About Andres, the Plazuela Bastida market clothes seller. Who liked my worn-out green jeans and asked me for a price. Of course I gave them to him, along with a bunch of T-shirts, a small towel and a pair of shoes, which I all had thought of leaving in the hotel anyway. In return, I got his address and a photo of him and his beautiful 3-year old daughter. Father of five, forty years old. Andres of Oaxaca.
About the book fair, local style. A poster with a reading grasshopper. A simple entrance portal. Stalls with stacks and shelves of books. Cubes for storage and for meeting rooms and relaxation, in straightforward red, yellow, blue and green. Paul Auster and Siri Somethingnordicsounding doing readings at the theatre, for the wannabeseens. Frankfurt go home. Why make it elaborate when you can make it simple. 28th Oaxaca Book Fair.
About the coffee place, called Xiguila, in the lovely neighbourhood Jalatlaco. Not just the organic coffee shop I thought it was but the best eatery I experienced in Oaxaca. Last meal there, best place. Xiguila in Jalatlaco.
About Dionisio, the artist, just next door to the coffee place. Sitting around his sand painting of skulls, a candle in each corner, and surrounded by skulls painted on the wall. Drinking mezcal and beer and eating typical Day Of The Dead food and drinking more mezcal and more beer. And admiring his art, the diversity of his artistic talent. Dionisio Martínez, artist, Jalatlaco.
About Etla. The parades of people in amazingly elaborate costumes, political or otherwise satirical statements, those clad in hundreds of mirrors, dancing on the plaza in front of San Agustín Etla’s church, then parading and dancing in people's gardens. All night. Dancing. Celebrating death. Etla, outside Oaxaca.
About folk metal. A genre mixing heavy metal with, well, folk. Got to know it from my roommate at the Reality Tour. Found out i already knew a group — Closterkeller singing in Polish ― playing that sort of thing, just didn’t know it was called like that. Dalriada, Eluveitie, Arkona. Folk metal.
About icebreaking. ‘Write up your best or worst or most hilarious travel experience in no more than 20 words, and then the others have to guess who wrote it’. And this, before anyone knew each other at the travel writers’ boot camp. My contribution, only one I could fit into twenty words:
18 bears catching salmon, grabbing into the water, waiting for them to jump, or stealing other bears’ catch. Katmai, Alaska.Most thought the drinking stories or the Asia ones were me. It did break the ice.
About Monte Albán. A pre-Hispanic city. Its pyramids, its sacred places, its enormous squares, its ball games, its museum and souvenir shop. Finally a decent selection of postcards, and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as paper dolls. Best of all, an answer to the question why the steps on the pyramids are so high when the inhabitants were so small ― explanation: Because the summit of the pyramids as a religious place had to demand an effort to reach. Whereas we, in our civilisation, try to think practical. I buy that. Monte Albán, and the lesser Mitla, archeological sites outside Oaxaca.
About weaving. Teotitlán del Valle, weavers’ village. A visit to José Buenaventura, weaver using natural dyes for all of his carpets and other works, except for purple and turquoise, which you cannot get from plants or insects like the other colours. Weavers’ village, Teotitlán outside Oaxaca.
New word: casanueces = nutcracker
Quote: ‘Del rayo te escaparás, pero de la raya no.’
(Recopilación de Elodia Miranda Santiago)
©2008/2011 Bjørn Clasen