Tag Archives: Las Granadas B&B

ONE Space Open, Oaxaca Documentary Film Workshop: Interview Subjects Confirmed

Norma Hawthorne announces that she has confirmed the interview subjects for the Feb. 19-26, 2010 documentary film making workshop to be held in Teotitlan del Valle.  There is still one space open and it is not too late to register and attend.

Interview subjects are:

1)  Magdalena (Magda) is an elder of the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle. She is the mother-in-law of Josefina, the proprietor of Las Granadas Bed and Breakfast. Part of Magda’s daily life is preparing organically grown corn (maize) to make masa and tortillas.  This is a rich, cultural tradition.  Embedded into this practice are issues about traditional, locally grown corn vs. bio-engineered corn imported at a lower price; the traditional role of food and women preparing it; and family relationships in a multi-generational living compound.
2) Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez is a 34-year old Zapotec artist who is a renown weaver, painter and jewelry designer.  He translates indigenous life, dreams, images and ancient symbols into his art.  His images incorporate mythical animal and human figures, and he uses sweeping strokes of paint applied by hands and fingers to his canvas.  Paint pigments incorporate the natural dyes derived from local plant materials.  He has exhibited widely in the U.S. and throughout Mexico.

3) Arte y Seda is a family-owned weaving cooperative that focuses on cultivating silk worms, feeding them the mulberry leaves from the trees grown in their courtyard, spinning the cocoons, dyeing the silk yarn with natural colors, and then weaving the fine silk threads into magnificent garments, scarves and shawls.  Silk cultivation and weaving was introduced by the Spanish centuries ago.  The family of Aurora Contreras has been working with silk for several generations.  Today, she and her husband Reynaldo Sosa continue the tradition in the original style, preparing their own natural vegetable dye materials.  The silk worms are dormant now and the mulberry trees on the property will be leafing out during our visit, however, there are lots of photos of the worms that can be used to augment the interviews, spinning and weaving.

Workshop participants will work in pairs to produce a 5-6 minute documentary video, learning all the storytelling, interviewing,  b-roll skills and editing techniques necessary to produce a short film.   This program is perfect for social cause advocates, artists, budding film makers, and anyone who wants to tell a visual story using video.

Feliz Compleanos y Prospero Ano Nuevo: New Year’s Eve Part Two

Celebrations for the new year begin at sundown on New Year’s Eve with the sound of firecrackers and bands playing throughout the village.  Small groups of young men gather at street corners waiting for something to happen.  Water is sprinkled on courtyards and stairways by women with brooms in hand to sweep up any dust and debris.  A 3 p.m. comida for extended family is common followed by a grand midnight supper.  This is an all night affair.

My birthday celebration begins at 5 p.m. in the courtyard of Las Granadas.  The sun will go down in an hour or so and we all bring along extra sweaters, jackets and shawls.  Federico has packed the special bottle of Chichicapam mezcal and a bottle of white wine.  We arrive to a festive table set with a big bouquet of white lilies and red geraniums, four bottles of wine (two red, two white), mezcal shot glasses, and a pitcher of fresh made jugo de jamaica.  I am surrounded by my Teotitlan family and friends:  Federico Chavez Sosa and his wife, Dolores Santiago Arrellanas, their children Eric Chavez Santiago, Janet Chavez Santiago and Omar Chavez Santiago, Eric’s novia Elsa Sanchez Diaz, Annie Burns, Roberta Christie, Sam and Tom Robbins from Columbus, Ohio, and Las Granadas proprietors Josefina Bazan Ruiz and her mother-in-law Magdalena.  In the kitchen is daughter La Princessa Eloisa Francesca, age 17, who is in her final semester of culinary school in Oaxaca, the young sons Willibaldo and Eligio, and two sobrinas (nieces) who are helping with the preparation and serving.  Eloisa’s betrothed, Taurino, also pitches in.  (Josefina tells me he is very helpful around the house and is weaving to earn Eloisa’s hand.)

We open wine, raise toasts to the new year, and I tell them how important each of them has been to me in my journey of Teotitlan discovery.  We raise a toast to my husband Stephen who is home in North Carolina and I let them know I will Skype with him later to send their best wishes.  Annie first invited us to Teotitlan to visit, where we were the first guests in the trial to establish a bed and breakfast at what was to become Las Granadas.  We slept in Magda’s bedroom where we used a clothesline as a closet and did our best to ignore the shotgun on the wall.  We celebrated Eloisa’s Quinciniera and the boys’ birthdays.  We shared lots of mezcal toasts over the years.  In our wanderings on that first visit, we met Eric and Janet selling rugs in the corner market.  As a textile artist, I could see that what the Chavez Santiago family created was exceptional and fairly priced.  I heard the story from Eric about their use of natural dyes, the reluctance about paying tour guides 40 percent commission to bring customers to their house, the hard work of the family.  I met Dolores, Federico, and Omar and our family-like relationship began.   Elsa Sanchez Diaz, Eric’s novia (girlfriend) of five years, is also part of the family, and has stayed in my NC home when she joins on U.S. exhibitions, lectures, and demonstrations. Roberta came to Teotitlan the following year, also through Annie, and set about helping Josefina construct  first rate B&B, while building an apartment on the second story of the courtyard complex.  She has become a good friend, too.  Sam and Tom Robbins are black and white art photographers from Columbus, Ohio, who I met two years ago at Casa de los Sabores and we have had several reunions in Oaxaca as well as North Carolina.  Eva Hershaw, a documentary photographer, who I have been communicating with via this blog and email to record the process of growing and making food with traditional maize, also joined in.  It was a special group assembled to help me celebrate.

For me, the assembly was more about the people than the food, but the food was spectacular.  Magda, Josefina and Eloisa prepared chicken tamales in mole amarillo, a veggie mix of fresh cut and steamed green beans and potatoes, and a plate of chopped succulent chicken to pass around.  One does not need anything else besides wine and tamales.  It is heaven sent.  I think I ate four or five, but wanted to save room for the cakes, the chocolate layer cake extravaganza with chocolate cream icing, and the chocolate cake topped with flan.  We lit huge sparklers that the two boys, Willi and Eligio twirled.  I blew out the one candle (thank you, I’m only 39), and wished each other a joyous new year, filling up again on mezcal and raising our glasses in salud.

Night had come over us and it was getting chilly.  It was now 8:30 p.m.  Federico and Dolores needed to return home to light the sweet copal incense to purify the house, and make preparation for the midnight party they would attend at the home of Fede’s brother Jose.  For me, the sparkling winter sky gave light to the future, and it was getting time to say goodnight.  Descanse.  Suenos dulces.  The assemblage wished each other happy new year with hugs and good wishes.  On New Year’s Day the party will continue.


Federico Chavez Sosa:  People here have at least two family names.  The first last name is the father’s name followed by the mother’s name.  Federico’s father was Jose Chavez Ruiz and his wife is Soledad Sosa XXX. Federico’s wife is Dolores Santiago Arellanas.  Their children are Eric Chavez Santiago, Janet Chavez Santiago and Omar Chavez Santiago; they carry both their father’s and mother’s names.  This is helpful and important in a village where many share the same surnames.  So, for example, there several people who are named Eric Chavez, but only one Eric Chavez Santiago.  There is a distant cousin named Eric Chavez Sosa, so it is important to be clear about the distinctions in order to find the people you are looking for.    Take, for another example, Josefina Ruiz Vasquez, the owner/operator of Las Granadas bed and breakfast.  She was married to Eligio Bazan Ruiz, who died almost three years ago at age 38 of cancer.  He was a master weaver who traveled with Scott Roth throughout the United States exhibiting rugs and making some of the finest work of the village.  When Eligio died, Josefina had no livelihood.  She was living with her mother in law, Eligio’s mother, Magdalena, in her husband’s family home.  Josefina has three children, Eloisa Francesca Bazan Ruiz, Willibaldo Bazan Ruiz, and Eligio Bazan Ruiz.   

According to HarperCollins Dictionary….. 

nombre de pila, noun

first name

The pila referred to here is the font in which Christian children are traditionally baptized.

Most of the first names in Spain have some kind of Christian associations. It’s not uncommon for a boy to be called Jesús (with an accent) after Jesus, or José, after Joseph. It’s equally common for a girl to be named María, after the Virgin Mary. There is also a tendency to sandwich names together, making combinations like José María (for a boy) or María Jesús (for a girl).

Though a lot of these names are used in Latin America, you are also more likely to come across names which do not have any specific religious associations.