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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pan y Flores - Bread and Flowers

Muertos is filled with so many wonderful traditions and half the fun is just getting there, like finding bread for the altars.  So today it was off to Villa Diaz Ordaz to see their feria de pan de muerto.
It is a tiny village just five kms. to the north of Tlacolula.  And there was bread,
And while the event was low-key, we could have been too early, the people were incredibly friendly and not only was there bread, but mole, chocolate and plenty of flowers for sale.
And as always, lots of little heart stealers.
Then it was off to nearby Mitla where the Sunday market was really happening.  Some of the most intricate and beautiful breads come from Mitla and they used to have a competition, but now, it was all about meeting the demand and the demand was crazy.
We saw people buying many large loaves, bags full, baskets full.  And flowers!  Marigolds and cockscomb or as they are known here cempasuchil and cresta de gall, terciopelo rojo.  Simply beautiful.
The tastes and colors of Muertos.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Be You y Vota

Muerteada in Pueblo Nuevo

Sure, there are blockades and construction delays almost everyday, but they allow one to get off the beaten track and find new things like these.  I found this long muerteada announcement mural just down the road when I ducked out of traffic and took the back roads back to the house.
 This one just kept going and going...
 and going.
Amazing street art.
With a kickass band no doubt.
And what's behind the door?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Right outside my door...

I live a bit in the boonies with not too much around me although I am only a few kilometers from the main drag into the city.  However, you can see from previous posts just how lush and open the countryside is around me. 
So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a band playing highly energetic music almost right outside my door.  Of course, I was out in seconds to see what was happening and found a parade of little kids and their parents going from house to house led by the band and a police car. 
It turned out that they were from a little school just over the hill in a quite isolated area.  
There was something so happy and real about this little parade.  I mean, c'mon.
Maybe it was that all the kids and their parents were all so young, but I think it was the complete lack of pretense, just the joy of being there and pretty much doing it totally right.
Traditional outfits
And totally hip.
What a treat.
The parents were right there as well.
It is going to be a fun week.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Getting ready for muertos

Today was the test run for the upcoming few days, just to make sure everything would go smoothly.  Alas, there will be no exhibition of pan de muerto in Mitla as in previous years.  The bread makers are too busy making enough for overwhelming sales.  I'm sure we will find some amazing examples anyway.  Nice street art on the main drag.  Dancing the jarabe...
That's a lot of culture in one picture.
Of course, take a right and you end up in mezcal land and we needed some for visiting and ofrendas for Muertos.
This shot is off the road cutting over from Mitla through Chichicapam to Ocotlan, always a beautiful drive.  And visiting Faustino in Chichi and getting some of the best mezcal in the world straight from the source.... priceless.  More on that mañana.

Monday, October 24, 2016

El Demagogo

I have words to describe Lila Downs.  The best words ever. They're YUUUGE!
Nothing but love and respect for this amazing woman.  She is getting out the vote.  Bigly
Here's a story from one of the progressive blogs.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

It's starting to look a bit like....

Getting ready...
There ain't nothing like the real thing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Alone again - Atzompa

The archeological site in nearby Atzompa is one of the hidden treasures of Oaxaca.  Well, it is not really hidden, but for some reason, no one ever goes there.  It is still under a multi-year renovation, but a great deal of the site is done and simply breathtaking.  And I do mean breathtaking, as the hike up to the top always leaves one panting... or maybe that's just me.  Anyway, it is way up there and provides some beautiful views of the area.  It was an contemporary of Monte Alban and from its highest point, one can see very far in all directions.  No doubt, that was one of its advantages.  That's Monte Alban over there.
The place is one of my meditations.  I can see it from my house and always feel so lucky to be so close.  Whenever I want a good workout, I pop over and huff and puff my way up.  I can dream about playing on the largest ballpark in the area.
As you can see, the weather remains spectacular.

Monday, October 17, 2016

More signs of the times... Muerteada in San Agustin

Now, this is the real deal, the muerteada in San Agustin Etla, one of the craziest and most fun things one can see during Muertos.  It is an all night event filled with mirrors and bells and music.... and a little beer and mezcal.... that ends the next morning at the base of the hill, when the dancers and bands from San Jose...
 And San Agustin.....
Engage in a sort of scrum or mosh pit.  Maybe it is just a this time of year, but they really do not appear to appreciate the others very existence.  This from 2013

It's wild.  I plan on being there again this year and I know exactly where I want to stand... again... right in the middle of it.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sign of things to come....

I wonder what this one is like.  It is a bit remote, a few kilometers up the mountains.

Oh, what a beautiful day....

Same view, different day.  The weather is just glorious.
 And dramatic.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The place is going to the ....

New neighbors... what pun?
They seems so happy, just eating and enjoying the breezes and perfect temperatures.
It is a very nice time of year, the end of the rainy season.
Incidentally, those trees are quite special.  Sorry I don't know the name, but if you strip the leaves off and rub them on your forehead, temples and face, they relieve stress.  And they smell wonderful.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

All about the bass... and China

As a musician, I love this.... nuf sed.

The writing on the wall

It is still there no matter how many times they try to cover it up.
 And always powerful, even if it is in tatters.
Words to ponder.

(Rough translation)
To serve not to be served
To represent, not supplant
To build, not destroy
To comply, not demand
To propose and not to impose
To convince, not vanquish
To not lower, but raise up.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Keep on dancin' - Teotitlan del Valle

A quiet week after the fun and spectacle of last weekend's Danza de la Pluma in Teotitlan del Valle as the village held its annual celebration of la Virgen del Rosario.  The dancers were fresh off a performance the previous day in nearby San Miguel del Valle, where they were met with much success and appreciation.
This is such an excellent group of dancers, in particular Sergio Gutierrez, Moctezuma, who dances with such crisp, light steps, he is really exceptional and unique.
One of my goals is to get a shot of him at the apex of one of his leaps.
All the dancers are very good.  Their synchronicity is very tight and crisp, as they work their way through some challenging choreography by Sergio father, dance master, Javier Gutierrez.
And of course, Watching Donã Marina and La Malinche, Elizabet Hernandez Gutierrez and Quetzali del Rayo Santiago Ruiz, grow into their roles is lots of fun.
They both have grown and improved since their first performances in July.
One more performance this year, in December.  Be there or be square.