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Posts Tagged ‘zócalo’

This morning, Oaxaca began mourning the loss of two of the Zócalo’s iconic and beloved Indian laurels. In less than 48 hours, two of these massive trees, planted between 1875 and 1885, had fallen. Unfortunately, in their untimely demise, they join several other Indian laurels shading the Zócalo and Alameda that have crashed to the ground in the past ten years.

Yellow caution tape at the entrance to the Alameda

The concern is there will be more — thus, today these public spaces have been closed to the public with yellow caution tape and police barring the entrances.

Standing water at the base of an Indian laurel tree on the Alameda.

Ostensibly, the high winds and torrential rain Oaxaca is currently experiencing caused the trees to topple. However, our stormy weather these days is only the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Tending to the hole left by the Indian laurel that fell on Sept. 15, 2020 at the southwest corner of the Zócalo.

Several years ago, as we walked through the Zócalo and Alameda, I remember listening intently as the late artist and tree historian/savior Francisco Verástegui passionately described the indignities these trees had suffered, including disruption to their root systems when, in 2005, a governor attempted to remodel the Zócalo.

Status update at the northwest corner of the Zócalo.

Thankfully, a protest movement stopped that plan, but damage had already been done. What followed, among other things, was improper pruning, inadequate irrigation, faulty drainage, and the use of unsterilized mulch leading to the growth of fungus and causing the roots to rot — all of which contributed to the trees tumbling down.

Indian laurel that fell the evening of Sept. 17, 2020 on the southeast corner of the Zócalo.

And, it’s not only the trees in the Alameda and Zócalo. The director of the civil association Oaxaca Fértil estimates that 90% of the trees in the municipality of Oaxaca have been neglected, are diseased, and run the risk of collapsing. Let us hope that more of the historic trees that contribute to the beauty of Oaxaca can be saved and cared for in the way they deserve.

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More scenes from Sunday’s silent streets in Oaxaca…

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8:40 AM: Northwest corner of the Zócalo

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8:41 AM: On the Zócalo looking southeast

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8:54 AM: Looking south on Cinco de mayo

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9:47 AM: Corner of Reforma and Constitución

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10:06 AM: Looking south down Porfirio Díaz

However, Mercado Sánchez Pascuas was hopping — almost a like a pre-pandemic Sunday. Stalls were open, not much physical distancing was going on, and most vendors and customers were mask-less. Note to self: In these times of COVID-19, next time I’m out of tamales, go to the mercado on a quieter day.

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Yesterday, with a fair degree of trepidation, I ventured out onto the streets of Oaxaca. Even during these times of coronavirus, a gal has to eat, thus a trip to Mercado Benito Juárez could no longer be put off. Unfortunately, I got a late start and didn’t leave until almost 10:30 AM but, happily, my first observation was that traffic was much lighter.

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Walking east on Av. Morelos

However, much to my dismay the zócalo was lined with food and vendor stalls and continues to be occupied with a plantón in front of the Government Palace. This, after a caravan of municipal police trucks mounted with loudspeakers plied the streets on Monday advising people not to gather in groups, to maintain “sana distancia” (healthy distancing), and to try to stay home.

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Protest encampment in the zócalo

I walked through, trying to avoid coming within a meter of anyone and making a beeline toward the market. An aside: Afternoon temperatures continue to hover around 90º F and, yes, the sky is that blue!

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Facing south on Calle Flores Magón

I turned right on Las Casas and discovered cleaners power washing the sidewalk in front of Mercado Benito Juárez.

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Trying not to get wet, I ducked inside the unusually quiet market.

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Main aisle just inside Mercado Benito Juárez

I quickly made my rounds: Almita’s for pecans, my favorite poultry stall for chicken thighs, and my fruit and vegetable stand for avocados and carrots. Though the market was less crowded than usual, the aisles are narrow making it nearly impossible to maintain “sana distancia” and so I cut my trip short.

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Looking west on Calle Valerio Trujano

Avoiding the zócalo, I headed for home. I think I’m going to skip Mercado Benito Juárez (except for Mario, my coffee bean guy) for the duration and limit my shopping to the smaller Mercado Sánchez Pascuas up the hill and perhaps begin patronizing the people who sell produce from their truck on Monday and Thursday mornings just a block away. We are living in the days of making adjustments…

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Looking back and appreciating life in Oaxaca, 2018.

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January – View through the terrace pistachio tree of full Wolf Moon.

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February – Guest helping to harvest Waje dinner at Rancho 314 urban farm in Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán.

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March – Reyna Mendoza Ruiz demonstrating metate technique at El Sabor Zapoteco cooking class in Teotitlán del Valle.

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April – Pit for cooking agave piñas to make mezcal at the palenque of Faustino Garcia in San Baltazar Chichicapa(m).

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May – Tlacolulokos mural in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

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June – Summer afternoon on the Zócalo in Oaxaca city.

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July – Feria del Barro Rojo in San Marcos Tlapazola.

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August – Fundación En Via microfinance tour to San Miguel del Valle.

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September – Protest by students from the Escuela Normal Bilingüe e Intercultural de Oaxaca.

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October – Celebrating el Señor del Rayo at the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

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November – At the home/workshop of filigree maestro, José Jorge García García.

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December – Pop-up sale in Oaxaca city by the Las Sanjuaneras weavers from San Juan Colorado.

Feliz año nuevo y muchisimas gracias to all my wonderful blog readers from near and far!  Thank you for reading, for commenting, for sharing, for the opportunity to meet some of you, and for inspiring me to continue.  Onward to 2019!!!

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Today the sun (finally) came out and hundreds (thousands?) of pots of cempasúchil (aka, cempoalxóchitl, cempaxochitl, cempoal, zempoal, flor de muertos) arrived in the city center.

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This was a photo op not only for yours truly but also the local press, as they trailed after the wife of Oaxaca’s governor while she viewed the unloading…

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and planting of the iconic Día de los Muertos flowers in the beds of the Zócalo and Alameda.

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The color and fragrance of the cempasúchil provide a lovely setting to sit and contemplate the world (and check your cell phone).

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Oaxaca is putting on her best to welcome her difuntos (deceased) along with the thousands of tourists who will soon be arriving.

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As an extranjera (foreigner), I can do nothing more than observe…

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report…

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and feel.

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Signs on the Alameda and zócalo this week.

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My morning caller flew the coop and so did I.  After being confined to quarters for the past several days due to the rain and gloom, I walked downtown.

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Also, I was curious as to the state of the Zócalo, in light of the teachers, ambulantes, and the annual reenactment of “el Grito de Independencia” by the Governor, from the balcony of the Government Palace, at 11 PM tonight.

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I found, except for a handful of tents and tarps, the Alameda and Zócalo were back to normal.

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Castillos were being constructed on either side of the Government Palace.

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And, like every year, the Mexican flag was flying high, green, white, and red lights and banners were strung, and images of the heroes of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain decorated the front of the Palacio de Gobierno

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Most of the teachers and ambulantes have departed and all is being readied for el Grito de Independencia 2014.  And, nobody seems to miss the State Police, who are staging a “work stoppage.”   Ahhh, Oaxaca…  Ya gotta love her!

El Grito de Independencia
¡Mexicanos!
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron la patria y libertad!
¡Viva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Viva Galeana y los Bravo!
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

In English
Mexicans!
Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland (and liberty)!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Galeana and the Bravos!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!

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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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“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

A winter Sunday in Oaxaca.

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Today, the truck arrived, the wheelbarrows were loaded, and the gardening crew began filling the flower beds of Oaxaca’s zócalo…

Truck filled with poinsettias

Workers with wheelbarrows filled with poinsettias

Worker digging up flower bed, with poinsettias in pots in background

Mass of red and one white poinsettias in flower bed.

Navidad is coming to Oaxaca!

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Instead of the coming of age novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, we have the real life drama of a tree falls in Oaxaca.  Heading down to the mercado this morning, I was brought up short by this heartbreaking sight.

Large trunk of tree uprooted from ground.

According to reports, there were many present to hear and see one of the grand 130+ year old Indian laurels topple during a storm on Saturday night.  And, worst of all, ten people were injured, two seriously.  Trees in the city, including Indian laurels in the Zócalo, have been plagued by adversity.  A laurel in the Zócalo fell a few years ago, damaging a nearby building, and most recently in May 2011, I wrote about a laurel on the Alameda that toppled.  Resurrection was attempted and guy-wires remain to this day holding it upright.  I guess the experts decided this latest one was beyond rescue.

Large tree cut into pieces

Controversy reigns, as many assert that these trees should be able to withstand the rain and less-than gale force winds.  Thus speculation over the cause runs rampant.  Root rot appears to be the immediate culprit but the big question is, why?

Pile of massive wood logs

And, as Chris sadly noted a couple of months ago, regarding the diseased flamboyant trees in front of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Any tree is hard to replace.

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And the juxtapositions continue; the annual nativity scene set up on the zócalo in Oaxaca across from the Government Palace and the ongoing occupation by the women of San Juan Copala, not to mention the ubiquitous banners of  Section 22 of the Teachers’ Union.

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Then there were the impossibly cute kids and a rapid request from them.  “Mas despacio, por favor,” sez I.  A slow motion reply followed, “To-ma nu-es-tra fo-to,” sez the older girl.  And, so I did!

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…warms the night and the heart.

After a week (plus) of temps that dropped into the high 30s/low 40s during the night (Brrrr… central heating, what’s that?), sun, clear blue sky, and mild evening temperatures have returned.  It’s perfect weather for strolling around la ciudad, wandering in and out of artesania shops, doing a little stress-free Christmas shopping, and pausing every once in a while to absorb the scene.

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You might have noticed, the angel from Friday’s post successfully ascended the ladder and now graces the top of the stable.  And, along with bells and Rudolph, a Star of David hangs on the side of a building.  Interesting… this is the first time I’ve seen it as part of holiday decorations.  By the way, there are no synagogues in Oaxaca.

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Oaxaca is gearing up for Christmas.  Thankfully, it is not (yet) as hectic and commercial as in el norte.  Though decorations have been been displayed, front and center, in my local Soriana super-mercado for at least a month, it is only in the last few days that the city’s electricians have been positioning lights on the trees around the zócalo…

Electrician positioning light on tree

to  illuminate the welcoming niño.

Mannequin of boy in sombrero and sarape

Lambs have begun appearing…

Long white-haired mannequin carrying lamb.

Angels are being elevated…

Workman about to carry an angel mannequin up a ladder.

Clothing is laundered in preparation for Navidad…

Female mannequin washing clothes as mannequins of lambs watch.

And, thousands of poinsettias have been brought in to add splashes of color to the beds beneath the 130+ year old Indian laurels.

Flower bed of poinsettias under Indian laurel tree.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Hammock time

Guelaguetza is almost here, the Zócalo is teeming with tourists, and a massive stage is being set up opposite the cathedral.  I think these guys are guarding it.  I want their job!


Two guys in hammocks hanging from stage scaffolding

Hmmm… there’s an empty hammock.  Maybe I should apply!

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