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, March 18, 2008

Run, Forrest, Run!

I am back in Oaxaca after ten days on the road. What took three days in the going, we did in a nice 18-hour drive back. What a chance to see the diverse lay of the land. What a country! We drove from the humid flats, through the tropical plains into the jungle and then back into the dry mountains, which surround the city of Oaxaca.

We left at 4 AM and stopped for breakfast on the beach about 30k from Cuidad del Carmen, coconuts off the tree and the freshest of fish, not a bad way to go.
We also picked up a couple of crates of fresh mangos and some hands of bananas. I think there may be 50 mangos in each crate all for 50 pesos. These are not the yellow mangos, but the big green ones turning rosy yellow. Henry was in Heaven. “Look at these colors, Chris. It is like an edible sunset.”

After dropping everyone off in the city, I returned to Henry and Rosa’s house to be greeted by a happy dog and almost 100 gardenias.

I will get caught up on the Mayan sites and post what photos I have in a day or two.

On the way down, about 270k out of Oaxaca, on the only road we could take to get to where we were going, we were stopped cold in a long line of traffic in the middle of nowhere. We learned that “los maestros,” the Oaxacan teachers, has set up a blockade as a protest for their continuing problems with the government. Certainly, it was a highly effective blockade. It appeared that we were going to have to drive all the way back to Oaxaca as they said it was not going to end soon. There were dirt roads that led off the main road, but the protesters had blocked them with buses or brush. This is rugged country and it was their turf. We turned around and headed back. We saw clouds of dust off to the North and then spotted an unblocked path. I hit the brakes, backed up and started up the path only to be greeted by a beer truck coming from the other side of the blockade. “Can we get through?” we asked. “Si, but you better hurry.”

Off in the distance we could see people running across the wide dusty fields to block the road. We began to slowly drive across and in a cloud of dust we headed up the road hoping we would be able to find a turnoff that would lead us to where we needed to get.

We were all laughing and praying for the best, but we could see that several of the connectors were already blocked.

The runners could see us and they kicked it into gear. The race was on.

Doing my best bat-out-of-hell scream, I yelled out to them,“Run, Forrest, run,” and floored it.
The actual road at sunset at 100kph

After the dust settled and some tight turns and detours, we made it. It was a crazy happy moment. We were going to continue our trip after all. I said we should all get out and do the "Dance of Joy," but we were content just to laugh and drive on.

On our return, we reached exactly the same spot, the middle of nowhere. No teachers now. Memo said it was because it was vacation week and that everyone was at the beach. But Henry got out and did the "Dance of Joy" much to the enjoyment of an old tow truck operator that just happened to be there.

I explained to him, “It’s OK, my grandfather is a little crazy.” The guy’s smile was priceless.

Incidentally, I always taught my students the lessons I learned in the 60’s. “The straighter you look, the weirder you can be.” Meaning, if you have long green hair and a spike through you nose, you stand a better chance of getting hassled. However, with nice short hair and a blue blazer, you can get away with almost anything.

It may be time for a haircut. We normally drive through all the military checkpoints, which are very serious and intimidating, without ever being stopped. Not so yesterday, as at each one we hit, we were asked to get out of the car while they searched it.

The guys all blamed it on me. It was my “Che” hair. I think the soldiers probably had heard that I was traveling with my completely insane grandfather.


henry said...

In hindsight the soldiers with high powered rifles at the check points probably all wear che t-shirts under their uniforms. They stopped us not for Che but beacuse you looked like Timothy Leary.

Christopher Stowens said...

If you think I looked like Dr. Tim from the outside, you should see it from the inside.

Got my haircut. Now where's my blazer and old school tie.