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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday in Etla

I went over to Etla to get some cheese to take to Teotitlan del Valle and stumbled across this pageant starting in front of the church.  It was quite the spectacle and I felt very lucky to have seen a part of it.  Next year, I will try for more.
Many of the people from the village were dressed in costume.  After leaving the church they processed through the streets stopping at spots to narrate the unfolding story. There was a car equipped with a wireless mic system and large speakers. (Kudos for the clean sound)
The sobs from Mary as she comforted her son were heart-wrenching.
The Roman guards laughed maliciously as they rained blows down on the prostrate Jesus.
It was painful to watch at times.
 The apostles.
 A little video of the event.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Art imitating life

Here is one of the most photographed people in Oaxaca.  I am sure many people recognize him.  He is iconic, one of Oaxaca's treasures.
And here he is depicted in a beautiful piece of street art.

"Wetbacks" - Srsly?????

Sometimes I think people forget that the whole world is wired in 24/7/365 and that if you say or do something stupid, there is a good chance it will go viral.   The country to the south of El Norte is not completely enamored with US Rep. Don Young for his comments, but greatly appreciates his efforts on behalf of the GOP's Latino outreach.  Also, too, his tried and true non-apology. "I'm sorry if I offended anyone."

Uh... which I guess maybe I should use now... Sorry if I offended anyone.

On the other hand, the big story here is that the Pope washed the feet of two........ (OMG) women!!!!
Maybe, just maybe, things are gonna get better this millennium. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

ADA - Agnus Dei/Allelulia

Put on those Papal dancing slippers.

Lunes in Teotitlan del Valle cont....

As the end of the week approaches, a quick look back at the beginning of Semana Santa and the procession on Monday in Teotitlan del Valle.  For a better and more complete description be sure to go to spxl's post over at Casa Colibri.

Little temporary chapels are set up by hanging rugs on pole frameworks.
After leaving the church the procession goes from chapel to chapel and at each there is a ceremony followed by some sort of food and drink.
People come and make offerings, prayers, and to kiss the robes of the icons.
As I wrote earlier, the young are an important element in the celebration, hopefully insuring many more years of continued traditions.
With the iconic mountains behind, the two make their way through the streets.
 This abuela makes an offering of corn.
 Then blows the copal smoke onto the statue.
 Leaving a trail of bougainvillea flowers.
 Tamales for everyone.
And tasty horchata to drink.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Soooo good - Riquisimo!

These empanadas in San Antonino were so good that the following day we drove all the way from Teotitlan del Valle to get another, but...... she was gone.
They were amarillo with pork and the masa inside was fluffy and the outside was a perfect complimentary crispy chewy.  The masa's consistency was amazing.  Maybe it had eggs in it.  Whatever it was, I want another.  I want, want, want.....
Next time I have something this good I am going to ask where I can find them once the ferias and fiestas are over.  I made this mistake before for something I ate in Zimatlan on market day.  I have gone back to find it, but haven't..... yet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jacarandas - Purple Haze

Really, it is more of a Prince (aka The Artist formerly known as) purple.  These from my afternoon trek.  That is San Agustin Etla way off in the distance.
These fields are incredibly green because we live down the hill from the source of twenty percent of the city's water.  Whenever I say where I am from, people always say, "Hay mucha agua alli." "There's lots of water there."  However, the rest of the countryside is extremely dry and to see these wonderful explosions of purple, lets one know that the rains are one day closer. Ojala!

Lunes in Teotitlan del Valle

The Monday before Easter is special in Teotitlan del Valle.  Even though it appears to be before the fact, they celebrate the stations of the Cross.  This might be because they celebrate carnaval next week, which seems to be after the fact or at least different from most other places, where the partying occurs before Lent.  But what do I know? 

Everyone has different traditions and Teotitlan del Valle is one place that places an incredible importance on maintaining those traditions.  One of the keys in doing so is starting when they are young and they really do that which is something we have commented on many times before.  And so it was yesterday when the statues of Jesus and the Madonna were carried through the streets to fourteen temporary chapels, draped with the rugs for which the village is so famous.
And children have special and important roles to play
A little Roman
 Dressed for the occasion.
 Lots of little angels in white.
 The whole family helps in preparation.
 Innocence and purity personified.
 It is an all day affair, with a half hour at each station.  Then off to the next.
 Did someone mention ice cream?
They sure did... and tamales and drinks for everyone.  More in a bit.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday in San Antonino de Flores

Another wonderful day in Oaxaca, albeit quite hot, celebrating Domingo de Ramos in one of our absolute favorite villages, San Antonino, just next to Ocotlan.  Such a joyous and moving event with people bringing offerings, many of which are woven on the platform on which a statue of Christ on a burro sits.  After a few hours of assembling at the entrance to the panteon, around thirty men carry the platform back to the church for mass.  It may be a kilometer and it was hot and hard work.  You can see the strain on this man's face.
Followed by the reverent serenity of the mass.
Much more in the coming days.

¡Semana Santa!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's an art

With the arrival of Semana Santa, the artesanos from all around have come to the city to sell their wares.  These are all woven from palms or grasses.
The work this year seemed to be exceptional.
Here is the gentleman who made my pieces.  He is from the Mixteca Alta to the north.  He said the delicate strawlike Christo took a day to make while the palm crucifix took only thirty minutes.
 Simple, but elegant.
It all starts mañana.

The right dose of medicine

Ahhhhh...... one day back and I already feel so much better. 
Must be the magic that is Oaxaca. 
Gracias for the pic, spixl.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On the Border

No matter what you think about immigration, this is simply tragic and like something out of a dystopian nightmare. (from LAHT)
Hundreds of deported migrants, fearing detection and harassment by police and drug smugglers and unable to return to their homes, have sought refuge in below-ground makeshift dwellings in this Mexican border metropolis.

Around 200 migrants are living in about 30 “pocitos,” tunnels up to 15 meters (50 feet) long and a meter deep that have been dug into the rain-softened earth along a section of the Tijuana River near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Some 100,000 people are sent back to Tijuana every year from the United States, making that area of Mexico the recipient of the largest number of deportees.

In that metropolis, a half-mile stretch of the intermittent river known as “El Bordo” – notable for raised concrete embankments, or levees, on either side of a foul-smelling wastewater conduit – is a gathering point for some 3,000 Mexican and Central American migrants who became stranded there after being deported from the United States.

Until recently, hundreds of fragile homes erected on the banks of the narrow river were visible at El Bordo, located just west of the busy San Ysidro Port of Entry and adjoining the San Ysidro district of south San Diego.

But police operations to remove the migrants, commonly by setting fire to their dwellings built out of garbage, plastic and cardboard, began just over a year ago.

Delfino Lopez, a Mexican migrant who looks older than his 33 years, told Efe how one of these operations unfolded: “They told us. The party’s over. Now you’re going to pay the price.’ And we did ... They burned our things. They took everything.”

“They tried to burn them alive. They doused (the dwellings) with gasoline and set them on fire. Some suffered burns,” Micaela Saucedo, an activist and director of a migrant shelter, said.
Yeah, right.  Right on the border, our border.  On the border of insanity?  inhumanity? I dunno....

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pinotepa's Afro-Mexican connection

One of the most interesting parts of the trip to Pinotepa Nacional, and one that lingers in my mind and makes me wonder, is the dance tradition from the Costa Chica.  I can't stop thinking about these guys.  In fact, I went back this time to try and get a better grip on the whole thing, because the first time I saw them was quite memorable as you can see from this video at about the 5:00 mark.

So they have this fun, yet abusive style of dance with lots of kicking and punching.  The first time, I got hit in the family jewels much to everyone's amusement, including mine, although I confess to wondering wtf was happening.
So I was leery this time, but still managed to get attacked, all in a friendly way.
 I did not escape unscathed, but much better than the first time.  I guess I make a good target.
Seeing their masks really freaked me out.  Mainly because, one of the most influential films I ever watched and used as a teaching tool is Spike Lee's "Bamboozled."  It can be a movie that changes everything you ever thought.  It was for me.  So seeing these masks, so reminiscent of minstrel days, really made me wonder what was going on.  I realize that I am coming with a completely alien cultural perspective that I can't impose on a different culture, but still.....
So I did a little research about black history in Mexico and like all things mexicano, it is very interesting.  For instance: emphasis added.
Slave rebellions occurred in Mexico as in other parts of the Americas, with the first in Veracruz in 1537. Runaway slaves were called cimarrones, who mostly fled to the highlands between Veracruz and Puebla with a number making their way to the Costa Chica region in what are now Guerrero and Oaxaca .[7][10] Runaways in Veracruz formed settlements called “palenques” which would fight off Spanish authorities. The most famous of these was led by Gaspar Yanga, who fought the Spanish for forty years until the Spanish recognized their autonomy in 1608, making San Lorenzo de los Negros (today Yanga) the first community of free blacks in the Americas.
You will recall my adventure driving to Corralero?  Well, it turns out to be one of the “pueblos negros” or black towns in the region.

I encourage you to go to the link to read a bit about the history.  It really fills in some blanks, makes connections and helps bring Mexico's very long history better into perspective.