Jan 13, 2008 in Production Journal
PRODUCTION JOURNAL from our year of living in Juchitan, Oaxaca.
Check out two of the shorts that we created while living in Juchitan here:
SON JAROCHO in Juchitan, Oaxaca
I went out on the town last week with three beautiful Tecas. If you hail from Juchitán you are called either a ‘Juchiteco ‘(for the guys) or a ‘Juchiteca’ (the female persuasion) or better yet, I like the short version of ‘Teco’ or ‘Teca’.
Mariana lives right down the street with her mom and a big Rottweiler named Gorda. She has a beautiful way of dressing and I can tell she thinks a lot about the whole package, because she always looks so pretty and nicely put together. She usually wears a combination of the old fashioned traditional clothing of the region with a piece of modern day stuff. Her traditional gear included wearing a huipil, which is a hand made blouse, and hers was made out of rustic looking white cloth and embroidered with fine red thread in an elaborate design. Her skirt was a red floral diaphanous thing and she always wears really smart jewelry, usually made out of chunky pieces of polished amber.
Mariana’s mom is in the gold and ‘stone’ business, and apparently is a very good saleswoman. We discussed our passion for the color red, in fingernail polish, clothes, and household accessories.
Her younger sister, Pati, came along, decked out in thoroughly traditional garb, wearing a bright yellow ‘juchi’ girl skirt (very flattering to the figure) and the famous huipil from the region, which is made out of black velvet and covered with an explosion of embroidered flowers. Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun and she looked really beautiful.
We drove to town in Ari’s big truck, which is not so big, but the dainty and tiny women of Juchitán always have a hard time getting up into it. At 5’6’ I am a giantess and tower over most of the local women, whereas, in the U.S. I feel kind of short.
We picked up another friend who was wearing a green velvet huipil stitched with off white thread and also a long and flowing skirt. I was wearing a long pink cotton skirt, a super shiny green and gold blouse (all gifts from my mom), and simple gold jewelry. I wish I had taken a photo because we looked like a bouquet of flowers together.
We were going to town to celebrate Mexican Independence Day and do El Grito in the Palacio but first we went to a little club called El Puente to hear some music. There was not any one there, other than the super cool looking musicians, and the Tecas said the emptiness could be explained by the rain.
It took the Tecas forever to order drinks and they were very bossy and nice with the waiters, “What! You can’t go back there, chop up some fruit, and make me a fresh drink?!!” I quickly ordered a Victoria and they all settled on fresh lemonade.
After the rain died down we went into the courtyard full of almond trees to listen to some folkloric music from Vera Cruz, otherwise known as the “Son Jarocho”. When listening to the “Son Jarocho” you can feel the influence of the Spanish conquistador, the African slave who was brought to the coast, the slaves of the Caribbean, and also the people who were already there, or the local indigenous folks. This sound dates back to the eighteenth century.
The musicians were dressed liked elegant campesinos, with straw hats, guayaberas, hand made trousers, and huaraches. They sang beautiful melodies together and one of them was singing in a high falsetto voice. One musician strummed, with a lot of gusto, the five stringed Jarana like a ukulele. Another played a Requinto, which is another rustic looking guitar, and is used for playing arpeggios, or chords played in rapid succession rather than simultaneously. Another was picking a violin (I think). The coolest musico was playing a Quijada de Burro or a donkey jaw. Percussion instruments, like the donkey jaw, the turtle shell, or a box, became important to musicians in the old days, because drums were outlawed for slaves during Mexico’s Spanish colonization. This music is earthy, rustic, and I like it a lot. One famous song that originated from this ‘jarocho’ tradition is “La Bamba”, although the music played that night did not really sound anything like “La Bamba”.
The added bonus of all this fine music is that groups from Vera Cruz tend to perform with two dancers, who are part of the group. The young dancers used a hand strewn elevated wooden platform, called a tarima, and did percussive dancing on top of the platform. They wore lovely cotton blouses, long full skirts, and dance shoes that could really add sound to the ‘zapateos’, or foot tapping of the dances. They were very good dancers who got all sweaty due to the physicality of their performance. The dance had a flamenco type quality but was quite different.
It was fun and really much better than any song and dance that I get to see in the U.S. We missed “El Grito” entirely and this had something to do with the time thing in Juchitán, which means that some people follow the rules of clock changing for daylight savings time, and others do not. Therefore, in Juchitán there is a ‘tiempo normal’/normal time and ‘tiempo del verano’/summer time, which are an hour apart, and adds the confusion of what time it really is.