In-Between, Let It Rain, and Murex Sea Snail Purple Dye

August 26, 2013–In Mexico City it’s raining, it’s pouring.   I left Oaxaca this morning to a full-tilt drizzle that went on through the night.  The maize fields are almost saturated.  Whew!

My Zapotec friends told me about the mysteries of the ancients. Don’t worry, they said a few days ago.  It will start raining on August 26.  I didn’t believe them.  Yes, they said, the ancient Zapotecs know.   It’s part of the natural cycle in time for the Calendula. It will rain throughout September, they said. Ah, hah, I discovered the rain will produce the wild marigolds so essential for Day of the Dead celebrations.  The rhythms of nature.  When we move too fast, we don’t have time to put our ear to the earth and remember our history.   This has been a wonderful part of my learning experience living in a small Mexican village.

A friend sent me an email that I read during the six-and-a-half-hour bus ride to Mexico City.  I am in-between leaving Oaxaca and arriving in the USA.  We are in-between two tropical storms, Ivo and Fernand, bringing rain on two fronts, east and west, one from Baja, the other from Veracruz.  I am now sitting in the shelter of historic Downtown Hotel, sipping a tequila (they offered it gratis, though I prefer mezcal) and listening to the deluge pouring on the soft roof of the courtyard just beyond my door.  It is a wonderful sound. The earth in Mexico is thirsty.

Mexico City has become another stopover favorite, in addition to Puebla.  It’s why I like to take the bus and take a few extra days between Oaxaca and the USA.  I can stay over a night or two and discover another part of Mexican culture.  Tomorrow morning I’m meeting a writer friend for breakfast.  Then, rain or shine, I will make a beeline to see more Diego Rivera murals and revisit the street food vendors I met in July.  What I like about this hotel location is that it’s two blocks from the Zocalo, walkable to everything, in a restored colonial house with great restaurants and textile shops.  Very convenient.

On Wednesday, I leave D.F. on a very early flight to Chicago for a reunion with friends and the Grant Park Jazz Festival.  Then, briefly back to North Carolina, before going on to North Africa.

When I retired from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where I raised $23 million, for endowments, student scholarships and faculty support, the Foundation Board of the school gifted me with a surprise.  A trip to anywhere!  I am SO grateful.  Now, almost two years later, I’m going to use that gift to travel to Marrakech and Essaouira, Morocco, for three weeks in September-October, with a very brief stopover on the way back in Madrid.  I’ve never been to either of these places and I’m traveling with a friend who knows Morocco well.

My question is:  Are you interested in hearing about my experiences in a part of the world far from Oaxaca?  The connection, of course, is the history of weaving, textiles, and natural dyes.  I plan on investigating whether the purple dye once used to distinguish the togas of Roman senators is still in existence on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.  The murex sea snail is at risk of extinction on Oaxaca’s Pacific coast and is guarded carefully, under governmental regulation.  The rocky shoals of Essaouira, Morocco produced some of the finest purple in the world.  And, I understand the textiles there are magnificent.

Let me know your thoughts.  If I write about it, will I be digressing too far from your interests?

Thanks for the feedback!

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