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

Friday, December 14, 2018

Pride and tears - Los Danzantes de la Pluma de Teotitlan del Valle

And so ends the three year promesa or commitment of this wonderfully talented group of dancers from Teotitlan de Valle.  Blogger buddy, Shannon, and I were there from the very beginning until the very end.  And yes, I, like many others, had tears in my eyes and a heart filled with pride as we watched them dance for the last time as the village celebrated el Dia de Gaudalupe.  And there were so many people involved with these dancers, a real group effort. 
Wives,  parents, extended families and the committee in charge of organizing the entire cycle.  A special shout out to Javier Gutiérrez Hernández, whose choreography was so beautiful and creative.  
A former dancer himself and father of Sergio, this group's Monctezuma, here with two other stars of the show, the subalternos, Juan Bautista Ruiz and Florentino Martinez Ruiz.
It was an amazing finale as almost two thousand people, mostly family and friends, came together to share the moment with the dancers.  Much more to come....

Sunday, December 9, 2018

No day at the beach...

"Gee, Chris, why no blog posts?"  I've been fighting some off/on illness that has laid me up to the point where I finally had to see a doctor, a first for me in my years of being in Oaxaca.  I do have a doc in Boston, where from where I just returned, but next available appt. was sometime in the distant future. 
I was struck by the difference here.  I called at 10 AM and got an appointment for 11:30.  Cost was $25 US and it was suggested that I get some tests done.  So I walked a couple of blocks and immediately was seen, a full range of tests was performed for about $100 US.  The results will be emailed to me on Monday.  I know from previous experience, that all of the above would have cost me about ten times more in the States where I am a self-pay.
Anyway, I feel better and am ready to face whatever gets thrown at me... yeah, right.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Our talk on the Danza de la Pluma

If you are in town, please join Shannon from Casita Colibri and me, with some special guests, as we present our annual talk on the Danza de la Pluma from Teotitlan del Valle at the Oaxacan Lending Library at 5 PM.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

They're everywhere.....

The cashier at my supermarket is from India.  The lawn guys from Guatemala.  My bank manager is from the Middle East. The wait staff where I ate lunch are Chinese. The bus driver on the T is from Haiti.  My furnace guy is from Estonia..... This is a nation of immigrants and I am happy to have all these people in my life.  They make it better.

Monday, November 26, 2018

It musta been the lettuce...

There are certain things I always look forward to when I venture back into El Norte.  Things like dim sum in Chinatown, a Reuben sandwich, really good pizza and a nice fresh salad.  Flashback a couple of weeks at my local market, "Hey, where's the Romaine?"......
So I have been off my game, so to speak.  And all of it is pretty funny considering all the talk back and forth about lettuce, where to get it, whether to wash it or not, etc...  Never really a problem for me, because I grow my own and still wash it with bottled water and Microdyn.  So I come to the US and get sick on the food.  Lettuce pray....
I am so spoiled by the freshness and quality of most everything in Oaxaca.... and all the amazing cooks and their delicious dishes.
Still, I love it in New England (even though it has rain almost everyday except when it wasn't frigid) and there's still dim sum to enjoy.  Then.... Oaxaca!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

In the belly of the beast...

Or maybe, just fat and sassy.  At any rate, after a couple of weeks of getting many necessary things done, I'm in New England just in time for frigid weather and the first snow.  Normally, I would be raking leaves, and I got a little done, but the leaves in the gutters blocked the rain that fell and then the whole mess froze solid.  I had to chip them out with a flat bar.  Oh well, the seasons in New England always provide a balance to those of Oaxaca.  I love them all.... and all that "dirty water."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

All in a name - Xochitl

Congratulations to U.S. Representative-Elect Xochitl Torres Small.   I know several other Xochitls and I've always love the name.  It is a Nahuatl -- or Aztec -- floral name common here in Oaxaca.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Life (and Death) imitating art....

Or perhaps art imitating life (and death).  From Zaachila, a live rendition of this painted version from just down the same street.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Muerteada in San Agustin Etla

Every year this famous muerteada in San Agustin Etla gets bigger and better.  It is crazy, but I love it and, once again, I placed myself in the middle of a few moments of total insanity, a Mexican version of a traditional mosh pit... or something like that.  I'll have more, but I wanted to share these shots of the outfits that the people wear.  This young man's cape, covered with mirrors, weighed forty kilos, 88 lbs.... and he was dancing like a maniac!
The other traditional outfit is one covered with bells.  The pants weigh more than the tops and I've worn one and it weighed 15 kilos, the pants 30.
They dance for over 12 hours, with breaks for food, beer and mezcal.  The music is fast and infectious.  You gotta move! Or.... just stand there.
I have video, but the is still more to do.... this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Muerteada Time!

Every year there are more and more muerteadas, but the best and the cuna, the birth of the muerteada, is in San Agustin Etla.  What's a muerteada?  It's a combination of an all-nighter parade with live music, dancing, food, costumes and perhaps, some beer and mezcal.  Starts tomorrow night and goes until mid-morning.
The one in San Agustin Etla is filled with all of the above and the traditional outfits are covered with bells and/or mirrors.  It ends with kinda of a mosh pit as two groups come together at the base of a hill and the bands and dancers go at each other... separated by two lines of security just to keep things in some sort of control.  It's insane, but fun.  Here's last year's.
This one's basically for men, but kids and women participate. However, there's one for the women in two weeks.
Party On!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Harvest time for Muertos

What spectacular vistas.
More marigolds and cockscomb, cempasuchil and terciopelo rojo.
These fields are about ten km from Mitla.  We're so ready for Muertos!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Pan del Muerto - Mitla Style

The village of Mitla is famous for many things besides its 10,000 years of history and its archaeological site, one of which is its treatment of pan del muerto.  They know how to do it right!
Yesterday, I posted some of the colorful decorated breads from Zaachila.  Today it was off to the market in Mitla on the Sunday before Muertos, one of the best days to go there.  Why? This!  I got this one for my neighbors.
They were carrying in long planks with today freshly baked and decorated bread. 
Every family has a different style and many have been baking for many years.
Unlike Zaachila, most all of the decoration is done using white icing... with a few sprinkles.
And Mitla has never looked better.  Last year all of this was under construction, wet and muddy.  Today!
There's still time to get your pan del muerto, but time's a wastin'.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Feria in Zaachila

Today was the opening day of the 1st Annual Feria de Pan del Muerto Adornado, Mole, Chocolate y Espuma, the frothy chocolate drink, in Zaachila and wow, it was fantastic.  There were people there from many of the surrounding villages and the bread, mole, etc and all the things for sale... wow, just wow. 
In Zaachila the bread for the altars is decorated with colorful designs.  The decorations are not sweet, made from flour and food coloring.
Every village is different and tomorrow ,we'll check out the pan del muerto in Mitla and Diaz Ordaz where most everything is done with white icing. 
However, today, the bakers of Zaachila showed their stuff and it was spectacular.
People were so warm and friendly, open for conversation and handing out little taste treats of various things.  And lots of good things to eat, too.  My lunch...
It's going on for two more days so.... Be There or Be Square.  We'll be going back again next year.  This is just the beginning of one of the best times of the year in glorious Oaxaca.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Flowers for los Muertos... and the living

This is one of my favorite days of the year, when I go and see if the fields nearby are, once again, filled with marigolds and cockscomb, cempasuchil and terciopelo rojo. 
And they were, glorious, as always.
I'm a plant person, always growing things, so I always meditate on the many aspects of these fields.
From each of the individual flowers forming that ocean of color, to the tens of thousands of people who will use them as a part of their celebrations, all the altars, all the graves that will soon be graced with these flowers. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Keepin' it clean...

It's a big cleaning job, but someone's got to do it,  Maybe getting ready for Muertos and the hordes of welcome visitors or just a normal cleaning day, but these workers were doing an excellent job.  It actually looked like fun as others joined in.
And the proof is obvious...
A job well done.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Laughng With the Loons

Yes, those are real loons, the birds... and the people, too.  Feel good and love the break...

What is this?

Plant, animal or mineral?
Nature is amazing.
This a voracious insect is eating the huge leaves of the bananas. I'm sure it will turn into some magnificent winged beauty, but for now I am removing them and placing them in a different area.  They've been going after the misperos or nisperos and I must remain vigilant.  Anyone know what it is or what it turns into?

Update:  Trusty readers have all the answers and check out that video!