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Posts Tagged ‘Teachers union’

Today was supposed to be the first day of school in Mexico, but not for most in Oaxaca.  According to Sección 22 of the CNTE (teachers’ union), 90% of public schools did not open today.  The Instituto Estatal de Educación Pública de Oaxaca (the government’s Institute of Public Education) puts the number at 52% of public schools in the state that remained closed.

Classrooms may have remained empty, but from the Monumento a Juárez to the Plaza de la Danza, teachers and their allies filled several of the main streets of the state’s capital in a mass march that took over an hour and a half to pass –part of the ongoing protests against the federal government’s education/labor reform.

Today, there are no winners, only losers — the kids.  The weather provided a metaphor for the day — grey and depressing.

While not specific to Oaxaca, a new documentary by Al Jazeera, Child labour in Mexico, adds some context to the issue of education in Mexico, especially in the poorer regions of Mexico.  At 16:36, the focus of the conversation turns to relating child labor to the problems of education, corruption, and poverty.

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Oaxaca quote of the day, as posted on Facebook by my friend and neighbor, J:  “Antes, no salía sin checar el clima.  Ahora no salgo sin checar los bloqueos.”  Translation:  “Before, I didn’t go out without checking the weather.  Now, I don’t leave without checking for blockades.”

Mexico’s Interior Secretary, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, is refusing further dialogue with the CNTE (teachers and education workers union) until the blockades are lifted, the CNTE is vowing to intensify its actions around the country, and rumor has it that masses of vacant hotel rooms in Oaxaca (thanks to large-scale cancellations) are being filled by federal police.  There’s a dance going on in Oaxaca, I don’t know the steps, but in the meantime, let’s put on our red shoes and dance the blues.

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Let’s Dance
by David Bowie

Let’s dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Let’s dance to the song
they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway
while color lights up your face
Let’s sway
sway through the crowd to an empty space

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

Let’s dance for fear
your grace should fall
Let’s dance for fear tonight is all

Let’s sway you could look into my eyes
Let’s sway under the moonlight,
this serious moonlight

If you say run, I’ll run with you
If you say hide, we’ll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower

Let’s dance put on your red shoes
and dance the blues

Let’s dance to the song
they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway you could look into my eyes
Let’s sway under the moonlight,
this serious moonlight

 

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Three marches are happening in the city today supporting Sección 22 of the CNTE (teachers union).   Beginning at 9:00 this morning there was one by students and another by the health sector — I saw the latter pass as I took my laundry to the lavandería around the corner.  Then, this afternoon there is a “Marcha Pacifica Punk-Libertaria” — whoever they are.  And, there are supposed to be “negotiations” in Mexico City late this afternoon between the Interior Minister, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, and the CNTE negotiating committee.  Hoping for progress, but not holding my breath.

That’s it for today’s on-the-ground reporting.  I will leave you with a music video.  The song is by Los Angeles based La Santa Cecilia and the video was posted by the Oaxaca based, Oaxacking.

Nunca Más
by La Santa Cecilia

Nos fuimos siguiendo un sueño
con el corazón en mano
por que ya no es justo nada
en la tierra que habitamos
en medio de la comparsa
nos arrastra un viento humano
pa’ ver si se nos quitaban
las ganas de andar soñando
unos de tanta culpa se quedan mudos
otros tienen memoria para olvidar

si la violencia es un espejo que se rompe
y nuestras lagrimas caidas gritaran
solo recuerda que mi cara tiene un nombre

y nunca mas se callara
y nunca mas se callara

te pido me des la mano
y en el camino me sigas
vamos traer a los de arriba
la ira de los de abajo
del miedo sepultado
es hora de ser valiente
en honor a los ausentes
ya no me cruzo de brazos
unos de tanta culpa se quedan mudos
otros tienen memoria para olvidar
si la violencia es un espejo que se rompe
y nuestras lagrimas caidas gritaran
solo recuerda que mi cara tiene un nombre

y nunca mas se callara
y nunca mas se callara

cúantas veces velamos la misma historia
cúantas mentiras nuevas se contara
si la violencia es un espejo que se rompe
y nuestras lagrimas caidas gritaran
solo recuerda que mi cara tiene un nombre

y nunca mas se callara
y nunca mas se callara
nunca jamas me olvidara

And, while you’re at it, I highly recommend watching a couple of La Santa Cecilia’s other music videos.  Ice El Hielo will probably bring tears.   And, I guarantee you will never again hear Strawberry Fields Forever the same, after seeing their version.

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Sunday, May 15 was Día del Maestro in Mexico.  In Oaxaca the day honoring teachers was marked by the teachers of Sección 22 marching back into the zocalo, setting up their tents, and installing the ambulantes (vendors) under their protection.  Sunday night and again Tuesday night, Tlaloc unleashed massive thunderstorms on the city.

Despite weather, dwindling support for the union (93% of schools are reported to be open), and threats to strikers of being fired, the occupation remains and a federal police helicopter makes its daily low-flying circle of the city.

And so it goes…

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Yesterday, I hibernated at home; a day spent unpacking and recovering.  Today, Carlos, now upgraded to a hurricane, is swirling off the coast of southern Mexico and bringing grey skies, chilly temperatures (it hasn’t even hit 70ºF), and a relentless drizzle.  It’s not the kind of day that draws one out into the streets.  However, the larder needed to be restocked and the cell phone needed to be reactivated, so, with umbrella in hand, I was forced to venture out.

On the upside, the rain brings out the greens of the cantera.  Though, I’m not sure where this concrete insert in the sidewalk at the corner of Independencia and Garcia Vigil came from or what it means.  (Update:  It’s Grupo: Salvando Vidas. Oaxaca — a volunteer group that has taken on the much needed task of repairing the city’s sidewalks muy peligrosas, saving lives and limbs!  h/t,  Peggy)

For some mystifying (at least to me) reason, Telcel deactivates my cell phone if I don’t use it for three weeks — this is despite the fact that I have a ridiculously high saldo (balance) in my account.  So, my first stop was to add even more pesos in order to reactivate my service.  With that chore in the rear view mirror, I crossed Independencia onto the Alameda, on my way to Mercado de Benito Juárez (or, Bennie J’s, as my friend G christened it years ago), only to find much of it covered with tents.

P1090803I’d read the news and had steeled myself for the return of ambulantes, but wasn’t prepared for ten times the number of Sección 22 teachers union tents from when I left in mid May.  Navigating the ropes tethering the tarps was a challenge and I had to forgo the umbrella.  The teachers looked cold and miserable and the restaurants under the portales looked mostly empty.  This is definitely not a picnic for anyone.  Continuing on to the mercado, I filled my shopping bag and headed for home.

P1090816However, the signs of protest are everywhere.  In the “Emerald City,” the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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For the past six months, the zócalo has played reluctant host to a game of “now you seem them, now you don’t” by the ambulantes (unlicensed vendors) who are “attached” to Sección 22 of the teachers who have been occupying the zócalo since the summer.  During that time, behind-the-scenes negotiations seem to have occurred that has the vendors departing for various “high season (tourist) events.  Most recently, a last-minute deal cleared the zócalo and Alameda de León of vendors for Noche de Rabanos.

When I returned two weeks ago, the walkways were still open.  However, sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning the ambulantes returned…

Meanwhile, the real story of the still missing Ayotzinapa 43 has yet to be told, teachers and just about every other sector of Oaxaca’s working class continue to march, occupy, and blockade.

Sheesh, a simple trip out to Etla for lunch on Friday had the us coming up to a blockade (this time by state police) just after Santa Rosa.  My taxi was forced to turn left and take the “scenic route” down by the Rio Atoyac and then back up to the Carretera 190 at Viguera, where we came up to the massive statue of Benito Juárez (in the middle of the road) that presides over this major intersection, but also with more flashing red and blue lights and state police with automatic weapons than I have ever seen before.  This is where I got out; you can pick up the rest of the story on Chris’s blog.

My new favorite website is the Facebook page, bloqueos y accidentes en oaxaca.  But, mostly, we’re just dancing in the dark…

 

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I walked down to the zócalo today.  Not exactly big news, I know, but the truth is, I’ve been avoiding it.  However, I was out of dried cranberries and pecans and had to go to the Mercado Benito Juárez to restock the larder.

New posters have gone up on building walls, this one calling for justice for the victims of the previous governor (Ulises Ruiz Ortiz) and preparations for a general political strike against the structural reforms (education and the state-owned oil industry, of which I’ve previously written) recently passed by the federal government.

Posters on wall

The zócalo and surrounding streets continue to be filled with teachers, tents, and al fresco kitchens.  No surprise, this is causing a traffic nightmare and parking is at even more of a premium than usual.  However, if you are in need of a pit stop for you or your car, this one is on Trujano at 20 de noviembre.

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The restaurants under the portales on the zócalo have been especially impacted — some had patrons sipping their morning coffee and hot chocolate while looking out over the sea of tents, tarps, and banners and some were empty.

Restaurant tables and chairs and teachers union banner

If you are tired of reading the newspaper accounts, D-II-218 of the Telesecundarias (rural distance education programs) from Miahuatlán has provided a poster so you can read up on the issues in dispute from the teachers’ point of view.

Banner with news clippings, photos, and informational notes

However, if you are tired of it all, you can always stop by the local newsstand to catch up on what’s really important — the opening of Home Depot (an OMG! OMG! OMG! event for some) or, if you are so inclined, graphic images of crime and violence.  By the way, regarding the latter, I stumbled on a website that gives A Vague History of La Nota Roja.

Newspapers clipped to a sandwich board

What can I say?  Good news is in short supply, no matter where one looks.  The handwriting seems to be on the wall here, there, and everywhere…

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Expats and Mexicans alike, are watching in amazement at the nonsense (as in, making NO sense) taking place in the hallowed halls of Washington DC.  And, since many of the expats are retired, we are holding our collective breath over the possibility social security checks will not be forthcoming in November and a tanking stock market that flushes our nest eggs away.  Of course, Mexico is in the middle of its own mess, “educational reforms” and economic proposals that will hurt Mexico’s working class and rural populations the most.

Wall in Oaxaca city.

Wall in Oaxaca city.

In a New York Times article two days ago, Carlos Puig explains the reality of the material conditions that have forced the teachers of Oaxaca to take the drastic action of abandoning their classrooms to lead massive and extremely disruptive protests in Mexico City against the “No Child Left Behind” style reforms that the Peña Nieto led government has proposed and passed.  (Read a critique of the US education “reform” by Diane Ravitch, former “No Child Left Behind” proponent, here.)

Oaxaca is 500 kilometers from Mexico City, yet the real distance is much bigger. The state’s G.N.P. per capita is one-quarter the average for the country. Oaxaca ranks second-to-last among all states in infrastructure. More than half its population lives in towns of fewer than 2,500 people.

Being a teacher in Oaxaca means sometimes having to travel for an entire day to reach your school in a tiny community, teach for three days — to children of all grades — and travel back home for the weekend. It means having to deal with children who speak more than 20 different dialects.

Being a teacher in Oaxaca means operating in a different universe — and under different rules.

Banner hanging in front of a school in Oaxaca city

Banner hanging in front of a school in Oaxaca city

However, as in the USA, the incomprehensible words coming out of the mouths of the 1% and their elected representatives are mind-boggling in their obliviousness to the adverse consequences their behavior and policies cause.  And, we scratch our heads in amazement…  McClatchy journalist, Tim Johnson, has repeatedly blogged about the exceedingly “bad” behavior exhibited by Mexico City’s rich and powerful directed at those they consider “below” them — most recently, Las Ladies, episode 7.  And, just last week in Oaxaca, most were aghast to read that an indigenous woman, in the advanced stage of labor, was turned away from a hospital and forced to give birth on the hospital lawn.

Daniel Goleman had a revealing piece in the New York Times a few days ago that helps explain where this lack of empathy the ruling elite exhibit, that results in callous social policy, comes from.  He explains in Rich People Just Care Less that, by necessity, “the poor, compared with the wealthy, have keenly attuned interpersonal attention in all directions…”  And that, “A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power” and, “In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them.”

Okay, now we know why the rich care less, so what are we going to do about it?

Part of a mural on Niños Heroes in Oaxaca city.

Part of a mural on Niños Heroes in Oaxaca city.

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Recently, I was on the US east coast visiting with family.  Most of the time was spent with three teachers; my sister-in-law who retired after 30+ years of teaching in the Massachusetts public school district, my daughter-in-law who, after teaching in a public school in Connecticut, is currently a teacher in New York, and my son who is a college assistant professor.  They, along with all — not most, all — of my teacher friends in the US, decry the damage No Child Left Behind has wrought.  And, even one of its major proponents, Diane Ravitch, has done a 180 and is now leading the charge against it.  If you are interested, take a look at the Terry Gross interview with her in April 2011.

One of the issues the teachers of Oaxaca are protesting is the Alliance for Quality Education (ACE), modeled after No Child Left Behind.  Thus, the following thoughtful post on the Oaxaca Study Action Group website by Nancy Davies, resonated.

personal note re the Section 22 teachers union strike

I applied for a my first teaching job in Boston. First I took the universal teacher evaluation test, by which the highest scoring were first hired for positions. Then I waited.

By October (school began in September) it was clear that although my score for Boston applicants was third from the topmost person, something fishy was happening. I called the school department. All apologies, they assigned me a school the very next day,from which another teacher had just resigned. It was in an all black (pre-integration) neighborhood of all black kids whose school had no new textbooks and few old ones. There were no functioning bathrooms for the kids, at times of the month when adolescent girls seriously wanted a bathroom and a place to get clean, they stayed home. The boys were often recruited by the male teachers to buy dope. The best joke: the kids put a family of newborn rats in the desk drawer of one teacher. Another joke: hang a fellow student out the window over the asphalt yard by holding his ankles.

I survived, the kids maybe survived. I learned a couple of things: 1) hungry badly treated kids don’t study. 2) teacher tests don’t mean shit.

So here I am surely one of few who supports what Section 22 is doing and saying. Yes, I know the union was corrupted by PRI governors and caciques; and abuses, such inheriting a teaching job, are numerous. I also know that for 27 years Section 22 has been pushing for better salaries but simultaneously for shoes, paid-uniforms, books, bathrooms, breakfasts. I visited the current encampment in the zoc and spoke briefly with a newly graduated normal school teacher, a first-job guy who does not speak any indigenous language, and is not moreno (brown-skinned). He was sitting under a tarp playing cel phone games. Bored, I would say, and happy that somebody spoke to him. He’s not specially political and doesn’t know too much about his union’s history either. In 2006 he was an adolescent in secondary school, and rarely came into the capital. His first classroom is primary grade kids.  I asked him if he likes teaching. Yes, he replied, I am learning so much from the kids! He smiled broadly.

Right away in my book he qualifies as a teacher. His Spanish is good; he graduated from a five year university level program where  pedagogy is  emphasized as well as content information. He’s better prepared in 2012 than I was in 1968 with a  Masters degree from Boston College and accreditation in three areas including Spanish which I couldn’t speak. I learned a lot from my students too, and most of it, since I came from a  middle class neighborhood, was initially incomprehensible. One boy was clearly psychopathic. Two were dyslexic but had never been tested, merely promoted. They were wonderful at memorizing everything they couldn’t read. One girl got pregnant during the year and I didn’t have a clue what to say to her, I still grieve over my stupidity and lack of empathy. One girl told me her grandmother was burned up the night before in a home fire. Another’s boyfriend had been shot dead on the street. So I can sum up what I learned from my students as the stuff nightmares were made of, and it probably radicalized me more than any movement of the time. The Section 22 kid who was hired legitimately when he applied,  tested only by his normal school (and why should we assume they pass youngsters who don’t know either their subject or how to teach it?) told me he learned from his kids and he smiled. I wept.

Section 22 has pushed Cue to accept the fact that one size does not fit all, neither for teacher evaluation nor for curriculum. They decline to walk away from the 26 unprosecuted murders of 2006 and the half dozen since. They champion the indigenous protests over mining and land grabs. They understand the word “neoliberalism”. They understand ghost towns, towns where the remaining people live off family remittances from the USA. They understand impunity and corruption, caciques who stole towns’ entire education budgets, governors who ignore an education level now the worst in Mexico. Blame the teachers? Not me. Been there, done that.

No one likes being held hostage to issues they don’t understand. As I walked past a blocked registry office an angry woman turned to me and shrieked, Lazy bunch of bastards! Her frustration undoubtedly was caused not just by being unable to enter a state office, but also I imagine by having kids at home driving her  (and her mother) nuts because there’ve been no classes for two weeks. Maybe she knows that with all public classes open, her kids still may not be able to go to the public university since there are not enough seats, and very likely they will settle for semi-menial jobs. Or maybe there will be no jobs. Maybe they will try to cross the desert in Arizona.  Or maybe her story is entirely different, I don’t know.

I ask myself why in 2006  500,000 adults spontaneously came out to march with these very teachers. Why the PRI was voted out and will not recover this state. Why now, in 2012 what the media publish are photos of blocked access and uncollected garbage. Cue is backing down, item by item on 22’s demands. Good for him. He’s neoliberal, but he’s not stupid. His education department head has resigned, and thus far no tear gas has been launched.

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Propping up fallen trees isn’t the only activity on the Alameda… 3 tents under the Indian Laurel trees on the Alameda

Today, Sección 22 del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (the teachers’ union) is beginning an occupation of Oaxaca’s zócalo, Alameda, and several side streets.2 tents under the portales of the Governor's Palace According to a report in the Latin American Herald Tribune, Teachers Call for Strike in Southern Mexican State, the teachers are not demanding wage increases, instead focusing on social issues, including “better uniform allowances for students, computers in all of the state’s elementary schools and electricity in all schools.”  Privatization is also an issue.Green banner with text reading:  ¡No a la privatización de la educación!

This annual activity by the teachers’ union is extremely contentious.  Adding bold-face to the lines above will be my only comment on the subject.

However, the teachers aren’t the only people converging on the zócalo today…Poster: Marcha del Color de la Sangre; 23 de Mayo; Zocalo de Oaxaca a la Ciudad de MexicoThe displaced Triqui, who were driven out of their village of San Juan Copala after several years of political violence, have decided to return home, leading a march/caravan from Oaxaca to Mexico City and finally back to San Juan Copala.Triqui women and baby await the arrival of the march/caravan For more information, see the blog posting by Angry White Kid, The displaced decide to return to our community: Caravan of the Color of Blood and for background on their struggle for autonomy, see Repression, Impunity and Resistance in Oaxaca: One Year After the Copala Caravan Ambush.

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Evidence of Semana Santa began days before Palm Sunday; the streets and sidewalk cafés began filling with Mexican and international tourists; street vendors began blanketing the Zócalo, the Alcalá, and any and all gathering places; and the front of the Cathedral was lined with local artisans — the dark faces and strong compact bodies of native craftsmen and women weaving palm fronds into intricate flowers and crucifixes to sell to the faithful (and tourists) for Palm Sunday rituals.

Palm Sunday – I awoke early to the sounds of construction.  From my terrace, I could see a giant awning being erected on the Plaza de la Danza next to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.  Following a quick shower and breakfast, I grabbed my camera and woven palm frond and headed over there.  Food stalls with hot comals, tables and benches, and a beckoning aroma spilled down the stairs next to the Plaza – squash blossoms, mushrooms, cheese, tortillas, red and green hot sauces — the fixings for empanadas – and I asked myself, “Why did I eat a boring breakfast of cereal?”  More artisans weaving and selling palm fronds lined the stairs nearer the Basílica.

Massive sculptures of Jesús, bent under the weight of the cross he is bearing, and Lady Soledad, in her deep purple mantle, gold crown and halo, were set up outside, as was a small stage.  La misa was celebrated outside (to accommodate the enormous crowd, I’m guessing); the youthful choir, accompanied by a guitar, sang folky-sounding songs, cheers were chanted to the cadence of “rah, rah, sis boom bah!” and palm fronds were raised and blessed with holy water.  I wandered through the crowd (I’ve noticed a degree of fluidity exists among worshippers here, even inside churches, so I wasn’t the only one roaming around), one of only a handful of gringos in this congregation of 600+ mostly indigenous faithful.  I had pretty much no idea what was being said but did offer my right hand when it looked like all were to greet their neighbors — and was greeted with startled but warm smiles and handshakes.

I returned home, but first peeked through the rarely open large red door of the Holy Trinity Anglican Episcopal Church  nearby; 15-20 people standing in a circle in a small courtyard.  Quite a contrast!

Religious ritual wasn’t the only event of the day; a Secc. 59, teachers’ union car caravan from Juchitán (about 150 from miles away) occupied part of the Zócalo – a peaceful reminder of the ongoing struggle between the teachers’ unions and the government.  And, in the evening, sounds of a live (and free!) rock concert blared from the massive stage (I had heard being set up before the crack of dawn) in the Plaza de la Danza.  As is routine here, a fireworks display exploded only a few hundred yards above the heads of the concert-goers (and a little above eye level from my terrace, less than 2 blocks away) – all courtesy of one of the opposition political parties – PRD, I think.  The color, community, and contrast that is Oaxaca!

Jueves Santo – After a morning spend hand-washing “delicates” and tending to my garden, followed by an afternoon of Spanish lessons and shopping for fruit, veggies, and tortillas, with my portable fan on high (it was in the 90s), I collapsed on my bed for a late afternoon siesta.  Unfortunately, that meant missing the 5 pm (give or take) mass and washing of feet apparently at all the churches in the city.  However, after a dinner of tacos made with my newly purchased tortillas, aguacate, cilantro, Queso Oaxaca, lechuga, y pollo and washed down with Valle Redondo California Vino Blanco (my new favorite cheap wine), I reluctantly put on long pants (one doesn’t wear shorts in public in the city), grabbed my camera, and emerged from the refuge of Casita Colibrí, unwashed feet and all, to join the people-moving throngs.

Ritual called for visiting 7 churches, though pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it to 7, I figured I’d give it the good old college try.  My first stop was San Felipe Neri where, at the entrance, I purchased a bag of Pan Bendito (5 buns for 10 pesos) and the followed the faithful down the aisle toward the altar and out a side door (I didn’t stop to get my Pan Bendito blessed), a traffic pattern that was repeated at the other churches, some with entrance and exit signs tacked on the doors, all in the interest of preventing gridlock that threatened.  Clutching my bag of pan, my next stop was at Carmen Abajo, followed by the Cathedral, and Sangre de Cristo.

My plan was to end the evening minutes from my apartment, at the Basílica de La Soledad, where I could reward myself with a “Nieves Oaxaqueñas” (Oaxacan ice cream) of leche quemada (burnt milk) and tuna (not fish! fruit from nopal cactus) at El Jardín de Socrates, next to the church.  The Basílica was closed, but some sort of mass was being celebrated in the plaza outside.  So my question was, does that count as one of the seven?  I pondered this deep theological question as I tried to eat my nieve slowly enough so as not to get the inevitable brain freeze.  Last stop was at San José a small church across the Plaza de la Danza from Soledad, and even closer to home.

I’ve come to see Oaxaca as a city of contradictions, and the evening’s ritual was no different — sidewalks jammed with people in a combination of a semi-solemn pilgrimage, street festival, family night at the fair, and date night.  A balmy evening; streets teeming with young, old, and everyone in between; loud music blaring from clubs; lively conversations flowing from the open windows of restaurants; every kind of street vendor seemingly doing a booming business; and lots of young April-love canoodling going on!

Viernes Santo – I slept later than usual and slowly went about my morning routine, knowing tonight was THE major event of Semana Santa – the Procesion del Silencio.  However, as I was showering, from the open window I heard a slow, solemn drumbeat coming up the street — the unmistakable sound of a somber procession.  I rinsed, dried, dressed, brushed my hair, was out the door, and onto Morelos in less than 10 minutes, to see the the backs of the slow moving multitude.  Figuring they were headed to the Basílica, I ran down through the Plaza de la Danza and El Jardín de Socrates to the top of the retaining wall beside the stairway leading up from Independencia below, to the church above.  Good move!

After about a half an hour, I had a ringside view as the statues of Jesús and Nuestra Señora de la Soledad made their way up the stairs right in front of me.

About 6 PM, I re-emerged from Casita Colibrí and headed up the Alcalá to La Preciosa Sangre de Cristo for the beginning of the Procesion del Silencio.  Crowds had already gathered in front of the church, yellow caution tape roped off the street for participants to assemble, and banners were leaning against a nearby building.  I joined the tourists (But, hey, I live here!) jockeying for good camera position to snap some pics, then retreated to the curb to sit and wait.

The procession began not long after sunset, but immediately took a left turn – ooops a change in route!  The sidewalk populace immediately dispersed and I, pulling out my Spanish teacher’s route instructions (mil gracias!), ran over to 5 de Mayo where, in the darkness, I watched a grim, strangely moving, yet mystifying cortège.  Night photos, punctuated by bright white, energy efficient street lights were equally obscure, but Flip video turned out better and I hope, eventually, to edit it into a short video vignette.  We shall see…

By Saturday, I was “Semana Santa-ed” out!  Perhaps next year I’ll make it to Sabado Santo, the celebration of fire and water.   However, though I didn’t leave my rooftop refuge on Domingo de Resurreccion, the sound system of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad afforded me a bedside seat at the morning’s 6 AM outdoor Easter mass — the early hour more egregious because we had “sprung ahead” the previous night!  And, no sooner had I finally been lulled back to sleep by the priest’s sonorous sound, than the flinchers (rocket explosions) began and I bolted upright.  Bells followed and I gave up on trying to sleep.  La misa lasted 2-1/2 hours; a mile high in the Sierra Madre, “He” has risen…

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