Tag Archives: Mexico

A Prayer for Guadalupe

Many women in Mexico are named Guadalupe in honor of the Virgin, Our Lady of Guadalupe, who many say was Aztec high-priestess and Earth Mother, adapted to the religious needs of New Spain.

Our Guadalupe is a woman in her early forties with thick, luscious long black hair that hangs down to her waist. Most of the time she wears it braided with ribbon in the local Zapotec style. Lupe is a widow and mother of three boys. Her youngest is age eight. She has aspirations for all her children to go to and complete university.

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Lupe was just diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery to remove the tumor. Depending on biopsy results, the follow-up treatment will be either chemotherapy or radiation. We are waiting to hear.  As I write this, I am waiting for flights that will take me back to Mexico today. As soon as I get to Oaxaca, I will be able to find out more.

The cost of the surgeon is 18,000 pesos. That’s about $1,350 USD, a substantial out-of-pocket amount for a weaver who is always working to make ends meet anyway. Then, there will be the cost of treatment. We anticipate that Lupe will not be able to work for a while, so there mayl not be enough to buy food or pay for school tuition and books.

Friends of Guadalupe:

Make Your Gift for Breast Cancer Treatment

Click the PayPal button above to make your gift. It will be deposited into my Oaxaca Cultural Navigator PayPal account and I will convert it to pesos and give your gift to Lupe.  If you want to send along messages or prayers for healing, please include this.  If you just wish to send money from your account to mine, my PayPal account is oaxacaculture@me.com

Breast cancer does not discriminate and affects women of all ages, at all economic levels and in countries throughout the world. I am certain there are many stories like this one.

Lupe-3Several Oaxaca expat women have pledged to help Lupe with her expenses. If many more of us come together to offer a small gift, we can make a big difference for Lupe and her family and share the cost of her treatment and recovery. Will you join us?

Lupe says she wants to pay back what is given to her by weaving rugs and cleaning houses. We think that’s too much to ask for a friend recovering from this diagnosis and treatment.  We believe she needs to concentrate on taking care of herself.

Let us join together to do a small part to repair the world. Thank you, And, can I add your name to the Friends list?

Norma Hawthorne

Friends of Guadalupe

  • Hollie Taylor Novak, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Anonymous, Oaxaca
  • Mary Erickson, Oaxaca
  • Barbara Beerstein, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Carol Estes Knox, Oaxaca
  • Roberta Christie, Oaxaca

Pre-Hispanic Women’s Clothing Design: The Huipil Endures

Years ago, after I first arrived in Oaxaca, I discovered an incredible small book by Mexico City fashion designer Carla Fernandez. Taller Flora: Indigenous Dress Making Geometry of Mexico, Pre-Hispanic Origin (2006) is now difficult to come by. But, it has become my bible for easy-to-make, easy-to-wear, comfortable, flowing clothing  that is versatile and beautiful.

The book is also my inspiration because it tickled an idea to develop the             Felt Fashion Workshop several years ago.

During the week-long workshop, January 17-24, 2015, we use naturally dyed merino wool to make wet-felted cloth.  Then, we sew it using the simple  geometric patterns to construct the garments. Our instructor, Maddalena Forcella, is internationally-known for her work.

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The results could be a jacket, a blouse, a shawl or scarf, a dress or a poncho. The quechquemitl is one of my favorites.

I was recently in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I saw jackets, blouses and dresses made with felt, sewn and blocked, selling for $500 to $800 USD and more.  And, United States clothing designer Eileen Fisher uses variations for many of her patterns including the asymmetrical merino poncho priced at $248 USD.

There is more to the huipil than an article of clothing. It is a symbol of womanhood, female creativity and personal experience.

In ancient Mexican culture, each community created identity by weaving a distinctive pattern into the cloth.  And, there were different pattern variations for important life cycle events like weddings , births and baptisms. The woven cloth told a story about the village and the woman who created that particular garment.

Art of the Huipil: Mixed Media Workshop

Scheduled the week before the Felt Fashion Workshop, set to start on January 8, the Art of the Huipil is a hands-on experience taught by artist Lena Bartula. During the five-day session, participants create a huipil based on their own personal stories, using found objects and those we collect during visits to local weavers and markets. The result is a piece of art suitable for hanging, if you wish.

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In January, Oaxaca days are warm and mild.  Evenings are cool and comfortable. We offer a perfect getaway from winter that is safe and affordable.

You do not have to be an experienced artist or seamstress to attend. All levels are welcome.  This is about having fun and opening yourself up to the possibilities of creative self-expression in an encouraging, friendly place.

Questions? Contact Norma Hawthorne.

Blogger’s Dilemma: What To Say and How Often

Perhaps I’ve been traveling too long and have run out of things to say about Oaxaca, and what would be interesting to know, see and do there. I left Mexico on August 19, 2014, not scheduled to return until early October, another two weeks from now. I am not there, so daily life is not out there in front of me.  I fear there’s not much to say that is current or relevant.

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I miss Oaxaca.  The suitcase life does not suit me. Since I left Mexico, I’ve visited family and friends in Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, New Mexico, and now, I’m back in North Carolina.  These visits are more than satisfying. They are essential touchstones. There are many more people around the country I want to see and can’t.

In the works are new eyeglasses and a possible knee replacement surgery — a surprising diagnosis. I’m getting three opinions on this surgery. Then, there is getting Rx’s refilled, seeing my dermatologist for the six month skin scan, changing my permanent address for my driver’s license and voter registration, and updating my computer technology — the essentials of life maintenance.

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) advice says it’s important to post a blog at least three times a week to keep readers interested.

I hope you forgive me that I’m not able to do this now.  If I think of anything relevant to say, I’ll keep you posted!

I am inviting guest contributors!  Contact me. 

Viva Mexico! Viva la Independencia! September 16 Independence Day

On September 16 each year, Mexican Independence Day, the president of Mexico stands on the balcony above the entrance to the National Palace in Mexico City facing the huge Zocalo filled with people.  He recreates Father Miguel Hidalgo’s famous shout Viva Mexico!  Viva la Independencia! that Hidalgo made from the church in the town of Dolores in the state of Guanajuato, on September 15, 1810.

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Thus began Mexico’s war of independence from Spain which was not fully realized until 1821.

Known as El Grito de Dolores, the cry is the most important symbol of Independence Day.  Each year at eleven o’clock in the morning, mayors and governors of cities and states throughout Mexico echo it as citizens gather to join the shout.

 

Some think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican independence day.  It is not.

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Mexico’s General Iturbide rode into Mexico City in 1821 to decidedly end the War of Independence. The Puebla nuns, also known for their mole poblano, created the red, white and green  Chiles en Nogada in his honor. He’s the man who designed the Mexican flag.

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The other Mexican revolution started on November 20, 1910. Also known as the Mexican Civil War, the ten-year conflict succeeded in ousting the thirty-year dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz.

Travel every city, town and village in Mexico and you will see streets named for the revolutionary heroes and the dates of independence.

Viva Mexico! Viva la Independencia! Give a shout out!

Mexican Muralist Orozco’s Prometheus at Pomona College, California

Last week while I was visiting my son in Southern California, I decided to make a pilgrimage to see Jose Clemente Orozco’s famed mural at Pomona College. Orozco, along with Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siquieros, is one of the Three Grand Masters of Mexican Muralism.  Like a three-legged stool, the study of one balances and informs the work of the others as they shaped and reflected post-revolutionary (1910-1920) Mexico art and politics.

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During our Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Art History Tour in Mexico City (coming up November 13-17), Orozco and Siquieros figure predominantly in what we see since they all painted frescoes in Mexico City’s public spaces.

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We compare and contrast the styles of these three  to better understand how they interpreted social and political change within the context of their personal beliefs and values.

Orozco’s work is powerful, compelling and monumental. So, I take art historian Valeria’s advice to see this work in Frary Dining Hall at Pomona College.

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It’s summer and I call ahead to make sure of the dining hall hours to be certain I can enter (breakfast is served 8-9:30 p.m. and lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), then prepare my route from the beach to the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, navigating a series of freeways. This is the land I grew up in and I’m completely at home.

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The trip takes about an hour and I arrive a bit after ten in the morning.  A good time to travel since I am going in the opposite direction from morning rush-hour traffic heading toward downtown Los Angeles.

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Pomona College is private, liberal arts and part of the Claremont Colleges Consortium. The grounds are carefully manicured and the buildings convey the ambience of of classic California architecture, combining southwest colonial Spanish influences with art deco style.

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I loved walking the park-like, tree-lined pedestrian avenues filled with talented young people representing every multicultural mix in the world.

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Orozco painted and completed his mural in 1930, at the start of the Great Depression.  There is an extensive art history discussion of the mural so I won’t go into much detail here, other than to say that Prometheus incurred the wrath of Zeus when he gifted humankind with fire — a symbol of learning, enlightenment and innovation — a perfect metaphor for a relatively new institution of higher education.

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I decided to stay and have brunch in the richly paneled dining hall that students call Hogwarts, bought a meal ticket for $7.50, and settled in for the next hour-and-a-half to take photos, people watch, and gaze at the ironwork, paneled walls, and the play of light on Orozco’s masterpiece.

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Note: If you arrive before or after the scheduled dining hall opening hours, you will be able to view the Orozco mural in natural light.  Incandescent lights illuminate the mural during the hours when the dining hall is open.  In my opinion this distorts the mural and the light casts an unwelcome glare. So, my recommendation is to enter the dining hall either between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner.

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Best time to travel there:  Between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. I left campus at 1:30 p.m. and had an easy return to the south coast, again circumventing Los Angeles’ famed clogged freeways.

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