The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
This time in San Sebastian Etla just down the road from San Agustin.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My Photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Anatomy of a blockade

Welcome to my world.  There was a blockade yesterday, # 4,266,449 of the year, of an unimportant road...uh, oops, the Pan American Highway.  It continues today.  In fact all of this is within walking distance of my house and it is one hell of an effective blockade, everything is sealed off.
 Massive police presence... not.
And it is all about water.
Here's a little background.  We are in the dry season and water is scarce and essential.  Folks in the city are really hurting with lots of stories of little or no water.  San Agustin Etla, the village just to the north of me, has a pipeline that supplies twenty percent of the water to the city, but they have shut the valves and there is no water coming through.  Why?  Because the city has not paid for the water they have used already and we are talkin' months of non-payment.  Shutting off the pipeline is an effective weapon in San Agustin's arsenal and they do it every now and then.  However, there are villages and settlements that are caught in between, like San Pablo Etla, Viguera and Pueblo Nuevo, that are running out of water and they are, to put in mildly, pissed off.  Hence the blockades. These are the real deal with buses and double semis blocking the intersections so effectively that I could not even squeeze through and had to walk around.
This is however, normal life and people adapt quickly.
Folks coming from the city jump out of buses or cabs and walk/run through the blockades to jump into awaiting cabs to continue their journeys.
And there were plenty.
Drivers have to bypass the mess by going on back roads, but I think even some of those were blocked yesterday.  Some cars and trucks looked like they were trapped for the duration.  Yesterday's lasted from 7 AM to 9 PM.  Today's started promptly at 7.

Here is an article from Noticias.  Run it through a translator to get an idea.  As in all things oaxaqueño, there are so many layers to these issues, the mind boggles.  To quote from Apocalypse Now, "You need wings to keep above the bullshit."

Now just where did I put those damn wings?

Actually, I am lucky.  I am on the right side of the city and live right near a pipa or water truck, station and just had one delivered.... $34 US for 10,000 liters.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Better late than never...

Oops.....  I took off nice and early for the Viernes del Llano celebration.  I thought it started at 10 AM, so I left at 8:30, only to discover it had started much earlier, maybe 7 or so.  It ended just before I got there... oh well.  What is the event exactly?  I'm not really sure, but it is kinda like a beauty pageant where everyone is a winner.  Kids from local schools show up and cheer and give flowers to girlfriends for a couple of hours.  There is music, lots of press, even more people.  In general, it is a crazy good time. But I missed it.  However, I got to see the leftover detritus.
And girls walking away.
I did get to see the band waiting for its ride. 
And participants wait for the bus.
I did manage to snag a couple of shots of the stars of the show.
A classic.
As always, amazing shoes!
And one of a future participant.
What a fun event, a real Oaxacan good time and it happens every Friday morning through March with different schools it week.
Be there or be square.  I am sure Shannon over a Casa Colibri will have more.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

If it's Tuesday...

Or any other day of the week, there is a protest or blockade somewhere.  It is just normal life and people deal.  Social media makes life easier.  There is a Facebook group with over 10,000 members that follows all the action reporting on current marches, blockades, protests and accidents.  So these shots are from last Tuesday, which was Flag Day, Dia de la Bandera. As sister blogger spixl posts, there was lots of action. I was just passing through and caught this contingent, obviously from the campo, the country, continuing the fight to keep corn free of trans-genetic infection.  Without corn there is no country.

 What a great poster.  Wake up Benito! and say no to trans-genetic corn.
 It's still possible.
Monsanto es una plaga aqui.

The future is now

This from a protest a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Atzompa - The day after

I drove up to the archeological site to see what, if any, damage the fire did yesterday.  Fortunately, the blackened ground ended right below the parking area
It burned a fairly large area, but not to worry, that smoke is from an entirely different fire a few miles away.
As I said yesterday, these fires are pretty common and people hardly ever freak out about them or let them get out of control.  Every now and then, the winds whip them up, but in general, there always seems to be some sort of firebreak, like the parking lot, and they die out.
Looks like only the hardiest of plants and seeds will survive, but for sure, they will be back as soon as the rains come.
More good news, it looks like the other entrance from the Monte Alban side is finally open.  I plan to explore it soon.

Stick figure

This guy was on my screen door this morning and I thought it was a wind-blown twig.
"You lookin' at me?"
When I got near it, it bobbed back and forth.  In truth, I had a hard time figuring which end was which.
The two little antennae might be a clue.  Now why does this shot make me think of Fred Astaire?
Mother Nature is a wonder.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Atzompa - Not the best day to visit

This was the view of Atzompa early this afternoon. 
That's the archeological site at the very top behind the veil of smoke.
You can see it is a large area.  I hope everyone is OK.  I know a few folks up there and will go and check tomorrow or the next day.
These fires are pretty common these days, the countryside is so dry and crispy.  Normally, they stay under control.  In fact, fire is the preferred method for clearing agricultural fields.  I am totally on the other side of that debate, organic material by the tons worked into the soil.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sunday church social

There was a large covered area setup in front of the church in Tlacolula yesterday with lots of ladies selling all sorts of good food.  So...
Why choose?  I'll take a chile rellenos, too.  Those beans were soooo good, flavored with hierba santa and epazote.
Easy to see why things taste so good.  Look at the available ingredients.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Faces from Carnival - San Martin Tilcajete

Yesterday, Mardi Gras, carnival was celebrated in San Martin Tilcajete, the famous alebrije or woodcarving village.  It appeared to be a very popular destination as there were lots of foreign visitors, all loaded with cameras.  And San Martin openly welcomed everyone with their version of Carnival. 
As usual there was a good band.  I love this clarinetist's carved mask, a very typical San Martin carving style.
The wood carving skills were evident in many of the masks.
These are heavy masks. 
I recognize the styles, very San Martin Tilcajete.
The main event is the boda or wedding(s), both civil and religious, of bride and groom, both males. 
The civil ceremony is performed in front of the Palacio, the municipal center, followed by dancing.
There are processions to and from the bride and groom's houses and finally to a home for a semi-formal religious wedding.
It seems to be an all male event with lots of the men dressed up as women.  Sometimes, it is hard to tell.... except for the chin hair.

Today, Ash Wednesday, everything is quiet.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Key Moments

A bright Saturday afternoon in front of Santo Domino.  A classic quinceañera photo shoot.
Not too special.
Meanwhile, her seven chambelanes or attendants await.
Followed immediately thereafter by a bride and groom basking in the moment.