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, November 5, 2007

El Dia de los Muertos - finalmente

After coming to Oaxaca for so many years to finally experience El Dia de los Muertos was quite remarkable, an inspirational and eye-opening series of events that will take some time to process and post. I have enough material between photos and video to do an entire site on The Day of the Dead, but for now, this is the place.

As was mentioned in an earlier post, Oaxaca had great expectations for this particular El Dia, because it presented the first potential real economic surge that this state so sorely needs. It certainly succeeded in that respect as the city was filled and many businesses had the best week in almost 2 years.

There is a reason why Oaxaca is famous for its celebrations of El Dia and for those of you reading this, do yourself a favor, come and experience it first-hand, if not next year, then the year after.

The Mexicans have the right perspective on Death. I observed much in the past week that has changed me and my perceptions. To watch children playing on graves in cemeteries filled with joyful people, music, food and flowers makes one think about not only life and death and human behavior, but also about cultural differences.

Simply put, it blew my mind.

I have a whole new aspect of respect for this culture. Their attitude about Death is so much healthier than ours in the States.

Over the span of four days, I visited six different cemeteries, many people’s homes and some pretty wild village fiestas.

Under a spectacular sunset, with the mountains as a backdrop, I watched families celebrate around the graves in the weaving village Teotitlan del Valle.

In San Miguel, the large pantheon in the city, I saw an old man in a crypt seated at a beautifully set table with wine, candle and a boom box playing Chopin.

In San Antonino, in a cemetery overflowing with the most beautiful flowers, I watched as they mixed dirt and water to make an adobe paste that they spread on the graves to make a smooth surface which they then decorated with dried flowers.

In San Agustin Etla, the pueblo in which I am living, I drank mescal with the locals at seven in the morning and followed them from house to house as they danced and drank (as they had been doing for a day before I caught up with them) in incredible traditional outfits covered with mirrors and bells.
Sunrise in the mountains with an incredible band and a couple of hundred people going crazy? Not bad.

Out standing in the field was where I was when we heard another band playing across the valley in a different village. The band I was following all turned and assembled on a ledge overlooking cornfields and facing the other band, played an “ in-your-face” good morning. Yes, I did get it on tape and will post it.

And then there was the mole that Emelia Ruiz from Teotitlan made. It was a rich shiny purple black that was just perfect. One of the best I have every experienced. We had it served over fresh homegrown turkey and delicious tortillas. And, of course, Pan de Muertos, a sweet bread that comes in all sorts of designs.

And all the altars or ofrendas, one in every house and business. This large one to Frida was in the Governor's Palacio.

It will take some time for it all to sink in and process. I will keep you posted.


slenane said...

These are incredible pictures and it is a wonderful story. It sounds like you are doing what you are supposed to do. Brian and Susan

Anonymous said...

Sunrise in the mountains with an incredible band and a couple of hundred people going crazy? Not bad.

Sounds almost as much fun as the 1977 Olympic Drug Trials, eh?