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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ready for the Guelaguetza? You bet!

I can barely believe it, but it sure looks like the hundreds of workers have finished these two major projects just in time for the guelaguetza.  First, the wings are back on the auditorium where the official performances will take place.  This roof has had a long and tortured history and the sides blew off or fell a couple of times, but hey... it's ready!
Also, the stairs leading up to the auditorium look great.  Just a week ago, they were non-existant, just a steep climb over dirt. 
So kudos to the workers.  Now, let's see if they finish the bridge walkover, which they started less that two weeks ago.
I dunno about that one.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Feasts and Goddesses

Oaxaca is the place to be right now.  There is so much to see and do and lots of people are doing just that.  Wow, what a day.  First, the Festiva de los Moles. Oaxaca is so famous for its moles.  There are many different kinds and eahc one is different depending on who made it or where it is from.  So imagine sitting down to all the mole you could ever wish to sample and that's just we did.
There was plenty for everybody.... and sooo tasty.
 And of course, mezcal.
My plate runneth over....  no, not really my plate.  My nails were much different ;-)
 Back for seconds?
After leaving the festiva, we went to the competition to choose this year's Diosa of the official guelaguetza.  Each oaxaqueña, in full traje or outfit, spoke about her region and its particular traditions.... and these ladies can truly declaim with the best of them.  I was lucky to get a nice shot of this year's winner, Señorita Leticia Reyes Salinas from Jamiltepec before she was chosen.  She will lead many of the upcoming activities.
 She had stiff competition.

 All disosas.
And finally, on the way back to the car, I ran into this beautiful tableau at Carmen Alto, getting ready to process through the streets.
Tomorrow, the desfile or parade of delegations of dancers from all the regions, from all over the state.  Always the best!!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Here we go.... It's Guelaguetza time!

It is time to eat and dance... and dance and eat.  The big question is will it look like this? ... you know, normally crowded and wonderfully crazy.
I am going to remain positive and hope that everything goes smoothly.  There is potential for problems as the ongoing conflicts continue, but maybe saner minds will prevail and allow these two important weeks to go smoothly.
Mañana, the feria des moles in the botanical garden, then Saturday, the first desfile with our friends from Teotitlan del Valle, then the feria de hongos in Cuajimoloyas on Sunday, then the feria de queso and the guelaguetza in Reyes Etla.... This ain't no sprint, it's a marathon.... starting with this....
 I am so ready.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Vasallo Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz

Life sometimes plays havoc with our plans.  As so it is for our good friend, Daniel Ruiz, the son of Mario, the principal photographer in Teotitlan del Valle.  I have known his family for years and watched Daniel grow up from a little kid into a fine young man.  He is one of the new danzantes and will be for the next three years.  As I said before, this new group is exceptional and they will be dancing in the official guelaguetza in the city this year, a great honor.  I am sure they will bring down the house. 
After practicing for seven months, one week before their first performance, Daniel had an appendicitis and could not dance.  He is still recovering, but back on his feet, although moving very gingerly.  I was just out there and he proudly showed me his outfit and his penacho.
It is bittersweet, life is.  It is wonderful to watch this kid grow up and to become a dancer and to have an even more intimate connection to this dance and the village, which I love and respect so much.  I have been psyched for months just to see him dance.  I'm proud of him. 
But as a former performer, I understand his disappointment and pain.  However, it is a three year gig and he will be out there dancing in September... and I'll be there watching and cheering him on.

Monday, July 18, 2016

One week from today in Reyes Etla

Yes indeed, exactly one week from today, Reyes Etla, the world famous home of queso and quesillo, will host its annual guelaguetza or dance festival.  And look at this place.  Is it not one of the most gorgeous settings for anything?
Nacho Libre was filmed there, too.  It is incredibly lush country.  You can see for miles and miles....
Of course, there is the annual feria de queso and quesillo right next to the dance action.   It does not get any better than this.  This guelaguetza is such a nice intimate affair with only a few hundred people watching, but it is getting more and more popular each year.   Now the big question is will tourists come or stay away in droves after all the negative publicity.  Uh, people.... you should come.  It is gonna be great once again. In the meantime, work goes on...
Be sure to check out the amazing number of things to do in the next few weeks over at Casita Colibri where there is a schedule for everything.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Back in the game..

OMG, a blog post!  OK, I've been a bit delinquent, really... does it matter?  The weather has been beautiful.
And the garden has exploded, so I've been busy.
More pics mañana.  But man does not live by gardening alone, so I had to eat.  How about bacon wrapped shrimp from Marco Polo, a Oaxacan favorite for seafood?  To die for... or maybe after.  They were sooo good, crispy with a little quesillo under the bacon.  Not the best pic, but I guess I was anxious to eat.
And of course, enchiladas and carne frita from Emilia Ruiz in Teotitlan del Valle.  She may not be one of the best cooks in the entire universe, but then again, she very well may be.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Teotitlan del Valle convite

Another beautiful day in paradise....
The second convite of the week in Teotitlan del Valle, where the village continues to celebrate La Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.
This is the most important celebratory week of the year and hundreds of girls and women gathered at the church with their canastas to begin the procession, or convite, through the streets of the village.  Look at that setting... glorious.
It is a long walk, maybe four or five kilometers and those baskets are heavy and catch the wind just like the dancers penachos or headdresses. 
The procession stretched a long way down the main street.
And, as always, such a delight and proud moment to see Beatriz Ruiz in all her glory.
And nice to see girls growing up after photographing them in previous years.
All ages turn out for this event which insures that this tradition will just keep going. 
They start so early in life, it becomes a natural part of their lives.  
For this particular week, people return home from all over Mexico and the US to participate.
That is one of the nicest things about Teotitlan del Valle, the importance of traditions which continue without fail,  embraced by all.  And they do it with an openness and joy and above all, respect.
Back for the danza de la pluma today..... It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Los danzantes de pluma - Teotitlan del Valle

As Teotitlan del Valle continues to celebrate la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo all this week, yesterday the new group of dancers fought strong winds and performed splendidly. Wow!
The sun was out and it was simply a glorious day.  This celebration, this village, these people and their traditions are so inspiring, one basks in the moment. 
It a time full of pride, commitment and some smiles.
The penachos, headdresses, and outfits caught the sun and the colors popped.
I need to put names to faces and will do so in the next few days.
It doesn't get any better or more traditional than this.
These guys are really good, especially Sergio Gutierrez Bautista, the new incarnation of Monctezuma.  He is a pretty amazing dancer.
I know they have been practicing for months, but there is nothing like the real thing and they were really tight and smooth despite strong winds which played havoc with the penachos.
Imagine having a sail on top of your head and then dancing. 
This is only the beginning.  They will be dancing for three years and I hope to be there with them all the way.   It is such an honor and blessing to be there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Teotitlan del Valle - The cycle continues

This week Teotitlan del Valle, the Zapotec weaving village, celebrates the fiesta de Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo with dancing and processions.  This is the beginning of a three year commitment for the danzantes and we plan to follow them through their entire time as dancers.  Last evening, a convite or procession of unmarried girls and women in traditional clothing carried canastas decorated with flowers and saints and paraded a long route through the streets of the village. 
There were more women this year than I have ever seen, maybe over two hundred.  It was, as always, a beautiful experience even though dark skies threatened.  After spending so many years going to Teotitlan, we know a fair number of people and feel so happy to know a couple of the dancers, one of whom I have known since he was a very young boy.  I feel happy and proud, but nothing like him and his family.  More on the dancers in the next posts, but here are the latest incarnations of Monctezuma, Malinche and Doña Marina.
However, if you follow this blog you will know that it is really all about Bea, Beatriz Ruiz, who has graced these pages many times along with her family. 
Here, Claudia, her mother, helps Bea get that heavy basket properly settled on her head for the long walk.
I remember her years ago carrying her canasta and look at her now, a young lady with all the beauty and pride of her family, village and heritage.
Ain't life great?