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

Monday, February 18, 2019

Mezcaleros

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.   
Smokin'..

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....

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Writing on the walls....

This style recently appeared in several places and I am wondering, is it a language or merely design?
It's interesting...
Of course, other wall art is also open to interpretation.
And others, they hold nothing back.
"Get out of the mines of death!"

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Feria de Carrizo - San Juan Guelavia

Today was the second Sunday, the last, of the 8th Annual Feria de Carrizo in San Juan Guelavia.  This is always such a fun and interesting event, we ended up going both days.  Also, food! 
In addition to the amazing pieces made from carrizo, the place is filled with food, clothing, music, dance, all from one of the richest cultures in Oaxaca, the Tlacolula area, the Valles Centrales.  They can weave....
And they can dance!
This feria has really grown in popularity and attendance has grown dramatically, with thousands of people over the two Sundays.  San Juan Guelavia is one of the villages that realized just how unique it is and invested in making this feria something special and, no doubt, a huge economic boon to the village. 
It certainly appears like more artesanos are branching out, creating different things with carrizo.  Lots of beautiful pieces. 
And as always, the people are the best part of the event.  Lots of classic looks.
Or these ladies from San Marcos having a private conversation?
Did you miss it? 
There's always next year.  So worth it!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Searching for El Niño - Candelaria

Today, being candelaria or candlemas, is the day when people take their Niño Dios to church for a blessing.
Some look ready to go but others need a little touch-up.
People repair and dress up the Christ Child in special outfits and there are lots of specialty shops, like this one, that offer repairs and new clothing. 
New outfits and a little glue.... all set.
I was too early for the mass, but this little shop in the market in Etla was really crowded and busy. 
Everyone was so happy, workers and customers alike.  The Niños look as good as new and come in all shapes and sizes.  Another wonderful tradition.
After all the work and after church, tamales!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Hidden Treasures

Last week, I noticed a bulldozer clearing a field, while a large family watched, sitting in the shade of some remaining trees.  This was just down the road from me and, while I had sorta noticed these before, the dozer had exposed them much more clearly.  Wow!
I never realized just how beautiful they were.  Each looked to be eight meters tall and covered the side of a nondescript building.  One really has to look to find them.
I wonder what their stories are? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

To Sir, with love... with a shave and a haircut

This is not my barber, but I love this peluqueria, or barber shop, that I pass every time I'm in the city.  I mean, if you look closely, the place really says it all and with such personal panache, very old school.  Clearly, a place for gentlemen and boys and the name leaves no doubt....
Sir!  It's where James Bond would get his hair cut if he was in town.  And by another Sir....
All for about $2 or 3 US.....The tire is extra.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sunday delivery - Rellenos

Every Sunday morning, at about 7:30, this doña rings the bell to greet me with a basket of her delicious chile rellenos.  And each week, I realize how lucky I am to be living the life I'm living.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

This is so Oaxaca.... These kids are too damn cute

How is it possible to be this cute?  As I sat out in the middle of the floor, this young girl came up to me and said she was ready for her closeup.  I loved how proud and confident she was.  And her family was off to the side, all beaming.  She was dancing this morning, in the guelaguetza or dance presentation, at the opening day of the 8th Annual Feria de Carrizo in San Juan Guelavia.  After she stole my heart, these others followed her.  I didn't even have to ask.
They were all so free, open and happy.  Wow, what a treat.  And they could dance.
Both of them looked so good, great form..
This is how traditions are woven into daily life and guarantees that they will continue long into the future.  And what a rich culture they share and with such inherent elegance.
This is not to say, that they are not plugged right into the 21st century.
All these kids were just so at ease having their pictures taken.  We had so much fun.
Obviously, there are lots of other shots, with lots of amazing things made from carrizo, the bamboo-like grass, but the kids come first.  It's that damn cuteness thing.  The feria is only on Sundays and the last one is Feb. 3.  Be there or be square... on the QT.