The festival of Our Lady of the Rosary — Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario — is a big deal in Tlacolula de Matamoros, the county seat for the Tlacolula valley part of the Valles Centrales de Oaxaca.To give you a sense of it, I’ve changed the blog header once again.
Last Sunday huge crowds gathered under a huge tent for a noon mass in the church courtyard. The sanctuary isn’t large enough to contain everyone who gathered here from the surrounding villages.
Sunday market day in Tlacolula is always a treat and a special day to meet up with family members and friends, and to buy supplies. This Sunday feast day was even more so.
The streets were impassable because they had been set up with carnival rides, sideshows and a midway filled with carnival games. It was a juxtaposition to see women in traditional indigenous dress walking alongside bumper cars and pitch ball games.
What caught my attention was the big top tent right beside the church dome on the skyline.
We could tell this day was special. Women wore their most glittery rhinestone jewelry. Their blouses, skirts and aprons were embellished with sequins.
Families strolled with ice cream cones filled with Leche Quemada and topped with frozen Tuna nieves. That is NOT fish, folks! Children everywhere love cotton candy and Oaxaca is no exception.
Men come to shop for things like cane and iron tools. Women shop for scarves, shawls, aprons and food.
Sheri and I met up at the rebozo section where she was on a quest. These shawls are ikat dyed and woven with either cotton or artecel, a silky natural fiber that is a recent substitute for more costly silk.
The ikat shawl is a utilitarian part of the local costume used to wrap babies, groceries, wipe perspiration and shade the head from the sun. We often see women who wrap it turban-style and then perch a basket on top, child in in one hand, a satchel in the other.
What never ceases to fascinate me are the handwoven, tassled belts that hold up heavy wool loomed skirts, and braids tied with colorful ribbon.
After lunch at Comedor Mary, including some of the best Mole Coloradito in the world accompanied by a shared cold Victoria beer, we headed down the main thoroughfare on foot to fill our shopping cart with fresh papaya, mandarin oranges, limes and avocados to take home.
By now, it was late afternoon and time to go home. Sara and Woofy joined us later on the rooftop terrace as we sampled the San Juan del Rio mezcal I had bought the day before, accompanied by a fine sunset to close the day.
Tlacolula Sunday Market Low-down:
- I like to get there early by ten-thirty or eleven in the morning to avoid the crush of people and get deep into the market without elbowing my way through.
- If I eat lunch at one-thirty or two in the afternoon, this is earlier than the traditional Sunday comida, so I usually always can get a seat and a good selection of menu items at Comedor Mary.
- There’s always a line at the Banamex ATM (located near the pharmacy, the ice cream lane, and across from the church). Be prepared to wait a long time!
- If you have a car, park in the lot across from the Pemex on the main street for twenty pesos. This is where the buses from Teotitlan del Valle and San Miguel del Valle go in and out.
- Prices drop at the end of the day, by four in the afternoon, when people want to pack up and go home.
- Best Finds: embroidered aprons, hand-woven shawls, woven bamboo baskets, red clay pottery from San Marcos Tlapazola, handmade wood toys, painted gourds from Guerrero
Oaxaca Portrait Photography Workshop starts January 30, 2015