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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Still rainin', still dreamin'....

from LAHT
Tropical Storm Trudy made landfall Saturday in southwestern Mexico and will drench that region with torrential rain, but it is not forecast to strengthen to hurricane status, the National Meteorological Service (SMN) said.

In its most recent bulletin at 10:00 a.m., the SMN said the center of the storm was located over land, 120 kilometers (74 miles) east-northeast of the Pacific resort city of Acapulco and 45 kilometers (28 miles) south-southwest of Tlapa, Guerrero.

At that time, the tropical storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kph (46 mph) with higher gusts and was moving to the north at 7 kph (4 mph).

Trudy will bring torrential rain to parts of the southern states of Guerrero and Oaxaca and heavy rain to portions of the states of Veracruz, Mexico, Chiapas, Morelos, Tabasco, Puebla and Hidalgo, the bulletin said.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weather update

It is really raining..... that is all you need to know.  Really r a i n i n g.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Little Princess - Tlacolula style

This family was at the recent calenda in Tlacolula and they struck me as being a bit different with a touch of aloofness and elegance.  The three together were quite photogenic, but the father always seemed hidden, out of the shot.  However, mother and daughter, dressed alike, were too good to pass up.  For some reason, the girl reminded me of Wednesday of the Addams Family... hey, what can I say?  I'm weird.
And here's an indication of the elegance, the girl's sandaled foot.
The detail in the toenail painting is something else and the metal work almost evokes the classic Mitla design.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How's the weather?

Lovely... not.

Off the beaten track

After a day of intermittent internet and no satellite, things seem to be back to normal.  Here's the post that was in the pipeline when things crashed.
Sometimes the blockades or detours afford one new roads or paths to follow and it's an adventure.  Here's spixl's account of it.  Whether or not my 2004 Jetta will be able handle them is strangely never in doubt.  It goes where wise men fear to tread or where the idiot behind the wheel steers it.  So, south of Mitla, it was into the unknown.  The road was far funkier than this shot would imply.  No, through a few little cricks, some very rough areas, up and down, there is always a way through..... and you get to see views like this, an unexpected blessing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tough times

I'm not sure what is going on, but it ain't good.  In terms of politics and social order, more like social disorder, things here in Oaxaca continue to be more of the same.  There have been articles about how acts of vandalism seem to occur with impunity. 
On the cathedral no less.  Ay!
There are marches and blockades daily.  We are well into the fourth month of this. 
On top of it all, is the horrible news out of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.  It has really rocked the country and there have been growing protests.  It is nothing, but ugly and I have virtually no insight or observations to pass on.  I guess, think Sandy Hook except instead of kids, college students with the shooters being the cops.  Add a little cartel corruption and links to higher ups... you get the picture.  It is escalating.

Meanwhile, many of the businesses and restaurant in the zocalo have closed because of the teacher's sit-in.  They are protesting but have given up trying to stay open.  Abuela's is all closed up.
But you can still get dinosaur eggs.
What a world, what a world......

Friday, October 10, 2014

Who is that masked man?

The subalternos, Jorge Jimenez Mendoza and Pedro Hernandez Lazo, are very important players in the whole danza de la pluma in Teotitlan del Valle.  One of them takes care of the needs of Monctezuma, Malinche and Doña Marina and the other takes care of all the other dancers.
Water, injuries, broken sandals, anything and everything, they take care of it.  They also control the flow of the whole dance.  It is very subtle, but they are each quite powerful in reading the scene and making adjustments.
Plus, they work the crowd with crazy antics, often making for huge laughs. And they keep track of invading gringos.
Break time with an admirer.
 There is real love there behind those masks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Malinche and friends

Last weekend, in Teotitlan del Valle, they once again danced the danza de la pluma, the dance of the conquistadores.  It was a glorious sunny Sunday and we arrived during mid afternoon break.  So I managed to catch Malinche, Juana Lizbeth Contreras Vicente, and a couple of her friends as they played in the inner courtyard of the church.
 A classic look
Getting ready
She has a wonderful presence and it always warms the heart to see her. 
And of course, she is always there with her alter-ego, Doña Marina, Ailani Ruiz Ruiz.
The two of them represent many things, tradition, history,
But to me they always seem to be the embodiment of having fun.
They are always chatting, laughing and eating something... except when they are dancing, but they actually still keep laughing and talking to each other.  It is very sweet.

Thousand words....

"I read the news today...."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Every picture tells a story

Especially if I am the one making up the story.  This young lady was getting ready for the calenda last Friday in Tlacolula.  She appeared to be engaged in some sort of dialogue with the Virgin next to her.

"My child, I will give you this beautiful orange flower for your lollipop."
"I don't know.  It's a pretty good one.  Red and blue flavored, don'cha know?"
"I think not."
 "What do I look like, some sort of a sucker?"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Imagine this

This is one of the big canastas that was carried in the calenda in Tlacolula last Friday.
It takes a couple of men to lift it to place it on the head of the woman who will be carrying it.
Look at that full extension. Now it's time to process and dance with the thing. 
As with the marmotas, it takes years of practice and then many calendas to be able to do this. They do start young.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tlacolula calenda

As I wrote earlier, the calendas or processions in Tlacolula are something else.  These are long events, almost seven hours.  They process and dance through the streets, stopping at various stations to rest and get something to eat.  This is an annual religious fiesta celebrating the Virgin of the Rosario and people come out in droves.  There is such a feeling of joy and happiness, it is palpable.  People are so friendly.  We were given tamales and horchata and spoke with lots of folks.  It seemed that we were as much of a spectacle to them as they were to us.  We saw not one other gringo.  What a good time.
It is obvious that the people of Tlacolula are into these celebrations.  As I say, the joy is palpable.  For the men and boys, there are marmotas, the globes they carry and with which they dance.
For the girls and women, there are the canastas to carry and with which they dance.  You can see these ladies are carrying the letters spelling "Rosario."
Young, old and every age in between, all were there and having a good time.
They start young and that's why they are so good at it.
 What a beautiful face.  I do believe he might be enjoying himself.
There are lots of threads to follow so it may take a couple of posts to cover the action.  And of course, there is the stunning beauty of these people. 
Ay! Mi corazon.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Just one of the boys

Some of the best and most uplifting events of the the year take place in Tlacolula and yesterday was the first calenda celebrating the Virgin of the Rosario and it was simply spectacular.  The sun was out with dramatic clouds building as a backdrop and the light was very nice.  This calenda features lots of things, but for the men and boys it is all about the marmotas, the globes with which they dance.  It was windy so more of a challenge to just keep the ball in the air.  The wind would catch the marmota and push it and the guy holding so that other would have to step in and prevent it from falling over.  I have so much respect for how hard it is to carry one of these things, let alone dance with it.  I've tried it much to everyone's amusement.  I started with an 80 kilo version when I should have started with a 2 kilo version... at age two, like all of the guys did.  Much more in a bit.  Thanks to Shannon for the shot.
Sorry for the quality of the video.  It is really much better than this, but I took the easy way and just uploaded it directly.

Sun in the morning

I have just a few sunflowers this year, but hopefully they will reseed and thrive during the dry season.  You can see how lush everything looks.  Those clouds build and late in the afternoon, things get wet and dramatic.  However, for now......

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Today in Mexican history - Oct. 2

From Wikipedia:
The Tlatelolco massacre, also known as The Night of Tlatelolco (from a book title by the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska), was a killing of an estimated 30 to 300 students and civilians by military and police on October 2, 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City. The events are considered part of the Mexican Dirty War, when the government used its forces to suppress political opposition. The massacre occurred 10 days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. More than 1300 people were arrested by security police. There has been no consensus on how many were killed that day in the plaza area.
At the time the government and the mainstream media in Mexico claimed that government forces had been provoked by protesters shooting at them. But government documents made public since 2000 suggest that the snipers had been employed by the government. Estimates of the death toll ranged from 30 to 300, with eyewitnesses reporting hundreds dead. According to US national security archives, Kate Doyle, a Senior Analyst of US policy in Latin America, documented the deaths of 44 people. The head of the Federal Directorate of Security reported the arrests of 1,345 people.
There are protests planned for this afternoon, but I caught this gathering earlier today.
One of the paintings just outside the entrance.  The man is Heriberto Pazos Ortiz, leader and founder of the Movement of Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT), who was killed in last year in Oaxaca.
This guy was singing his heart out, and quite good, to backing tracks, but his audience, mostly Triquis from outlying villages broke nary a smile.  They are justifiably dour.
One of the toughest crowds I've seen in a while, but he just belting it out.
The zocalo remains in a constant state of protest ringed by vendors, all pretty ugly.
But today, they remember the horrible events of 1968.  What a year that was!
As they say, "¡Viva la Revolución!"