What Is Navigating With Norma?

An explanation:  Navigating Oaxaca (pronounced Wah-Hah-Kah), Mexico, is a cultural arts and history experience that requires a certain sense of exploration, discovery and adventure.  For me, it is going without a roadmap down the back alleys of a small village to see what I will discover next:  a master  weaver, an exceptional woodcarver, an accomplished potter or expressive painter.  I am open to the experience of creating relationship by appreciating artistic creativity, cultural history, shared values and vision, and the possibility for multicultural exchange.  After four visits of several weeks each over the past two years, and an invitation from Federico Chavez and his family to live and build a casita in Teotitlan del Valle, I begin to call myself “cultural navigator.”  This blog is a way for me to share my experiences with you with the hope that it will excite your interest to visit this extraordinary place and  appreciate the rich artistic and cultural traditions of Mexican immigrants.  There are great artisans who live on the back alleyways, don’t show up in the tourist guide books, and aren’t willing to pay hefty commissions to have  tour guides and tour buses pulling up to their front door.  I am motivated to support fair trade so that 100% of tourist dollars go directly to the families who actually create the art.  In the next weeks, we will be preparing to return to Oaxaca through the winter holidays.  There will be posadas and fireworks.  The ancient fife player will lead the village band in a Sousa march. Farmers will herd  cattle and sheep through the streets.  The guacalotes will chortle and the donkey next door will bray at sunrise.  We will hike to the reservoir along the river through the bamboo and cactus forest, beyond us Picacho rises above the 6,000 foot plateau with a promise of a new archeological discovery.  We will eat handmade tamales con pollo y salsa Coloradito with fresh nopales, and the adventure will begin anew.     

3 responses to “What Is Navigating With Norma?

  1. In 2005 I went to Antigua, Guatemala for 10 days with faculty and preceptors from the School of Nursing at UNC Chapel Hill on a multicultural exchange to study the health care system. Our goal was to better understand indigenous cultures in order to provide more culturally appropriate health care treatment to immigrants in the U.S. Public health systems are supplemented by private clinics and hospitals operated by charitable organizations in the U.S., many of them religous (Catholic, protestant, evangelical). Physicians, nurses and social workers from the U.S. come to public and private clinics on a rotating basis as volunteers to provide needed operations. The Maya people of Guatemala, Quintana Roo and Chiapas (Mexico) are related to indigenous groups of Oaxaca. Ultimately, it will take more than U.S. volunteer activities (a drop in the bucket) to raise education and health care standards — it will require support from their governments. And, we continue to do what we can!

  2. I look forward to reading of your adventures! Hubby and I just returned from Chiapas but my heart lies in the western highlands of Guatemala. The little pueblitas (alcaldes in local lengua) and the people just steal your heart! I have been a fair trade advocate since first hearing of it about 7 years ago and now our charitable organization — Education And More —helps the local women by purchasing under fair trade guidelines their beautiful textiles. It’s more about people than money!

    And I love……fresh nopoles….. and handmade tortillas!
    blessings, Karen

  3. I agree with “The Navigator”. I traveled to Oaxaca for the first time in June 2007. The region is alive with natural art and culture. I soaked up the Teotitlan tastes which still linger on my buds to this day. I can’t wait for my return trip!!!

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