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

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

La Boda (The Wedding)

The Bride
Veronica and Joel

As I bounced down an almost impassable dirt road on my way to a boda (wedding) in San Martin Tilcajete, it finally sunk in that I was not in Kansas anymore. There was a Nor'easter in Boston, heavy rain in St. Thomas, the Pats were playing the Jets … and there were flashes of previous lives, school concerts, vacations, the haze that is my past.

Not here not now. Bumpin’ down the road to see the wedding of Veronica and Joel. Veronica is the daughter of Jesus and Juana Sosa Calvo, who are renowned woodcarvers in a village famous for its carvers.

Most weddings in Mexico take place during December and May. That’s the tradition and the celebrations last days. Each village has different rituals, celebrations, foods and customs. This was my first in San Martin.

Jesus and I go back a long way and it was a wonderful honor to be at the wedding. The Sosa family has carved almost thirty of the atriles (music stands) in my collection which numbers around 65 now. They carved the very first stand and they have created many of the most remarkable pieces in Oaxacan woodcarving.
Veronica and Jesus Sosa in December or 1999 with the first atril (music stand)
Instrumentales - August, 2002

I arrived very early at the church early after an easy 90-minute drive down the wide valleys that lead south of the city.

At one point in its history, San Martin Tilcajete was a large military and political rival of Monte Alban, but now it is a small and quiet place with perhaps between 50 and 100 carving families. The fame of their carvings brought much wealth to these poor villages, but now no one visits and sales have plummeted. Tough times. The artists are figuring out other ways of surviving. Some go back to the campo (working the fields), others have opened restaurants and many have left for El Norte.

Jesus’ son and his brother just came back from picking apples in Washington. Emiglio, the brother, is a great painter. Now he has lots of muscles and looks like a different person – wonderfully strong and healthy.

I sat in the zocalo and just watched village life on a Sunday afternoon. It was in the shade, cool breezes, decent music playing across the square. I just hoped I was in the right place.

In time, people started arriving. There were lots of kids with musical instruments. I could see them walking down the long dusty streets lugging their cases behind them.

Joel and Veronica waited in the car until all had assembled and then…

It unfolded, a very simple and sweet traditional village ceremony. As I say, it was a real honor and pleasure to be there.

I, of course, was doing my best to shoot “ a traditional wedding shoot” using the best of what I could remember from the master, Sonya. I couldn’t remember much, but managed to shoot around 400 shots so I played the percentages and got a few nice ones.

After the ceremony, the band led us on a procession through the village and people came out to wave and give good wishes to the couple.

After a ten-minute walk the entire party ended up at the Sosa home where long tables were set under the trees and awnings. There was a great trio singing as we sat down to a meal of carnitas, pork cooked in large pots of manteca (lard), beans, salsas, rice, tortillas and beer, mescal and sodas.

There was a beautiful altar set up off to the side.

The next day Veronica was off to live in Puebla with Joel’s family.

1 comment:

Nightreading said...

Oh those beautiful village weddings!

I am astonished how similar they look in different parts of the world.

I have great childhood memories from my gma's village in central Russia about those summer-time weddings. With 2-3 hundred of people gathering together.

The groom and the bride being driven by horse carriages and all the guests by tracks with open tops.

Anyone in the village could stop those processions and ask for names of soon-to-be husband and wife... And those traditional greetings.."sovet da lyubov'" which means "love and understand each other"

And then the ceremony, and the long meals with endless appetizers, main courses, desserts, home-made alcohol, traditional non-alcoholic drink called "kvas". All the food was organic, but we just called it "food" back in days ;-)))

And dances, and singing those self-made songs with lots of unscripted messages. We call them "chastushki" - our version of rap songs- sultry, wise, funny, anything but sorrow...

And then the next morning..the bedding sheets have to be placed on those drying lines to show to the entire community that the bride was a good girl before she got married to a good boy.....