Archive for August, 2020

Mexico 2019 Part 8.

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

Oaxaca! It’s pronounced wa-HA-ka. I’m diggin’ the last three words of this description:

In present-day Spanish, Oaxaca is pronounced [waxaka] or [wahaka], the latter pronunciation used mostly in dialects of southern Mexico, the Caribbean, much of Central America, some places in South America, and the Canary Islands and western Andalusia in Spain where [x] has become a voiceless glottal fricative ([h]).

Oaxaca is a state in Mexico and it is the home to alebrijes. I’ve spoken about alebrijes before, here and here. My major point of this trip was two-fold: Show The Moomins the famous murals and go to the studios of the top alebriges artists and spend aaaaaall my money.

But first! Oaxaca City. Oaxaca City has a large town square. I asked the hotel concierge what activities happen in the town square and he said, “All of them.” He was not kidding. We woke up out first day there and while eating breakfast in the hotel’s open cafĂ© several ladies were setting up a baby shower. One of them had made a variety of amigurumi to decorate the diaper cakes and table.

Nice way to start the day. We headed out, walking in and out of churches (that’s where the art is kept). The first church was a big hit for me because it was dedicated to my patron saint, St. Ignatius de Loyola.

Yes, I know I’m Jewish and we don’t have patron saints. I’m saying if I was Catholic this one’s feast day is on my birthday so he’s mine. In concept. Therefore I have a soft spot for him.

Something I was very surprised to discover was how tasteful the churches and cathedrals were. It’s reaaaaall easy to go over-the-top with the decorating if you’re not careful, as referenced here and here and holy crap here. Mexico held back. They showed admirable restraint and it is to be commended. This is the interior of the St. Ignatius church.

Off to one side was a sad reminder of people’s pain and suffering and their hope that God will bring them comfort. A wall of photos, and notes, and occasional locks of hair. I assume these people were missing or dead. I was very moving.

As The Moomins and I headed towards the front of the church we came upon a family baptism off in one of the arms of the cross (the floorplan of many Catholic churches look like crosses).

We lurked in the shadows and watched that for a while. We tried to not be creepy. We probably failed.

It looks like the columns are built with cinder blocks but that’s just the way the stone and adhesive ends up. I kinda want to see columns built with actual cinder blocks, it’s cool.

As The Moomins and I trotted down the main drag we saw a gallery with people milling in it. We decided to check it out. Turns out it was the opening of the exhibition at a small museum. There was a press photographer there so it’s totally possible that we’re in press photos. We met the artist. This is the only picture I took of his art.

As is required by all Mexican art, it’s a little odd and dreamlike. Bonus points because it includes bugs. It’s clearly very important that all Mexican art have an element of LSD in them.

On our continued journey to the town square I got to see another aspect of Oaxaca I had been looking forward to. Many of the buildings are built with lava stone and the lava stone is green-colored. It’s particularly lovely at sunset.

Finally we arrived at the town square. The hotel concierge was right, a whole lot was going on. There were the tourist buses passing by.

The Moomins and were doing a lap around the perimeter when we heard music that could best be described as “enthusiastic.” Then the giant lady puppet heading towards us. And all of a sudden there was festival happening all around us.

Here, a video of… whatever the hell it was.

That went on for fifteen minutes. Still don’t know what was being celebrated. As soon as that wrapped up The Moomins and I completed our All The Churches In Oaxaca Tour with the cathedral. That was more of what I had expected. Lots of detail.

An important thing you need to know about Mexico is everyone is constantly protesting. There are camps set up all over the towns that look like homeless colonies but they’re people camping and waiting for their protest. We exited the cathedral to a protest.

We got dinner around the town square (it was mediocre except for the Mexican hot chocolate which has changed my life) and what appeared to be another festival parade showed up. But it was not. It was a protest. And it was completely identical to the parade. It was around this time I started to feel like I was losing my sense of reality.

Video for comparison.

But wait! There’s more! On one side of the square was the protest with the music and the people yelling into megaphones and on the other side of the square was a concert of choirs singing Christmas music. It was bananas. Epic cacophany. I live-texted the whole thing to Snorth.

And thereby ended Day 1 in Oaxaca City. It was a bonkers experience that the Oaxacans go through every day. I can’t even imagine.