have: our roots. Congratulations to the teachers and parent to correctly perform with great momentum this holiday culture.  [Google translation]

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You might well ask, “What is a muerteada?”  It is a comparsa (parade) that is part of traditional Día de los Muertos celebrations particular to the state of Oaxaca.  According to the book, Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca, the muerteada allows the dead “to ‘occupy’ a living body, either a muerteada participant or an audience member, for a time, and therefore enjoy the entertainment directly rather than vicariously.”

Like Commedia dell’Arte, there are stock characters — in this case, the happy widow, the dying or dead husband, the father of the widow, a doctor, a priest, a shaman, people dressed like death, devils, and las lloronas (weeping women).  However, unlike Commedia dell’Arte, in the muerteada men play all the roles.

Last year we joined the Vista Hermosa, Etla murteado.  However, this year blogger buddy Chris decided I was ready for the big time — the “battle of the bands” when the muerteadas of San Agustín Etla and Barrio San José meet — Banda Tromba Sinaloense for San Agustín and MonteVerde Banda for San José.  FYI:  This is after participants and their bands have danced their way up and down the hills of their respective neighborhoods all night long, stopping at designated houses for food and drink — mezcal and cervesas seemed to be the beverage of choice, especially among the men!

So, early on the Nov. 2, we went in search of the San Agustín contingent, we found them, joined in the merriment, were offered food and drink along the way, and eventually came to the crossroad where mania turned to mayhem, albeit organized mayhem — courtesy of the white-shirted security for San Agustín and red-shirted security for San José.  They kept the dancers and supporters from each side apart, leaving the face-off to the two bands.  It was wild!!!  After 20+ minutes of battling bands, it was over and we and the San Agustín contingent trudged back up the hill.

You may have spotted a tall silver-haired gringo right in the middle of the action in one or two of the photos, that would be Chris.  Be sure to check out the video he put together of all the madness.

According to Organizing Committee President, Alfredo Erick Pérez, the muerteada in San Agustín Etla dates back to the 1800s, possibly to the days of Mexican President Porfirio Díaz.

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On chairs in Reyes Etla.

On a chair: sheet music "Zapateando Istmeño xxx" for tuba

On people’s backs in the city.
"Cuadrilla no. 2" sheet music clipped on the back of a man wearing a red and black striped shirt

Wherever… especially during Guelaguetza!

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