Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mercado de Abastos

Flor De Calabaza Wreath
Mr friend, Santiago the farmer, phoned early one morning to say his ride to Guadalajara had flaked on him and Santiago was in need of a ride to the Mercado de Abastos in 10 a.m.!  I quickly rearranged my appointments and 15 mins. later we were on the highway to the big city.
The Mercado de Abastos is the local distribution, wholesale market in the city of Guadalajara, made up of approximate 60 hectares and over 2000 food and grain stalls.

The food stalls are made up of fruit, legume, dairy product, cereals and grain, and various sundry products (abarrotes).

The number of families that are dependent on the general activities of the Mercado de Abastos numbers in the 10,000's and there are approximately 45,000 people who act as commercial and transport agents effected by the daily activity in this is huge!

Food from this market is distributed daily throughout most of Mexico (see distribution map below).

Influencia comercial del Mercado de Abastos de Guadalajara

The Mercado de Abastos extends its reach to most of the country.  40% of the product that moves through this market is done in national territories, with exportation making up most of the pie.

The Mercado De Abastos looms large on the Guadalajara skyline
As luck and traffic would have it, we made the food delivery deadline.  Santiago specializes in unusual foods, foods that you cannot find easily in Mexico...and his freshly harvested snap peas were a prize that needed to be at the Mercado to a new buyer's stall on time in order to cement this first sale and the provider/buyer relationship.
Our work done, we decided to stroll the market to buy our own produce, check competitor's prices and make a morning of our outing. Santiago's wife Marisela and his son Ivan were with us that day and this was their very first visit to the Mercado.  The first thing we noticed was that the Xmas craze had struck....most of the vendor's stalls were decorated in holiday garb.

Ivan Finds His Tree

And the Xmas tree vendors were out enforce...the trees we examined came from Oregon...and make the trek via railroad.  We noticed they were surprising fresh.
Sorting Oranges
You have to understand that for a grower of food and lover of nature and its product, the Mercado de Abastos is like being in Disneyland.
Ivan Plays
And like with most things in our lives, my good friend Ivan showed me just how much fun this market could be.
We were struck with the variety of foods here, with their freshness and low prices.  Apparently this is the place to come to purchase beautiful abundance. 
Along with food, any product related to or needed for the sales and movement of the food could be found.  We were taken with the rapidity and ease this box maker exhibited in his work.
Box Makin'

$1,800.00 Pesos Per Kilo!

We were also struck with the effect that technology has on the food.  These small round chiles were priced at $1,800.00 pesos per kilo!  Apparently they are grown from genetically modified seed and will not reproduce in the wild after the first harvest.  Only by having a certain bird eat the seed, passing it through its system can the seeds be replanted and the new plant produce new chiles.  Because of this odd symbiotic relationship, the price is astronomical.
After a bit of shopping we were hungry...and Santiago knew just the stall for breakfast.  On the way, delicious delicacies tempted our hunger.


We feasted on traditional Mexican breakfast items complete with freshly handmade tortillas and were even treated to a strolling serenade during the meal....ah, life is good!

Post Halloween Pumpkin
As in any retail world, the past items were on sale, such as this post Halloween pumpkin.  Ivan hoisted the beauty, just barely able to lift it.  I thought it would make a heck of a pie!

Pipe Scorpion
As our shopping trip came to an end we happened upon a pipe cleaner sculptor.  His figures were beautifully crafted that he captured the essence of the animals he was modeling.  Art and craft are part of our everyday world here.  These skills are never taken for granted.
 Pipe Cleaner Artisan
And so Ivan and I chose a red and black tarantula as our take home treasure.  It sat on the dashboard for the ride home to the lake...and now adorns Ivan's bedroom, a beautiful reminder of our enjoyable day together.  Ivan says I can borrow the tarantula anytime I want.  I like knowing we can share the world's gifts.
One is wise to cultivate the tree that bears fruit in our soul
- Henry David Thoreau
With Love

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dia De Los Muertos

Patzcuarro, Michoacan 2012

Muerte Relaxin' En La Capital

We'd been itchin' to get back to Patzcuarro, Michoacan...Pueblo Magico and the most beautiful state of all the Mexican states (at least in my opinion).  Dia De Los Muertos is the most special time of all to be we coordinated with our friends Charis (human), Craig (sometimes human), Charlie (canine), Girlfriend (canine) and Dulce (falcon) to take a road trip from Lake Chapala to Pazcuarro, Michoacan for the festivities.

Craig and Brad packin'

Charlie says he's ready to go!

Dulce the falcon is ready as well

As we drove into the state of Michoacan, near the lake of Cuitzeo we happened upon the numerous cempasuchil fields...marigolds are used in the creation of altars and to adorn residences to guide the spirits home.  The fragrance and color are spectacular.

Federal Public Patzcuarro Library "Gertrudis Bocanegra"

Juan O'Gorman mural painted in the fresco technique, in the library telling the history of Michoacan
completed February 10, 1942

Fco. as's hard not to get excited with so much color

Purepeche headdress/mask
Rooftop view of Patzcuarro from The Basilica Hotel

Brad finds the Chiapas corridor...what a treasure! 
Yum....pan dulce!

 Shopping for papel picado for our altar
Beautiful Mother Nature Pattern
 Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is sting less indeed, and as beautiful as life.
~John Muir
After a morning of exploring the main plaza, we are ready for some sustenance, so we stop at our friend's restaurant, La Surtidora, on the main plaza for a bite to eat

We are also enamored of Catrinas and ventured to Capula, the Catrina capital...Brad made a few friends along the way

More flowers destined for the cemeteries

Finally found home

We call these traditional Mexican dolls Julietas and see that the local artists have found 
new uses for the old toys. Creativity surrounds us.

Mural of Muerte at the 11 Patios house

Day of the Dead dulces or candies

As Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz explains in “Labyrinth of Solitude,” a Mexican mocks, caresses, sleeps with and entertains death. Paz places death among Mexicans’ favorite playthings and calls it their “most enduring love.”

 Dime cómo mueres, y te diré quién eres

Lovely selection of handmade, embroidered Huipiles.   The selection and quality of these works are astounding...the hard part is having to choose one.

Day of the Dead altar inside a 400 year old Christian church in TzinTzunTzan.  This exhibit of the melding of cultures and rituals over time is unusual
Capula artisan
Catrina festival placard
Brad finds a place to lay his hat in Patzcuarro
Altar making in 11 Patios house
Watching the town of TzinTzunTzan get dressed for the festivities
There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.
~Lou Reed, "Magic and Loss"
Artesania tianguis in TzinTzunTzan.  Although it was Day of the Dead week, the vendors are similar to north-of-the-border retailers....hawking Xmas wares early
Homemade spinning wheel.   The Los Angeles Eco Villagers would be proud
Everyone helps in the beautification of town
Caballero at 11 Patios
11 Patios callejon
Charis and friends
Happily satisfied
Our own Catrina
Meeting his destiny
Charis and Craig shopping in Capula
Young man on old bench
Requiem at the Basilica
On the Noche de Muertos, Nov. 1st at the Basilica de Nuestra Sra. de la Salud, Patzcuarro we were treated to Mozart's Requiem, performed beautifully by the Orquestra Sinfonica de Michoacan.  As with most cultural events in Mexico, this one was free admittance, open to anyone who wanted to drift in and listen
This church was built by Vasco de Quiroga over a pre-Hispanic ceremonial site to function as the Cathedral of Michoacán. Vasco de Quiroga's original project was ambitious, with five naves surrounding a cupola, but the Spanish Crown thought the project inappropriate and only one of the naves was built. The church served as the Cathedral until 1850, when that function was moved to Valladolid (now Morelia). This church was designated a basilica in 1924
Colty runs through town
Marigold Man
Venturing forth
Mujeres de la Gran Plaza
These women, creators and vendors of traditional weavings, gift visitors with their beauty
Ocumicho Stand
As we ventured through the "hippy callejon" we spotted a bohemian young man wearing the most amazing embroidered pantaloons from Guatemala.  Astounded, we stared and stared at the intricate work of the fine aves/birds on the cloth.  I immediately thought of all my birder friends and wished they could see them as well....I even offered to buy the darn pants off this young man...but wise as he was, he responded with a smile and an "no estan de venta...they are not for sale"
"Renaissance", Arbol Mariposa
Lieve Prins, Belgium
Official 2012 Dia De Los Muertos Poster
People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive.   It is as though they were traveling abroad.
~Marcel Proust
Just off this glorious street we found the winning entries of the annual Dia de los Muertos Folkart Festival.  The judged works had been selected for exhibition and sale and are the best, of the best that the surrounding artisan areas have to offer.  To wander through a forest of these works of art was sublime.  Below are some samples of the folk art and fine art that caught my eye
 Ocumicho clay figures
 Madre Muerte
 Fantasia Muerte
 Gauche on papel
Sor Juana
Acrilico en papel
Brad's Treasure
Barro de Ocumicho
 Our Dia De Los Muertos home altar
 Cemetery, Noche de Muertos
 Cemetery, Noche de Muertos
Los Galleros
Our own Catrin
 Waiting to go out
 Diablo detail
Ocumicho, barro
Ocumicho, barro
Ocumicho, barro
 Charis y Craig buying dulces on Noche de Muertos
 Cemetery Entrance - TzinTzunTzan
 Huichol selling his work
 Self Portrait
Ocumicho, barro
Working Mom
Ocumicho, barro
 Muerte titere/puppet
Main Plaza
 Viejitos Mask
Our lives are brief beyond our comprehension or our desire,  she told herself.  We drop like cottonwood leaves from trees after a single frost.  The interval between birth and death is scarcely more than a breathing space.  Tonight, in her house on a Mexican hill, Ursula Bowles listened to the five assembled in her sala and thought she heard a faint rustle of their days slipping by.  She could see now that an individual life is, in the end, nothing more than a stirring of air, a shifting of light.  No one of us, finally, can be more than that.  Even Einstein.  Even Brahms.  The widow slept.
~Harriet Doerr, "Consider This, Señora"