Friday, November 30, 2007

My Kind of Bullfight

One of Oaxaca's traditions is the Calenda, a processional through city streets that typically begins and ends at a church. The original ulterior motive of the calenda was to create a spectacle to entice passerby into attending Catholic mass and then converting. For a happy atheist, it's just a great street party. There's always music and manic dancing. People carry long wooden sticks holding lanterns of colored cellophane with candles burning inside, creating a moody glow. At some point, if you're lucky, there is the fake bullfight. Sometimes a couple cute senoritas entice the bull with the red sashes tied around their waists. In this picture, the bull appears to be made of actual skin; the ones I've seen before were paper mache, pinata-like figures.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flying over the Zocalo

The giant balloons get me, like some Fellini movie, just lyrical the way they arc through the air. It's a melancholy thing to watch it wind indecisively through the air. You smack the end and it soars. On 20 de Noviembre, the zocalo was filled with children chasing after them, falling on top of them, popping them, and then grabbing someone else's.
Max chose a bootleg Spiderman print, blurry with the thousands of times it had been reproduced. When that deflated, someone gave him a Sponge Bob one, where Sponge Bob was elongated and blue. Genevieve dove after a boy's Viva Mexico balloon, only to drag it over to him and surrender it. Five minutes later, he was by her side, offering it back to her.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Black Pottery Processional

We attended an art opening at the Museum of Oaxacan Painters. This installation was astonishing. I am accustomed to seeing traditional Oaxacan black pottery that originated in a nearby pueblo, but I'd never seen it used to create a large-scale piece. The figures seemed to be people, ghostly persona, muertos, and calaveras interspersed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lucha Libre

We're super into Lucha Libre iconography around here. For some reason, Mexican wrestling has always intrigued me. I love the ornate masks and the little punky fabric patches of wrestlers you can buy on Calle las Casas. And I love Maxito's shirt here, featuring El Santo, the king of La Lucha.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sad, astonished pumpkinhead

This Halloween pumpkin has two sides, one happy and the other kind of surprised or melancholy. When Max went trick-or-treating with it, he and his friends chanted "Queremos muertos, queremos muertos" to get their candy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Vochito Banditos

I have a long love affair with VW Bugs, known as "vochos" around here. It looks like Genevieve shares my adoration. When the ride ended, she gripped onto the steering wheel, refused to let go, and shrieked bloody murder. I had to get back up to wrench her from the ride.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Monster A Go-Go

When we first arrived here, Max very carefully assembled his monster collection on our kitchen table. He has spent the last couple months working on his monster research project for school and part of the assignment is to offer prizes for the students listening to the report. So we shall spend the coming week seeking more monsters for the giveaway. I'll post what we find here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Foghorn Goes Mexidelic

One super chido aspect of Mexican pop culture is all the bootleg cartoon characters. It was clear to me, at the amusement park in front of the municipal cemetary, that this was not Claudio (as the knees of his overalls would suggest), but Foghorn Leghorn, playing the bongo drums, accompanied by Sylvester in Elvis regalia. Thanks go to Steve for coming up with the concept of Mexidelic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Painting with Sand

One of the Day of the Dead traditions in Oaxaca is the creation of sand tapetes, literally "carpets of sand". People use colored sand, shells, flower petals, stones, and glitter to create incredible depictions of saints, skeletons, even dedications and messages. The tapete in this photograph was fascinating. It was huge, just monumental, and it was dedicated to the APPO, the group that led the protests last year. A long dedication ran beneath it, like a banner, and people surrounded the tapete from every corner, studying the inscription. While we watched, the creators layered hundreds of flower petals along the border of their sand painting. By the next day, it was gone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Anthropomorphic Avocadoes on Bags

A year ago, when I lived in Portland and began planning the big move to Oaxaca, I spied a girl in the frozen foods aisle of Winco sporting an incredible market bag. It featured dancing fruits and vegetables with ecstatic faces. Completely charming. I ran chased her down in bulk candy and got the skinny: "My brother bought it for me in Oaxaca."

It seemed like an omen, this enchanting market bag from my new home. But I couldn't wait for my arrival to Oaxaca. I began searching for it online. It took a few days, but I found it at Gringas & Company, this Mexican import shop. And now I have my own dancing produce to wear when I go out.

But here is an interesting twist to the story. I've been living in Oaxaca for three months now, and have yet to see that bag. Nearly every lady of a certain age has one, but not mine. And at the Benito Juarez Market, I encountered a stall stacked high with market bags. They advertised toys, pastries, meat, even hardware, but no anthropomorphic produce.