Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Book for International Women's Day

Whenever I travel to  a different country, I enjoy reading about the culture and the issues of that area.
In Oaxaca, I have especially rich resources as there is a wonderful English-language bookstore and the Oaxaca Lending Library. Each year, I buy at couple of books at Amate and then I donate them to the library or leave them for  other tenants of my apartments.

I just finished Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement, a Mexico City author who won a humanitarian award for the novel.


my favourite bookstore

Ladydi, a young Guerrero girl lives in a village of women. The men have all left for the North and the young girls are stolen to be trafficked by the drug cartels. Once a girl reaches 11 years of age, she must be "made ugly" or hidden to avoid kidnapping.

In Mexico, as in many countries of the world, women are stolen and forced to work in factories or brothels. They are moved across international boundaries and make up a "hidden world of women".
The girls in Ladydi's village are hidden in holes dug in the cornfields.

Certainly, on International Women's Day, as I sit on my patio in this beautiful city, I am reminded that there are so many women in the world who are not as fortunate as I am.

women weaving
How appropriate! I hear the loudspeaker from the square. A woman speaking about what it means to be a woman in the state of Oaxaca.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Art is Free for All!

on the way to the kitchen
Art is available to all in the city of Oaxaca. Janet and I are staying in the Tierra del Sol Apartments, a gated compound of pretty pink stucco buildings. We have a central walkway and each of the units has its own private patio. The residents, from Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, and California, live here either for the the winter months or year round. They rent their large apartments on a yearly basis and are able to decorate them and to upgrade them as they wish. They have security and they are able to leave belongings in the unit. As a new monthly renter, I have a small studio apartment. Our landlady is a potter so we have art throughout our complex.
outside our gate
When we walk outside our gate, there is an interesting carved tree. Yesterday, we had a short outing
and I captured an art installation of "flying tortilla faces" with the "live" feature on my iPhone.
an international collaboration
tortilla faces 
Every Sunday, I like to visit the ex-convent of San Pablo to listen to music or to take in a free exhibition. This week there was a photography exhibition of typical chocolate drinks of Oaxaca State.
chocolate drinks in Oaxaca
The San Pablo complex provides a serene spot in the city with children's reading centre, a cloister with a restored altar, coffee house, music and a Lebanese restaurant. Next door is the Textile Museum where the present exhibition features representation of human form in weaving.
all of the dyes are from natural sources

Sunday is an especially quiet day in Oaxaca de Juarez. There are few cars and stores don't open in the morning. Church bells ring and the State Band plays in the square. Music, art and sunshine...free for all! Who could ask for more?



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Back to Mexico!

the eagle and the snake
It's now a week since my friend, Janet and I left Vancouver for Mexico City.  We've been hearing from friends and family about snow at home so we are feeling fortunate indeed. This is the first time
that Janet has visited Mexico so it has been quite an adventure.

We arrived in Mexico City early Saturday morning and after passing the night at the Marriott Hotel at the airport, we took a taxi to our hotel on the Zocalo of Mexico City. The square is the third largest in the world after Tianamen Square and Red Square. Travelling in Mexico is a wonderful experience because every person in the hospitality industry that we have met has helped us enormously. The bellmen rolled our suitcases for two or three blocks to get us a taxi. It is very difficult for cabs or
town cars to stop on the Zocalo.
view from our hotel
One night, when we were staying in Mexico City, we heard a lot of activity in the square. When we looked in the morning, a fería (fair) of local products had appeared. We thoroughly enjoyed tasting local foods and Janet had an opportunity to see native handicrafts. We did not buy anything because Oaxaca is the state of artisans.

our new studio apartment
Tuesday, we flew to Oaxaca. Once again, I have a studio apartment which is a little cozy with a visitor. The landlady, who is an American married to a Mexican, kindly provided an inflatable mattress for Janet. However, as Janet was making her bed up (on the floor), she noticed Carlos the Cockroach. Assured by me, who was sleeping in a bed, that "it was all part of the adventure" and "we're in the tropics after all", Janet bravely slept on her new bed. The next evening, a cockroach scurried from behind the mattress. We decided to share the queen bed and concocted a dish soap
and water insecticide. 



the Ethnobotanic Garden

We are living in central Oaxaca de Juarez, this year. The Ethnobotanic Garden is located nearby. 
I have visited this garden many times. The guide, Carol, a retired anthropology professor has been leading the tour for 16 years and is knowledgeable about the endemic plants of Oaxaca. 

pottery in the courtyard

Our compound is inhabited by a number of snowbirds and ex-pat people who have provided us with lots of practical information. Our landlady is a potter so our common areas are decorated with her works and with a selection of cacti. Tomorrow, we are going to have a get-together. 

This is the first time that my friend has visited Oaxaca so we are spending our time visiting some of the churches, markets and galleries of the city.