Let me just say that having grown up in Texas, I’m a big fan of rodeos. I grew up on small town rodeos in west Texas – mostly Weatherford – and always loved the gaudy western wear, calf roping and barrel racing (not so much the bull riding) and especially rodeo clowns.
Rodeo clowns aside (theirs is actually one of the more dangerous jobs, as they’re distracting bucking bulls and broncos away from fallen competitors), the Charros de Ex-Hacienda de la Soledad, just southwest of Oaxaca City, offered all that and more on Sunday, plus chicas in full skirts galloping sidesaddle, traditional dancing (OK, one couple) and a mounted crooner in full charro suit. A charro event isn’t exactly a Texas rodeo, but close enough: it’s a little rough and rowdy and a whole lot of spectacle in fancy western wear with cowboy boots.
I can think of some politicians who might have learned a few things from the meal I shared with friends this past Thanksgiving Thursday. It was a celebration across race, nationality and language, religious affiliation, gender preference and probably a lot of other mixed labels that no one thought to ask.
And it’s why, more than ever, it’s important to give thanks for what we do have because it reminds us of what we need to fight for. It’s quite possible that I’m going to become an activist at this stage of my life and I’m OK with that. A gratitude activist maybe.
November 9 felt like the Day of the Dead, although the real Día de los Muertos had happened the week before. All I’ll say about Election Day is that since I had gone out to a neighboring village to be with my friend Michelle in case I needed moral support, the internet streaming was non-existent and we ended up listening to election coverage on Sirius radio in her parked car. I did need the moral support plus a whole lot of Snickers and some mezcal to make it through the night, but that’s another story for another time.
So through Election Day trauma and even though Mexican Revolution Day and American Thanksgiving have both come and gone, I never had gotten around to really processing this year’s Day of the Dead.
Last night, they were dancing in the streets: a whirl of bright color to the brassy strains of bands passing down the stone streets of Oaxaca. A friend and I watched the parade over beer and guacamole from the rooftop terrace of Mezquite, which has a killer view of Santo Domingo plaza and some of the best wait staff in the city. It’s the beginning of Guelaguetza month, when Oaxaca’s 16 different indigenous groups get a chance to show off their native dress and dance here in the state capital.
Oaxaca was awash in purple this week. The jacaranda trees were just losing their bloom, scattering petals on the sidewalk like lavender confetti, and the whole city was clothed in purple and white for Semana Santa, holy week before Easter.
Easter altar at the Monte Alban Hotel, downtown Oaxaca
Yanet and Manuel celebrated their first Valentines Day as a married couple last month, after seven years of dating. (Though here in Mexico, February 14 is the “Day of Friendship and Love,” softening the blow of what my friend Michelle calls “Singles Awareness Day” in el norte. But back to Yanet and Manuel, whose wedding must have surely been the highlight of the season in Teotitlán del Valle, just east of Oaxaca City.
Newlyweds Manuel and Yanet, Teotitlán del Valle
It’s already Revolution Day and I’m still recovering from Day of the Dead festivities November 1-3. For me this year, it encompassed three cemeteries, one featuring a full-blown party with mariachis and another a grave-decorating contest, a belated birthday celebration and guiding an all-day tour to the home a village family to learn about their traditions for the holiday.
The cemetery in San Antonino