News Fit to Blog

Blog News from Oaxaca?                                                     26 May 2017


News from Oaxaca? Well, nothing earthshaking. No, I misspoke. There was a 5.4 “sismo” yesterday afternoon in Chiapas that we felt up here as no more than a little tickle. Ditto the 5.7 five days ago, and the 4.3 nineteen days ago. Which is to say, the Land of the Shaking Earth is shaking a lot less these days than usual. Only 3 in 19 days! Nobody but us and a couple of apps on the web pay any attention at all.


The wet season does indeed appear to be approaching. The chicharras (a kind of cicada on stereoids) began their deafening morning chatter about six weeks ago to let Tlaloc and whichever Zapotec and Mixtex deities deal with rain know that it is time to get the sprinkler system revved up. The chicharras are temperature sensitive, so once the mercury rises above about 25 degrees C they start ratcheting their wings. ( Sometimes so loudly they drown out conversation with the neighbors and the loudspeaker announcements from the town crier Volkswagen.


Another sign of the approaching moisture is the late afternoon cloudbanks, accompanied by powerful winds that gather just before dusk and rumble their thunder to let us know what is coming. The winds bring down the ripening mangos by the hundreds, and one afternoon late last week I picked up fifteen bucketsful to dump in compost heap #2, which is reserved for mangos, which are acidic when they decompose, and must be scattered sparingly in the planting. Compost heap #1 is for organic, non-protein kitchen waste. #3 is for rapidly decomposing yard waste, #4 is for slowly decomposing waste. Sometime we wet down #4 and cover it with a black tarp so that it can cook in the sun and break down more quickly. The natural soil here is mostly crumbly rock called calic

he. To plant something we want, we (i.e., Lauro the gar
dener) dig a hole, fill it with topsoil (we’re on our second volteo or dumptruck load) mixed with compost, and hope the the bugambilia or cepillo tree or dahlia will like its new neighborhood.


Twice this week the clouds actually did fulfill their promise. The first time was day before yesterday when we were driving home from Oaxaca. A thunderclap, a rush of wind, and a deluge. Given the wind. we decided on the lower route to the highway to San Pablo, out Calle Madero rather than over the Fortín mountain road. We got halfway to the Monumento a la Madre when all traffic came to a halt. A huge tree had dropped one of its huge limbs across the road. Evidently a bus nudged it to one side, and, one by one, we eked our way past. The alleys coming down from Fortín were rushing streams of brown water and mud. At the low places the water came up over our hubcaps. We made it to the highway without getting stuck, and by the time we passed the Santa Rosa Market the road was dry. Go figure.


The online newspaper Noticias recorded the storm. It destroyed 8 cars, 5 houses, and tore two of the six corrugated roofs off of the vast Abastos Market.


While in town we stopped by the Textile Museum, one of Oaxaca’s plums. The current exhibit is of Huipiles from the Tehua

cán Isthmus, so gorgeous that they are worn not only by tehuacanas but by women all over Mexico at fiesta time. Two nice things about that museum: the stuff they exhibit is all first rate, and the museum is small enough so that one can take in all of an exhibit in less than an hour.


We were home for the second downpour. It only lasted twenty minutes, but it sent a satisfying amount of rain down the rainchains into the cistern. It also shut down our electricity. We ate dinner by candlelight and washed the dishes by browned out lamps as the service eased back on. Unfortunately, it was not enough to power Linda’s oxygen concentrator but, fortunately, while the house is on San Pablo electricity, the casita is on the Santa Cruz service, and its electricity came back on full force. So Linda went over there to sleep. Of course, as soon as she had settled in, ours came back on too, so she moved back and I moved over to give her room.


Moshe and Laura, the sweet young couple whose wedding we participated in a few months a

go, are building a house on the bare hills up above Viguera on a property Moshe’s father has owned for a while. They had help with the foundation and the roof, but are building the rest themselves. After all, Moshe and the rest of his family are all carpenters.  Meanwhile, the couple has rented our casita for a couple of months. It is comfortable, and frees them from having to room with either of their parents. The rent? Moshe has done a few carpentry chores, Laura is helping me with a translation, and the two of them walk the dog, feed the cats, and take responsibility for the house when we are out and about. When we’re here, I’m teaching Laura to bake bread.


This morning Linda and I did a walking tour of the property to make the list of what projects we want the garden folk to do over the next few weeks. Down by the maguey cactus near the main  portón gate, Linda bent down and picked up a fragment of an obsidian arrowhead! Our first for the property, and in fact, our first for many years of hiking around these hills. There isn’t much native obsidian around here, so in pre-Spanish times it was a valued trade good. Age of the arrowhead? Minimum 600 years, maximum ... maybe 2700 years?


A few days ago we had lunch at a roadside restaurant called Caldo de Piedra, Stone Soup. Seafood and veggies in a caldo in a gourd. The cook drops in a hot rock and ... ¡presto! It boils up like a volcano, cooks the shrimp and fish and veggies, and for one price you get a tasty soup and a show.

One of the donkeys around the corner has had a baby.


And that’s all the news for the moment that’s fit to blog.


David & Linda