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Unexpected Adventures

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

At Pachote Organic Market while sampling Mezcal, an alcoholic beverage made in Oaxaca from the agave plant, I met Juanita, a lovely Mexican-American woman, who was here visiting her daughter. We connected immediately and it turns out that after having one child in Guadalajara and three in LA, she lived for 30 some years in Highland Park…two blocks from where we lived while my husband was doing a pediatric internship and residency at LA County Hospital. We left a couple years before she moved in but her husband’s brother lives on Marmion Way…the same short street our next door neighbors moved to shortly before we left LA. Juanita has just left her husband and moved back to Mexico.

So, after meeting her daughter, Veronica, in her little casita north of the Zocalo, we all drove to a nearby hilltop overlooking a little valley to visit Willie, a Swiss expat, artist and industrial designer. He graciously served us avocado and tomatoes and grated carrots with lime and salt and we had a bowl of Veronica’s black beans. Besides designing lamps and such out of sticks of cane gleaned from the hills around him, Willie is helping an international organization design an eco lodge in the Sierra Madre mountains.

Veronica, born in Mexico but raised and educated in LA is teaching English to third graders. I get an insight into the teacher’s strike when she tells me her husband never went beyond primary school but was able to purchase a teaching permit. This permit can be held until he decides to retire…or just not teach anymore…and then the powerful Teacher’s Union will pay him retirement wages. He can pass the permit down to his children or sell it to someone else. My landlord, Gerardo, had told me that many of the teachers are not qualified so it was interesting to hear this story. Veronica is currently estranged from her husband…he is busy striking while she is supporting their one and a half and six year old children. The other side of the story.

That evening Juanita and I decided to go out dancing but when we found the club closed we walked up to the Zocalo to find other entertainment. We found a traditional music and dance performance called a Calendula in front of the Cathedral depicting political commentary…boys under huge 15 foot tall paper mache “bodies” swinging back and forth wildly out of control.

Then the fireworks started directly above us. It felt weird being seeing all the sparks rain down directly upon us…possibly dangerous I thought. The fireworks were being lit too close to the Cathedral and started bouncing wildly off the walls and roof instead of up in the air. Then all of a sudden fireworks began shooting horizontally at us and people stampeded backward. I looked over my shoulder and saw that the fireworks stand was on fire. Juanita and I ran smack into a vendor’s tent and fell but quickly helped each other up. All I could think of was the other stampedes I had heard of, but most of the people around us didn’t seem too concerned so there was no panic…they’ve seen this before I thought. So that was the end of that.

We got a cup of coffee further up Alcala St. and sat in front of another Cathedral listening to some boys drumming…and watching a fire-stick twirler…finally making our way home about midnight in the cool night air.

Then came another unexpected adventure. I turned on the stairway light just as I was reaching to put the key in the door when I noticed what I thought was a salamander hugging the wall by the doorknob. I touched him…expecting him to scurry up the wall but he didn’t move. Don’t touch it, Juanita quickly warned…it’s a scorpion! Big one!

No One Died On June 14

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Good news! The magesterio announced yesterday on Radio Universidad that nobody died in the June 14 attack on striking teachers by the police in Oaxaca City.

Immediately after the attack, the rumor spread that at least four teachers, including a child, had died and that the bodies were being held at the police station but no one had been able to confirm or deny this until now.

U.S. Consular Advice

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006
I picked this up on travel site: As I've posted in a couple of threads, my wife and I are planning a trip to Oaxaca next week and had some concerns regarding the escalation of the protest activity. You all ... [Continue reading this entry]

Oaxaca Open Art Studios

Monday, July 24th, 2006
Today, friends Sharon and Sueki, a woman visiting from Tucson Texas who we met at Pachote Oganic Market, and I joined a tour of Mexican artist's homes in San Agustin Etla...about half an hour north of the city. Many ... [Continue reading this entry]

What I Do Every Day

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006
People ask me what I do all day! It is different every day. The first six weeks, since I arrived May 30, all my time was spent running errands and setting up the apartment while trying to keep ... [Continue reading this entry]

Marriage Blessing

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006
My sons Josh and Greg have flown onto the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands from Beijing and Las Vegas respectively. Josh and Amy will have Malcolm Miner, a close friend and retired Episcopalian minister bless their civil ... [Continue reading this entry]

Guelaguetza “Postponed”

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006
The Asemblea of teachers and social groups succeeded in shutting down the indigenous dance festival, the Guelaguetza, that was scheduled for the 17th & 24th of July. Governor Ruiz announced the festival would be postponed but no other date was ... [Continue reading this entry]

Early Morning In Oaxaca

Sunday, July 16th, 2006
DSC00653.JPG DSC00655.JPG The first picture is out the back...trees full of singing birds. The second picture was taken outside in front of my upstairs apartment. Now if the round-the-clock explosions ... [Continue reading this entry]

Khmer Tribunal Starts

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006
The Seattle Times July 4, 2006 reported that the Khmer tribunal is starting so I went on-line and found the article below by The New Republic Magazine on July 12, 2006. These are some pictures we took of the Genocide Museum ... [Continue reading this entry]