Wednesday, November 21, 2007

children dancing, children playing

I love these pictures of children, one child that was part of a group of dancers and another that was happily playing under a tree.

Costena comes to Oaxaca, beautiful dancers

There are so many traditional dances, all with beautiful bright costumes. These were not professional dancers, but rather people from the towns who came to share and promote their culture and region. G. says that the women from this area are reputed to be some of the most beautiful in Mexico, they were certainly beautiful. (in my next life I want to come back looking like a latina!)

Costena comes to Oaxaca..carnival

Several towns from near the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca brought their dances, including some carnival dancers, their food and textiles to Oaxaca last week. I had considered going there, but since they came to me, I will save actually going to the towns of Putla and Pinotepa Nacional for another time. I spent the entire day entranced by the beautiful dance and dancers.

!chocolate....que rico!

Oaxaca is known for the rich chocolate that is made here. Even though the cacao tree does not grown here, the beans are imported from the state of Tabasco and the rest from Chiapas. While the beans are referred to as "raw" they are actually dried. There has been a long tradition of chocolate making in this city. There is one street in particular that has many chocolate grinders. In Oaxaca every family has a special chocolate recipe with the specific mix of the cocoa beans, cinnamon, almonds and sugar. The ingredients are measured in the quantities requested and then put in a mechanized electronic grinder, but with a stone inside the wheel that actually does the grinding. Within a matter of minutes, thick, rich, pure, unadulterated chocolate exits the grinder, there are no fillers, no additives, no preservatives. Walking down the street of the chocolate makers is an incredible sensory experience, the aroma of chocolate with notes of cinamon and almonds comes wafting out of almost every door.
I have read that Oaxacan chocolate is distinctive and delicious but was not sure whether to believe, but after trying lots of samples, I am convinced that it is some of the best I have ever had.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

heroes of the revolution...size small

so...General Villa, what´s the plan?

You gotta love kids with painted on moustaches... (parade for el dia de Revolucion)

Can your policemen/fireman do this?

A great dia de Revolucion parade in Oaxaca. All the police and firemen had rehearsed very impressive routines for the parade.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tule ...a sacred tree.

It is a Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), or Ahuehuete in the Nahuatl language. It has the largest trunk of any tree in the world. The age is unknown, with estimates ranging between 1,200 and 3,000 years. Hard to imagine what this tree could tell if it could talk. The people in the village seem to revere their tree, it seems to have a sacred spot for hundreds of years, pre conquest and probably much before that.
When I was there there was a quincenara going on, the young lady was certainly princess for a day.

Friday, November 16, 2007

colorful night in Oaxaca

There were some visiting dancers from Jalisco in Oaxaca last night. The traditional dances include these swirling colorful coustumes.

Las tortugas (turtles)

The Oaxacan coast used to be a killing ground for sea turtles, this is now outlawed and the small beach town of Mazunte has turned to turtle conservation and protection. There is a turtle center and a piece of beach has been set aside so that when the turtles come up to lay their eggs they are protected.
The fisherman in Augustillo have a tour that includes the guide jumping overboard and capturing a turtle. I admit I had mixed feelings about this, but the guide assured me that the turtles were not bothered by this. Indeed he seemed to be gentle with the turtle and he did not seem to be disturbed. However, I am not an expert in turtle expressions of distress. In any case, I am sure the turtle preferred this short capture to what happened to his ancestors.

muy tranquilo and a library too!

The beautiful, very uncrowded beaches of Augustillo where an American lady has created a wonderful library with titles in English, Spanish, French and German among other languages to serve whatever a visitor might need. She also does a lot for the children in this small community, with books for them in spanish and english and a small computer lab for them. When I was there, it was evident that the children loved being there and loved her as well.

So lots of relaxing and reading (have not read anything in English for serveral weeks!) The mid day sun was very hot, I did my swimming (in the calm water with the children) around 4pm. I do not think I would want to be here after Feb., much too hot.
So is it just me or this cliff in Mazunte have a definite skull shape in the rock? (picture after the sunrise and sunset)

church and museum Ocotlan

The church in Ocotlan has been restored with the help of Oaxacan artist Rodolfo Morales.
The church has a museum with some of his works and some local folk art.
Morales is best known for his brightly coloured surrealistic paintings often featuring Mexican women in village settings.
Along with the paintings of Morelas are some clay works of Aguilar sisters: Josefina, Guillermina, Irene and Concepcion who all live next to each other in large extended families. Each sister works in clay, but each has a distinctive style that reflects their own view of the world.
I walked over to their workshops and bought some small clay pieces.

market day in Ocotlan

Ocotlan is about 40 min by bus from Oaxaca. Friday is market day. There has been a market here on this day for hundreds of years. All mercado fascinate me and this was no diffferent, products of the region and people bringing what they have to sell, to socialize and to buy.

Here you can buy cabbages and roses, pulque and tepache (pulque is a fermented drink made for the maguey, a type of agave. Before the spanish introduced distillation (as in tequila and mezcal) this is what they indigenous people drank, and it was reputed to be very healthy)
Tepache is made out of pineapple some brown sugar and sometimes beer.
It is a drink known since prehispanic times like pulqe. You can buy cacao (seeds from the cacao tree used to make chocolate)
You can buy leather belts and saddles and wooden saddles for your mule. You can buy a turkey or a goat and since the Mexican day of independence is coming up, you can buy your wooden gun and hat to march in the parade of children on that day.

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