The MACO never did shut down:

When I reported, in the summer, that the museum of contemporary art was going to be closed for several months because the ceiling beams were rotten and needed to be replaced, I didn’t count on the inventive, clever minds that run the place.

As far as I know, the museum has not missed a day. Instead of closing the whole joint, they are repairing it a section at a time, so that there is always an exposition going on somewhere in the building — and, they have added the street in front of the building (Macedonio Alcala; the “walking street”) to their usable space.

One example of their cleverness is making a normally not very interesting scaffold (needed to protect folks from possible falling pieces, caused by the repairs being done on the facade) into the frame for a work of art that is evolving, and that invites the participation of the viewer. Nice going, MACO.

Hey, Im back:

Recently, I escaped from the clutches of the medicos after nearly four months in California, and I will be home until late March, when I have to return at great expense in order to satisfy their curiosity about how well I’m doing – their definition of “well” depends on “likely outcomes”. Well, that’s one definition, I guess. These days I measure well-being a little differently, and by my measurement, I have been having a blast. Oaxaca: very, very good to me…

[Here you can see how it’s done: by sewing panels onto the screen. Next step will be cutting out the holes for people to stick their heads through]

The timing couldn’t have been better, having arrived just one day before Noche de Rabanos (The night of the [giant] radishes). This year, to our surprise – and hats off to the powers that be for figuring out that the earlier you let the attendees start walking through the displays, the shorter the wait – folks were already going through when we got there at 4:00; had been since three. Since we’ve been to more than a dozen of these extravaganzas, we entertained ourselves by walking around the “inside” of the Zócalo, watching the artisans watch the visitors gawking at and taking pictures of the carvings.

The streets around the Zócalo were jammed and the portales (sidewalk cafés) were already full. The beggars and the ambulantes (walking salespeople) were out in force, and there were few police. “Festive” only comes close to describing it.

Since then, the crowds have remained large and the portales briskly busy; the spectacles have gotten ever more spectacular and the fireworks more elaborate (and often).

There is great art everywhere, and music every night. On Wednesday, for example, there was a fantastic display of Alebrijes in the Linares style in the old government palace, and a performance on the atrium of the Cathedral by the Orchestra Primavera and Susana Harp.

[That’s me. I couldn’t resist, it perfectly reflected my mood]

There are New Year celebrations. We observed our long-standing tradition of staying home on New Years Eve, and will attend two fiestas this afternoon, one small and intimate, and another more institutional.

Things will slow down a bit from now until the 6th of January (Epiphany), the day of the three kings, when children receive most of their Christmas gifts. We will be attending a party at Coco’s house, along with her family, her kids, her friends, and many other supporters. Anyone who happens to be in Oaxaca and wants to attend, can get in touch with Cicely Winter at cwinteroax@gmail.com (Bring your wallet 🙂

[Wiring up a giant castillo (castle; tower) with the night’s fireworks display]

An orphan’s christmas:

About 13 years ago (we had been together about two years) Diana and I remarked on the dearth of open restaurants, etc., here in Oaxaca on December 25th, and wondered what visitors did. We (having been stuck on similar days in strange places on a serious family holiday) decided that these poor waifs (of whatever age) needed somewhere to go where, with others of their kind, they could while away the otherwise empty hours.

We began to put out the word: bring a dish (or a drink) and come on over to the remarkable century-old apartment building we lived in at the time, on Juarez Street. You might have seen it, it’s the two-story brick one with all the flowers in the central patio.

We had 75 guests that day, many of whom we hadn’t met before. It was a glorious success, with plenty of food and drink, and many warm memories; but it was an awful lot of work, and we decided not to do it the following year.

Since then, the influx of foreign residents has resulted in lots of December 25 parties, some private and some institutional, and like most of the “old hands” we ended up at one or the other. This year, Diana decided to celebrate my return by inviting a few close friends. Nine of us dined and visited together, a mix of permanent residents and snowbirds. Nobody at our table felt like an orphan.

[A new busker in town. Absolutely silent, he (?) waits until someone puts a coin in the can at his feet, and then leans forward and opens the chest in his hands, for the paying customer to withdraw a slip of paper with a fortune on it]

Look out, here they come:

It’s snowbird time, folks; that part of the year where it gets too cold “back there”, and folks who are able, flee to warmer climes like Oaxaca.

Old friends, who come back year after year, some of whom have permanent nests here, and some of whom have long-standing arrangements with local landlords.

Family who come to visit as their lives “back there” allow them to.

Folks who call or write and say “hi, remember me? We’re going to be in town for a few days, do you have any time to visit?”

The social season is upon us. We are ready. As long as our strength holds out.

[Diana rarely takes “art photos” nor did she here: the dancer just started in motion as she snapped.]

Notes:

*ADO, the intercity bus company, has apparently gone into the tourist business. First destinations: Mitla and Monte Alban. Naturally, the van companies are freaking out. One honcho has declared that if it doesn’t desist by year’s end, ADO will find all its offices and depots blockaded.

*The four major opposition parties have declared an anti-PRI alliance for the upcoming July elections. They have declared that they will take their leadership – and, I’m sure they hope, their vote-getters – from Section XXII of the teacher’s union and other organizations of civil society. Nobody mentioned the APPO…

It was, they said, a difficult process. No doubt it was: the PAN has little in common with the PRD, let alone the Party of Labor. I bet somebody is running a pool on how long the alliance will last…

*The local bus companies have floated a fare raise to 6 pesos, from the previous hike of 4.5 pesos not that many months ago. A large opposition is being formed, but so far is loose grumbling – according to the local press.

When you consider that there are no transfers, and that the average rider takes more than one bus to get to work, this is not trivial. I don’t think I’d care to be a bus driver on the day this one goes into effect — but I’m not betting that the transport companies will succeed.

Five pesos? probable. Six pesos? Hard to believe there won’t be some in-the-street social unrest…