La Vida Oaxaqueña

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Back @ AU

Well i've been back at Acadia for a little over a month now.
and its still all sinking it, that whole mexico thing remember? its very, overwhelming. even being back at home in my 'normal' life is much more overwhelming than my time that i spent in mexico. superficially i've been fine adjusting to life here, but allowing the two worlds to combine as one and let it truly change is much more difficult.
i'll write more about this later.
I have decided recently to keep up with my blog on such issues. posting articles and school progress and other such areas of interest as they pertain to my life. i'll avoid sharing the day-to-day things like volleyball, parties and such. this is more of an exercise to keep an active learning process on adjustment and bringing mexico into my life and learnings.
I am officially an honours student by the way. BA Honours in Political Science and a minor in Spanish is my neat little degree title. All this boils down is that i'm writing a 60 page thesis on mexico. My sister laughed tonight when my answer was simply mexico, but i assure you theres more to my plan than that. I hope to explore the process of democratization in mexico as civil uprisings reflect those struggles in a traditional one party system. Clearly Oaxaca will be my main case study. i'm quite excited about it, but i'll contain myself until i speak with my advisor on tuesday. and then again until its all done over a year form now. its a daunting task thats going to take a ton of work but work it shall.
anyway, that is all for now.
cuidate mucho...


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sad News

hey to all you out there still checking my blogspot. sorry i havent been keeping you as up to date as i should have been. but as you can imagine its been busy and things just arent open liek they used to be. or they werent until this week.
Now, i got some sad news last night from our program director. The ProWorld Staff in the USA has decided that Promexico needs to terminate its operations in Oaxaca until the conflict has subsided. Unfortunately, that is an indefinite length of time since no know can predict whats going to happen here at this opoint. This means that the group is goingt o be travelling to another part of mexico. To the beach in Puerto Escondido again, then Mexico City and then north to Guanajauto which is another colonial city much smaller than Oaxaca.
I won´t lie to anyone, i am overwhelmed with comphrending what this means for the next week with packing and preparing to say goodbye to my host family and new friends in Oaxaca. I´m so sad to think about leaving this beautiful place, even in the conflict its been good to me. a bit unpredicatble but you learn to roll with the punches, and thats an invaluable lesson its given me. It breaks my heart to leave knowing how other ppl that have to stay here are suffering. we are the last international program of our sort to leave Oaxaca. Its probable that our language school will have to close when we leave, putting friends out of work, etc. Its just terrible to see the economy dying before your eyes, and now feeling responsible for it. The decision is out of our hands though, and with the growing amount of uncertainity it might be a good idea logically. It will never feel good to us though.
We´re all looking at it on the upside that we get to see more of mexico with this adventure Together with some new and fantastic friends. The staff will be taking us around and thats liek having a good friend as a tourguide, they know what they are talking about, and they know us. what more could you ask for? it wont be the same as the program we are supposed to be doing here, but given the situation we have to be adaptable. Oh for those of you considering my academic well being, we still be getting credit for the semester since it was not our choice. it will just involve more independent study than previously planned.
anyway, thats my update for now, i will put up more information soon, bc life should start to become more normal from this point on. but in short, no worries, you can all rest easy, i will be out of Oaxaca by november 20th and far away from the conflict.
011529515692466 this is my cell number here in mexico. its now free for me to recieve calls. so call if you´re worried or something. but it will still be expensive for you! but i am reachable at all times now.

alrighty, thanks for trying to stay uptodate on my life here. more soon.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My Favorite Curandera... Tía Luz

With my Mexican health class this week, Rachael and I got to experience a limpia, which means cleaning. Our professor, Dr. Javier Mendez, took us to a nearby town called Mitla, and we met with a curandera named Tía Luz. (Aunt Light). Basically, she is a traditional medicine practitioner, similar to what we would think of as a shaman. Medicina tradicional is very important here, as you could note from my brief write up on parteras(widwives), which are also a part of this tradition.
So off we go to meet this curandera, not really knowing what to expect. We ended up meeting one of the cutest ladies I have ever seen, ever. Tía Luz, is a almost 90 year old lady, under 5 feet tall, with a tiny wrinkled face and big sunglasses from the 90's to protect her eyes following a cataract surgery a few months ago. (i will be posting a picture of her next week sometime.) Her laugh is just incredible, a huge toothless grin making her eyes almost non-existant, and cackles, usually grabbing her face in an adorable way.
Tía Luz is specialized in Espanto or Fright. She does a ceremony to discover your fright, which is an event in which you were traumatized in life, then she will do a limpia and clease you of that frightful event because the belief is that even pyschological things can affect your physical health. The ceremony starts with her sitting you in a chair and lighting a ball of wax on fire with sand and other things in it, this is burning in a bowl of water at your feet so that when it has burned completely there is a pattern left in the bottom of the bowl. while your fire burns she take a black pottery pot and calls for your spirit to come and cleansing the room by going into each of the 4 corners of the room repeating the call. At some point during each other you call out to her, "ya voy, ya voy" meaning "i´m coming", all the while you are supposed to be staring at the fire at your feet. Then when this is completed, she waits for your fire to burn up before removing the leftovers and interpreting it.
My friend, Rachael, had the whole cleaning done first and her espanto was a big fear of an animal when she was younger, but its passed now. Tía Luz said it was probably a snake. My Espanto, when it was my turn, involves people, lots of people, have frightened me, and there are lots of people around when i am frightened. Rachael didnt think it was acurrate, but still a little curious because she lived in Arizona as a kid so she's been around snakes as a child. Mine, i think is fairly accurate because there have been a few incidents in my life when a friend or someone has really terrified me because of something they said or did.
Once the fright is interpreted, Tía Luz begins the limpia (cleaning). This process starts by sitting you in the chair again, and then she calls your name out again before taking a big clear bottle of mescal and tips her head back and appears to chug it. As a bit of a shock, she spits out the mescal at your feet where the fire used to be. For those not well versed in Mexican alcohols, Mescal is similar to tequila but is made from a different type of cactus plant called Manguey, personally, I think it smells and tastes like rubbing alcohol. Tía Luz takes another big swig of this mescal and spits it out on your feet and lower legs, then on your outstretched forearms, then down your shirt in the front, down your shirt in the back, then you have to stand up and she spits more mescal out on the back of your knees. Once this is done, and you've somehow managed not to laugh while it was happening, she takes a certain type of palms and beats the floor at your feet before hitting you in all the places she spit mescal all over you. When this is done, you're clean, and free of your frightful event!
We had a good chat with Tía Luz afterwards, as well. We found out that she learned from people in her family and started practicing around 40, before that she sold fruit and other things. We're still not sure we should believe them, but she said that one of her grandparents lived to be 122 years old so her 90 years is not that out of the ordinary for her family. She was incredibly full of life, and her laugh was infectious to say the least. She was hard to leave, but maybe we'll get back to visit her someday, if you ever end up in Mexico and want to be cleaned or learn how to do cleanings, look up Tía Luz in Mitla, Oaxaca State. She doesn´t have an apprentice, because no young people in the area want to learn, the old ways are starting to slip away. She's very friendly, and will only charge you a small fee of around 100 pesos for a cleaning, which is about 11$Can. I definitely recommend it!
Mitla is a gorgeous town of artisans and ancient ruins in the middle of the town as well. Its not big compared to Oaxaca but its beautiful and full of life. Again, I find myself recommending a trip to Oaxaca to any and all. If you ever consider it please ask me about it! My professors wife is a tour guide here and i could get you in touch with her! (she's american and therefore language is not an issue!)

Day of the Dead Info

Here's some links to excellent sites about the Day of the Dead festival in Oaxaca. I'll be putting up more information about it as i experience next week, but incase you've got some time on your hands and want to put some more meaning on our Halloween check the sites out. The pics are really interesting and actually the whole basis of it is really interesting. To all you teachers out there you should talk to your classes about this, a fun alternative to normal class while still learning about another culture at Halloween when most students will refuse to pay attention anyway!
Really quickly, the Day of the Dead Festival is from Ocotber 31st to November 2nd, and its a huge tradition in Mexico, especially here in Oaxaca. Its mostly practiced by the catholic population, so i dont get to see much of it since my host family is mormon and they dont participate. Essentially its a time when the spirits of family come back through a door open to this world and visit their family members. They are honoured in altars with pictures, fruit, vegetables, traditional dishes like mole, and sweets, along with visiting cemetaries for special ceremonies, bringing their relatives music that they like, or food or whatever their ancestors enjoyed in life. Its a huge deal and in some families its more important than Christmas as a religious holiday.
anyway check out the links that the Lovely Kacki sent me and i'll put up more info next week!

Offers a good explanation of the holiday

This website offers cooking classes traditional food for the Day of the Dead

A nice, personal account of a foreigner describing in detail the Day of the Dead festivities- some nice photos

Another website that describes the holiday of how it is celebrated and also offers tours and cooking classes

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Link to other Blog

Hey Hey.
So in the wake of writing a few things while in Mexico, i decided to post them so you can read them at your leisure. it also helps me to make sure i dont lose them! its in another blog and i havent figured out how to make a link onthe main pages to the other blog... so check it out if you like...

Friday, October 13, 2006

The situation...

THis is Puerto Escondido. the beach we went to which is world famous for surfing. this is where Rachael and i went to escape the situation in Oaxaca for a weekend! so nice!
This is my group of girls! in San Martin Huamelupam or something. its early but we're still happy because we're in Mexico! another little escape out of the city in september.

Well. the situation is as it was. We had crazy high hopes that it would clear up last week, but it looks like we've got another couple of weeks to wait until things get worked out. Actually, as with most situations, it will appear to get worse before it gets better.
Unfortunately i dont have much time right now, I have to go write an article for the Ath now. But if anyones interested it should be in the online edition next week at so check it out if you want!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pics of Me!

This is me and my Varuna! I miss her... especially today... i'me wearing a shirt she gave me b4 she left! oh have fun at home in school V! oh i only appear to be naked because i'm wearing a tan dress of Varunas...
this is my group of girls that arrived in september! We're at a club called High. we found it to be a rather low experience. Me Natalie, Maggie, and Rachael.
Me and Natalie!!! yes, i'm wearing another dress, shockin eh? i bought this one just to wear for 'fun'!
none of these ppl are me... no my tan is good but its not that good! Varuna, Agustin ( ProMexico Staffer) and Sonia!

There ya go! a few pics of me since i realized i havent put up many of those and y'all might be curious to see what i look like after all this time away! haha! more up soon i hope!!! Be Good! Be Happy!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


random spiderweb i enjoyed in the morning dew
i swear its not scary here!
this is the puppy that made me bleed in two places... devil puppy!

raise of Hands

Alrighty! Everyone at home who´s heard any news about Oaxaca... Raise your Hands! and i mean on main circuit news, not my fancy little blog here! No One? Oh! One or two in the back! Okay cool! Well.... Limme tell you a little story...
So Once there was this corrupt govenor Ulises Ruis. And once there was this very organized teachers union that back in the day started to go on strike every summer to get more money. Then wayyyy back in June, everyone decided to agree that Ulises is corrupt. the Teachers and all kinds of other groups banded together and now we have the APPO!
Now the thing you´ve got to understand about this whole she-bang is that everyone has gone to extremes. Today they were all supposed to sit down again and have a lovely little chat about how to fix this whole mess, but this being the sticky situation that it is... the APPO and the teachers wouldnt go because not all the same groups of people were invited as before. Now, to be brutally honest, we dont have a clue whats going to happen. So we wait. and twiddle our thumbs and go on with normal life more or less.
The federal police could come in at any point and essentially fumigate the city of all the little pesky protesters. but i doubt that will happen today. Who knows? no one! well... presidente Fox might. but he aint sayin a word! shhh... secrets! Anyway, more of this story today is that we're just chillin and livin like normal. shopping trying to stimulate the economy and going out to dinner tonight for the same purpose! Officially i suppose i could tell you that we're sticking close to home and not staying out late this week just incase. and if the federal police do come in Our darling staffers might just wisk us away to the mountains... or beach.... for a perfect few days together! haha! seriously... no worries! s'all good in the Hood as they say!