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Posts Tagged ‘Templo de San José’

Last night I joined in the Oaxaca tradition of visiting seven churches (la visita de las siete casas) on Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday).  According to Wikipedia, “The tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday probably originated in Rome, as early pilgrims visited the seven basilicas as penance.”  Last year I missed it, albeit for an excellent reason, as I spent much of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Teotitlán del Valle with the family of Porfirio Gutierrez.

This year, my first stop was just around the corner at Templo de San José, where I bought my pan bendito from a couple of women selling small bags of the traditional blessed bread from a little table just inside the front door.  The entrance to this church is small and it was crowded with parishioners trying to get to the mass that was in progress, so I opted not to stop to take photos.  As I exited and made my way across Jardín Socrates (packed with people enjoying nieves), enroute to Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, there were more blessed bread vendors set up in Soledad’s atrium.

The doors to the Basilica were closed and the “traveling” Soledad was standing under a giant tent in the atrium.  However, I followed the faithful to a tiny side chapel where a miniature image of Soledad appeared, behind iron bars and glass, like an apparition.

My next stop was along Calle Independencia — at Templo de San Felipe Neri, where I was met with gridlock.  I joined the crowd in practicing patience and persistence as I navigated my way to the entrance, which was also serving as the exit — for some unknown reason the side door was closed.

Less than a block away, my next destination was the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.  It took almost ten minutes to wind my way through the masses of people (tourists, vendors, performers, and other Jueves Santo pilgrims) crowding the street and the Alameda.  A mass was in progress and the pews were packed — even in the side chapels, it was standing room only.  However, it was here, amidst thousands, I had the good fortune of running into a dear Oaxaca friend I hadn’t seen for many months.

Leaving the Cathedral, I met the same foot traffic jam when crossing the zócalo to Templo de la Compañía de Jesús.  However, once there, leave it to the Jesuits to have the entrada y salida (entrance and exit) logistics worked out!

Exiting the “salida” door, I took a side street to avoid the zócalo and Alameda.  By this time darkness had fallen, the uneven and potholed sidewalks had become even more treacherous, and so taking care not to also fall, I headed to Templo del Carmen de Abajo.  Though not crowded, it too had separate doors marked for entering and exiting.  And here, too, I ran into someone I knew — this time a new acquaintance from Palm Sunday in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.

I couldn’t even get near the doorway of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, so I gave up on that visit and turned towards Templo del Carmen Alto and, on my way there, ran into one of my neighbors!  Even when it’s filled with tens of thousands of tourists, it’s a small world in Oaxaca.  Once at Carmen Alto, I joined a throng of people walking down the main aisle, when a procession, led by an incense swinging altar boy, came up behind us asking for permission to pass — the gal behind me had a very close call with the incense burner.

I had visited seven churches in seventy minutes and, by the time I left Carmen Alto, my feet were sore and hunger and home beckoned.  However, I was left with warm feelings of having greeted friends and been out and about with the people of my adopted city.

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This morning, sun and blue sky welcomed the Solsticio de verano in Oaxaca — a beautiful way to begin the longest day of the year.

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View from the terrace:  Templo de San José, founded by the Jesuits in 1559, on the left; Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude), constructed between 1682 and 1690, on the right; and the green mountain in the far distance between the two is Monte Albán.

Happy Summer Solstice to all!

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Though rain began falling, clutching camera, umbrella, and my ten peso bag of pan bendito (blessed bread), I left the cozy dry confines of my apartment to join the faithful in a ritual promenade.  It’s Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus, the washing of feet,  and the apprehension and imprisonment of Jesus.

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San José de Gracia, Oaxaca de Juárez

Tradition in Oaxaca calls for visiting seven churches (la visita de las siete casas) with one’s pan bendito and palm leaves.  The faithful use the latter to touch images of Jesús and María.  This year, I again committed myself to the mission.  My first stop was just around the corner at Templo de San José and the second was even easier — the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, just across the Plaza de la Danza from the former.

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Watery entrance to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Oaxaca de Juárez

While inside, attempting (unsuccessfully) to get a good shot of Nuestra Señora, the heavens opened up in a downpour.  Needless to say, I hung out with Soledad until the torrential rain calmed to only a steady drizzle.

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Neverías at the Jardín Sócrates, Oaxaca de Juárez

However, the rain didn’t stop the faithful and tourists, alike, from stopping to enjoy a nieve (iced dessert) right outside the Basilica, before continuing on.  I kept on moving — down the steps to Calle Independencia, on my way to the Templo de San Felipe Neri.

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Exit sign at Templo de San Felipe Neri, Oaxaca de Juárez

By the way, Jueves Santo is such a big deal, to avoid gridlock from those coming and going, the churches designate one door as the “entrance” and another as the “exit.”  It’s a great idea in theory but in practice, especially on a rainy night, it was almost meaningless.

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Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Oaxaca de Juárez

Next stop was across the street at the inconspicuous Iglesia San Cosme y Damián, then on to the very prominent Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, where the three front entrances were providing tourists, vendors, and believers shelter from the storm.

After navigating my way through the Cathedral, I exited stage right, dashed across the zócalo and into La Compañía (the Jesuit church).  On my way out the side door, I stopped briefly to buy a bag of homemade gingersnaps and, with umbrella raised, headed to my seventh and final church of the night, El Carmen de Abajo.  Though tempted by the aroma of some yummy looking food several “church ladies” were selling in the side foyer, I didn’t have enough hands to hold a paper plate, my camera, and my umbrella.  So, home I went, basking in the warm feelings I always have after being with my Oaxaqueño neighbors.

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We had spectacular electrical storms Sunday and Monday nights, with thunder rumbling continuously, lightening flashing in all directions, and torrential rain.  And, today, I awoke to a rare early morning downpour — 8 inches of pergola runoff collected in my buckets.  Noticias, the Facebook group Bloqueos y Accidentes en Oaxaca, and Reportes en Oaxaca, Mexico all show major flooding throughout the city from this morning’s surprise.

This morning's view of Templo de San José and Basilica de la Soledad.  Where did Monte Albán go?

This morning’s view of Templo de San José and Basilica de la Soledad. Where did Monte Albán go?

All of this has me asking, is this the beginning of an early rainy season?  Then, there is the report from Conagua (Mexico’s national water commission) that, due to El Niño, there could be a significant increase in the number of Pacific Coast hurricanes this season.  Hmmm… it looks like we may be in for a bumpy and wet ride!

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I moved into the bigger and better Casita Colibrí (aka, my apartment) almost 16 months ago — and there’s been some big changes made!  First on the agenda was screens on doors and windows because, as I’ve mentioned before, Mexican mosquitoes love me.  Next up was the swimming pool…

Empty swimming pool

I know, living in a climate where the daytime temperatures hover between the high 70s and low 90s (Fahrenheit) year round, a swimming pool sounds like perfection.  I love to swim and have always wanted a swimming pool.  HOWEVER, the pool hasn’t seen anything more than rainwater (and the aforementioned and unwanted mosquitoes) for the past 15 to 20 years.  In addition, as we were reminded last week, this is earthquake country, so who knows how many cracks there may be hidden behind those tiles.  Then there is the not-so-little problem of water shortages in the city.
P1080300Thus, making it my personal aquatic paradise was out of the question.  What to do?   Besides being unsightly, I was constantly afraid someone (including myself) might become so enchanted with the view and/or engaged in such captivating conversation, they (I) would unwittingly fall in — a thought that brought nightmares!  As you can see above, my solution to that possibility was to barricade the pool with plants.  However, the combination of the still conspicuous and ugly gaping hole behind, not to mention the waste of valuable space, finally got to me and, though only a renter, I decided to build a deck!

Deck being constructed over empty pool

In October, Juan (of Adios mosquitos fame) and I boarded a bus for the La Asunción to pick out the lumber from their mind-boggling selection of wood.  They delivered four days later and Juan and Nacho, his trusty assistant, commenced to building, what is probably, the strongest deck in all of Oaxaca.

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The space.  The view.  What an improvement!  However, that wasn’t the end of the story.  Do you see those four posts sticking up from the deck?  Because the deck faces south, those were for a much-needed shade structure.  Alas, Juan also has a “day” job at Gorilla Glass and they have gotten extremely busy.  Good for them, bad for me!  After I returned from the trip to the US in late February, I began a search for someone to complete the project.  Tom (a friend’s husband) came to the rescue.  He designed the structure, recruited Carlos and his assistant Chivo to build it, selected the materials, delivered said materials and crew, and supervised construction.  Needless to say, I owe Tom big time!

Shade structure under construction

Yesterday, after less than two days of construction, the long-awaited gazebo was ready to shield yours truly and her visitors from the sun’s skin damaging rays, not to mention sweltering heat.  Almost immediately after the guys finished, the heavens opened and we were treated to a massive, five-hour long thunderstorm.  The timing couldn’t have been better!

Lamina & wood shade structure on wooden deck

By this morning the rains had departed and, with Templo de San José and the Basilica de la Soledad as a backdrop, my new outside room was ready for her close-up.  All day today, in between trying to get work done around the house, I kept running outside to admire it.

View from above of deck & shade structure

And, it has already been put to good use — a little after noon today, when the sun was at its zenith and sitting outside in days past would have been the last thing we would have considered, my neighbor Marga and I sat comfortably shielded from the sun in those green chairs.  Ahhh…

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View from Casita Colibrí yesterday morning.  Ahhh…

Blue sky, African tulip trees in foreground, churches in mid-ground, mountains in distance.

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Oh, what a beautiful morning it was!

Glowing red/orange African tulip tree blossoms in foreground, church domes and bell towers in background against, tops of mountains in distance, against blue sky with bands of fog.

What a difference 10 hours makes.

Red/orange African tulip tree blossoms in foreground, church domes and bell towers in background against gray sky

Moisture from Tropical Storm Isaac being drawn across Oaxaca.  That’s the way the rainy season goes!

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Late yesterday afternoon; outdoor room (aka: my terrace) with a view.  Ahhhhh….

African Red-orange blossoms of African tulip tree in foreground, San Jose church bell towers, and cloud dotted blue sky in background.

And, despite the clouds above, this morning I can report, no rain for 36 hours!

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Yesterday, under a full moon…

and clutching our “pan bendito” (blessed bread), we began our pilgrimage.  Jueves Santo (Holy/Maundy Thursday) tradition calls for visiting 7 churches (la visita de las siete casas) in the city with one’s pan bendito, which must be kept to offer to guests, should any grace our doorstep.  This all relates back to Jesus’s Last Supper, which this date commemorates.

3 buns on a plate

First stop was the nearby Templo de San José, where palm fronds were also distributed and believers used them to brush up and down the statue of Jesus.  Hands also ran down his legs and then were used to touch one’s face.

After emerging from the side door of the jam-packed church, we set off for Templo de San Felipe Neri (whose picturesque dome can be seen (left of center) on my blog banner-head).

Altar with candles and lights.

Next stop was Carmen Abajo

Altar with JHS on banner above altar

followed by the far right side chapel of the La Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.  A plaque at the entrance of the chapel read, “El maestro esta aqui y te llama” (The teacher is here and calls you) and the multitude seemed to be heeding the call.

Altar with red banners reading, "De este pan no morirá; El pan de vida eterna"

We then strolled across the zócalo to the Jesuit, Templo de la Compañía de Jesus.

Altar with candles and flanked with yellow and white floral arrangements

We changed direction and headed north up the Álcala.  Big mistake!  A mosh pit (Chris, this WAS a mosh pit) surrounding a Tuna band that was playing in the middle of the street, causing gridlock and bringing us to an abrupt stop.  Eventually, following our blocker (my son, the lineman would be proud), we eventually found light and continued up to Preciosa Sangre de Cristo Templo, where we had earlier spent 1-1/2 hours (and it was still going on when we left!) at a mass where the priest reenacted Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.

God in a cloud above a lamb on an altar, draped in red cloth.

Strolling across the Álcala to Santo Domingo was much less challenging. The aisle to Santo Domingo’s main altar was blocked and we were routed to a side chapel.  Hurray, we did it — this made seven churches visited!

Gold encrusted altar

However, though bleary-eyed (as evidenced by the photo below), we opted for just one more, Carmen Alto.

White bearded man hovering in the clouds above lighted candles

Home beckoned…  and sleep came easily under the watch of the moon, now appropriately encircled by a halo.

Full moon with halo shining from behind clouds

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Last night, if she is still in town, Malia got to experience one of Oaxaca’s dramatic rain storms.   The circulation of high pressure over the Southeast of the country, interacting with moisture from both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, resulted in a 1-2 hour (I lost track of time) torrential downpour and Mother Nature’s own spectacular sound and light show.

Dome of Templo de San José

Glowing Templo de San José last night, as sheets of rain bounced off the dome.

This was a welcome relief, as we are in the middle of the dry season, and my rooftop garden is extremely happy.  However, along with the usual flooding and sporadic power outages, newspapers are reporting 10 homes were damaged by the heavy winds and rain in Ocotlán and a Jacaranda tree fell on an unoccupied parked car in the city.

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Saturday night’s full moon wasn’t the only activity in the night sky.

Major celebrating had been going on in the Plaza de la Danza since early morning… flinchers (all boom, no sparkle), bells of Templo de San José clanging every hour, and live music.

At 9 PM, I heard the unmistakable hisses and pops from a castillo.  Turning my attention from looking east at the moon, I turned west and saw…

Castillo at Plaza de la Danza

Debris began raining down on Casita Colibrí and I retreated under the tin roof.  Sunday morning’s evidence on the terrace told the story…

Debris from castillo

… and sheesh, it was plastic!!!

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