Tag Archives: Oaxaca

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.

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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-2Several 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, Tallahassee, FL
  • Janet Fish, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Elliot Hughes, Berkeley, CA
  • Natalie Hughes, Berkeley, CA
  • Jesse Hughes, Berkeley, CA
  • Carolyn Nakasato, Pearl City, HI
  • Ellen Benson, Philadelphia, PA
  • Melanie Schulze, New Braunfels, TX

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.

garment worker huipil copy

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. 

Food Alert! Guzina Oaxaca Opens in Mexico City

Casa Oaxaca is one of our favorite go-to restaurants in Oaxaca.  Sit on the roof. Overlook the spectacular roofline of Santo Domingo Church. Indulge in a tamarind mezcalini. Follow this with a perfectly prepared seared sea bass or duck tacos. Each sauce that accompanies is an art form in its own right. Finish with something made with Oaxaca chocolate and then walk down the Macdeonio Alcala to walk it off.

Now, when you are in Mexico City you can enjoy Oaxaca food at is finest.  Chef Alejandro Ruiz has opened Guzina Oaxaca in the upscale Polanco neighborhood where Quintonil and Pujol share addresses.  Guzina, which means kitchen in Zapotec, the predominant indigenous language of Oaxaca, showcases some of Oaxaca’s finest ingredients, include mole and mezcal.

It is also pricey.  Entrees are about 350 pesos or $25-28 USD. But if you have an appetizer, a cocktail, wine, entree and dessert, you could spend about $70 USD per person. But, then, Mexico City is one of those places with European ambience and style, a bargain if your economy is the dollar.

Food writer Leslie Tellez tells her story about Guzina Oaxaca. And, you can read more on Trip Advisor and El Chilango, too.

Chef Ruiz is not the only Oaxaca entrepreneur to make a foray into Mexico City.

Remigio Mestas Ruiz, textile curator, promoter of indigenous weaving and textile traditions ,and a man with a social conscience, opened Remigio’s at Isabel la Catolica #30 several years ago  His Oaxaca gallery, Baules de Juana Cata in the Los Danzantes patio, is where Oaxaca textile lovers go to find the very best backstrap loomed garments created with Thai silk and Egyptian cotton by the finest weavers.  These are all available in Mexico City, too.

More good reasons to come to Mexico City, don’t you think?

Looking for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo: Art History Tour in Mexico City, November 13-17, 2015.  

Oh, and did I mention that Mexico City is safe?

This restaurant tip came from one of my readers. Got tips about Mexico and Oaxaca you want to share? Send me an email.

 

Labor Day and Saludos From Taos, New Mexico

We have this last 3-day holiday weekend of summer, Labor Day to honor the United States of America labor movement and workers around the world.

Taos, New Mexico Sunset

Taos, New Mexico Sunset

As I look out onto  panoramic scene of the Rio Grande River Gorge from my friends’ home on a high mesa outside of Taos, New Mexico, I think about the advocacy and personal risk required to create the child labor laws, safe working conditions and the forty-hour work week.

Hot air balloons over the Rio Grande River gorge.

Hot air balloons over the Rio Grande River gorge.

Today, some of us stretch the Labor Day weekend into perhaps a seven or ten-day holiday to enjoy the last of summer.   Yet, in Oaxaca, we still see young children peddling candy on the streets to make a few pesos long after bedtime and a standard six-day work week, Monday through Saturday, that likely may not include paid vacation time, health benefits or a retirement plan.

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I’m on the road for the next six weeks. The stop in Santa Fe was to visit my met in Oaxaca friends Martha, Sheri and Norma Uno who spend their time between Mexico and the “new” part of it. Mexico’s flavors and influences permeate here, hence Our Lady of Guadalupe images everywhere. As part of my experience, I even slept in a yurt in Norma’s garden outside her adobe casita built in the Pueblo style with modern adaptations.

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After a mighty fine brunch visit at The Tea House cafe in Santa Fe, I hopped on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-skirts Twin Hearts Express shuttle service to take the two-hour ride to Taos, where my friends Karen and Steve picked me up.

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We have been gorge-gazing, eating, cooking, shopping and other sundry activities all weekend.  The scene reminds me of Oaxaca — big vistas, high mountains, lots of scrub oak and mesquite, grazing sheep and neighbors who are very fun.

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There are more cowboys and cowboy wannabes here. Snakeskin boots, Navajo bolo ties, turquoise and silver abound.  At the organic Saturday farmers’ market on the plaza  we foraged for wild golden chanterelle mushrooms picked by a retired French couple who live here. Turns out they know people in Toulouse, France, where I’m heading in two weeks to visit Brigitte and Ivan. And, look at that native corn. Perhaps genetically similar to the Oaxaca corn I know and love.

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Last night we went to a house party for an intimate soiree by Susan Gibson, formerly of the Dixie Chicks.  The night before found us on another mesa eating grilled lamb chops and drinking a some delicious red wine. Yum, yum. Our hostess concocted a great sautee of fresh corn and squash New Mexico style, which she says is her favorite mainstay.

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Perhaps the most satisfying part of this leg of my trip is spending it with friends whom I have known for almost forty years. Our lives have turned in different directions yet the camaraderie and bond are constant.

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So, from Mexico to New Mexico, I find myself in the bosom of a shared culture, in a landscape that is familiar yet different, among a concurrent history of conquest, weaving, food and art.  I wish you all a satisfying and joyous weekend as I prepare to return to Northern California to visit my ninety-eight year old mother on Tuesday.

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at the Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico with Day of the Dead overtones