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Posts Tagged ‘Tlacolula de Matamoros’

The dead don’t arrive in the valley of Oaxaca all at once.  The cosmic difunto air traffic controller has scheduled their arrival at different times on different days, from October 31 through November 3, to avoid celestial congestion.

Santa María Atzompa’s departed are among the first to return, arriving on the night of October 31.  Flower and food vendors line the walkway leading to the panteón as grandparents, parents, teens, and small children stream in with arms full of flowers, candles, buckets, and brooms.  Because is built on a slope and there are almost no paths, footing can be treacherous, especially in the dark when only candles on the graves light the way.  At one time, perhaps tombs were positioned on a grid, but no more and it seems to be filled to capacity.  I guess that’s why one side of the panteón has been opened up (one of the walls removed), the field beyond leveled, and a new wall around the field, connected to the old, constructed.  (You can click on images for a larger view.)

On November 1, in the early afternoon, it has become our custom to visit the cemetery in Tlacolula de Matamoros, before bringing pan de muerto and mezcal to the home of friends in Teotitlán del Valle.  In contrast to the higgledy-piggledy of Atzompa, the panteón in Tlacolula emanates a sense of order and serenity.  I wonder, could the tranquility comes from the 500 year old ahuehuete trees (hijos of el Tule, we were told) that reign over the tombs of the departed and make for an amazing play of light and shadow throughout?

On November 2, we returned to Teotitlán, but I will save that for another blog post.  However, that was not the end of the road.  In the category of, no rest for the living, the following day we drove south to San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  This is the village known for their beautiful flowers and exquisite floral embroidery.  And, it is said that because the living are so busy providing flowers to other parts of the valley, the departed wait until November 3 to return. (See the book, Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca by Shawn D. Haley and Curt Fukuda.)  I’m sure, like we, the difuntos are dazzled by the intricacy of floral designs that family members have created to decorate their tombs in welcome.

Octavio Paz writes in The Labyrinth of Solitude, “Life extended into death, and vice-versa.  Death was not the natural end of life but one phase of an infinite cycle.”

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Sunday is market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros and I was so ready to escape the city.  No bloqueos blocked our way and Sunday traffic was even lighter than usual, thus the drive was uneventful.  In addition, though rumors of gasoline shortages have been rampant, we had no trouble filling up at one of the numerous Pemex stations along our eastbound route.  Once we arrived, we found the market was a beehive of activity, aisles had us crowded shoulder to shoulder with shoppers from Tlacolula and the surrounding villages.

The color… the energy… the bounty… the people… the smells… the street food…the life.  It was all just what the doctor ordered!  And, when I got home and turned on my computer, a documentary on market day in Tlacolula popped up on my Facebook news feed.  (h/t Zeferino Mendoza)

It may be from 2012, but not much has changed.  This Sunday open air market (tianguis) is one of the oldest continuously operating in Mesoamerica.

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A few weeks ago, blogger buddy Chris and I returned to Tlacolula de Matamoros for the 5th annual Festival de la Nieve, Mezcal, Gastronomía.  Besides yummy food, ice creams, and drink there were vendors of textiles, baskets, and barro.

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These are the women of San Marcos Tlapazola and their elegant and functional pottery.  I already have several oft used pieces, including a comal.  However, the girl in the red dress and blue apron above, talked me into a little salsa dish.  How could I resist?

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You can always find these women of red clay selling their wares on Sunday market day in Tlacolula and, if you are in the market for a comal, they stroll the aisles of the Mercado Benito Juárez in Oaxaca city almost everyday.  That’s where I got mine!

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And, if you want to see these gals in action, check out the video Mujeresdelbarrorojo.

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In Oaxaca city…

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In Tlacolula de Matamoros…

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They are seen and they are watching.

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To borrow from Meredith Willson, it’s beginning to look a lot like Muertos…P1150004

Everywhere you go.

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No “five and tens” here…

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Just a street stall set up in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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Beginning to shop for my Día de Muertos ofrenda.

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Yesterday, we slowly but surely wound our way around a major blockade and made our way 20 miles southeast of the city to Tlacolula de Matamoros.  The reason for our tenacity?  Their calenda (parade) in honor of la Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary) was happening.  A major feature, not to mention highlight, of Tlacolula festivals are the marmotas.IMG_9781

Little boys begin by carrying little marmotas; big boys carry big marmotas; and men carry gigantic marmotas.  As for the latter, the guys definitely must rely on a little help from their friends.

IMG_9824Time for change of shift…

IMG_9825New guy is helped into position.

IMG_9827That didn’t last long…

IMG_9829Time for another shift change.

IMG_9833All right!!!

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It’s been nine months since 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero went missing — a traumatic, heartbreaking, and disgraceful anniversary that isn’t going unnoticed.  The Missing Mexican Students Case Is Not Closed For 43 Families, nor for the people of Mexico.

Yesterday, in Tlacolula de Matamoros, the signs were impossible to miss, as we walked down the main street.  The community continues to remember her son, Cristian Tomás Colón Garnica, one of the Ayotzinapa 43.

P1100112“His father traveled from their land when the abduction of the 43 young normal school students was first reported. ‘I am a day laborer. I make 600 pesos [USD$44.50] weekly, maximum, and that’s when there’s work, because sometimes there is no work. My boy wants to be a teacher. That is the job he wants, but they stopped him, they arrested him … What are we going to do?!'”  — from Mexico Voices.
P1100110On the wall, near the stencils above, posters announced events in Oaxaca city in remembrance of the students.  As the murals at the north entrance to Tlacolula de Matamoros proclaim…

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“VIVOS 43 LOS QUEREMOS”

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It’s been five months since 43 students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero went missing.  Their parents, the people of Mexico, and growing numbers around the world continue to ask, Who is Really Responsible?

A mural recently appeared along a very long wall at the entrance to Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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As I’ve previously mentioned, one of missing is Cristian Tomás Colón Garnica from Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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I realized, as I was processing the photos, each panel of the mural incorporates a letter.  One has to stand back (in the street) to see words materialize.  However, when we went back to Tlacolula on Sunday, there were cars and trucks parked in front of most of the mural and all we could see was, “Vivos 43.”  I would love to hear from you, if you know the full text.

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If it’s Sunday, it must be market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Women doing their marketing.

Women doing their marketing, and the men who follow.

Carne for the carnivores

Carne, right off the hoof, for the carnivores.

Delicious dining for the rest of us!

And, delicious dining for all!

Another delightful domingo in Oaxaca.

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More of the mural from yesterday’s post

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“¡Solo Dios perdona!” (Only God forgives!)

Seen on the same wall in Tlacolula de Matamoros where we were stopped in our tracks by the Tlacolula never dies mural in August.  Both were conceived and created by the Tlacolulokos colective.

The artists are known for fusing iconic Mexican imagery with political and social commentary and can be found on Facebook.

These traditional religious standards voice today’s messages, “against all governments” and “alive we want them.”  The latter refers to the disappeared and murdered students from the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos, teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, one of whom, Christian Tomás Colón Garnica, is from Tlacolula.

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Finally over the flu, I flew to the east coast, arriving along with an arctic cold front.  Brrr… it was -14ºF early yesterday morning!!!  However, here on a frigid New York Friday…

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And, there on a sunny Tlacolula Sunday…

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A splash of red to liven up the day.

* Mural by Tlacolulokos.

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Seating for twenty-two has been scavenged from around the apartment complex, tables (three of which are borrowed) are covered with oilcloth and set with plastic cutlery, cranberry sauce has been made, stock for gravy is simmering on the stove top, and the turkey has been stuffed and is currently roasting in my little oven.

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Turkey sellers on market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca – Oct. 26, 2014.

Neighbors, a former neighbor, and the latter’s Oaxaqueño coworkers will be bringing another turkey, more stuffing, potatoes (mashed and sweet), pumpkin pies, and beverages.  Now to put together a playlist which, naturally, will include Arlo Guthrie’s, Alice’s Restaurant Alice’s Restaurant Massacree — a turkey day family tradition since 1967.

Inevitably our guests will ask, “So what exactly does Thanksgiving celebrate?”  Do we continue to pass along the myth or do we explain the inconvenient truth, “that the first official Thanksgiving Day celebrated the massacre of 700 Indian men, women and children during one of their religious ceremonies.”

Then there is the question, “How is this holiday celebrated in the USA?”  The following holiday rituals will no doubt be described:  Many televisions will be tuned to the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade of giant balloons and traditional turkey day football (North American) games.  And, as soon as the last piece of pie has been eaten, growing numbers people will be racing to the nearest shopping mall or computer to take advantage of early-bird “Black Friday” pre-Christmas sales.

However, in between the above, there is always dining table conversation — catching-up stories, old and new jokes, loving reminiscences, and the occasional arguments over politics and/or religion.  But, as the folks at the Presente.org Team wrote in an email to their subscribers this morning, for Latinos in the USA, “Thanksgiving dinner might be hard when you’re sitting across the table from a loved one who was left out of the President’s executive action. When the subject comes up, don’t drown your sorrows in a bottomless pitcher of gravy. We created a graphic to help you have that tricky conversation.”

Besides my wonderful family, friends, and blog readers, I am extremely grateful to be a guest in a country where, amidst the beauty and warmth of its people and land, it’s almost impossible to ignore awkward and difficult truths.  ¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias a tod@s!

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Today, in Santa Catarina Juquila, about 200 km southwest of the city of Oaxaca, la Virgen de Juquila, is receiving a papal coronation.  Roads leading to this remote mountain village have been repaired and repaved and extra emergency services have been in place since Monday, all in anticipation of the thousands of pilgrims who were expected to descend on Juquila.

However, for those who chose to stay closer to the city, celebrations in honor of the Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary) have been occurring for the past week throughout the valley of Oaxaca.

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Thus, blogger buddy Chris and I headed to Tlacolula de Matamoros on Friday for their annual procession.

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Beginning on the street in front of the panteón, young women wearing traditional red wool skirts and beautifully crocheted white cotton blouses…

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…danced their way through the streets balancing towering canastas (baskets) on their heads — the letters spelling out “Virgen del Rosario.”

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The arm and neck strength it takes to carry the canastas is phenomenal and can only come from years of practice.  As you can see, they begin early…

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Rockets announced the procession’s arrival.

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Bandas provided the music.

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And, “boys to men” carrying marmotas two-stepped and twirled their way along the route.

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Years of practice is required to do this, too!

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Participants stop at altars throughout the village, where prayers are recited, rest breaks are taken, and tamales, sweets, and beverages (yes, including mezcal) are consumed.

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This goes on until 1:00 or 2:00 AM.  We arrived at 4:00 PM, stayed for a couple of hours, carried nothing heavier than our cameras and daypacks, and were ready to call it a day!

However, this is a bittersweet post.  While we were reveling in the festivities, a family in Tlacolula de Matamoros was in agony.  It was reported last night that 18-year old, Cristian Tomás Colón Garnica, from Tlacolula de Matamoros, is one of the 43 students at Normal Rural ‘Raúl Isidro Burgos’ in Ayotzinapa who went missing on September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero after police opened fire on the students, who were soliciting funds for an Oct. 2 demonstration protesting funding cuts to their state-financed school.

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After a visit to Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo, I’m seeing the color of Oaxaca in black and white…

“To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell

 

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One of my favorite things…

Woman at grill behind smoke

The women and their grills in el pasillo de humo (the hall of smoke).

Woman grilling grilling onions & meat

Another Sunday market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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