Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sabado Sabado Sabado

Saturday was my one and only TRUE day completely off, and had a blast. It was one of those wonderful days that makes you so happy to be alive and interested in the world around you.

Raul had arranged for an optional tour of Santo Domingo church (by the man that restored it) that morning, and though it sounded interesting, there was no way I was going. I needed a REAL day off to recharge (and rest up for the night's festivities...more on that later).

I started off the day by heading to yoga...I've been to a few classes and they have always been pretty interesting. As if doing yoga in Spanish weren't interesting enough, it's, um, different here. In the first class I went to, after we om'ed, we had to sing. For a long time. I kept wondering when the singing was going to end, then realizing that thinking that wasn't very zen, and then finding myself wondering again when the singing was going to end because it had been going on for a really long time. Also, about half way through the class, the instructor makes us do these weird lion's roar/freaky/barbaric yawp sounds. It's very strange and it's all that Adrien, Katy and I can do to keep from cracking up.

I followed up yoga with a trip to the organic market for some breakfast. I met Tomo there and we ate and agreed to work on our personal projects together later that day. As part of the class, Raul is asking us to do personal work, something that makes you interact with the city, or involves your response to this place.


Something I really love about Oaxaca is all the colorful walls and the street art. But what really makes this place special and endearing is how people paint over the graffiti and street art with any random color paint they find. This would never happen in the United States...people always try to match the original color of the wall, almost erasing the act of vandalism, trying to pretend as if it never happened. In Oaxaca, they will paint over a yellow building with some green paint. There's something really charming and honest about that, like they are honoring experience, or the past. For my personal project, I walked around the city photographing these walls and finding typographical forms in them. Ultimately, I am making a typeface out of my images. Here's what I have so far (I am missing several letters still, like G and Z):


I am naming the typeface Fantasmas (ghosts). The extra bonus to this project is that I got to walk around the city, on streets and blocks I hadn't traveled yet, seeing things that weren't on the "main drag" in Oaxaca.

I also helped Tomo with his personal project. He had me videotape him as he was walking backwards through the city. Afterwards, he reversed the tape. it turned out SUPER cool. I'll post it at some point if he ever gets it on YouTube or something. We got a lot of strange stares from people on the street.

After walking through the city, I was pretty sweaty, so I went over to the hotel to go swimming. It was nice to cool off for a bit and relax in the sun, and that's pretty much how I spent the rest of my afternoon...resting up for the evening's festivities.

As I mentioned in some previous posts, the Oaxaca class is like a big happy family. There are tons of people who live in Oaxaca who just sort of orbit around the program. Well, two of these people are Luisa, an artist from Colombia (I posted a picture of her glass piece--the one I saw at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City), and Gustavo, this guy who owns a small boutique/gallery in Oaxaca that carries some really interesting pieces (usually they are an intersection of design and local artisanry...right up our alley!). Anyway, Gustavo just moved his store to a new location, so he had a grand opening party at the new location. We hung out there, drinking mezcal for about 2 hours, then it was on to a show honoring Colombian artists (where Lusia was showing). They were playing Colombian music at the party and it was super fun! We were all dancing and drinking and just having an excellent time.

OK, the next thing we did...might just rank up there with Lucha Libre as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In the south of the Oaxacan state, some small villages throw a huge ball (I believe in conjunction with the guelaguetza, though I could be wrong about that) called a vela. They elect a queen, and that queen has attendants, etc. Everyone dresses up in their traditional garments and it's a huge deal. Well, in Oaxaca, the most progressive and gay-friendly states in the country of Mexico, this custom also gets practiced. With drag queens. And they are FABULOUS!!!

Here is this year's queen, right after she got crowned:


And here is last year's queen:


Here I am with the queen from two years ago (center), and her partner:


One really funny thing about the vela is that with your entry fee of 150 pesos, you also get a case of beer. Here is Luisa and her friend, carrying in their cases of beer:


The dresses and hairpieces are just gorgeous:


It was a BLAST. We danced all night to traditional Mexican music, drinking beers and getting hit on by both men and women alike. What can I say? WOW.

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