Monthly Archives: January 2017

Oaxaca Women’s Sister March: Taking a Stand for Mexico

We can’t stand by and do nothing, is the sentiment expressed by women around the world who are supporting the Women’s March on Washington, this Saturday, January 21. There are over 600 marches scheduled worldwide, including 15 in Mexico.

Oaxaca Sister March: In Solidarity with Mexicans

It’s the same here in Oaxaca, Mexico. We can’t stand by and do nothing.  Engage Oaxaca steering committee, the march organizers here, emphasize, too, that this is a solidarity march for Mexican human rights in the United States of America. It is in support of Mexico’s long-standing friendly relationships with the USA as a key trading partner. It is in protest of homophobic rhetoric that dominates the president-elect’s messages.

In the aftermath of the November 8 presidential election in the United States, seven women and one man got together in Oaxaca to commiserate. They didn’t all know each other. They are seasonal visitors or permanent residents who live here much or part of the year. They felt they had to do something.

They heard about plans for the Washington, DC march, and knew if they couldn’t be there, they needed to show support in Oaxaca.

At a meeting I attended yesterday, Vicki Solot, one of the steering committee members, says the group, which had grown to 20 people by this time, discussed whether it was legal for ex-pats to march in Mexico.

Jackie Cooper Gordon says they consulted with a Mexican lawyer who reassured them that if the issues had to do with United States policies and politics, and this was not an anti-Mexico demonstration, then it was constitutionally legal to hold the march.

Women’s March Oaxaca Flyer. Please forward!

Solot says that it’s important for everyone to know that Engage Oaxaca has permission from the Oaxaca Mayor’s Office and the Transit Police to march. The police will go with the marchers from Santo Domingo Church starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 21. They will continue down the Andador walking street, Macedonio Alcala, to the Zocalo and disburse.

Roberta Christie, another steering committee member, says, “We are marching in solidarity with Mexican people. We live here in Mexico, we are U.S. citizens, and we don’t agree with his (U.S. president-elect) policies or escalating threats.”

Christie says the march gives us the opportunity to express our concern for the treatment of all immigrants in our country, and especially for Mexicans. “Local people I’ve talked to say this message is important,” she says. “We know Mexican people living in the U.S. who are fearful.” They are relatives of our friends here in Mexico.

Banner that Penny will march with in Washington, D.C.

When the committee first got together, Penelope Hand was there from Spokane, Washington. She said she would be in Washington, D.C. marching with friends on January 21. Penny will hold a banner representing Oaxaca ex-pats and friends.

So far, over 70 t-shirts emblazoned with Women’s March on Washington, Oaxaca, Mexico, have been sold. More will be available for sale just before the march begins. There’s no telling how many people will gather at Templo Santo Domingo on Saturday. March organizers say it may be between 60 and 100, maybe more.

Jacki Cooper Gordon is handling the t-shirt sale.

Where will you be, Saturday, January 21?

In Todos Santos, Mexico, Donna Schultz, a march organizer there, tells me that they will gather in the Town Plaza at 10 a.m. to stand together, men, women and children of all nationalities, who believe, “We have the right to protect our health, social, economic and educational rights.” She says that the focus is on women’s rights/human rights especially from the Mexican view-point. Local women will speak about progress being made in Todos Santos by women and for women that impacts the entire community. “We will sing together both in English and Spanish,” she adds.

Engage Oaxaca organized to create the march. Energy is building and there is more to do. They are discussing strategies to help more ex-pats vote in the next Congressional elections. They are starting an initiative to send postcards to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home address in Wisconsin to voice concern over dismantling of the American Healthcare Act.

They will publish post-march photos on the website Engage Oaxaca and continue to hold meetings.

Through these actions, I’ve seen that being in warm, beautiful, sunny Oaxaca in winter months or year-round does not mean being isolated as a U.S. citizen from responsibilities to engage when cause merits it.

Why I March! #whyImarch

“I march because I cannot stay silent. I march because of my three young grandchildren and the world I hope is there for them. I march in support of my many Mexican friends who get up at 3:30 AM each day to work on Wisconsin dairy farms. I march because we only have one precious planet. I march because of my firm and profound belief that everyone, everywhere, is interconnected and we must stand up together in the face of fear, greed and intolerance.” — Mary Michal

“I believe in the power of the voice of the people. I have seen change come from it, right change. When I left the US after the election, I was concerned about not being present to share in that voice, in the march on 1/21 and other actions. It is imperative to me to speak out against the atrocities proposed and continued against women, Mexicans and other groups…. It is more important now to show solidarity with the Mexican people. It is important to let them know that most of us do not agree nor tolerate the notions of “el muro” and disrespect of Mexican people. We are here not only because of better economy and great weather, we love the Mexican people and culture. I am so glad to be marching in Oaxaca, in solidarity with the march all around the world, in peaceful defiance of the policies the new electorate stands for.” — Nancy Clingan

“As a permanent resident who has spent most of the last 12 years living in Oaxaca, I am marching to (1) protest the incoming president’s outrageous treatment of Mexico.  In words and promised policies he is waging economic war on this country and endangering the rights and the very lives of Mexicans in the U.S. (2) As a U.S. citizen, I am marching in solidarity with women in the U.S. and throughout the world. Only when women are equally represented in governance can we live in a more equitable and peaceful world. –Roberta Christie

“Why I march: To safeguard the gains we fought for and won in the past and to continue the struggle for a better future for my grandson and granddaughter-in-waiting.” — Shannon Pixley Sheppard

“I march to believe I will make a difference, that in the collective my one voice will rise with the many so a more positive world will unfold. I march to think of my grandparents and the generations before them who valued freedom of religion, a free press, an independent judiciary that protected minority rights, the equal rights of all people regardless of race, color or creed, that no human being is innately better or more deserving than another. I march because I have a responsibility to my country, to uphold the laws of the constitution that protect the individual. I march for women everywhere who are disenfranchised, enslaved, abused, controlled, belittled, seen as objects. I march because I love my family and friends and know that we deserve a just government, that the will of the people, the majority, will prevail.” — Norma Schafer

Add Your Voice! WHY DO YOU MARCH?

Oaxaca Love Story: Carol and David Get Married

On Thursday, January 12, at the bench in Labastida Park where they first met a bit more than two years ago, Carol Lynne Estes and David Levin got married.

Carol Lynne Estes and David Levin at Parque Labastida

It was one of those gorgeous late afternoon Oaxaca winter days punctuated with clear skies, bright sunshine, passersby on bicycles, street vendors hawking fresh roasted corn-on-the-cob, a group of salsa dancers in the adjacent space waiting for their teacher, school children with noses in open books, mothers towing recalcitrant children.

We gathered to witness and give support to a great couple!

As we gathered, Gail Schacter, a Victoria, B.C. snowbird, retold the story about how she introduced Carol and David. Seems that she and Carol had gone shopping to replenish incense sticks from the ceramics shop inside Plaza de las Virgenes. As they exited onto the street, Gail spotted David, who she knew, across the park on a bench eating a sandwich after his gym workout. They went to say hello. The rest, as they say, is history/herstory.

Oaxaca is a place for convergences, new discoveries, exploring identity, creating new beginnings. Living here has a way of opening us up to possibilities. It also stimulates us to see what we are capable of doing, being, becoming. This is not a new-age concept, but one more of what it means for some of us to live life more passionately, fully and in support of each other’s choices.

It is more than escaping the chilly north for a patch of winter sun and clear blue sky. Young and older gravitate here for so much more.

From the moment that Carol and David met, they were inseparable. Carol’s girlfriends had to get used to that! We quickly learned that this was a couple who stuck together, so an invitation to one was an invitation to both. Their devotion to each other, I think, expanded our capacity for friendship, inclusion and intimacy.

The park bench where it all began! Felicidades.

Some of us wondered about this unlikely couple, a Texas English teacher and a South African Jew who settled in Canada after university study there. Theirs is a model for respecting traditions and differences.

Carol, Gail and David remember introductions

In 2015, Carol and David traveled together throughout Asia for several months, learning to negotiate everything. And, it seems, they managed this pretty well. They didn’t kill each other! They returned to Oaxaca even more committed to their relationship and started planning their next adventure.

Mary and Carol, celebration time.

Life takes us in unpredictable directions. On a stopover in Toronto to visit family last summer before going on to India, David had a medical set-back. Now, with great Canadian health care, he is recovering well, but they need to be in Toronto until the treatment plan is complete.

Amidst the hubbub of a public park, a wedding!

David and Carol are making Toronto home for the time being, but they came back to Oaxaca to get married at the park bench where they first met. Oaxaca is their heart home. We gathered round in tribute to their love, commitment and testimony to all that Oaxaca can provide for each of us in different ways.

May your cup over-floweth–with mezcal, of course.

In Spanish: Saludos. In Zapoteco: Chichibayoh. In Hebrew: L’chaim. With Bob Klotz officiating and Mary Erickson standing as a matron of honor, we raised our cups of mezcal. What else would one drink at a Oaxaca wedding?

Divine lemon cake from La Pasion bakery in Colonia Reforma, tops off the event

 

 

Oaxaca, Mexico in Solidarity with Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

Please join me on January 21, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. in front of Oaxaca’s Santo Domingo de Guzman Church on Macedonia Alcala, when U.S. citizens and friends will gather in support of the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

RSVP Here to Attend Women’s March Oaxaca!

This is an inclusive, peaceful, positive Women’s March Oaxaca, and is not a protest march. It is a solidarity walk for U.S. citizens and friends who want to join our voices along with our sisters in Washington, D.C. on January 21.

It is in support of human rights, diversity, freedom and equality for all. We stand in support of U.S. constitutional and civil rights, our Latino, LGBQT, Black friends and neighbors in the U.S.A., for adequate health care coverage for all citizens, immigration rights, for the respect of laws of our nation, for protection of our environment, and the Fifth Estate.

This Oaxaca Sister March is registered on the Women’s March on Washington website. Marches are planned worldwide. Please check this website for a gathering near you! This is our Grita! Let us raise our voices and be heard.

Other Sister Marches in Mexico to be held on January 21 as follows:

 

 

 

It’s not too late to celebrate Mexico’s Three Kings Day, today!

Here’s my debut feature story at Mexico News Daily published today! I hope you enjoy. Again, happiest New Year.

Celebrate Kings Day with rosca de reyes

 

From Mexico City: Under the Cathedral, An Aztec Empire

Far below Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest in the Americas, lies the archeological treasure trove that was once Tenochtitlan, the City of the Aztecs. It is known as Templo Mayor.

Archeological discovery continues in Mexico City under the Cathedral

First discovered and excavated in 1978, archeologists believe there are seven pyramid levels beneath what is now visible at the site next to the great Catholic church.

Only a fraction has been excavated under the Cathedral

It was the Spanish practice throughout New Spain, in Mesoamerica and South America, to destroy indigenous religious/cultural edifices and use the building materials to construct churches and administrative centers on top of the toppled.

Braziers used for sacrifice in Templo Mayor Museum

Each layer, filled in with silt by a succession of Moctezuma‘s, who built taller and grander edifices to mark their ascendency to lead the Aztec empire, now sinks into the swamp that underlies the great North American city.

Stucco and painted friezes in the Eagle Temple, Templo de las Aguilas, Tenochtitlan

Most of the buildings in the historic center of Mexico City are sinking, leaning and are at risk of toppling. The entire Zocalo area is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for this reason.

Entry to Carmelite Ex-convent Santa Teresa, circa 1616, Mexico City

Next to the Templo Mayor is a contemporary art exhibition space that was once home to Carmelite Ex-Convento de Santa Teresa, built in 1616. You will pass by as you exit the archeological site onto Moneda Street that borders the Palacio Nacional.  Click here for a printable Map.

My camera is square; the floor isn’t. Extreme slant!

The Ex-Convento is leaning dramatically. Its front gates have always been closed. Over the New Years holiday weekend, when Jacob and I visited the Templo Mayor, lo and behold, the gates were open and I wanted to explore. As I stepped over the threshold, we entered a dizzying space — stepping onto a steeply tilting floor. My instincts were to grab the walls.

Sistine Chapel-esque, Ex Convento Santa Teresa ceiling

When I stay in Mexico City, I usually choose the Hotel Catedral, just two blocks from the Zocalo at Donceles 95. Nothing fancy. Good customer service, basic rooms, clean, and a delicious breakfast.

Torment of Cuauhtemoc, by David Alfaro Siquieros, at Museo Bellas Artes

There is so much to revisit, see and do, within eight square blocks. I never tire of repeating visits to the Rivera, Orozco and Siquieras murals. I never tire of eating at Azul Historico or Los Girasoles or El Mayor. I never tire of people watching.

I’ve watched this dig develop over the last two years

I always ask for a room at the back of the hotel facing the Cathedral. For the last several years, I have watched a vacant colonial house being transformed into an archeological dig from my hotel window.

On the walking street, Francisco I. Madero, Mexico City

All around the area there is transformation related to restoration and archeological discovery. Beneath Argentina Street you can see newly exposed Aztec carved stone covered by plexiglas pyramids. It gives perspective about where we walk and what came before us.

Black Christ, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City

Mexico City is now one of the world’s most important travel destinations. It is safe and filled with amazing art, culture, food and shopping. I hope it’s on your bucket list.