Tag Archives: Mexico

Post-Thanksgiving Oaxaca Jewelry + Clothing Extravaganza

I’m going to the US for an impromptu short visit before the Winter Holidays, returning to Oaxaca on December 24. Need a couple of routine exams. No worries.

So, I’m offering this pre-sale. Buy it now and I’ll bring it with me and mail by December 15.  18 Items. Just-in-time unique gifts, all made by hand and personally curated. Keep scrolling.

How to buy: Send me an email and tell me which item you want BY NUMBER.  Include your mailing address. I will send you a PayPal invoice for the cost, plus $8 for USPS priority mail. If you live outside the USA, ask about mailing fees.

#1 All natural dyes, San Juan Colorado

#1 SOLD is from the oldest women’s weaving and dyeing cooperative in San Juan Colorado, Jini Nuu. Our textile study group will meet them on the Oaxaca Coast Tour, but you can have one, too. They use the drop spindle to spin the wild, native cotton and weave using the back strap loom. This is a short blouse, 3″ long from the shoulder and 26″ wide across the front, side seam to side seam. NEW. It’s called a blusa, seams and finish work all hand-embroidered. Natural dyes include Coyuchi brown cotton unique to Oaxaca, wild marigold and cochineal. Size L-XL. $175 USD plus mailing.

#1 Pattern woven into the cloth

#1 needlework seam joinery

#2 Wool and Cotton Shawl with Indigo

#2 SOLD is Oaxaca’s version of ikat. The wool is tied and dyed with indigo. The loom is warped with highest quality cotton. Lightweight, warm and drapes beautifully. 24″wide x 80″ long. NEW. Large and long, cozy enough to wrap around your neck or use as a throw. $145 USD plus mailing.

#3 Wild Marigold and Indigo Shawl

#3 SOLD is also ikat. NEW. The wool is tied and dyed with wild marigold interlaced with indigo. The loom is warped with highest quality cotton. Lightweight, warm and drapes beautifully. 24″ wide x 80″ long. Large and long, cozy enough to wrap around your neck or use as a throw. $165 USD plus mailing.

#4 Zayzelle indigo block print tunic

#4 is a hand-stamped 100% cotton fabric, indigo on white. I bought this yardage in Ahmedabad, India and just had it made into a Zayzelle tunic. NEW. Short sleeves with deep pockets and French seams. Size L-XL. $135 USD plus mailing.

#5 Deep blue dangle earrings

#5. New. Pair these hand-carved gourd earrings made on the Oaxaca coast with #4 for Blue Pizzaz. 4″ long from ear hole, 3″ diameter. $45 USD plus mailing.

#6 Save the Turtles

#6 are hand-carved gourd dangle earrings adorned with endangered  sea turtles that lay their eggs on the coast every winter. NEW. 3-1/2″ long from ear hole, 2-3/4″ diameter. $45 plus mailing.

For Zayzelle Dress dimensions, see https://zayzelle.com

#7 Zayzelle India block print dress with deep pockets

#7 I brought this beautiful block print fabric back from Ahmedabad, India, and just had it made up into a Zayzelle dress, long sleeves, lightweight 100% cotton dyed with madder. NEW. Size L-XL with deep patch pockets. $165 USD plus mailing.

#8 Black Stars Earrings

#8 hand-carved gourd earrings, dramatic and lightweight, made on the Oaxaca coast. NEW. 4″ long from ear hole, 3″ diameter. $45 plus mailing.

#9 Vintage 12K gold filigree and pearl dangle earrings

#9 SOLD Three baskets of pearls swirled with filigree, hand-made, Mexican vintage 12 karat gold with French hooks. Dress up or wear with jeans! $265 plus mailing.

#10 Zayzelle Think Spring dress

#10 is a lovely, soft, easy-to-wear spring green linen dress in my exclusive Zayzelle design, with top-stitched deep patch pockets. NEW. Long sleeves that can roll up for a more casual look. Wear over a long sleeve T and leggings for a Think Spring winter. Size L-XL. $155 USD plus mailing.

#11 earrings from Malinalco, Estado de Mexico, crotchet waxed linen

#11 Think Pink snowflakes or a full bloom flower. 3″ long from ear hole, 3″ diameter. NEW. Fun and fancy. $45 USD plus mailing.

#12 elegant VINTAGE earrings, Gusanos, silver on gold filigree with white sapphires

#12 is a vintage Oaxaca pair of earrings with 14k gold backs and hooks, studded with sparkly white sapphires set in silver, with drop pearls. 2-1/4″ long x 3/4″ wide. $185 USD plus mailing.

#13 Lavender blue gourd earrings

#13 earrings hand carved from gourds on the Oaxaca coast, NEW, 3-1/2″ long from ear hole, 2-3/4″ diameter. $55 USD plus mailing.

#14 Zayzelle natural cotton dress

#14 SOLD our Zayzelle pattern in a soft, cream manta cotton woven in Puebla state. NEW. The fabric has a subtle cross-hatch pattern that gives it texture, luxurious and comfortable. Size L-XL.  $135 USD plus mailing.

#15A and #15B two 12K gold filigree rings, priced each. Vintage.

#15A (top) and #15 B SOLD (bottom)are $65 USD each plus mailing. They are 12K gold filigree and handmade in the state of Veracruz. Size 5-1/2 or 6. Can be sized by a jeweler. Please specify which you want.

#16 Hot Tomato Red Dangle Earrings

#16 are hand-carved gourd earrings from the coast of Oaxaca. NEW. 4″ long from ear hole, 3″ diameter. $55 USD plus mailing.

#17 Verdant Blusa from Aguacatenango, Chiapas, with extraordinary details

#17 All this smocking and embroidery is made by hand in the village of Aguacatenango, Chiapas. Blouse fits size L-XL.  $65 USD plus mailing.

#18 Unisex Winter Green Shirt, weighty cotton

#18 SOLD is a casual shirt woven on a back strap loom in Chiapas, Mexico. NEW. It will fit a Men’s Size Small or a Woman’s Size L-XL. Seams are hand stitched, secure. Side slits. Roll up your sleeves, if you wish. $35 USD plus mailing.

P.S. Two spaces open in our Chiapas Textile Study Tour, end of February 2019.

To Be Continued!

Best of Oaxaca’s Biodiversity at Ejido Union Zapata: Day of Plenty

Oaxaca celebrates indigenous food and handmade at the annual Agro-biodiversity Fair in Ejido Union Zapata. This once a year event is building traction. The main street of several blocks, cordoned off for booths and foot traffic, was packed by noon. The natural food color was beyond belief.

Day of Plenty: native corn varieties with tortillas

Criollo, organic-natural tomatoes + More

Billed as a seed exchange, farmers came from as far away as Chiapas, the Coast of Oaxaca and the Mixteca Alta, the high mountain range that borders the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. Weavers working in natural dyes and mask makers joined in. For sale were seeds, fruit, vegetables, flowers, tortillas and tamales.

Coconut from Oaxaca’s coast. Have you tasted coconut crackers?

Fitting for Thanksgiving Weekend, it was a day of plenty.

Amaranth seeds, protein-rich, makes sweet treat

There is a big and growing movement in politically active Oaxaca to conserve native food: chiles, tomatoes, corn, peppers, squash, coffee, chocolate, amaranth, jicama and more. There are so many different varieties of each.

Sierra Mixe handmade ceramics, utilitarian beauty

One of the leaders, Rafael Meir, was present along with government representatives of Oaxaca and Mexico. Leaders are becoming more conscious about the importance of keeping GMO contained to what has already infiltrated the commercial tortilla business. Yet, there is still much more to do.

Public education has so much to do with the success of programs like this one.

House made sesame crackers — yummy, or buy seeds and make your own.

Backstrap loomed textiles rom San Juan Colorado

I was so happy to see Yuridia Lorenzo and her mom, Alegoria Lorenzo Quiroz from the Colectivo Jini Nuu in San Juan Colorado. They were selling their beautiful blouses and dresses made with native coyuchi, white and green cotton and natural dyes. Participants in my Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour will visit them in mid-January.

Alegoria Lorenzo Quiroz and me.

If you missed it, I hope you will mark your calendar for next year. Although the dates may float, so I’m not sure exactly when it will be held. Check out these Facebook pages to keep track: Rafael Meir, who is director of Fundacion Tortilla de Maiz Mexicana. Watch a VIDEO of the fair. 

Zapotec words describe native food

Another benefit of attending is to taste and buy mezcal, Oaxaca’s organic, artisanal alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented agave.  I bought a bottle of sylvestre (wild) jabali mezcal grown and distilled in Teozacoalco in the Mixteca Alta  by Mezcalero Javier Cruz. Que Rico!

San Juan Colorado Katyi Yaa coop, native coyuchi cotton, natural dyes

I’m noticing that Oaxaca is becoming inundated with foodies and followers of What’s Hot on the food and beverage scene. We’ve got free walking tours led by guides holding colorful umbrellas and flags downtown who get paid with tips. We have USA restauranteurs coming for cooking classes to bring the cuisine home. Rent prices are escalating in the historic center. If one lives on the peso, everything is at a premium now. Those of us who live here always ask if the influx of tourist dollars trickles down to the pueblos, the makers, the field and kitchen workers.  What is your experience?

Corn, snake, cacao symbols on wool, back-strap loom

Back-strap loomed wool, San Pablo Villa de Mitla, corn, snake, cacao symbols. That’s why fairs like this one are so important — to buy direct from those who produce.  Slow food. Slow fashion. Slow mezcal. Saludos.

Know the Natural Richness of Mexico

Chiles, squash, Mexico’s gift

 

 

Biodiversity Fair in Union Zapata, Oaxaca, Saturday, November 24, Plus New Vegan Cafe

The Biodiversity Fair celebrates Oaxaca’s organic food. This includes not only the criollo (natural, unmodified, original) corn of the Oaxaca Valley. The fair encompasses all parts of Oaxaca State where farmers are using organic fertilizers and native seeds: peppers, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers, and more!  There is no GMO here!  Please come to support the small scale growers who make our food nutritious and honest. Eat good food. Support small scale farming.

2017 Biodiversity Fair Retrospective with Photos

Here’s the poster. Union Zapata is a small village just before you get to the Mitla-Matatlan crossroads on MEX 190 Carretera Nacional.

Meet me at the Biodiversity Fair, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018

My Friday Oaxaca Meander

After Thanksgiving at Los Danzantes with friends, I spent the day after NOT shopping on Black Friday, but meandering Oaxaca city, running errands and in a constant state of discovery.

Discovery One: Hierba y Dulce, a new vegan restaurant tucked in the patio behind Oro de Monte Alban silver and goldsmithing workshop on Calle Porfirio Diaz 311, between Matamoros and Morelos. Check it out! Comida Curativa. Curative Food.

In Need of Coffee: Nuevo Mundo

I made a quick stop at Nuevo Mundo, my go-to coffee purveyor. I love their roast. I’ve tried others and keep going back to this Oaxaca mainstay on M. Bravo between Garcia Virgil and Porfirio Diaz.

Discovery Two: They have a new roast at Nuevo Mundo called Gourmet. Darker and more flavorful than the house blend.

Pastry still life at Nuevo Mundo Coffee Roasters. Great sweets.

The messages at Nuevo Mundo: Wean yourself from using plastic bags …

Oaxaca environmentalism: Don’t use plastic bags.

and stop using straws that end up in the guts of marine mammals, are toxic and contaminate the environment. I say, Use your lips!

Straws are an environmental hazard, says Nuevo Mundo. Use your lips.

Global warming is real. Of course, eliminating straws from our juice sipping habits is only a small part of what it takes to reserve environmental destruction. Let’s get more teeth into the EPA and tell our governments to control big business emissions that pollute our environment.

Happy Thanksgiving From Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

I woke up early with the wind at my back, ready to get a jump on the Day of Giving Thanks. In Mexico we call it Dia de Accion de Gracias. It is a good day to take a walk and think about all the goodness of life.

An early walk in the campo, Thanksgiving morning

It was close to eight o’clock this morning when I set out to the campo, the wild, unpopulated area of the village, beyond the pale of settlement. The sun was warm on my back. There was a breeze. The day was promising.

The first boundary marker, a stelae from another century

My three dogs were with me, Butch close to my heels, always guarding. Mamacita out in front. Tia running off after birds and rabbits, stopping from time to time to turn around and check my progress.  These are campo dogs, rescue dogs, dogs who have learned to be obedient and stay close.

Butch (foreground), Mama (right) and Tia along the path

This was a day of exploration. I went far beyond where I usually go along the narrow foot path ascending toward the mountain range that is a backdrop to Teotitlan del Valle, part of the Sierra Madre del Sur.  I imagine this to be an ancient trail, the border between our village and the two adjoining us — San Mateo Macuilxochitl and Santiago Ixtaltepec, that the locals call Santiguito.

From the third marker, views toward Tlacochuhuaya

As I made my way along the incline, I was careful not to stumble on loose lava and sedimentary gravel. Rock outcroppings offered natural stepping-stones.

Moonscape-style cactus off the beaten path. Baby Biznaga?

There are three border markers along this route. I had never been to the third. It was glorious out. I figured, Why not?  Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, I reminded myself once again. Let’s figure out where this goes.

A bouquet of lantana by the roadside, growing wild here.

As we reached the third, I could see there was no path up to it, so I made my own switch back path to scale the hill. The dogs followed. A ridge of rock offered me a natural seat from which I could see across the valley to San Jeronimo Tlacochuhuaya, beyond Santiguito. A perfect spot to meditate.

I imagined those who came before me, centuries past, who sat in this very place, keeping a lookout on the landscape below. In the distance, cooking fires curled skyward and a red-shirted farmer grazed his bull in the lush fields.

Downhill was easy, with a stop at the natural spring for quenching thirsty dogs. Then, a brisk walk home on the back road lined with dried corn stalks and wild marigold fields lining the road.

I covered three-and-a-half miles.

On the final stretch home, between marigolds and cornstalks

Today, a group of Estadounidenses will gather at Los Danzantes for a special Thanksgiving meal after a mezcal toast at the home of my friend Shannon. An adjoining table is with NC restauranteurs who are opening a Oaxaca destination at the Durham Food Court, two blocks from my apartment.

Thanksgiving menu at Los Danzantes, not traditional!

Today will be a change-up from years past. I won’t be cooking. Neither will Kalisa! (I hope.) Instead of sliced, roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, Jacki’s fabulous cranberry sauce, and an array of pumpkin pies, it will be turkey balls and pumpkin pancake at 7 p.m. Nothing traditional about this year for me!

Nature’s display of color, pure and simple

I’m reminded by my friend Betsy, an Anthony Bourdain afficionado, who said, Travel is the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.  And, my friend, Madelyn, who says, Take life with the wind at your back, moving forward, rather than fighting the headwinds that always set you back.

Happy Day for Giving Thanks.

A field of yellow next to the casita

The gift of the season, 75 degrees Fahrenheit

 

 

 

 

Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead: Talking With the Ancestors

The altar is complete. Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead– 2018 has passed. The difuntos, spirits of the ancestors, have returned to their resting places content that we have welcomed them back to earth for the day to celebrate their lives. Some of us talk to our parents, ask their advice, admonish them for shortcomings, appreciate the gift of life.

Mexicans know how to honor their generations with this day that is considered more important than any in family and community life.

El Dia de los Muertos is the homecoming of the spirits of the dead all over Mexico, a reunion of the dead and the living. The old ones say that when the spirits come back to the world of the living, their path must be made clear, the roadway must not be slippery with the wet flood of human tears.

-Salvatore Scalora, Flowers and Sugar Skulls for the Spirits of the Dead,                   Home Altars of Mexico, 1997

The Calavera Painter clay figure above is for sale. $75 USD plus $8 mailing.

I am not attempting to appropriate a culture that I haven’t been born into. I participate and create Dia de los Muertos to learn more about how to accept the transition from life to death and the continuum and cycles of life. It is a devotional practice like meditation and prayer. Finding comfort is essential for the human spirit.

Last night, a few friends gathered here at home in Durham, North Carolina, to pay tribute to those who have gone before us. Mostly parents and grandparents. They brought photographs to place on the altar.

Photographs, a recent phenomenon, help us remember. In Teotitlan del Valle, photos were not placed on altars until the 1960’s. It is said that after two generations, memory of a particular person is lost. Storytelling, recalling favorite foods, jokes, clothes, activities was and is essential to remembering especially in the absence of visual clues. 

We sat around in a circle sharing our memories, comparing how we prepare for death and dying here in the USA with Mexico. Of course, this depends on our personal upbringings and spiritual beliefs, and whether there is any ritual associated with remembering those who died.

I could imagine, as we sipped wine, beer and mezcal, ate tamales and enchiladas, and told stories of mothers and fathers and grandparents and siblings, that we could have sat around a family gravesite in Teotitlan del Valle, laughing, bringing up tears and feeling connected — to each other and to those who passed on.

We told stories about the love of music, literature, eating and drinking, a good joke, growing up on humble southern farms, sprawling suburbs, gritty city centers, of immigrant and refugee families, of missing a sibling to reminisce and remember details. Someone said that one never recovers from the loss of a mother, another that her father was the most important support in her life. We were real, talking about function, dysfunction and love.

Next year, 2019, I will be in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, with Professor Robin Greene. We will be leading the Day of the Dead Women’s Writing Retreat. A year away and we are half-filled — five spaces open. Will you join us?

The Aztecs, I read, believed that death fed life, that human sacrifice was necessary to feed the earth to make sure there is enough rain, fertile seeds and soil, an abundance of food. Death was not feared but celebrated, honored, even welcomed.

Zapotecs practiced ancestor worship and buried their dead in the courtyard of family homes so they would be close and could consult with them regularly. Bones are swept aside every ten years to make room for the next ancestor in the same resting space. This is still common in many villages.

I honor my parents and grandparents by remembering them. Sometimes, I feel they are with me, especially when I am saying or doing something that is exactly as they would have said or done it (or so it feels). I think about my own mortality and try not to be afraid, to accept the natural order of life that is synonymous with death. Will I live on? Yes, in the memories of my family and those I have touched. Is there comfort in that? Perhaps.

Day of the Dead diorama, tin, handmade. For Sale. $85 USD plus $8 mailing. Folds flat.

As we search for meaning, for connection, for intimacy, Day of the Dead gives us pause to examine our own lives and those who came before, those who gave us life, and to ride the tailwinds and not fight the headwinds.

Do you observe Day of the Dead? Where? How?