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Posts Tagged ‘San Pablo Villa de Mitla’

When Día de Muertos approaches, the panaderías (bakeries) work overtime to fill their shelves and counters with Pan de Muertos — an egg based bread, sometimes elaborately decorated, but always with a cabecita (also known as a muñeca), a little painted flour dough head, at the top.

The most intricately decorated bread comes from Mitla.  For a few years, Mitla held a Pan de Muertos fair and competition, with prizes for decoration.  Alas, because their bread is in such demand, the feria was halted two years ago as the bakers put a priority on attending to their customers needs — this is their livelihood, after all!

However, the small pueblo, Villa Díaz Ordaz picked up the slack and last year began holding a Festival del Pan de Muertos.  The village is off the beaten path and the festival hasn’t yet drawn much in the way of tourism, but it’s a wonderful event that blogger buddy Chris and I love attending (See his post, here).  Among other things, the event is encouraging and passing along to the younger generation knowledge and pride in the traditions and skills of their community.   And, in my book, that is a good thing!

Oaxaca city has also gotten into the Pan de Muertos promotion act.  A 6-day Feria del Pan y el Chocolate was held at the Jardín Carbajal.  One could talk to knowledgeable vendors eager to share their passion, buy bread and chocolate to take home, or just take break from the busyness of this time of year, to sit in the shade of the umbrellas dipping the pan into hot chocolate.  Yummm…

Why all this bread?  To place on one’s own ofrenda and to take to the ofrendas of relatives and extended family — its essence to nourish the difuntos (departed) when they come for their annual visit.

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Pan de Muertos on the altar of the chapel in the panteón in Teotitlán del Valle – November 1, 2017

It is a time of year when the difuntos also nourish the souls of the living.

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When you sit down to your turkey dinner tomorrow, you will be following in the footsteps of the original inhabitants of the valley of Oaxaca.

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Guajolotes on the doorstep. San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Oaxaca

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of turkey domestication 1,500 years ago in the in the valley of Oaxaca’s Mitla Fortress.  And, according to Gary Feinman, Field Museum curator of Mesoamerican anthropology, “It’s a bird very, very similar to what a lot of people are going to eat on Thursday.”

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Guajolotes waiting for a ride, Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca.

Turkeys, or as they are commonly known in Oaxaca, guajolotes, continue to play a special role in many of Oaxaca’s indigenous communities.  Turkey mole is prepared and served during religious festivals and weddings, among other special occasions.  They are also given as gifts and the downy feathers under the wings are dyed and used to make penachos (headdresses) for the danzantes of the Danza de la Pluma.

So, to those in el norte, while you are enjoying your Thanksgiving turkey, give a little thanks to the Zapotecs of the valley of Oaxaca.  ¡Buen provecho!

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October 30, 2016, around and about the valley of Oaxaca, preparations were underway for Día de Muertos.  Bread, fruit, chocolate, nuts, and flowers for sale spilled from mercados into the streets; the difuntos must be fed… and only the best!

Our first stop was Villa Díaz Ordaz for their first Expo Festival del Pan de Muerto.  It was day two of the 3-day festival and, of course, we were there early (around noon), but everyone was so warm and welcoming.  Hopefully, it will continue to grow in future years, as this is a sweet village in a picturesque setting at the base of the mountains.

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In Díaz Ordaz, they call these tiny, spicy-scented, lavender flowers “flor de muerto” and we were informed that they are even more important than cempasuchil (marigolds).

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After buying some surprisingly flavorful (whole grain!) pan de muerto for my ofrenda, we headed off to San Pablo Villa de Mitla.  Mitla has the most beautiful pan de muerto and two years ago we stumbled on their Pan de Muertos festival and competition.  A dazzling display of intricately decorated breads lined the sidewalks under the portales.  Alas, the festival was not continued, as their bread is in such demand, the bakers were too busy to take time out for an expo and competition.  So, like last year, we just enjoyed the sights and aromas of their bustling mercado.

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Have you ever seen so many varieties of bananas???  And, now for the famous  pan de muertos…

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Returning home, I added the bread and flor de muerto to my ofrenda.  Following a siesta, I ventured out into the streets of the city in search of a comparsa.  I never found it, but, as you could see from my previous post, the city was teeming with people and activity.  However, amid the merriment and mayhem, there were scenes of tranquility.

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A catrin ejecutivo?

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The copal incense beckoned the difuntos…  They began arriving this morning, seconds after midnight.

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Adiós to 2014.  It was another year filled with the always amazing and often surprising sights and sounds of Oaxaca.

January – The new year began with a Quinceañera at Iglesia Sangre de Cristo on the Macedonio Alcalá.

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February – Most of the month was spent in California and New York, but returned to Oaxaca sun, blue sky, and buildings with character.

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March – Ahhh… the flowers, the boys, and the girls of the “only in Oaxaca” Paseo de los Viernes de Cuaresma.IMG_2401

April – The banners of the Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence) on Good Friday during Semana Santa (Holy Week).

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May – Karen and Jasen Willenbrink exhibition at Gorilla Gallery.

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June – Pretty in pink, a protest by tuk-tuks (moto-taxis) on the zócalo.

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July – Up into the Sierra Norte for the Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres (Wild mushrooms fair) in San Antonio Cuajimoloyas.

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August – Mini Guelaguetza sponsored by the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) on the Plaza de la Danza.

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September – A rainy morning walk up to the presa (dam), Piedra Azul in Teotitlán del Valle.

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October – Day of the Dead tapetes de arena in progress on the Plaza de la Danza.

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November – Ofrenda in San Pablo Villa de Mitla with the village’s traditional and intricately decorated pan de muerto.

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December – Nochebuenas (poinsettias) for sale at mercado Sánchez Pascuas.

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Muchisimas gracias to all my wonderful 2014 blog readers! I am blown away that people from 125 countries have stopped by View from Casita Colibrí this year.  Your presence, comments, and encouragement have been SO very much appreciated.

¡Feliz año nuevo a tod@s!  I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring.

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“Beauty is whatever gives joy.” — Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Some of the beautiful women, young and old, of this year’s Guelaguetza desfiles.

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