Matria Jardin Arterapeutico is the manifestation of artist Maurico Cervantes’ imagination. With the help of many, many others plus foundation funding, a decayed, roofless 17th century colonial building in Oaxaca’s historic center has become a cultural mecca. It is at once a moveable art installation, organic garden, educational teaching center, music and arts venue, and inspiration for innovation — a fine example of what to do with aging space with great bones.
Despite a late Sunday afternoon rainstorm (much needed, I might say), Matria hosts Sandmann and The Voodoo Cat, a three-person cabaret-style ensemble for our listening pleasure. Tucked inside the only area with shelter from the sky, Kati Sandmann (vocals, guitar), Dabeat Morales (percussion), and Ricardo Chavez (guitar) perform as if the 40 of us is a sold-out audience of hundreds at Carnegie Hall.
Their range goes from blues to folk to swing to rock with a hint of jazz. Kati’s voice sounds like Edith Piaf or Lotte Lenya, extending from alto to alto soprano. She sings multi-lingual in German, French, Spanish and English. It is at times atonal, dissonant and altogether appealing. I hear Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, Bob Dylan, Jacques Brel, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, and Ray Charles.
Not too long into the concert the skies opened and out came the umbrellas. The band played on — unflappable. We stayed, enraptured with the sound, and the rain coming through the porous roof. At this moment, church bells sound calling people to Sunday evening mass. The bells blend perfectly with the music. Two standing ovations brought two more songs before the concert ended. When in Oaxaca during the summer, the best advice is to carry a paragua when going out.
The concert ended. The skies cleared. I returned to the courtyard, rain reflected on organic food, in mirrors, in the bathtub lily pond encased in an old bed frame.
Lots of ideas here for gardening and imagining and meditating.
Matria Jardin Arteterapeutico, Murguia #103, between Macedonio Alcala and 5 de Mayo. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.
What Ants Don’t Like: Cactus
It’s la guerra de hormigas, the war of the ants. For several years now I’ve tried to grow lime, avocado and fig trees, and Bougainvillea with varying success. Mostly, not.
The chapulines (grasshoppers) love these plants, too. Both the ants and the grasshoppers consume large quantities of beautiful leafy green. The local antidote is to tie a plastic bag tightly around the trunk of the tree or bush to keep the ants from invading and then pray. Since chapulines fly, we just wait for the season to pass, water regularly and hope the plant will not die.
That’s why I’m starting a cactus garden. No one likes those prickly, spiny barbs that protect the cactus from predators. That’s why I asked friends if they would like to bring cactus starts from their own plants as a housewarming birthday gift to help me get my cactus garden going.
That’s why I especially asked Josefina to bring me a cutting of her big, beautiful geraniums whose leaves are so pungent that anything that crawls keeps its distance.
The rare and prickly Biznaga cactus
Some of these cactus are becoming very rare, like the beautiful bulbous Biznaga and the tall, graceful Gar Bii Dauu (a Zapotec word for this rare cactus from the Central Valley of Oaxaca). Others are found in the countryside growing wild and can be easily transplanted. Just break off a spear and stick it in the ground. Cactus know where they belong. Here in the dry earth of Oaxaca.
Yesterday morning after planting the starts into pots a huge, gunpowder grey cloud rose up over the mountains from the east. By mid-afternoon a huge rain descended upon us and gave these new starts a proper watering.
For now, the war is over and I win.
Thanks for the succulent succulents, for joining me in celebration, and for making my gardening life easier: Soledad, Ernestina, Lupita, Tom, Jo Ann, Lupe, Daniel, Josefina, Magdalena, Rosario, Janet, Jan, Annie, Roberta, Lynda, Stephanie, Rafaela, Mariano, Luvia, Samuel, Fe y Lola, Omar Cha San, Janetita, Lori, Shannon, and Martha.
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Posted in Cultural Commentary
Tagged biznaga, cactus, garden, Mexico, Oaxaca