Tag Archives: environmental sustainability

NCSU in Oaxaca: Crocodiles, Iguanas, Mangroves at Ventanilla Beach

Rooster in the rain, plastic bag lens protector

It was a rollicking day in the skies over Oaxaca yesterday as I made my way back to Teotitlan del Valle from Puerto Escondido via Mexico City, where Tropical Storm Beatriz was having her way with us.

Sheets of rain cover Aeromar window. What do you see?

Sheets of rain fell as I took off in the little Aeromar turboprop. In Huatulco, the news wasn’t so good as flights were canceled, and one North Carolina State University student who decided to stay a couple of extra days, couldn’t get home as planned.

Iguana, happy on a log.

But, I’d like to back-track. Another highlight of the NCSU study abroad trip to Oaxaca was a visit to the Ventanilla lagoon between Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel, where fresh and salt water mix to support cormorants, crocodiles and iguanas.

Crocodile protecting her nest

The bio-diverse tropical ecosystem is home to white and red mangroves, too.

Under the umbrellas in the rain forest

This is a protected area accessible only by canoe, paddles powered by local guides who volunteer as part of the preservation project of the region.

Let’s take the long view and protect our planet

Our admission fees help support the ecology of the region and the endangered species.

Red mangroves, an endangered specie, Ventanilla Lagoon

We started out by van in a down-pour with no inkling of the storm to come the next days. It was wet, wet, wet and I had to cover my camera lens with a clear plastic bag that I bought from a local food vendor on the beach.

Through the jungle swamp, Ventanilla lagoon, Oaxaca

I think the resulting images give you a sense of the wonder, the tropical humidity, and gauzy landscape shrouded by clouds and rain.

Diving bird drying its wings

By afternoon, the rain cleared. We spent the rest of the day enjoying lunch under the palapa and swimming in a Puerto Angel protected cove. (more about this in another post)

Cicadas hug a tree trunk

First stop en route, fresh coconut juice at roadside stand, Highway 200

We made a stop along the highway to sample fresh coconut, both the milk and the flesh. It was a refreshing break from the heat and gave us a chance to meet some of the local people who make a living harvesting from nearby trees.

Amber, a doctoral student, enjoying fresh coconut milk

Eating fresh coconut with salsa, roadside stand, Pacific Coast Highway 200

An offering of fresh, spicy peanuts — too hot for me!

Anna, Brianna, Kia and Makayla, camaraderie

A marker on the roadside, so we know where we are

Crocodile pond reflections

Professor Ricardo Hernandez and guide talk about preservation, biodiversity

In the lagoon, the families who protect the wildlife explain that they rescue parrots, alligators, crocodiles and monkeys that have been kept in captivity.

David wanted to take this species home, rare color

When the pets get too big and the owners don’t want them anymore, the refuge offers a safe place where the animals and reptiles can be cared for.

Ricky explores the wildlife refuge. These white tail deer were rescued.

Diorama feels real, snap, crackle, pop

David, enjoying the adventure

At the beach, examining the flora, a dreamy gauze

Reptile eggs have a soft, leathery shell. These chicks were just hatched. The reserve has a program to rescue and release.

Baby crocodiles, just hatched

An important message for us all, despite what Agent Orange says

Sea bird takes flight

Endangered sea turtle, National Turtle Center, Mazunte

NCSU, National Turtle Center, Mazunte, Oaxaca

There is also a reforestation project to protect and preserve the mangroves.

 

 

Film Review: Woven Lives—Contemporary Textiles from Ancient Oaxacan Traditions

This documentary film is a visual feast for the senses that takes us on a sensory journey across Oaxaca, Mexico.  Here we meet the exemplars – the outstanding artists, artisans, and curators who are keeping the weaving traditions alive.  This film captures sense of place, history, culture, and diversity.  It creates a vital thread from past to future, linking the emotional and aesthetic work that goes into the creative process with the economic implications of survival for the art and the culture.

Featured are extraordinary weavers who work on the two-harness floor loom, the back-strap loom, and use fly shuttle weaving.  We learn about the process of cultivating, spinning and weaving silk.  We understand the environmental and sustainable responsibility for using natural dyes, and the importance of finding world markets to sell so that the culture endures.

The film features several of my favorite weavers:  Federico Chavez Sosa, Erasto “Tito” Mendoza Ruiz, and Abigail Mendoza.  It also includes commentary by my friends Eric Chavez Santiago, education director at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and Janet Chavez Santiago, a linguist and weaver. (Federico’s rugs are available for sale on this web site in the Gallery-Shop Here)

There is so much that this 1:16:19 DVD film by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Carolyn Kallenborn covers in such a relatively short period. And you can choose to watch in English or in Spanish.

We hear the Zapotec language spoken and how its revival is a way to sustain cultural traditions. We appreciate weaving as a community endeavor to support generational continuity.  We learn how designs are created on the tapestry loom extrapolated from archeological stone carving.  We see how the cochineal bug is cultivated on the prickly pear cactus and the chemical oxidation of indigo.  To ground us, life in Oaxaca is interwoven throughout.

We discover how American students can intern with Oaxaca weavers for cultural exchange.  We realize that it takes 20 days to hand spin enough silk to make one shawl and five days to weave it.  We come to value the time and energy it takes to work by hand — to wash, card, spin, dye and weave a quality textile.

Carolyn Kallenborn’s in-depth film is ambitious, comprehensive, and compelling.  It is a must-see for every lover of woven art, every student and teacher who is involved in the creative process, and all who want to know more about Oaxaca and its extraordinary textile traditions.

To order your own personal copy, go to www.wovenlivesoaxaca.com or www.vidaentretejidas.com

Federico Chavez Sosa’s handwoven rugs made with naturally dyed wool are available for sale on this web site. Click on Gallery Shop Here under the photo banner.

Review by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC,  www.oaxacaculture.com