The here and now... and what and why
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.
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.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I was there for two different days of dancing. So here at long last is the video of La Danza de las Plumas.
- The economic downturn has not led to a decrease in support for trade. In fact, the share of the public who believes growing trade and business ties between nations are good for Mexico has increased, rising from 69% in 2008 to 79% in 2009.
- Mexicans are less enthusiastic about the free market than many others around the world. Just 52% say people are generally better off in a free market system, even though this means some may be rich while others are poor; about four-in-ten (41%) disagree with this point of view. Only four of the 25 publics in the survey express less enthusiasm for the free market.
- Almost universally, political corruption is considered a problem. Fully 94% of those surveyed say corrupt political leaders are a big problem, and 68% say they are a very big problem.
- Despite seeing a host of problems afflicting the country, the vast majority of Mexicans (87%) say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their own lives.
- The economic downturn is having an impact on the lives of Mexicans - 54% describe their personal economic situation as good, down six percentage points from last year.
- Most Mexicans think their country has a poor image abroad - 61% say Mexico is poorly regarded by people around the world.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
But as they always say, "How can I miss you, if you won't go away."
No sights like this in Beantown. These were from the day before Independence Day. Not really the typical oaxaqueña look, but patriotic nonetheless.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
At any rate, it has been a remarkable week, starting last Friday in the spectacular setting of the botanical garden at Santo Domingo with a dinner for 700 prepared by twenty of Oaxaca's finest cooks from the city and the surrounding villages.These cooks did not disappoint with many wonderful taste treats like molés, tamales, ceviche, mezcals, soups, and desserts. There was great music, complete with a mariachi band, to go with the fine food and drink. People really had a mighty good time. The Oaxaca social scene at its finest
Much of the week was in celebration of author and Mexican food expert, Diana Kennedy and her latest book, which is entitled "Oaxaca al Gusto." Diana has written a whole slew of cookbooks and compiled hundreds of recipes from all over Mexico. Just watching her bask in well deserved glory and interact with all the chefs was a real honor. There was an official presentation on Wednesday at Santo Domingo to recognize her many contributions to the Mexican cooking literature.
Sunday, I was lucky enough to attend a dinner at Casa Oaxaca featuring chefs Mikel Alonso Garcia and Roberto Solis doing his Matrix cooking thing.Alejandro Ruiz Olmedo , the fine chef and manager of Casa Oaxaca helped organize the week and hosted the meal, which was haute cuisine, small servings of a wide range for dishes from the opening course of tomato aspic with chicharon through seafood dishes, meat and ending with a sublime mango dish. The menu:Tuesday is was a special degustacion at the other Casa Oaxaca location with a kitchen full of cooks. Mighty tasty food and and an honor to be invited.
From there the week progressed with films, lectures and above all, spectacular food prepared by some of the best chefs in Mexico.
Check out this fish soup cooked by addng heated rocks. Muy rico!So it has been a heady week just being around all these great cooks and authors. Patrica Quintana and Susannah Trilling were among the luminaries.This has been an important event for several reasons. First, Oaxaca is famous for its unique cuisine and this week it certainly showed why. Secondly, to celebrate Diana Kennedy and all the remarkable cooks and chefs. And lastly, to invite the world to come to Oaxaca and see the diversity of foods here, everything from the traditional molés to haute cuisine. This place has it all, something for everyone.
Monday, September 7, 2009
The altar in front of the distilling unit. The process is fairly straight ahead. The maguey or agave is planted and then one simply waits for seven years for them to mature. The plants do not need much care, just an annual cleaning. Then the leaves are cut off, the piña, or center section is baked for two or three days in a covered pit which imparts mezcal's distinctive smokey flavor. Then the piñas are then crushed with a stone wheel drawn by a mule or horse in this case. This produces a sweet extract, called aguamiel, which is put into vats to ferment for five to fourteen days. The resulting liquid is about six percent alcohol, which is, in turn, distilled and ends up between 40 and 56 percent alcohol. Don't try this at home, unless you live in Oaxaca. There is much more to producing good mezcal. However, because I am sworn to secrecy and I value my well being, I can't divulge any of the ticks of the trade. Needless, to say, it was mighty fine drinking. More when I finish the shoot.
I don't speak from much experience, however, if I get injured or ill here, there are decent options starting with the village clinics. Seeing a doctor is fairly easy and is not expensive. Many even make house calls.
At the same time, as a Massachusetts resident, I am required to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. I pay the penalty. After paying exorbitant prices for several years and getting nothing for it, it seemed to make the most sense. I got tired up hearing, "Sorry, you are not covered for this."
I always figure I am representative of several million people, professionals without health care. I know it is a crap shoot to not have insurance, but it is better than paying for half of it, you know, crap.
So when I read that they are considering health care "reform" that requires people to buy it even though they can't afford it and that the mandated payments must continue to go to the health insurers, who are so obviously ripping us off... well, it sounds like Bizzaro World. I must be missing something.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Elephants in the room... meaning the obvious things that people just do not want to talk about. This isn't a political blog so I try not to go there. However, watching the problems here in Oaxaca, problems that have a very long history, and the problems in El Norte, one has to wonder why folks don't deal with those pesky elephants.
If you want to see a great blog, go to BAGnewsNotes, a website that always has a fascinating and provocative analysis of the photos and images into today's media.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
from the AP story:
OAXACA, Mexico - Teachers enraged by the shooting death of a colleague seized government offices and blocked roads Tuesday in southern Oaxaca state, the site of months of violent demonstrations by teachers three years ago.
Leftist groups that battled with authorities in this picturesque Mexican colonial city for five months in 2006 are working with the educators in this latest strike, using hijacked trucks and buses to block intersections.
Protesters with loudspeakers vowed to paralyze the city.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
These two of children in the zocalo. The first was just running around looking at cute as possible.This is not such a happy shot. This girl played well and had a voice like a fog horn - loud and clear. But her face never showed a spark of happiness. Her life as a street musician, like so many others, is a tough one.
An nieve vendor in the city and one way out in Chichicapam.A wedding parade just outside Santo Domingo.A different sort of procession in Chichicapam.