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, November 23, 2009
Now that Lonely Planet has put Oaxaca back on it's top ten list, I am just curious how people elsewhere view Mexico. So many times, we are the victims of the press or of stereotypes and it is hard to cut through all the inaccuracies.
So how is it with you and Mexico?
As I have said before, watching the US from the outside is unnerving. Unemployment, the sagging dollar, the polarized political scene, the gross ineptitude of those running the institutions - maybe it isn't ineptitude, but merely unfettered greed and to top it off, the terrible job that the media is doing in covering all of the above... well, it don't look good, but maybe that is just me. Am I in a bubble here? I follow lots of blogs and news sources, but maybe I am in an echo chamber, just hearing the same stuff over and over again.
So what is the word on Mexico that makes it into your bubble?
For those of us here, it is quiet and we are wondering when people are going to come and visit. Sure, there are problems, but where aren't there problems? Oaxaca continues to offer so much, culture, art, history, crafts, eco-tourism, food, beaches, mountains, its a long list.
What are you hearing about Mexico?
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Time for a visit!! Full story:
Lonely Planet is one of the world's leading travel media companies. Drawing on the knowledge, passion and miles traveled of Lonely Planet's global team of staff and authors, Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2010 showcases a year's worth of inspiration to take travelers out of the ordinary and into some unforgettable experiences.
Oaxaca provides travelers with a variety of activities, from surfing the legendary ‘Mexican pipeline' at one of the world's great surf beaches Playa Zicatela, sweating it out in a temazcal, a pre-Columbian herbal sauna in Puerto Escondido or surveying the vast valley of Oaxaca from atop the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán.
"It is an honor for Mexico to be recognized once again, by Lonely Planet as one of the Top 10 Regions in the world. Oaxaca is one of Mexico's richest cultural regions, and we are proud that visitors around the world feel the same," said Oscar Fitch, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Oh, why the picture? You figure it out.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
OAXACA, Mexico – A Mexican federal judge ordered the release of a man arrested last year for the October 2006 killing of U.S. independent journalist Brad Will in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Magistrate Javier Leonel Santiago Martinez described the evidence submitted by federal prosecutors against Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno as “false” and “fabricated,” echoing criticism of the indictment by Will’s family and organizations such as Amnesty International.
Martinez Moreno is a member of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, or APPO, the grassroots coalition behind a months-long 2006 uprising against the state’s authoritarian governor, Ulises Ruiz.
Will was gunned down on Oct. 27, 2006, while covering the events in Oaxaca for the indymedia collective.
We looked at the Motorola i455 cell phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and includes a free GPS applet. We were able to crack it and create a simple compasslike navigation system. We were also able to add other information, like where to find water left by the Border Angels, where to find Quaker help centers that will wrap your feet, how far you are from the highway--things to make the application really benefit individuals who are crossing the border.Read some of the comments. Full story at Boingboing.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I feel very blessed to be able to go to this amazing place. It seems like no other I have seen. On top of the beauty, the people are always so friendly, engaging in conversations so freely and openly.
The graves are decorated in so many different ways. The uses of flowers and plant material rivals anything I have seen in all the flowers shows I have gone to in my life.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
It is funny how certain days can be filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Yesterday was such a day. I will keep the lows to myself, like anyone needs to hear about them, but one of the insignificant ones was that I dropped my Nikon and messed up the only lens I have with me.
However, the highs were pretty high. The plan was to drive out to the cemetery in San Antonino for a concurso or competition, I think for grave decoration, but I don't really know. At any rate, it was the day before and we had the place almost completely to ourselves which was even better. It has to be one of the most beautiful panteones in all of Oaxaca. I visited it three times this week, each time it grew more beautiful. More on San Antonino later.
On the drive out we stopped at Jacobo Angeles restaurant where there was a feria of the woodcarving from nearby San Martin Tilcajete. Jacobo and his wife, Maria are real movers and shakers and are doing everything in their power to promote the artesanos.
I went with Henry Wangeman of Amate Books and as we went in, all the artesanos stopped what they were doing and gathered around us in a wonderful welcome. Henry has many years of promoting, selling, exporting and exhibiting folk art. He is a hero in many of the villages.
And little ole humble me? Moi? Not much other than collecting and commissioning pieces over the years and doing my best to encourage and promote this amazing art. I also wrote those directories and apparently after my talk last week, inspired a few people to visit the villages and buy pieces.So they were happy to see us. I love how Martin Melchor is holding the directorio open to his page.
These shots are all Henry Wangeman's. Gracias, hermano.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
And maybe it is the same for me and Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos. I am not a mexicano and I will never fully experience or comprehend the whole experience, but I did the best I could and surely had fun.
Sand painting in the zocalo.I had a plan before going in and even though when the time arrived I kind of forgot it, everything went incredibly well. All of it was made possible by the use of a car from Rosa, aka DF Rosa. Muchas gracias!!!
I made repeated visits to certain cemeteries and the zocalo to first, follow the prep and then, be there when things were happening. I will go back in a week or so to see the aftermath. I made impromptu stops at the panteones is San Bartolo Coyotepec and Ocotlan just because I happened to find passing by. I was lost coming from San Antonino when I stumbled across the one in Ocotlan.
Rebozo and flowers in San Antonino.And even though I had a plan, I never really knew what was happening when. Yesterday, I awoke at 5AM to go and find the dancers in San Agustin Etla. I had no idea where they were so I had to drive around, stop the car, get out and listen and eventually I found them by following the music.
I had been planning this for two years, to catch them in their mirrored and belled outfits as the sun came over the mountains. Success! They had already been dancing for 12 hours and were feeling no pain, in trance-like states of intoxication. Mezcal and dancing like crazy will do that. Try it sometime. There was a great band that played nothing but high energy infectious music. They would pack into the yard of someone's house and the dancers would follow them in and it was instant party. I stuck with them for a few hours, a part of a large parade of people joining them as they walked the streets going from house to house. It all ended in complete madness in the center of the town as one band was coming down the hill as the one I was following was going up. The music kicked into a whole new gear as did the dancers. They knew it was the end and I found myself in a mosh pit of incredibly happy and hammered peopled. Total insanity of the best kind.
I did get some great video of the whole thing that I will edit and get up soon.
It was all of 9:30 in the morning so it was back to the house to recharge batteries and get ready for the afternoon trip to Teotitlan del Valle where I joined my Zapotec weaver friends, Zacarias and Emilia Ruiz and their sons, Antonio and Beto, and Antonio's wife, Claudia for a meal of mole negro. My good friend, Henry Wangeman of Amate Books and his son Zack (named after Zacarias) and others were there.
The altar at Zacarias'.At 3PM a cool wind blew in as the dead departed. We paid our respects and then went to the panteon. It was cool and gray. There was a band playing contemplative music and people sat around and listened and talked, shared a story, a drink, a handshake or a hug.
As Henry always says, quoting Vonnegut, "if this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
Sunday, November 1, 2009