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Posts Tagged ‘San Juan Guelavia’

If it’s the end of January into the beginning of February, it must be time for the Feria del Carrizo in San Juan Guelavía.  About twenty minutes east of the city, this village was known for their beautiful and functional baskets hand-woven from carrizo (Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed), a tall perennial cane that grows along river banks. p1240717

These baskets have traditionally been used as carriers and storage bins since before the Spanish set foot on the soil that became Mexico.  However, their popularity and demand took a nosedive, along with the economy of San Juan Guelavía, upon the arrival of plastic baskets.  The answer, in 2012, was to promote these artisans, their wares, and their creativity with a fair.  Several days preceding Sunday’s inauguration of the 6th annual fair and sale, there were misas (masses), parades, and fireworks.

As with all festivals and fairs in Oaxaca, there are folkloric dance performances.

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And, artfully positioned decorations adorning walls and gates and hanging from the ceiling.p1240705

There is barbacoa and tortillas hot off the comal.p1240697

And, impossibly adorable children carrying on traditions.p1240738

The fair was in full swing when we arrived in late morning (note to self, get there earlier next year) with carrizo woven baskets, birdcages, bottles, and baby cradles piled high.p1240718So many choices…  Is it too early to begin Christmas shopping?p1240715I kept my eye out for Teresa, who made beautiful lampshades for me two years ago.  However, it wasn’t easy as there were so many people coming and going and crowded around all of the vendor tables.p1240706
It took a while but, on the second pass around, I finally found her and her delightful family.  There was much handshaking, cheek kissing, and catching up.p1240714And, more than a little laughter about her fowl friend, who was keeping watch under the table.p1240712

Another wonderful, warm, and welcoming day in one of the villages in the valley of Oaxaca.  The fair continues this week with a 4-day jaripeo (rodeo) and closes on February 5, so you still have time!  Never fear, if you miss it, these carrizo treasures can often be found at the weekly Sunday market in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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Wishing all my sisters, whoever and wherever you may be, a happy International Women’s Day.  The struggle continues, because…

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San Juan Guelavia, January 2016

From an article today:

An estimated 120 million girls and women under the age of 20 have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts – around 10 per cent.

More than a third of women worldwide have also experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, with this being most common between a woman’s teenage years and menopause.

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of a billion more women are in the global workforce today than a decade ago, but they are only earning what men did in 2006, according to the World Economic Forum.

And one in 10 married women are not consulted by their husbands on how their own cash earnings will be spent.

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Because last year’s fair was so much fun and I’m still loving my lampshades, blogger buddy Chris and I returned to San Juan Guelavia yesterday for the 5th Feria del Carrizo.  Upon arriving, our first surprise was being directed to a dirt estacionamiento (one of my favorite words, means parking lot) next to, what looked to be, a rodeo arena.  It was quickly followed by surprise number two:  The plaza crowded with people — at least ten times the number as last year!  Aside from two friends who were leaving (arms filled with purchases), we didn’t see many extranjeros.  However, we ran into several friends from Teotitlán del Valle and Tlacolula and at lunch sat across from some visitors from Mexico City.

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We arrived just in time for the official ribbon cutting that signaled the opening of the fair.  We didn’t recognize any of the dignitaries, though most everyone else did and masses of cell phones rose high in the air to record the event.  Once the ceremonial duties were done, chairs were pushed back and a children’s folkloric dance group marched in to the familiar music of the China Oaxaqueña delegation heard during La Guelaguetza.  There was even a mini-torito (toritito?) wired with fireworks that was lit, though one of the little girls didn’t appear too thrilled.  And, as we wandered around, we could hear music that we recognized from some of the other regions of Oaxaca and we caught glimpses of more of the kids dancing.

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Unfortunately, woven plastic baskets have become a more common sight at the markets in the valley of Oaxaca.  So, the growing popularity of the fair is good news for a community that has seen a decline in the demand for their beautiful handcrafted baskets made from carrizo (aka, Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed) — a tall perennial cane that grows along river banks in Oaxaca.  Besides traditional baskets and bird cages, the artisans have branched out to making lamps and shades, weaving decorative bottle covers for your mezcal, fashioning toys, and much more.  Naturally, I again couldn’t resist and happily came away with a new hamper.

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The Feria del Carrizo is also happening next Sunday, February 7.  SO, if you are in the neighborhood (San Juan Guelavia is only about 20 minutes east of the city), I highly recommend a visit and be sure to also stop at the tiendas on road into town — that’s actually where I bought my new hamper (above).

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Muchisimas gracias to all my wonderful blog readers — for reading, for commenting, for sharing, for the opportunity to meet some of you, and for inspiring me to continue.  A look back at Oaxaca scenes that never made it into the blog…

January – Although spring was a couple of months away, the Primavera (Tabebuia chrysotricha) was already in bloom.

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February – Cattle car on the carretera outside Tlacolula de Matamoros on Sunday market day.

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March – A quiet morning on Monte Albán.

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April – Decorating with agave flowers on Easter Sunday in Mitla.

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May – Police temporarily remove and replace Sección 22 on the zócalo.

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June – Though we arrived hours early for a festival in San Juan Guelavía, the sacred and profane were already present.

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July – A favorite view from my terrace, the African tulip trees in full bloom.

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August – At Casa Colonial the water lilies and hyacinths were stunning.

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September – Cochineal (the “perfect red” dye) exhibition at Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO).

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October – Returning from Teotitlán de Valle one morning, a globo was landing near San Mateo Macuilxochitl.

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November – On the way to Mercado Hidalgo in Colonia Reforma to buy Thanksgiving groceries, Our Lady of the Wires (?).

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December – Rooftop still life in El Centro.

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A long, strange, and fascinating trip it continues to be.  As another song says, Próspero año y felicidad!

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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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Sunday, we returned to San Juan Guelavía, in search of Teresa, the gal from last week’s post about the Feria del Carrizo.  With her address, family name, and measurements in hand, I was hoping to commission her to make a couple of lampshades for me.  However, there are no detailed street maps for these small villages, so we had to rely on the tried and true, stopping to ask for directions, method.

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Outside the church (which, for some reason, was closed this week) we asked, “Where is calle 5 de mayo?”  This is a village with a population of less than 3,000 people, thus the reply, “Who are you looking for?”  We said, “Teresa.”  He responded, “She makes baskets?”  Us, “Yes.”  Him, “Hmmm… which family?”  Fumbling with my notes, I came up with, “Hipolito!”  “Ahhh, sí!”

Then directions rapidly cascaded from his mouth to our ears.  They included many derechos, derechas, a puente, and dos tienditas.  All of this was in Spanish and we turned to each other and asked, “Did you get all that?”  We concurred, probably 80%.  Hey, we’re getting better at this.  Of course, we made a wrong turn or two, went too far south on 5 de mayo, and had to ask a few more people along the way, but eventually we found it!

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On the right side of the dirt road, heading south, there is a painted number 46 slightly visible on concrete pole.  It made sense that #48 might be behind the Mini Super and so we pulled in and began walking to the back.

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People began materializing and we kept repeating, “Teresa.”  Then, there she was, emerging from sitting under a tree, recognizing us from last week, and smiling broadly!  Immediately, two chairs were brought out and placed in the shade for us.  The warm and welcoming hospitality of Oaxaqueños is something to behold.

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It’s a family business and once Teresa and I had worked out the size and shape for the two lampshades, the littlest guy above, brought out a small basket with a 15 peso price sticker.  I asked him if he had made it, and he very proudly nodded “yes.”  Needless to say, I couldn’t resist.

We will return in ten days to pick up my new lampshades and, perhaps, make a few other purchases.

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This poster for a Feria del Carrizo arrived in my email inbox a few weeks ago.  There are ferias (fairs) for just about everything, so why not, carrizo?  Plus, I’d never been to San Juan Guelavía, though I’ve noticed the sign announcing its exit every time I’ve gone to or from Teotitlán del Valle and points south on route 190.

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The uninitiated might ask, what is carrizo?  As the Wikipedia entry advises, “Carrizo” should not be confused with “chorizo” the pork sausage.  Carrizo (aka, Arundo donax, Spanish cane, Giant cane, Wild Cane, and Colorado River weed) is a tall perennial cane that one can easily spot growing along river banks in Oaxaca.  (It kind of looks like bamboo.)  In fact, if you see a stand of carrizo, you can be almost certain there is a stream nearby.  Along with constructing shade structures, window coverings, and mezcal cups, one of its most common uses is in woven basketry.

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They range from the simple and utilitarian to the elegant shapes and complex designs that make them a works of art.

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And, to those in search of hard-to-find lamps and lampshades, check out the work of Teresa.  With measurements of my cast iron standing lamp (in desperate need of a new lampshade) in hand, I plan to pay a visit, muy pronto, to her studio at 5 de mayo, #48 in San Juan Guelavía.

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In the meantime, a-tisket, a-tasket I bought a carrizo basket.  And, it’s already elicited several compliments!

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Of course, when the band played, La Mayordomía, this little girl knew exactly what baskets are for!

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Artistry under blue sky and sun, with delicious food, a terrific all-girl band, surrounded by warm and welcoming people.  It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

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