Saturday, February 26, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Oaxaca is not only the Mexican state with the most ethnic groups and where the most indigenous languages are spoken; it is also the state where there are the most species of plants and animals. Many of these plants have provided aesthetic and intellectual stimulation to the people of Oaxaca for over twelve thousand years, and served as food, fuel, fiber, medicines, flavorings and colorings. The Jardin Etnobotanico celebrates the state of Oaxaca’s exceptional botanical diversity. Blessed with a geologic complexity that includes deserts and cloud forests, beaches and temperate woodlands, Oaxaca is one of the richest ecosystems in the world, boasting, for example, more species of cycads, and agaves and varieties of chili peppers and maize than anywhere else on earth.
The Garden is part of the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, which occupies the former convent built in the 16th and 17th century by the Dominican friars. The site of the Garden was part of the old convent garden. This space served as a military garrison from the mid-nineteenth century until 1994. In colonial times it had uses related to convent life, as seen in the remains restored the interior of the Garden: Irrigation and drainage canals, ponds, lime kilns, laundry facilities, a kiln and a paved road for the wagons that supplied food and fuel. Making used of the convent’s 16th century courtyard, the artist Francesco Toledo, fellow painter Luis Zarate and ethno biologist Alexandro de Avila, sought to build not just a decorative garden but one that would tell the story of the relationship between the people and the plants of Oaxaca. Emphasis has been placed on indigenous plants, both past and present, for medical, household, food and religious purposes.
Started in 1998 the Jardin Etnobotánico has been planted in plant varieties originating from different climatic regions of the state of Oaxaca. It covers almost 6 acres with over 7,000 collected specimens of 965 different species (11% of the flora of the state). The garden is organized in different climatic zones, most importantly into wet and dry zones. You may visit via guided tours in Spanish or English. English language tours are at 11 AM on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, last for two hours, and provide an excellent overview of both the flora of Oaxaca and its traditional uses. The cost of 100 pesos will be the best spent in you visit to Oaxaca.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
For Valentine’s Day a very fine flamenco guitarist David Jenkins played during dinner at the restaurant Los Danzantes. David lives on the coast of Oaxaca in Puerto Angel and plays in the city of Oaxaca frequently. Sorry but this blog doesn’t have a soundtrack, yet. This started out to be sort of a Valentine Card but Los Danzantes is fairly dark at night not conducive to photography. So to cover Señor Jenkins we go to plan B. Last year David did a concert with a singer, Kat, at the Museo del los Pintores Oaxaquenos. That night the concert was special so to celebrate a few friends headed over to Mason Olivo, a Spanish restaurant a few blocks away. Most everything in Oaxaca is just a few blocks away, or a few more. After much wine and an impromptu second concert, which made everyone at Mason Olivo’s happy, Señor Olivo pulled the plug on the party at around 2 AM. All in all it was an evening with more light and more photo opportunities. After the big splash of color in the Ocotlán post you can see that I’m trying the opposite this time. I hope you enjoy the photos. There are a few more here. If you live in Oaxaca and want to get in touch with David Jenkins, he has a website. In fact if you go there you can have a soundtrack from him while you go through the photos. I hope all of you had a happy Valentine’s Day.
Monday, February 14, 2011
|The head of Morales rests in his mother's hands on the upper left. His head also appears in the upper right viewing his end and return to his mother.|
Saturday, February 12, 2011
What better way to spend Christmas than to join in on a fiesta, and what better fiesta than one devoted to barbeque or in Mexico barbacoa. For Mexicans barbacoa means a pit cooked lamb or goat. For this barbacoa goat is the choice and the restaurant is La Capilla. La Capilla, located in Zaachila,specializes in barbacoa. How good is La Capilla, it’s been Rick Bayless’ choice at Christmas for 20 years. What does one of the guidebooks say, it’s a large outdoor place catering to bus tours. Who are you going to believe? La Capilla has a large outdoor space with numerous long thatched roof sheds, a kids play area, parrots, monkeys, hammocks, and barbacoa pits. If your thinking southern style barbeque pits, think again. These above ground pits replicate the time honored technique of digging a hole, putting some rocks in the bottom, building a big fire, then when the fire burns down throwing the meat in, covering it then coming back in half a day. It is much trickier than that and La Capilla has it all sorted out. The pit at La Capilla is above ground made of abobe. The ‘hole’ is about 3x6 and around 3 feet deep surrounded by about 4 feet of abobe on all sides. A fire gets built in the pit for some 8 to10 hours reaching 700 to 800 degrees fahrenheit. The goat has been taken apart before going into the pit, a blood pudding made using the stomach as a container, a pot of soup with the ribs seasoned with adobo balanced on top and the head whole. All this then gets covered with avocado leaves, a straw mat, a sheet metal lid, and earth for insulation. Now wait 6 hours. Nice that there’s someone who is willing to do this for you.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Enough background, now logistics, by mid-afternoon the zócalo bustles as contestants set up displays on tables in booths, end-to-end around three sides of the square. There is a viewing platform at the height of the tables about two meters distant. Booths are lit so viewing goes on between late afternoon and (you guessed it) fireworks. It’s hard to imagine anything happening without fireworks. Short of being there, you can view pictures here or at another website planeta which has loads of other information and pictures on Oaxaca.