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, November 3, 2009

If this isn't nice

Many years ago, when I was starting my Buddhist studies, my teacher, a venerable man from Sri Lanka, told me, "Chris, there is no such thing as a western Buddhist so do the best you can and have fun."

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."

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