Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Random shots from random walks and the one that rode away

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He was too swift racing toward the altar in the Cathedral. Caught with camera tucked away in my purse as he sped down the main aisles and then over to this side chapel so sacred there is often a waiting line of faithful outside. But in he zipped on his tricycle, unaccompanied and unreprimanded.

Yes, this photo is so poor it should not be included and certainly not front and center. But the moment was so memorable, it demands to be shared with this equally undisciplined grouping of images from our wanderings in Oaxaca.

 

Peace be with you in the park… and in Mexico

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From a distance they resemble chubby bunnies playing ring around the rosie around the Confederate Monument in Travis Park, but their messages of peace and love from San Antonio’s sister city of Monterrey, Mexico, become quickly evident. Peaceful valentines from a country pleading for peace.

We had just walked by the bell of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, the bell Sam Maverick supposedly forged from a cannon used during the Battle of the Alamo. Coming up to the cannon “guarding” the monument in Travis Park, we found the board announcing the peaceful exchange of art leaning against it. The statue memorializing the Confederate dead temporarily is framed by 30 peace signs as interpreted by emerging artists from Mexico.

Mano Factura: Arte Regio remains on display until March 5. 

The Recipe for ‘Unchopping a Tree’

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But actually, without branches
or roots, it wouldn’t be a tree.
I mean, it would just be a log.

Wallace Shawn in My Dinner with Andre, 1981

Unchopping a Tree.

The title of the book published in 2014 by Trinity University Press immediately conveys the message inside.

Despite the promise of the title and your wish for it to be possible, you know it is not. W.S. Merwin almost could have stopped there – a perfect reduction of words to express concern for the environment.

But your desire to believe a toppled tree could be healed in a magical way that “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” failed to achieve for Humpty Dumpty and the lyrical prose of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer entice you inward:

Start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nest that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall….

The soothing silverpoint drawings illuminating the inner cellular life of trees by Liz Ward, a professor of art at Trinity University, lessen the fear of approaching the immensity of the task of righting a tree.

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Finally the moment arrives when the last sustaining piece is removed and the tree stands again on its own. It is as though its weight for a moment stood on your heart.

Walking the Mission Reach along the banks of the San Antonio River as it wends its way southward makes one wish all the towering trees that shaded the river for centuries before mid-20th-century bulldozers eradicated them for flood control could be “unchopped.”

Alas, the dictionary fails to include the word in its inventory of things that can be undone for obvious reasons.

So great patience is required as the San Antonio River Authority painstakingly strives to restore the natural habitat, sapling by sapling.

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A Chinese proverb reminds us:

One generation plants the trees;

another gets the shade.

For, to heal our environment, as Merwin advises in Unchopping a Tree:

Everything is going to have to be put back.

Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Final flavorful food photos

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Aside from Los Danzantes and La Biznaga mentioned in an earlier post, we patronized other restaurants worth suggesting. Again, will mainly let the photos do their own self-promotion.

  • Mexita Restaurante definitely is in the running to become a place we enjoy going to multiple times during a trip, but, alas, we didn’t visit until the last week. In the past year, the Italian restaurant moved out of the historic center to the Reforma side of the city, which seemed to have changed the profile of its customer base from overwhelmingly American to mainly Mexican. The individual-sized arugula salad is ample for two, and we split a stunningly gorgeous seafood pizza.
  • We fell in love with Origen a year ago, yet only went once this time. We loved the casual intimacy of the small inner courtyard, where you could feel the chef-driven kitchen pulsing beside you. Now there is a more formally appointed dining room upstairs. The innovative takes using regional Oaxacan ingredients were still beautifully prepared and are recommended, but we ourselves were unprepared for the stiff, more traditional atmosphere.
  • Café Bistrot Epicuro offers Italian Mediterranean dishes in its quiet interior. Its grilled shrimp and calamari platter and its seafood linguini are well presented, but my favorite part is the eggplant amuse-bouche. More please.
  • La Teca is a homey spot. Because it is actually a home. Pass through the tables set up in the almost garage-like entryway if the front door through the family’s living room is not open, and head back to the pleasant little patio. The food presented is Istmos-style. Unless you haven’t eaten in days, don’t be persuaded to order the works. The multi-course meal is both too expansive and expensive. The food is heavy, so stick to one or two items al a carte.
  • Gourmand Delicatessen presents a major change of pace. The small deli is a spot we order whole Spanish tortillas to take home for breakfasts or dinners. Sandwiches, sliders (particularly the eggplant one) and salads are all good, and Gourmand bakes their own rolls and bagels.
  • We keep looking for a good Sinaloan seafood spot in Oaxaca. We tried off-the-tourist-track Don Camaron this time. The ceviche was good, and the smoked marlin taco was something I’d never had before. But maybe one of the places with the lines running out the doors on a Sunday might prove more atmospheric.
  • A bright interior cozy patio surrounded by a book store characterizes La Jicara, offering numerous vegetarian options. The lentil and carrot tostadas were wonderfully refreshing.
  • Not a destination if you are on the other side of town, but the little Trattoria y Pizzeria fronting Conzatti Park is a nice neighborhood pizza place. The apple and gorgonzola pizza was simple and had a wonderfully thin crust, and the server delivers an amazingly addictive dish of olive oil loaded with thin crisp slices of caramelized garlic as a complimentary starter.
  • We loved picking up earthy breads from Pan y Co, and would pick up freshly roasted and ground coffee from a shop on a pedestrian plaza-like street running off Los Arcos and almost next door to chef Susannah Trilling’s new storefront offering her Seasons of My Heart moles and chocolates. So new even her website doesn’t list it and its address yet, and so new she herself was standing in it arranging things and talking to us about her products and classes. Sorry, those aren’t very helpful directions…. Maybe next time, in addition to wining and dining, I’ll break down and take one of her cooking classes.