Category Archives: Great cities or places in the world

More thoughts on Mexico

This time our winter break in Mexico included a trip to Oaxaca for 5 days.

We decided on a 30 minute plane ride instead of the 10 hour bus ride. It was a pleasant trip operated by Aerotućan in a Cessna Grand Caravan with space for 14 passengers. We stayed at the family owned Hotel Casa las Mercedes which is central to the square, museums and restaurants. A half day trip to Monte Albán was a must see on our list – a pre-Columbian archaeological site and UNESCO World Hertiage Site.

Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mx

There are many museums in this city but my top choice is Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. It is adjacent to the Church of Santa Domingo de Guzmán and will take up to a good part of your afternoon as it covers pre hispanic, Spanish Conquistador 1519, and contemporary culture.  The Baroque architecture of the Monastery and Church started in 1575 and took 200 years to complete and is built with cantera a local greenish quarry stone. It is impossible for one to understand how this was accomplished without modern day machinery. On the top floor there are a few panoramic views of the botanical garden; an enjoyable addition as access to the garden is restricted to guided tours and specific hours and days. The library of books and illustrative draws is extensive and if you enjoy history and drawings spend time here. If you decide to visit this attraction it is 1/2 km. north of the central square, Plaza de la Constitutución  on a pedestrian only street. The Plaza is a great place to take a refreshing drink and enjoy the music, venders of goods which can be annoying but a firm “no” works. The steeple of the Cathedral of our Lady of Assumption from the square becomes a landmark for orientation. To note the original towers were destroyed in a earthquake in 1931.

Nearby our hotel is the the Cultural Centre of San Pablo originally constructed in 1529 by the Dominicans to house the convent of Santo Domingo de Soriano. Completely renovated the space includes the cloister, textile museum, outdoor plaza and restaurant. The restaurant can be entered by Independencia Avenue or the interior plaza. The serves and food is of excellent quality and well priced.

 

 

All churches, museums and civil buildings are built from a local green tinged quarry stone “cantera” . The fountain base in the square near our hotel was made up of large cut blocks of cantera which glimmered and changed accordingly to the slant of the sun. Below are a few more watercolour sketches from my stay in Mexico.

 

Independencia Avenue Plaza, watercolour, 2019

Exterior of local quarry stone, cloister, watercolour, Oaxaca, 2019

Catch of the Day, watercolour, 2019

Oaxaca city is in one of the poorest states in Mexico but throughout our stay we felt at at easy and welcome. Thanks for a great visit.

 

 

Huatulco, Mx

We are spending our last days of our winter retreat in Huatulco [ wa’tulko]. A beautiful, modern planned city with a different vibe from Puerto Escondido. When in Puerto Escondido, we stayed in the older part of the city. Routinely, we heard in the background roosters crowing, hens clucking, dogs barking and sometimes a child crying but they are sounds you become at easy with. Here it is very “ tranquillo”

In Huatulco, for myself, who enjoys plein air sketching it has everything needed – architecture, culture and people. However, the colour palette has changed to turquoise, pink, lemon greens, pale creams and cerulean blue.

There are several parks nearby with bandstand, manicured grass, shrubs and plenty of shaded areas. My choice is where the workers are up on the roof replacing tiles.

Bandstand, workers at work, watercolour, 2018

My next choice is the park of lovers across the street from our lodging.

Lover’s Park, watercolour, 2018

The main town square, La Crucecita, has a lot of shade, benches, shopping and restaurants but my purpose is the church, referred to as lgelesia of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Here, the Mexican artist Jose del Signo has covered the whole ceiling of the church with a mural of the pregnant Virgin Mary. It is worth the visit to see this image and enjoy the work of this Mexican artist.

Nuestra Sēnora de Guadalupe, La Crucecita Plaza, Photo from tourism Huatulco

 

Nuestra Sēnora de Guadalupe, La Crucecita Plaza, watercolour & gouache, 2018

The square is a place to enjoy the sunny weather which Huatulco offers 330 days a year with an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. I looked towards the water fountain and there is a sketch waiting for me.

Water Fountain, La Crucecita Plaza, watercolour & gouache, 2018

So for another year we wait to visit Mexico.

Parksville, Vancouver Island, Bc

Parksville, Vancouver Island, 2017

This month we made a trip to Parksville, Vancouver Island to visit friends. November is the rainy season and it did not disappoint with torrent downpours each day.

We managed well staying at the Beach Club, visiting multiple “friperies“, vintage, secondhand stores or rummage sales. There are other gems in this village; glass blowers, and potters but best of all at Coombs, Goats on the Roof  a “must” tourist destination. The locals visit often to shop and to dine at Cuckoo Trattoria & Pizzeria. It is open throughout the year.

When I decided to sketch in watercolour, I needed a dry spot and the saleslady pointed to the adjacent boutique filled with carpets, armoires, clay pots, water fountains and a collection of steel weathervanes.

My space out of the rain, watercolour, 2017

Courtyard at Coombs Market, watercolour, 2017

For sale Weathervanes, Coombs Market, watercolour, 2017

Pointe-du-Moulin & Vieux-Montréal, 2017

Many of us continue to enjoy the Tuesday plein air organized by Linda Drewry. This past week we spent a beautiful rain-free day at Pointe-du-Moulin, Notre-Dame-de-I’île-Perrot. The historical park is in summer mode offering tours of the windmill and visits to the stone farm house. Some of the staff are dressed in period costumes. So, when the lady of the house came and sat in the doorway, I decided she needed to be part of my sketch.

Old Stone Farm House, Pointe-du- Moulin, watercolour, 2017

This past Saturday August 5 Montréal artist Marc Taro Holmes organized an informal gathering with Australian artist Liz Steel and French artist Anne-Laure Jacquard  at Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montreal. All three are ardent sketchers and instructed workshops at the recent Chicago 2017 International Urban Sketchers Symposium. This was a stop over before heading home and an opportunity to sketch and visit our city.

Thanks to Chi Mai Vo for the photos

The day started with a downpour of rain, an ITU World Triathlon at the Old Port, incredible road traffic and street closures. I arrived late at Place Jacques Cartier to see only two ladies sitting on a bench with sketch book in hand from Upper State New York. As Marc said, “We’re easy to find- just look for people with sketchbooks and drawing boards!”

Eventually, everyone used the same strategy and with the rain gone and the sun out a final gathering at Jacques Cartier Place completed the day.

 

 

I am always aware of my environment as I sketch and today was no exception. I heard the cheers of the nearby cycling and running portion of the triathlon. Spain’s Javier Gomez Noya won the Montreal triathlon. He completed the 1.5 kilometre swim, 40 kilometre bike ride, 10 kilometre run in one hour 47 minutes 50 seconds. The women’s race was won by Australian Ashleigh Gentle with Canadian Joanna Brown of Ottawa in fourth.

 

 

 

City Hall, Jacques Cartier Place, watercolour, 2017

Nelson’s Column, Place Jacques Cartier, watercolour, 2017