Oaxaca’s La Guelaguetza two week celebration is around the corner. I thought you would like to know Oaxaca State is the third largest of 31 in Mexico and is one of the poorest. There are 8 Regions: The Coast, Canada, Tuxtepec, Mixteca, Sierra Sur, Sierra Norte, Central Valleys and the Isthmus. Each has its own cultural identity defined by its music, dance, songs, food and gala dress from their respective villages. 17 different languages.
I finally started “One on One” language lessons with the expert knowledge and teaching ability of Gadi Hernandez.
I understand one on one classes better than a classroom because of my poor hearing. Learning a language and having profound hearing loss don’t exactly go good together so I think I’ve found a solution. I will know by the end of the summer.
We started one hour sessions 2-5 times a week depending on our schedule. The first was on the roof of the library where their is an ice making plant 50 yards away that generates enough noise to make it difficult at times to understand my Spanish speaking teacher. She speaks fluent English but I need to hear replies to my inquiries when speaking Spanish.
That afternoon I stopped to see an exhibit at the Oaxaquena Cultural Center in my neighborhood. Not much to take a photo of.
The next day we found Black Coffee Shop where it was nicer and will continue to meet there or at my condo if need be.
She waited 3 hours in the hot sun to get tickets to see Lila Downs and famous Oaxacan singer that is playing at the Guelaguetza.
Gadi was teaching teens for four hours in Talacalula and left to catch the bus while I headed for a Comida lunch at the Terranova in the Zocalo.
When I left I stopped to say hi to Pat and her brother Darcy who were just finishing a beer and discussing their trip on the Saturday Midnight Red-eye Bus to Guatemala with stops in Honduras and later on to Nicaragua to visit their brother. They invited me and I was tempted…$30 dollars one way.
I went home and made a batch of Cabbage Soup and watch the rest of Steak Revolution, a great documentary about Steaks!
BREAKING NEWS: OAXACA IS THE 6TH BEST CITY IN THE WORLD FOR 2017 ..the first was San Miguel de Allende…both in Mexico and the same year Mexico got ranked the 2nd most dangerous country in the world next to Syria.
This weekend started off with Festival de Mole at the Emotomical Gardens at Santa Domingo. Different representatives from the State of Oaxaca were taking turns talking about their pueblo and where they lived.
I passed some dancers doing a film for some Mexican Rock star Video on my way.
I entered through the side door around 2 pm and paid my 700 pesos, around $40 then an “usher” took me through the gardens into a large tented area where she sat me at my assigned seat at one of about 35 tables of 10 set up under the tent.
|YES THAT IS A CRICKET TACO AND IT IS GO|
Live Music was playing on stage and when a waiter didn’t approach I found “Pedro” who was quick to bring me some appetizer’s to start and a Mescal glass with a beer. Drinks were free and food was all you can eat but Moles are filling and there were over 20 of them being offered from restaurants all over the state of Oaxaca.
|I ASKED THEM TO SMILE WITH THEIR MASKS ON…ONE TOOK IT OFF.|
My table was full of friendly Mexicans. Some were here from Pueblo and later, politely remarked they liked Pueblo Moles better.
Everyone in the place was enjoying themselves. You had to get in the buffet line to get your Moles with Rice as an accompaniment. That was it. The Moles varied with ingredients from Chicken, Beef, Turkey, Pork, Green Beans, Asparagus, etc. I was late so when I went through the first time, very little had any substance. They were mostly just the sauce. My second trip, after they restocked the double lines, was more successful.
|PRICKLY PEAR NEVERIE WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM|
I left around 5 pm bloated with beer, mescal, and Moles.
Today I stopped at Cafe Traditional to try there breakfast. I had my breakfast smoothie but it was around 1:30 ….It was good but my eggs were overcooked and the food arrived lukewarm.
So much for that place.
The Convito was having a BBQ that I was interested in checking out.
It had sold out but they invited people to “hang out” so I took some photos and then went to Llano Park for the Festival de Mescal…open until 3:45 AM.
|CARTEL RECRUITS…THEY WERE VERY NICE AND A BIT BUZZED ON MEZCAL|
I paid my 40 pesos for unlimited small samples and wandered around for around an hour while “sampling” and watching the entertainment but rain was coming so I decided to forgo the parade. That was the next event. I took the bus home in the rain. Five people came to the back of the bus and sat next to me. I noticed they spoke English and were acting like tourists in town for the weekend.
I was right…Med Students from Northwestern University that were on a special program for 8 weeks in Mexico City and decided to visit Oaxaca for the weekend. One from Mexico City, another from El Salvador, two orientals and another from Chicago. The one from Chicago comes to Phoenix to visit his snowbird parents over Christmas at their condo and loves to ski in Utah and Colorado. Nice students. The rain let up as I arrived so debated going to the Zocalo and seeing the Parade arrive when I read the teachers are back camping in the Zocalo. Turned out the parade went on but the route was changed. I heard that and got a photo
compliments of Shannon Shepard and her blog View From Casita Colibrí . That must be a nightmare as there is a Carnival with children’s rides in the Zocalo for the weekend. I will check that tomorrow. Shannon also went home rather than get soaked.
This festive time of the year there are lots of fireworks and rockets at night. I was lulled into the background explosions when a bolt of lightening almost lifted me off my chair. So don’t mess with Mother Nature!
This afternoon I visited to Zocalo to find a Carnival atmosphere with Music, activity of all the visitors mixed with the Protesting Striking Teachers that permitted Oaxaca to collect it’s garbage after a week of it piling up, in return for occupying the Zocalo along with all the tourists. I guess they wanted the attention? All the children’s rides were removed and replaced by paid protesters to move into tents and under make shift awnings.
I decided to have dinner at Tres Bistro. I enjoyed a nice Tuna Steak and Veggies. The complimentary Chocolate Kisses and the Ice Cream (the first this year) will take me a month to work off but I don’t care. I returned home to bed early so I can prepare for my Spanish lesson tomorrow.The carnival was entertaining people while the protested sat in their tents. There was a concert to watch and games to play.
|YELLOW CHERRIES SERVED WITH CHILI PEPPER …TASTED LIKE SWEET PARMESAN CHEESE|
|PUT THE LIME IN THE COCONUT AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING|
|SOUP KITCHEN FOR PROTESTERS|
|IMPRESSIVE FIREWORKS THIS EVENING|
I did my Spanish lesson then attended a lecture on buying over the internet in Mexico. I didn’t need to buy anymore and learned a bit but it was hot so I cancelled my plans to attend the Gastronomic Festival at Soledad Catedral and returned home.
The BIG SHOW went on tonight in the Guelagetza Auditorium on the hill overlooking the city. I watched some of it on TV live broadcast then when it ended around 9 pm Fireworks went off for 15 minutes straight. I think when the last BIG SHOW ends on next Monday night, it will be the same.
I met Gadi for another of my daily lessons which seems to be helping me. When my time was up , I mentioned I was going to the Gastronomic Festival so Gadi joined me.
It was set up nicely and I am glad it’s running a couple more days because I didn’t get to sample the Tamales or Quesadillas. That will be tomorrow. We shared a meat combo then returned home.
End of day.
Scheduling an hour of lessons a day for 2-5 days a week is new to me. It has been 30 years for me. This has been interesting…I like having a chat with someone on a regular basis but when I was free….I only called a friend when I felt like it…which was not often enough. This may be part of the void I need in my life. I learn and socialize at the same time with someone I really admire and enjoy. No lose.
We met as usual and I stopped at one of the Fonda’s that was selling Organic, Oaxacan , coffee, grown in the shade from a Plantation in an area noted for the best coffee in the world. La Pluma. Then I bought a small folding table or seat for the house and returned home.
I went back out to attend a Wake at the Library for a friend, Spencer Grogan,
I played pool with. I knew his wife, Siobhan, the now president of the library. I stopped to print a photo I took of him last year and gave it to Siobhan. Many of his family and friends flew down and spoke at the ceremony to honor his life. There was standing room only of over 150 to 200 people . He and his wife of 40 years had been living in Oaxaca for the last 7. The ceremony was being transmitted over Skype to the friends and family that couldn’t attend. When it was over we all went upstairs to the roof where a nice buffet was waiting with Mezcal and Wine for all.
I paid my respects and left with Bill Pumpfrey’s who did the slide presentation of Spencer’s life while live music with song played in the background. It was an awesome tribute to such a wonderful person who left this world at 63 with Melanoma Cancer.
Bill and I chatted while he went to catch his bus and I returned to the Gastronomic Festival determined to have the Quesadilla that was I missed yesterday. It wasn’t as good as I expected and I was tired so stopped at the Zocalo to have a “last call” and retired early.
The library was hosting a free lecture about immigration between the US and Oaxaca and the effort to contact missing immigrants and well as the story of those who recently were deported back to Mexico even though they had been in the states for years, held jobs , had children, contributing to society and were the Dreamers that were cooperating with Immigration in order to comply with Obama’s protection program and possible citizenship down the road.
I saw Robert, my winter domino’s player friend who had decided to try Oaxaca in July and said he was loving it and now plans on returning next year for the summer. Zoe was there so we walked over to the Market and bought some food before returning home.
Two of my grandsons were out selling Hot Dogs and Smores Brownies today!
One on the left and his brother next to him eating the profits.
…and to close this post: One good photo by Joanie from the library….at our Fourth Celebration.