Monthly Archives: January 2012

Oaxaca Day of the the Dead Photos + Videos by Nick Eckert

We had the pleasure of having accomplished Washington, D.C. photographer Nick Eckert with us on the 2011 Day of the Dead Photo Expedition.  [We are now planning the 2012 expedition. Send me an email if you want to get on the notification list.]

Here are Nick’s Flickr shots of sand sculptures.  These installations are painstakingly assembled by artists and artisans.  They are hand-painted and colored and can take more than a day to build. In Oaxaca City, the sculptures were displayed at the plaza next to the Basilica de Soledad.  They lined the street leading to the old cemetery in Xoxocotlan.

Day of the Dead Sand Sculptures

Nick also has a YouTube Channel named maskirovka77 where you can see all his videos.   Here are a couple to whet your appetite.

Mexico’s Spooky Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead Rituals

After the workshop, Nick went to Mexico City where he photographed the famed murals by Diego Rivera.

More Than 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico — Where To Stay, Hotels, Hostels, B&B’s

Where to Stay in Oaxaca, Mexico: Hotels, Bed and Breakfast Lodging and Hostels. The list that I sent to Freda Moon, The New York Times travel writer who crafted the feature 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico, included recommendations for where to sleep in Oaxaca City.  She was only able to include one, El Diablo y La Sandia.  So, I’m sharing with you what I sent to her and a few more that I recently discovered.

El Secreto de las Bugambilias, NEW, Reforma #522, Col. Centro, Oaxaca, (951) 514-9536; USA (866) 829-6778, 3 rooms, Single/Double, Dahlia Room, $70 single/$80 double; Begonia Room, King Bed, $80/90; Azalea Room, King Bed, $90/$100.  Extension of Las Bugambilias B&B one block away, owned by the Cabrera Arroyo Family.  Just opened in June 2011.

El Diablo  y La SandiaNEW Libres #  Maria Crespo, owner. $80 USD per night double, $75 per night single includes breakfast. Email: info@eldiabloylasandia.com

Clean, basic and convenient Hostal Paulina, Trujano #321 at the corner of Diaz Ordaz, 4 blocks from the Zocalo. Phone (951) 516-2005.  370 pesos per night including breakfast, shared baths. reservations@paulinahostel.com  www.paulinahostel.com/ing10/localizacion.html

Lovely, European-like, quiet neighborhood of Jalatlaco is just a few minutes walk from El Llano Parque and the ADO bus station. It is easy to imagine being on a back street in Florence, Italy.  For 200 pesos a night you can stay at Hostal del Barrio, Privado de la Noche Triste #5, delbarriohostal@gmail.com or (951) 515-2910.  Innkeepers Señora Oliva and daughter Señora Julieta offer a warm welcome to their quiet home. Each very spare, small bedroom has a private bath and hot water. It is clean and adequate with no frills. Go around the corner to Casa Arnel for a healthy breakfast a la carte or during the week or Saturday morning to Xiguela, the organic market/cafe.  It’s a 30-minute walk to the Zocalo.

In Teotitlan del Valle, our workshop groups stay at Las Granadas Bed & Breakfast and at Casa Elena.

More Than 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico — Shopping & Galleries

Where to Shop and Galleries

The list that I sent to Freda Moon, The New York Times travel writer who created the feature 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico, included some of my favorite places to see art, shop and explore.  Of course, it would have been impossible for Freda to include them all.  Nevertheless, I’m sharing with you what I sent to her.

Galeria Fe y LolaNEW Av. 5 de Mayo #408, authentic, beautiful weavings (rugs, wall hangings, handbags, scarves) made only with natural dyes.  A family-owned, small production workshop is located in Teotitlan del Valle.  Most rugs available in city gallery. Weaving demonstrations can be scheduled.  Most days you can find La Dueña Dolores (Lola) Santiago Arrellanas there.  Call ahead to be sure they are open. (951) 524-4078 or  044 (951)130-2481. Not in any guidebook.

Call painter and assemblage artist Humberto Bautista for an appointment to personally visit to his studio on Porfirio Diaz.  (951) 516-0100. Not in any guidebook. Humberto and his colleague Mari Seder teach Oaxaca arts workshops.

“Tirso Cuevas” HojalataNEW hand-hammered tin boxes, picture frames, sculpture, lamps, mirrors, hearts, and trinkets along with contemporary art gallery by some of Oaxaca’s best young artists, tucked into old 17th century historic building needing renovation at the corner of Reforma and Abasolo (enter on Abasolo).  Tirsocuevas-hojalata@hotmail.com.  Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 4 p.m.-7 p.m.  Closed 2-4 p.m. for lunch.

Talleres Comunitarios de ZegacheNEW hand-carved wood mirrors embellished in gold and silver leaf in traditional European technique.  Gallery supports young people in Santa Ana Zegache, Ocotlan.  Open M-F, 10a – 8p,  Av. 5 de Mayo #412, Plaza Lucero, (in the back of the patio) behind Black Box Gallery. www.proyectozegache.com

Museo Textil de Oaxaca, NEW Hidalgo #917 at the corner of Fiallo, two blocks from the Zocalo, open 7 days.  This is the ONLY textile museum in Mexico. Includes a preservation/restoration unit. The best of the best!  Rotating exhibits, openings, great gallery shop. English-language tours offered.  (951) 501-1104.  Opened in 2009.

Los Baules –Remigio Mestas Collections, fabulous textiles from throughout Oaxaca state; in the courtyard of Los Danzantes restaurant on Macedonio Alcala.  Enter next to Oro de Monte Alban.  Like a museum collection.  Remigo is the “go-to” curator for the best of the best. cbram@prodigy.net.mx

El Nahual Gallery, NEW Av. 5 de Mayo, right next door to Galeria Fe y Lola.  Great collection of carved alebrijes, pottery, textiles, sterling silver jewelry personally selected by proprietors Alejandrina Rios and her husband award-winning Saltillo-style weaver Erasto “Tito” Mendoza. (951) 204-2381 or 516-4202 or elnahual75@prodigy.net.mx

Oaxaca State Artisans Collective, Av. Garcia Virgil, up the hill almost to the ancient aquaduct, past the restaurant Casa del Tio Guero.  If you can make it this far, it’s worth it.  Great selection, great quality handcrafts, good prices, but out of the way.

Step down into the little shop Artesanias, owned by Senor Francisco Jesus Hernandez Perez,  on Constitucion between 5 de Mayo and Reforma. Ask to see the tissue paper collages. They are whimsical, colorful, special.

Fabricante de Joyerîa Oaxaqueña in the Mercado de Artesanias, corner J.P. Garcia and Zaragoza. Margarita Pérez Antonio and her daughter Luz Esmeralda Bautista Péres sell exquisite back-strap loom-woven and needle-point embroidered huipiles and other textiles, plus a great selection of antique-style silver filagree earrings. Norteño women in the know shop here.  Good price to quality ratio. email: joyasdeoaxaca_2000@yahoo.com.mx or cellular 044 (951) 516-6375.

As of this writing, the exchange rate is 13.2 pesos to the dollar.  Everything is a fantastic buy.  In my humble opinion, there is no need to bargain in this environment that is favorable to the tourist.  Bargaining tends to be a more acceptable practice on the street that from a gallery owner or shopkeeper!  However, keep in mind, that prices are low to start with and we are doing our part to help support artists and artisans whose work is extraordinary.

Photography + Art Collage Workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico

Questions? EMAIL  normahawthorne@mac.com

Please Distribute!

Yesterday, Mari and I worked together in Humberto’s studio to create this poster.  The main image is a fine example of how you can make a photograph and then transfer the image to create an art collage.  The small portrait at the top features a Carnival reveller.

The workshop allows you to focus on the medium you prefer to work in:  photography, collage or painting.  You can also experiment with any mix of the three, if you wish.  Our two expert artist-instructors will coach and teach you every step of the way.  Mari is an accomplished photographer who will share her tips and techniques.  Humberto is an exhibited painter and assemblage artist. They have been teaching together for over five years.

Reduced price for Oaxaca visitors/residents who don’t need lodging!

Oaxaca is filled with art to inspire you.  There are gallery and museum openings galore during this time of year.  For Carnival, we take you to the village of San Martin Tilcajete to experience the festival first-hand.

Then, after the workshop, you have the option to join Mari for 3-Days in Puebla.  If you can’t attend the workshop but want to come along or meet us in Puebla, you are more than welcome!

If you are in Oaxaca in February, we offer a special resident’s/visitor’s price that does not include lodging.  Contact Norma Hawthorne for details and special pricing.

More Than 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico–Favorite Restaurants

The list that I sent to Freda Moon, The New York Times travel writer who created the feature 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico, included some of my favorite places to eat in two categories:  1) Where to eat that won’t break your budget, and 2) The GaGa Dining Experience.

Where to Eat That Won’t Break Your Budget

El Gran Gourmet, Av. Independencia #1104, between Juarez and Pino Suarez, clean, quick, delicious local food joint, 3-4 course lunch about 50-60 pesos, including beverage.  This doesn’t look like much from the street, but believe me, the food is delicious and a definite bargain.  If you are watching your pesos, this is the place! Can’t find it in any guidebook.  Where my pals from the Museo Textil de Oaxaca eat lunch.

Casa del Tio Guero, 55 pesos for a fixed-price, 3-course lunch.  Offers vegetarian, typical Oaxaqueña comida (lunch), sandwiches.  Av. Garcia Virgil #715, continue uphill 2-3 blocks past the corner of  Av.Jose Carranza. Tel. 951-516-9584; known for Puebla’s  quintessential treat–chiles en nogada (available as vegetarian). Incredible flan.  Great folk art plasters the walls.  Lots of visuals to keep you occupied.

   

Café Los Cuiles — Cafe with a Conscience! Av. Abasolo between Alcala and 5 de Mayo, across from the outdoor artisan market. Plazuela La Bastida #115.  Ex-pat heaven with locals who love it, too! Comfy little spot with great omelets, waffles, and traditional Mexican fare, free Wi-Fi, which means that sometimes it’s difficult to find a table.  50-80 pesos.  Office away from home.

La Zandunga, Av. Garcia Virgil at the corner of Jesus Carranza, cater-corner to La Biznaga, traditional Isthmus of Tehuantepec cooking, delicious mole negro, tamales steamed in banana leaves, moderate $$ 80-120 pesos; maybe 10 tables; extensive mescal tasting assortment; Aurora Toledo owner is from Juchitan. Telephone: 951/516-2265

Terranova on the Zocalo, outdoor café, moderately priced. Excellent tortas made with whole grain rolls and great people-watching.  There are many restaurants that ring the Zocalo where you can dine alfresco.  I particularly like the Micheladas here — made with spicy tomato and lime juice and beer of your choice.

Where to Eat for the GaGa Oaxaca Dining Experience

Pitiona—Cocina de Autor, NEW Calle 5 de Mayo #311, (951) 514-4707,  across from swank Camino Real Hotel. Try the sea bass with ginger crystallized sugar, red chard, spinach, salsa Amarillo and fresh blue corn tortillas.  When I had dinner here soon after they opened, the wait staff was warm and friendly, and the culinary masters of the kitchen loved having their picture taken!

            

Los Danzantes:  Even though The New York Times mentioned Los Danzantes in their 2007 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico feature, the restaurant has staying power.  The food is still extraordinary.  The coconut shrimp I had recently was over the top, adorned with “tuna,” the fruit of the agave cactus, peeled pink grapefruit and orange sections, and cucumber, topped with a pineapple salsa with candied ginger and red pepper flakes. Macedonio Alcala#403 Interior Courtyard #4. Telephone: (951) 501-1184, (951) 501-1187.  Enter next to El Oro de Monte Alban.  Also, they distill their own mescal.  Muy rico!

 

 

La Biznaga, Ave. Gargia Virgil, #512, between Allende and J. Carranza, eclectic atmosphere with open sky dining and great recorded jazz on a good sound system, innovative food preparation and presentation. Try the black bean soup and anything with squash blossoms.  I especially love the salmon salad and trust the lettuce-washing here.  Quintessential SLOW FOOD, which says more about how quickly it comes out of the kitchen than its origins.  The red Malbec wine from Argentina is especially delicious.  You can dine here for between $7-25 USD, depending upon your menu choices.

Please feel free to add your own recommendations for your favorite eating spots in Oaxaca in the comments section.