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Why I love Oaxaca, reason number 2,022 — music is heard everywhere and seemingly all the time. November 22 is Día de Santa Cecilia who, among other things, is the patron saint of musicians.

July 4, 2022 – Convite for the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo patronal festival in Teotitlán del Valle
July 23, 2022 – Guelaguetza Desfile Magesterial in Barrio de Jalatlaco
July 9, 2022 – Calenda celebrating the anniversary of La Mano Magica Galería in Oaxaca de Juárez
September 16, 2022 – Independence Day parade in Oaxaca de Juárez
August 25, 2022 – 35th birthday celebration in Barrio de Jalatlaco
August 20, 2022 – Strolling Tuna Band from URSE in Barrio de Jalatlaco

And, since this post honors musicians, how about a little music…

Traditional teponaxtles and chirimía played outside the panteón of San Antonino Castillo Velasco on Palm Sunday 2022 and brass band in Barrio de Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez on the 6th Friday of Lent, Viernes de Dolores 2022.

A big muchisimas gracias to musicians all over the world who provide the soundtrack of our lives.

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For two days following the previously mentioned convite inviting the villagers of Teotitlán del Valle and guests to the festival honoring the Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary), the Danza de la Pluma was performed in the atrium of the church. The Danza de la Pluma is a ritual reenactment of the battles between the Aztec and the Spanish conquistadors. There are thirty nine dances that tell the story. This is the Chotis de 4 Reyes– a Schottische performed by the four kings allied with Moctezuma.

As you can see, the dance steps are complex and made all the more challenging by the wind, which comes up most late afternoons this time of year, catching the massive penachos (the headpieces) worn by the dancers. By the way, this day was the actual feast day so they danced for seven hours. I don’t know how they do it!

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Barrio de Jalatlaco played host to an invasion of tunas a few weeks ago. No, not the smelly fish or succulent cactus fruit. These were of the 13th century strolling university musician variety. The tradition of Tuna bands originated in Spain and Portugal, spread to Latin American, and remains alive and well in Oaxaca. Thus, the Tunas from the Universidad Regional del Sureste (URSE), one of four groups participating in the Barrio’s first Callejoneada, gathered on my block.

They serenaded the neighborhood.

We followed these pied pipers.

How could we not, with exuberant ballads like this?

Tuna de la URSE came, we saw, and two days ago they conquered La Tuna de Montes de Madrid (Spain) and La Tuna de Derecho de San Martín de Porres (Peru) — winning the Gran Final Internacional de Tunas Universitarias competition. ¡Felicidades!

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At long last, thunder is rumbling and rain is pouring down on the highways, byways, and rooftops of Oaxaca. If you look closely, you can see the buckets collecting the runoff from the new pergola.

View from the shelter of the new pergola.

Oaxaca, a largely agricultural state, desperately needs the rain. Let’s hope it lasts!

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The annual convite at the beginning of July in Teotitlán del Valle has not only been an invitation to the village’s patronal festival honoring Preciosa Sangre de Cristo. For me, it has also served as an invitation to a month of non-stop celebrations and events — an excuse to set aside my daily routines and chores and, instead, revel in the color and culture on display in the streets of the city and the small towns dotting the valley of Oaxaca.

The church, Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, ready and waiting for the convite to begin.
Picacho, the sacred mountain envelops the community in its protective arms, as the canastas and unmarried young women and girls of the village take their place in line for the convite.
Boys clutching their mini marmotas patiently wait for the deafening sound of the cohetes (rockets) signaling the convite’s start.
Boys and their mini marmotas at the head of the convite — accompanied by a few dads, big brothers, uncles, and officials to keep them in line.
Two monos (new addition this year) and one of several gigantic marmotas follow close on the heels of the young boys.
Of course there is a band to set the tempo.
Arms raised, contingents of unmarried women and girls carry canastas decorated with religious imagery.
Most are dressed in the valley’s traditional enredos (wool wrap skirts) and colorfully embroidered white blusas from Oaxaca and Chiapas.
In this Zapotec villlage, the beauty of the faces and strength of their arms are a sight to behold — especially Beatriz (foreground), who is very dear to my heart.
A second band marks the approach of the danzantes.
Danzantes of the Danza de la Pluma Promesa 2022-2024 alternately march and dance their way along the cobblestone streets.
Picacho watches as the danzantes wend their way along the meandering streets of Teotitlán del Valle.
Villagers watch as danzantes Moctezuma, Malinche and Doña Marina, followed by another marmota, and town officials mark the last of the convite’s participants.

After almost an hour, the convite and its contingents returned to the church atrium. Their work, of extending an invitation to the festival, is finished — until next time!

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According to reports, Hurricane Agatha is the strongest to make landfall along Mexico’s Pacific coast in May since record keeping began in 1949. As of tonight, Oaxaca’s governor said there have been ten deaths and twenty are missing, mostly due to flooding on the coast and mudslides in the mountains. Fortunately, friends living on the coast have marked themselves safe on social media. However, given the images and video I’ve seen posted on Facebook, Twitter, and news websites, the devastation is great and much help will be needed to clean up and rebuild.

Here in the capital city of Oaxaca, up and over the mountains from where the hurricane made landfall, we had steady rain yesterday and today we had a couple of episodes of torrential downpours. In Barrio de Jalatlaco we haven’t been hit with gale force winds, our cobblestone streets haven’t become rushing rivers, and we’ve only experienced intermittent power outages. And, as I write, the Guerreros de Oaxaca baseball game is being played at Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos — I can hear the chants and cheers from the above rooftop.

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Yesterday’s view from my front door…

A late afternoon deluge. This is the rainy season in Oaxaca!

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This morning: Four Night Blooming Cereus flowers and one seriously busy bee!

Life in the rooftop garden.

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He had words.  I don’t.

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

I will miss your intelligence, honesty, passion, and respect for cultures different from your own.  Thank you.  Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain.

How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

 

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Semana Santa (Holy Week) is in full flower in Oaxaca, the streets are filled with tourists, both domestic and international, and the city is very helpfully distributing a schedule of the most important activities for this Easter season.  Thus, on Tuesday evening I walked down to Independencia, which had been blocked to traffic, for the Procesión de Estandartes (Procession of Banners) — leaving from the Basílica de La Soledad and arriving at the Cathedral, a few blocks away.

The banners were carried by the members of the hermandad del Santísimo Rosario (Brotherhood of the Most Holy Rosary) and numbered well over 100.

In addition, the Chinas Oaxaqueñas de Casilda carried an image of Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary), the patron saint of the brotherhood.

Once all the banners had reached the plaza in front of the Cathedral, the way parted for Our Lady of the Rosary to enter the Cathedral.

The banners followed and were carefully positioned next to special lighting along the aisle walls on either side of the Cathedral.  It was quite stunning!

An hour-long choral concert followed — nothing like listening to sacred music under the soaring ceiling of Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.  They had even installed video monitors, so all could see the orchestra and singers.

I returned to the Cathedral the next day to view the banners “up close and personal” and discovered informational labels had been placed in front of each estandarte — listing the date made, affiliated church, church festival, and the sponsor of the banner.

They will once again hit the road late tomorrow afternoon to join Good Friday’s, Procesión del Silencio (Procession of Silence).

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A skein of yarn waiting to be woven…

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Agave blossoms reaching for the sky…

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Ceramic sculpture of a Tehuana by Fran Garcia Vásquez.

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Ooops, a broken arm!  It seems appropriate that my only casualty from the 8.2 earthquake depicts a woman from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — the region where some of the most severe damage in the state of Oaxaca occurred.  However, like the people she represents, she is strong, proud, and healing will happen.

If you want to help the victims of the September 7 earthquake, please see my previous post.  If you do, reward yourself by watching last night’s benefit at the Guelaguetza Auditorium, Oaxaca Corazón.  And, if you don’t, perhaps this spectacular concert will encourage you to donate to earthquake relief.

This all-star event, organized in less than a week by Lila Downs and Susana Harp, will have tears falling — I guarantee it!

Save

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To watch last week’s Desfile de Delegaciones (Parade of Delegations), Donají…La Leyenda, and both the morning and evening Guelaguetza performances at the Auditorio Guelaguetza on Cerro del Fortín:  http://www.viveoaxaca.org/2017/07/EnVivo2017.html.

This week, the same link should be live streaming tonight’s Desfile, tomorrow night’s Donají, and both Guelaguetza performances on Monday.  If not, check the CORTV TV en Vivo link:  http://www.cortv.oaxaca.gob.mx/tv-en-vivo/.

July 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM – Desfile de Delegaciones

July 23, 2017 at 8:00 PM – Donají… La Leyenda

July 24, 2017 at 10:00 AM – Guelaguetza 2017 morning performance

July 24, 2017 at 5:00 PM – Guelaguetza 2017 evening performance

(Times given are USA Central Daylight Savings Time)

This week’s list of delegations:

July 24 morning

July 24 evening

¡Desfruta!  (Enjoy!)

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How many of us knew that eighty years ago, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, children of Spanish Republicans, facing the danger posed by the fascist government of Francisco Franco, were provided refuge in Mexico by President Lázaro Cárdenas?  463 children sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in Veracruz on June 10, 1937.  After a being warmly welcomed, these child refugees were put on a train to Morelia.  Most never returned to Spain.  In the brief interview below, one of the still-living refugees, 87 year-old Amparo Rius Munoz, offers lessons for today.

http://players.brightcove.net/665003303001/4k5gFJHRe_default/index.html?videoId=5467422137001

The documentary, The Children of Morelia – Crossroads and Perspectives will be shown at the Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia (Morelia International Film Festival), October 2017.

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As the last couple of posts hinted, this year, instead of the city, I spent much of Semana Santa (Holy Week) in one of my favorite places — Teotitlán del Valle.

This was only the beginning.  It was a colorful, moving, and delicious experience!

 

 

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The headline in the New York Times reads, She Showed Up Yearly to Meet Immigration Agents. Now They’ve Deported Her.

For eight years, Guadalupe García de Rayos had checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office here, a requirement since she was caught using a fake Social Security number during a raid in 2008 at a water park where she worked.

Every year since then, she has walked in and out of the meetings after a brief review of her case and some questions.

But not this year.

Despite a night of protests and a legal appeal, this 35-year old mother of two, who has lived, worked, and played by the arbitrary U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rules — and who hasn’t lived in Mexico since she was 14 — was separated from her husband and children and dropped off in Nogales, Mexico early this morning.

I’m so sad and angry at the mean-spirited and grand-standing senselessness of it all.  Right now, all I can do is cry and post this heartbreaking music video, Ice El Hielo by La Santa Cecilia.

Y’all feeling safer up there in el norte?

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