When do we sleep?

The rainy season is over. Daylight savings time is over. Dawn breaks early and sunset follows suit. The cultural calendar is chock full of wonders to behold, consume, purchase and admire; events both indigenous and international vie for our attendance. Indoors and out, morning noon and night, every day – but especially on Friday and Saturday – the Oaxaca Calendar calls out to us.

[We live just around the corner to the right.  Normally, this street is clogged with traffic, but sometimes on a Sunday…]

After months of hiatus in California attending to my medical needs, we are both home at last. October gave us a chance to settle back in, deal with neglected system maintenance, discover some of the new restaurants, reconnect with old friends, shed a few pounds put on while away, and – in my case – get some needed (and much less expensive) dental work done. Now, it’s time to gird up our old loins and sally forth to take advantage of the cornucopia that is our adopted home.

[That’s me lurking in the background, at an exhibition opening hosted by La Olla restaurant for photographer Irving Goldworm, standing with Mari Seder, whose own show at the Bravo photography museum and gallery opened a week later.]

World Court investigates Calderon for crimes against humanity:

After almost five years of Mexico’s “war against drug gangs”, the country reels over the 50,000 deaths and 200,000 disappearances; the grisly photos of severed heads and bullet riddled bodies that appear every day in one or another newspaper; the pictures of grieving friends and relatives of the deceased; the reports of increasing drug addiction among the nation’s youth; and the arrests (and all too rare) prosecutions of corrupted officials at every level of government. Cries are increasing for legalization, and for the return of the army and navy to their barracks: many civilian deaths (otherwise known as “collateral damage”) and an unknown portion of the disappeared are attributed to them.

[Lillies are the flowers associated with “El Señor del Rayo” (the Lord of Lightning).  A celebration of a “Christ Crucified” which miraculously escaped damage when a lightning strike burned down the little country church where it once resided, it is now in residence in the Cathedral downtown, and on October 23 of each year it is removed from its own special chapel and put on the main altar.  This, and the folloowing photo, are details of the interior of the Cathedral, decorated top to bottom and stem to stern for this most solemn day which is celebrated as far as I know only in Oaxaca.  The smell, by the way, is almost overwhelming.]

The bloodbath going on in Mexico is of course under-reported in the U.S., but the Mexican press, particularly the left-center daily La Jornada and the weekly magazines – most notably Proceso and Milenio – keep the issue on the front burner, and the average Juan and Juanita are fully aware of the price their country is paying for acting the stooge to the failed prohibition and prosecution policies so favored by the prison-industrial complex in their bellicose northern neighbor. More and more, the reality seems to be “we in the U.S. will fight the war against drugs right down to the last Mexican”.

We’ve been reporting on the “Columbianization” of Mexico for some years now, and as of now it looks to be well on the way to completion. Que lastima (how painful)…


**This year’s organ festival sponsored by the Oaxaca Institute for Historic Organs, IOHIO, will actually take place next year, starting on February 5. Once again, it looks like it will be rich, and February is a gentle month in Oaxaca’s climate cycle.  Meanwhile, for those who are here now and can’t wait, the National Academy for ancient organ music is putting on some local performances this week and next. More information is available on their website.

**Two articles of interest: David Bacon’s coverage of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations; and a report on a recent trip to Oaxaca by a peace / justice / activist / that includes the names of many of the ngo’s that work in the area. I will add this to our Frequently Asked Questions page.

[Sunday is market day at the Mercéd Market, our local covered venue for most of our produce needs. On Sundays, the number of vendors doubles, spreading out to the plazas and streets surrounding it. This is an outdoor greenhouse.]

***For a list of food and cooking terms that recently appeared in the Google group “Oaxaca city streets…” click here

**The big book fair starts this week in the streets and parks of Oaxaca. Part of the action is a new film, Miss Bala, about a young woman who wants to be a beauty queen and discovers that the industry is controlled by criminal elements. You can see it at the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá Friday the 4th at 7:30. Do not expect English subtitles.

**The second annual Interational Film and Video Festival will be projecting their wares all over town. For more details, consult either the Oaxaca Calendar, or go to the festival site.

[This sand painting, and the altar in the next photo, are in the atrium of the Artesan’s Co-op, downtown.]

**Lila Downs will be performing at the Guelaguetza amphitheater on Saturday, the 5 th of this month. Tickets, available at the Proveedora Escolar, the Farmacias del Ahorro, and Ticketmaster among others, cost from 100 to 400 pesos, and include a free copy of “Pecados y Milagros”, her latest work. Bring a pillow, and dress warmly…

**Ed Petersen, a long-time volunteer at he Library – in an earlier life, he was himself a librarian – passed away in October…

**The World Digital Library is still adding stuff, and doesn’t have a lot about Mexico or Oaxaca yet, but you might like to take a look at it. We’ll add the site to our list of resources.

What’s in a name?

The party “Convergence” has become “Citizen’s Movement”.

Founded by ex-governor of Oaxaca Diódoro Carrasco among others, it was part of the coalition that elected our current governor, Gabino Cué.

AMLO in 2012?

Cheated winner in the presidential election of 2006 Manuel López Obrador has founded and organized a national group known as the Movement for National Regeneration, whose Spanish acronym is MORENA (brown).  There is an office right here in Oaxaca.  Most folks believe as I do that MORENA is his fallback organization in case he cannot get the endorsement of the PRD party.

After months of negotiation, AMLO and his arch rival and one-time acolyte Marcello Ebrard, current governor of the Federal District, have agreed on the framework and substance of a poll to be held on the 16th of this month which, if they stick to their promises, will decide which one of them should be the nominee of the PRD.

MORENA has been a big investment for AMLO’s backers, and AMLO himself is a serious and ambitious politician.  It’s hard for me to believe he will give up on 2012 unless Ebrard wins the poll with a huge margin – an unlikely event in my opinion.