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.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

"The prices are INSANE!...."

Remember Crazy Eddie's TV ads?  OK, maybe not, however, look at the price of this fruit combination.  $17.99!  Insane, amirite?  I'm used to getting my fresh fruit, all nicely chopped up and packaged, from a fruit stand just down the road from me.
Normally, a big container is 10 pesos, about $.50 US.  Sometimes, I have to pay 15 pesos for three or four mangoes, again all prepared and boxed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What a difference a week makes...

Last Wednesday, I was in nearby Etla just doing my weekly food shopping, everything seemed normal. 
This week it's a totally different scene as I am in El Norte shopping in nearby Waltham and well, it's a whole new normal.
Well, they do have some things Oaxacans take for granted,  like aloe vera leaves.
And it looks like a lot of the produce comes from you know where....
And wait until I show you some of the prices tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Carnaval in San Martin Tilcajete

Wow!  It's always so much fun to celebrate carnaval in the wood carving village of San Martin Tilcajete.  And each year, more and more people show up.  There are other villages, each with their own version of carnaval, but San Martin seems to be one of the most popular in the Valles Centrales. 
The village is famous for it's alebrijes, wood carvings, and some of the masks were simply gorgeous.
There are lots of fantastic looks and one involves covering one's body with the blackest of motor oils.
At the opposite end of the spectrum was this beautiful girl who was one of the brides maids for the boda or wedding that is the highlight of the day.
Yes, both bride and groom are men.
As in many things Oaxacan, they start participating in these traditions at an early age.
I loved this mask even though the wearer said he hadn't had time to finish it.  I told him it looked better pure black.
So many amazing faces, a photographer's dream.
Be sure to check out the B&W version over at Casita Colibri.  And here's a double selfie.
I consider myself blessed.

Monday, March 4, 2019

This is how it's done...

I'm always impressed, make that, amazed, at the work ethic here.  Often, it is hard physical work like these men working on the Aripo building. A bucket brigade of gravel.  Aripo is/was filled with some of the best regional folk art.  Each room was something different, ceramics, embroidery, carvings, tin, etc.
I watched them for a while and imagined how heavy those buckets must be.  Looked back-breaking to me, but these guys were having fun and getting it done.  Lots of smiles and jokes while they worked quite quickly.
Probably needed to clear the street as soon as possible.  Their work has been going on for months and the place was pretty impressive before, so it will be interesting to see it when it reopens.... and if it is still going to be Aripo.  Ojala!

Friday, March 1, 2019

It's ideal....

As I get ready to head to El Norte with temps in the teens, I'm putting this here as a reminder.  Humidity on top temp on the bottom.  It's ideal. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tis' the season....

You can always tell what fruit is in season by the copious displays at the market in nearby Etla.
Watermelon, oranges and papaya this week.
All nicely priced at about $2 US
And of course, everything else looked pretty good as well.
Plenty of temptations.
And fresh chicken.
We are so spoiled by all the goodness.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Chip, chip, chippin' away....

There are winter chores here or rather, dry season chores.  There's always work to do in the garden even though some of it may be simply envisioning the future.  So I've been spending time with these babies, a machete and a wood chipper.  I try to recycle all organic matter right back into the soil, but it needs moisture to break down.  I had a large compost pile.... note the past tense... some three years of accumulation.  It was a couple of meters tall and three meters wide and deep.  And in a mere seven days (whew) all of it went through the chipper and the resulting mulch is spread, in some places eight to ten inches deep. .  I'm hoping it will all break down and make a really nice soil when I add some of the hundreds of kilos of worm casings I have.  However, nothing will happen until it rains, maybe a month or two away... ojala!

Monday, February 18, 2019


A couple of portraits of mezcaleros.  First, from Palenque Mal de Amor, this gentleman shoveling out the steaming spent agave after the process is finished.  Of course, nothing ever goes to waste.  And then there's Faustino in his element.   

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Agave art

There are hundreds of kinds of agave,  Here, in Oaxaca there are 38 known, but there are more out there, undiscovered for now. 
They are amazing plants.  Water, sugar, mezcal, paper, cloth, needle and thread, all can come from the agave.  The flowers tell a story.
And as for the flowers, it's one and done.  It's all downhill for the plant after that.
Some can take up to twenty five years to flower.  And they make mezcal out of most of them.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Mezcal Maestro - Faustino Garcia Vasquez

It is always better to go straight to the source and the source in this case is Faustino Garcia Vasquez from Chichicapa.  His family has been making mezcal for many years and he and his son continue the tradition of producing some of the finest.  Consequently,  Faustino and his mezcal are getting quite famous and deservedly so.
His village is in the heart of mezcal land, between Mitla and Ocotlan. The countryside is filled with fields of agaves, all at various stages of growth.  Every time we go, we catch a different part of the process and this time was no different.  They were transferring the fermented agave fiber to the stills or distillation tanks.  A very condensed version of the process.  They start with green pinas...
That get baked in a covered pit for three days. They are quite sweet at this point, very sugary.
Then broken apart and ground into fibers under this horse-drawn stone.
Then into covered wooden vats, water added. 
Several days later, the fibrous agave is transferred to the still.  All the liquid from the vats as well.
Here, Faustino uses a paste made from agave, of course, to seal the copper hood.... nothing goes to waste.
The hood set in place.
Pipes attached to cooling tank  The finished mezcal condenses and drains into the high lit container
And finally, sealed with more agave paste and cloth.
We were lucky to see this select part of the process.  And so happy that this maestro of mezcal, Faustino Garcia Vasquez, is doing so well.  His mezcal is some of the very best.  Go back to the top and look at that guy's smile!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day

Oh, Cupid... really?  Do you love me only for my money?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

El Muro?

This beauty from out in Mezcalandia,. Yes, the whole world is watching and fortunately, people have a good grasp on reality and a good sense of humor.
More agave/mezcal coming....