I love taking the bus out to the villages surrounding Oaxaca City. I love knowing how to get the bus, the one that states Villas XOXO to Parque de Amor to the bus with Arrazola posted on the front.
I love the quiet of the town and how the people I am visiting seem to sense when I have arrived.
I love the serene pace of the visit with the townspeople. This afternoon, we watched Saul, the alebrijes artisan, carve a seahorse while Alma, his wife, and his middle daughter painted other sculptures.
I love the slow conversations we have. In fact, as he carved, Saul told us about the history of the excavations of Monte Alban and how his grandfather is on record as being a part of the discovery of tomb seven, the tomb with the greatest quantity of gold and wealth. As he explained how they dug into the earth and used a mirror to first see the glittering insides, he explained that there is history and there are the stories that are passed down from generation to generation (the real history).
Sitting in the shadow of Monte Alban in the warm quiet of the afternoon, I know I need to return to the bustling city, but I linger a little longer.
We went in to see the selection of $3.95 rings. We were told they’d been out of stock for more than thirty years.
When I was a teenager, I spent several summers camping on Catalina Island. After a couple of classes in marine biology at the marine science research center on the Two Harbors side, I can still name sea cucumbers, anemones, and bioluminescent brittle stars. I’m no expert, but I remain (perhaps too) unafraid of searching the water for prizes, looking for clams, crabs, shells, and picking up the abundant starfish. And the beach at Lovers’ Cove, just outside of Fort Myers, is littered with sea life–living and dead (we were informed that dogs love to snack on star fish tentacles).
I fondly recalled out loud to the sun that I once held a star the circumference of a frisbee and placed it as a crown on my head. I was startled as its tube feet adamantly adhered to my sunburnt scalp and long hair.
Yesterday, I spent an hour dipping into the ocean to again stick these echinoderms to my skin. As I was wearing a small one as a ring, I paired one with M’s shirt, naming it, as it curled onto his wrist, Bracelet.
We sighted this bull in a pawn shop in Reno. The jewelry and loan store promised engagement rings for bubblegum machine prices. When we asked to see the slightly-priced selection of glittering goods, they explained that the sign, like many of the contents of this emporium, was also antique.
Most Fridays and during some special events, the zocalo in Oaxaca turns—like Alcala, the steps leading to Monte Alban, the area surrounding Tule, etc.—into a marketplace where vendors display loads of jewelry, clothing, bags, and knickknacks. Those hawking their wares often call out that the items are handmade and/or almost free. I wander through stealing pictures as I go, capturing the incredible abundance and color.
Oaxaca has new boutique featuring the work of outstanding local artisans. Located at 800 Alcala, just up the street from the restaurant El Quinque, Raices de mi Tierra offers a colorful collection of traditional art forms with often delightfully modern twists.
In this welcoming space, browsers will find a high-quality selection of alebrijes (intricately wooden crafts, including jewelry, made from copal trees), metal work, pottery (including pitchers and sconces), traditional textiles from Oaxaca’s eight regions, and woven bags, among other treasures. It is like visiting more than a dozen of Oaxaca’s pueblos in one place.
Not only does the collective feature internationally-known artists, but it is still way more affordably priced than some of the other collectives in town, and the artists themselves staff the place, so you have the opportunity to get to know them and to know more about their work.
This afternoon I had to run to the Benito Juarez market to pick up a bag to lug some of the things people have requested home. I wanted one of the bags made out of old rice sacks, but I found something with better handles to help me get it to the bus stop early Saturday morning. There are two markets across the street from one another. 20 de Noviembre is a teeming food market with all of the deliciousness you might imagine, and Benito Juarez houses the jewelry, flowers, clothing, and some food, including ice cream. I highly recommend it all!
Go early in the day. Especially go on a weekend morning when all of the locals are dining together and joyously listening to music and eating together.
These markets, both, are a feast for the senses.