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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Yanhuitlan - Cristo in the right light

Going through the many shots of Yanhuitlan I came across this series of shots of Christ in a beam of light.  The luck of the moment....

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Eye See You - ICU?

OK, what's this?
Eye in the sky?
No.  Think more down to earth.
They're everywhere..... even right in front of Sanchez Pasqua market.
"Somebodies watchin' you......  every breath you take, every click you make.....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I think someone is missing on the concept here or maybe they just meant "drive without alcohol" in the front seat.  Anyway, three cases in the back, no problema.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Red bird, red bird....

This guy was right outside my window.  Red enough for you? 
Sorry I don't what kind it is.... maybe a tanager.  Anyone, anyone?.... Bueller?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

San Juan Teposcolula - On the Ruta Dominica

The Ruta Dominica, Dominican Route, is an ongoing governmental project to encourage tourists to visit different areas that often go neglected.  They are improving access by not only restoring many sites, but also by adding amenities and dramatically improving the roads.  I have been heading north to visit Yanhuitlan (pop -800) and San Pedro y Pablo Teposcolula for several years and to watch the steady and impressive progress.  Both of the churches in these village have been restored and are spectacular.  Of course, the work continues, but the bulk of the work is done and well worth the visit.  Yanhuitlan is only an hour's drive and Teposcolula another 25 minutes.  Yesterday, as I drove through the mountains from Yanhuitlan on my way to San P y P, I stopped in San Juan Teposcolula (pop-482) to see the church there.  San Juan is about halfway between the other two places.  One can see the church from the road and it is such a strange structure, I don't know why I never stopped to see it before, but yesterday I did. 
It was obvious that this mid-16th century church was still in mid-restoration, but nonetheless, it was pretty amazing.  I wonder if it ever had steeples.  It does have little flying buttresses in the back, but nothing like the massive ones at Yanhuitlan.
The interior was quite cool and dark with large rustic pillars holding up arches.  It was also obvious, that it was being actively used because it was filled with flowers and decorations.  Everything was nice and clean.
 The vista from the interior shows the rugged and dramatic countryside.
 Looking down the valley from the courtyard.
Like Yanhuitlan and Teposcolula, San Juan has a large exterior plaza and the views looking down the long valley are dramatic.  These large areas were for the indigenous to celebrate masses and other rites as they were not allowed in the church proper or maybe it was just there was not enough room for them.... yeah, right.  Remember, that when the Spanish arrived, there were hundreds of thousands of Mixtecs living in the area, but after fifty years, the kill rate of the locals from the diseases the conquistadores unknowingly introduced, was 95%.  It just went downhill from there.  But the Dominicans just kept building and working on the projects they envisioned and started, including entire village layout plans and aqueducts.  Little did they know that is was going to be a 500-year construction project with a dramatically reduced workforce.  No workers meant no progress. 
I plan on returning and learning more.  It is such an interesting place that encapsulates a good chunk of Mexican history.

Friday, January 24, 2014

El dia de San Pablo

I live in San Pablo Etla and in all the many San Pablos, there are hundreds throughout Mexico, people are celebrating their Saint's day.  Workers have been working like crazy for the last several weeks to finish the church restoration in the village center.  It has not been open since I moved in in September, but today it was.
Admittedly, the roof is still temporarily tin, but everything else looked spectacular and we caught the beginning of the festivities and the mass, but will be heading back for the fireworks later this evening.
The wind was very brisk and all the little pennants were chirping in the sky above us.  Bands and cohetes, firecrackers, got the thing going.
That's what I call band commitment! The artist formerly known as would approve.
Here is our San Pablo getting ready to be carried through the streets.
Back at the house I can hear bands playing all around me, coming from near and far across the valley. It should be a fun weekend, because we all know that these things are multiple day affairs.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A bird of a different feather

A late afternoon shot of one of my neighbors.
When I am in the States I never eat chicken, not that I am much of a meat eater, but it just doesn't taste like much of anything there, kinda like cardboard.  I am, however, a great believer in the power of "a little chicken soup" as a cure-all.  I mean, grandmothers all over the world can't be wrong.  And there is nothing like a good stock made from real home-grown chickens.  It can be so rich and tasty.  I am lucky to have the Comedor Colon in Etla that makes some of the best chicken dishes around and always has a large pot of the richest stock.  Their soup ( w/lime, chile, onion, rice and breast meat) and some aspirin got me through my bout with la gripe.  Now I get it just to keep me healthy.... and happy.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

There's more to the story

As always, the images one sees on the street are powerful, but for me, these held some deeper thoughts.
"Without maguey, there is no mezcal."  Mezcal is very hot these days and there has been a proliferation of producers in response to growing demand.  And to make mezcal, one needs maguey or agave.  The plants can take many years to mature.  Some mature in seven years, others can take over twenty and Oaxaca, unlike other states, is blessed with many varieties of the plant.  Tequila from Jalisco is produced solely using the blue agave.  Now, it may be an urban myth, but I don't think so, however, whenever Jalisco runs out of piñas, the heart of the mature plant, they come here and snap up as many as they can find.  So when I visited my favorite mezcalero, Faustino, in Chichicapam a couple of weeks ago, that was the story I heard from his family.  Last time I was there he had a couple of thousand liters, but this time, he was down to eighty.  It will be four months until the next harvest.  Obviously, with the plants taking so long to mature there is a lot of planning and staggered crop planting involved, but seeing as though they have been making the stuff for a few hundred years, they have it down.  As Faustino likes to say, "Calmate."  Be cool, it will all be fine.

The juxtaposition of the poster for the missing girl with the ominous words above it.....

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's a bird, it's a plane..

It's a bird.  This is how I normally see these babies, buzzards, I think, riding the thermals and making me wish I could do the same.
However, as I was watching that guy up there, I noticed two of its kin in the trees right next to me.
They were quite large and eyed me warily.
Nice to see them up close and personal, well, not too personal.  I did mention that they were quite large.  Impressively so.

Friday, January 17, 2014

El estúpido - quema

Yes, the stupid, it burns.....
I was really trying to do the right thing by paying my tenencias or car taxes early, but somehow things went awry.  I have to go to Colonia Reforma to pay them and it is always a strange trip as one immerses oneself into the Mexican equivalent of the DMV.  There are a series of numbers one has to get, kinda like at a deli, and then various lines to stand in and waiting areas, but eventually it all works.  Except that yesterday, the lines were too long, so I did the sensible thing and said, "Mañana."
I headed back to my car which was a few block away.  Parking in Reform can be a real bear and I almost never go there and if I do, I walk, but because I was dealing with car stuff, I had the car.

 However, when I returned to where I had parked it, it was not there.  It was not there.  An instant adrenalin buzz and I was asking if anyone has seen anything.  Maybe I had parked it in a prohibited parking area and it had been towed.  Surely, it had not been stolen.... I know I know, don't call me Shirley.  I walked around and eventually assumed it had to have been towed, so I headed out to the lot where they tow everything, which is fortunately in Santa Rosa, not too far from my house.  I hung out there for a couple of hours as the police tried to find my car, but to no avail.  They called around to the other lots, but no one had any record of it.  I hoofed it home and called my insurance company because the cops had said if they did not have it, it must have been stolen. 

My insurance agent got right on it and reported it stolen and then told me I needed to come back into the city to meet with the investigators and go to the exact spot where I had parked.  By then it was late afternoon and I had spent the whole day trying to track the car down.  The insurance manager drove me up to Reforma where we met the police.  After an hour of discussion and interviewing people, they said they had no idea, but for sure, it had not be towed and cars were generally not stolen in the area, especially 2004 Jettas. 

Finally, they said maybe we should drive around, that maybe someone had move it.  Who was I to question?  So we drove around the block and........ there was my car, exactly where I had parked it ten hours earlier.  I had the street right, but had not gone far enough down it.  In my defense, I had memorized a landmark, a school, but had not noticed another school a block up from the first.  I knew I had parked in front of the school, but I had the wrong school.  I am an idiot, so cut me some slack.

When I saw my car, I let out an embarrassed shout.  "What an fool I am," I said.  I got no arguments, but I did get lots of laughs and smiles.  I hugged the cops  I was so happy.  So kudos to the police and my insurance people, all of whom were incredibly kind and helpful.  Me, I just kept saying, "How could I have done that?  Facepalm much?  I did learn a new word - avergonzado.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Market

There really is no better market to visit on any day of the week, but Sundays in Tlacolula are the best.  It is quite extensive with lots of different areas specializing in different things like breads, flowers, tools, turkeys and fabrics.  It's always a visual feast.
Our lady of the onions.
Fresh produce.
Just hangin'
Lots of variations on the traditional outfits.
 And above all, amazing faces.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Git yer motor runnin' - Xmas style

You may remember this post about this biker paying his electricity bill.  Well, I ran into him again near Etla and did a double take as the chopper was now nicely festooned for the holidays.
Love those antlers.... and the red nose.
Interesting detail paint work.
The ribcage surrounding the gas tank is a nice touch.
These skull tail lights must look great at night, but they're really not that Xmasy.  I hasten to add they are most certainly badass.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sun Dance

Still under the weather, but at least the weather is sunny. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Street art

Confetti for the new year.
This is right next to Comedor Colon in Etla.
Natural Photoshopping.  The first layer.
And then the next.  Natural layering.

My life is now complete

I have posted a selfie, but that not the completion.  It's using "selfie" in a sentence.  I feel so.....