Capturing the Essence of Oaxaca with 5 Colors

by Ekua on July 25, 2012 in captured on memory card,Mexico

Bold and creative uses of color never fail to inspire me, and my wanderlust most strongly draws me to places with vivid landscapes and colorful traditions. So when I was nominated by Ashley of No Onions Extra Pickles (and renominated by Lauren of Ephemerratic) to participate in the Capture the Colour contest, I knew I could have fun with the concept of capturing five colors with five travel pictures.

When I put together collections of photos on this site, I like thinking of individual pictures as puzzle pieces that give a larger sense of place when combined. I decided to base my submission on one destination of many colors that I’ve gotten to know well — Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico. For each photo, I took into consideration ideas behind the colors and how the way the red, yellow, green, blue, and white are depicted capture a bit of the essence of Oaxaca:

RED: Mexico is a place of celebration, and Oaxaca takes on this characteristic with vigor. It is known for its lighthearted festivals such as its annual July celebration of indigenous culture as well as its skull and altar filled Day of the Dead festivities. On this day, a banner of red and white pendant flags that was put up for a celebration was blowing in the breeze and creating vibrant shadows on the street below.

YELLOW: Weddings at the Santo Domingo church are often lively affairs that include music and dance performances in Santo Domingo square and processions through the streets of Oaxaca’s Centro. On the day I arrived in the city for the first time, I came across one of these celebrations and it was an excellent introduction to the spirit of Oaxaca. These ladies who were part of the wedding procession were glowing from the inside out in these cheerful outfits.

GREEN: In contrast to the buildings of Oaxaca’s city center which are painted in the brightest shades of the rainbow, the natural landscape of Oaxaca state is ruggedly earthy and grounding. This is reflected in the abundance of hardy cactus and agave plants that thrive in the dusty soil there. I found this glorious giant agave in the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical garden where the presentation of plants is a creatively arranged microcosm of the state’s landscape.

BLUE: In various ways, Oaxaca is filled with quiet and steadfast refusal to give in. Oaxaca state has one of the largest indigenous populations in Mexico and many have been able to hold on to their cultures far beyond colonialism. In Oaxaca city, a burgeoning street art scene tells of opinions on social issues that are churning beneath the seemingly reserved surface. I was intrigued when I saw this bright blue paint — likely from some unsanctioned art piece — that had streamed down the bricks and escaped being painted over.

WHITE: It rains often summertime Oaxaca, but when it’s dry, clouds artfully fill the sky and add so much to the scenery. I often found myself looking up at the ever evolving canvas above as much as I observed the scenes around me.

I nominate these fine bloggers to join the competition:
Brenna of This Battered Suitcase
Marsha of Wanderlust for One
Phil of Phil in the Blank
Naomi of Anywhere But Home
Christine of Grrrl Traveler

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren, Ephemerratic July 25, 2012 at 9:45 am

These are gorgeous, I especially love the abstraction of the red and, as a huge fan of street art, the idea behind the blue.


Ekua July 26, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Thanks! I couldn’t help but be attracted to this bit of runaway paint. I was in Oaxaca in 2010 and went back a year later and noticed a huge jump in the street art scene. I’m curious to see the possibilities of it there since there are so many unique to Oaxaca cultural aspects that could be incorporated into the art.


Wandergirl July 25, 2012 at 9:52 am

Beautiful! And what a visual and interesting way to learn about Oaxaca. I’ll be there in October and am excited to discover all the vibrant culture (and colours!) there.


Ekua July 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Ooo, can’t wait to hear about your trip there! I get excited when I hear about people making plans to visit places I love. One of my dreams is to visit for Day of the Dead in early November.


Andi of My Beautiful Adventures July 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Loooooooove! I’m dying to get Oaxaca because of your posts from forever ago!!!


Ekua July 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Thanks πŸ™‚


Naomi July 25, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Wow, thanks for the nomination!! πŸ™‚ What a good idea to give all of your photos a theme…I love love love your ‘yellow’ photo in particular, those women look like big daisies!!


Ekua July 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm

No problem. There are suggestions from the judges but the rules of the competition are pretty open which is really nice. This struck as the most natural way for me to do it since it’s along the lines of what I’d do regardless of a competition! Those yellow outfits always make me smile.


Christine | Grrrl Traveler July 26, 2012 at 3:36 am

Love them all ! Wow, your Oaxaca photos will be hard to top! Am especially a fan of your Green. That cacti is just wildly gorgeous, like a green octopus!


Ekua July 26, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Thanks! I think that might be my favorite as well. At the risk of sounding hippie-ish, I have to say that that plant had a really special energy about it. And the mid afternoon storm that was rolling in made for some cool lighting!


InsideJourneys July 26, 2012 at 4:59 am

Love your selection, Ekua. I’m really enjoying this series and seeing how each blogger interprets it.
Thanks for showing us the colors of Oaxaca. It’s such a ruggedly beautiful place.


Ekua July 26, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Thanks πŸ™‚ Once I decided to focus on one place, it was clear that I had to do it on Oaxaca!


Bethaney - Flashpacker Family July 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I love your red and green shots. Really nice.


Ekua July 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thanks for stopping by, glad you like it πŸ™‚


Sunee July 29, 2012 at 6:31 am

It must be really difficult to pick out just one photo for each colour! Your choice for Blue was quite interesting, but I have to say Yellow was my favourite – so very vibrant! Makes me wonder why we usually just stick with white in Western weddings.


Ekua July 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm

The main color for the wedding procession members was yellow with accents of pink and orange, but the bride was in a white wedding dress. But I do have to agree that many places tend to have far more colorful celebrations than American or European style weddings overall. I remember for the wedding I went to in India, they requested that guests wear any colors other than white and black! All the color and sparkle adds so much to festivities.

Oh and it was definitely hard to pick photos from the thousands of pics I have from all my trips. Narrowing it down to a theme helped!


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