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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

If it's Wednesday, it's Etla

And it was the Wednesday before Muertos, so all the necessary elements to get ready for the celebrations were there.
Sugarcane for the altars. 
 Everything looked so fresh today, perfect timing.
And of course, there were lots of celosia, cockscomb, terciopelo rojo, and marigolds or cempasuchil, two of the most important flowers for both altars and panteons or cemeteries.
 The classic nicely sugared pan de muerto.  The designs on the top represent bones.
 And everyone totally into the spirit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bread and chocolate

Bread and chocolate are traditional offerings all year long, but especially for Muertos.  I've heard that the price of eggs skyrockets for the week before, as everyone is baking and making the special breads that will be lovingly placed on altars.
The chocolate is often hand made, so rich and tasty.
The breads come in all shapes and sizes.
The proper way to eat any bread here is to dip/dunk pieces in rich hot chocolate, which can be made with either milk or water.
This is my daily morning bun, small and they toast up very nicely. And here they are in a classic Tlacolula basket.
Just normal every day rolls.... mmmmmmm.
¿Tiene hambre?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday faces in Tlacolula

The market in Tlacolula is always special, even more so on Sundays, when the streets are filled with anything and everything.  And because of its location, people come from all over and one gets to hear lots of different languages and to see many beautiful regional outfits.  The Sunday before Muertos is particularly active and yesterday was no exception.  The place was packed and with lots more tourists than normal.  Perfect for practicing hip shots, shooting blind.  A mother and daughter, in step, selling apples.
 I am always amazing how many people are looking in the lens, even though I am really trying to be inconspicuous.
Then there are the strange juxtapositions.  The woman in the reflection...
So many things in this shot.... the San Marcos ceramics in the background, the zodiac on the girl's blouse, the embroidery, so typical, on the left, the braids, the plaid, the apron.... all perfect
 Look at the details in her blouse.
And here is Esperanza, one of my absolute favorites, who has graced these pages many times in many guises.  Always.... that amazing smile.  
See, there is hope.....

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Getting ready for Muertos

What a handsome couple.
I live in a new village this year and it looks like there may be some fun things to do just down the road.  Just what I need... more things to do for Muertos, like there isn't already too much. Ay!
Off to Tlacolula to see the market the Sunday before Muertos.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Abuelas around the world

I managed to do the impossible... I actually caught a cold for the first time here.  I could feel it coming on, so I knew what I needed, a little of Granny's chicken soup.  I love that in so many cultures, a good cup of broth is a cure-all.  I've had the Thai, Italian and French versions and of course, the classic Jewish grandmother's.  And very little can beat the rich caldo de pollo I get from our favorite restaurant in Etla, Comedor Colon.  However, this time,  I could take no chances... so I made it myself.

First I got the chicken from the best source, the lady in the Etla market that everyone says is the very best.  Chicken here is very different from the States... it actually has a taste... and it is delicious, the way it is supposed to be.  It helps that they are so fresh and local.  So I browned it with onions and garlic... ah, what an aroma.... until it was nice and deep golden brown.... added water, fresh basil and thyme from the garden, a shot or two of mezcal, a little very good soy sauce, some chile pasilla paste that an abulea had been selling door to door out here in the country.  The paste turned out to be totally killer... wonderful taste and... well, pretty pica, hot, spicy... perfect for cleaning our the sinuses.... simmered it for ninety minutes.

A little fresh cilantro from the garden, some lime juice.... ah.... as good as it gets.... and it worked, I feel much better.  Gracias, abuelas....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Signs o' the times

It starting to look a lot like.....
And with all the rains, the celosia, cockcomb, Terciopelo Rojo, fields near the house look pretty weak.  Maybe they will come through, along with the marigolds, cempasuchil, which were starting to flower, timed to peak in another week, but it does not look like a good year in that spot.  No doubt somewhere else, it was the best year ever.

Monday, October 20, 2014

¿Tiene hambre?

Look at this amazing meal we had under the trees right outside of Santo Tomás Jalieza at Los Huamuches. 
 Soooo good!  Me want right now!

Walk on by?

The disappearance of the the 43 students from Ayotzinapa remains on the front burner
Whether or not anything comes of the investigations, who knows, but one arrest has been made.  However, the fear is it just may be business as usual.
 Nothing to see here... move along....
Lots of bodies have been found, but none were the missing students.... that's pretty scary.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Still rainin', still dreamin'....

from LAHT
Tropical Storm Trudy made landfall Saturday in southwestern Mexico and will drench that region with torrential rain, but it is not forecast to strengthen to hurricane status, the National Meteorological Service (SMN) said.

In its most recent bulletin at 10:00 a.m., the SMN said the center of the storm was located over land, 120 kilometers (74 miles) east-northeast of the Pacific resort city of Acapulco and 45 kilometers (28 miles) south-southwest of Tlapa, Guerrero.

At that time, the tropical storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kph (46 mph) with higher gusts and was moving to the north at 7 kph (4 mph).

Trudy will bring torrential rain to parts of the southern states of Guerrero and Oaxaca and heavy rain to portions of the states of Veracruz, Mexico, Chiapas, Morelos, Tabasco, Puebla and Hidalgo, the bulletin said.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weather update

It is really raining..... that is all you need to know.  Really r a i n i n g.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Little Princess - Tlacolula style

This family was at the recent calenda in Tlacolula and they struck me as being a bit different with a touch of aloofness and elegance.  The three together were quite photogenic, but the father always seemed hidden, out of the shot.  However, mother and daughter, dressed alike, were too good to pass up.  For some reason, the girl reminded me of Wednesday of the Addams Family... hey, what can I say?  I'm weird.
And here's an indication of the elegance, the girl's sandaled foot.
The detail in the toenail painting is something else and the metal work almost evokes the classic Mitla design.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How's the weather?

Lovely... not.

Off the beaten track

After a day of intermittent internet and no satellite, things seem to be back to normal.  Here's the post that was in the pipeline when things crashed.
Sometimes the blockades or detours afford one new roads or paths to follow and it's an adventure.  Here's spixl's account of it.  Whether or not my 2004 Jetta will be able handle them is strangely never in doubt.  It goes where wise men fear to tread or where the idiot behind the wheel steers it.  So, south of Mitla, it was into the unknown.  The road was far funkier than this shot would imply.  No, through a few little cricks, some very rough areas, up and down, there is always a way through..... and you get to see views like this, an unexpected blessing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tough times

I'm not sure what is going on, but it ain't good.  In terms of politics and social order, more like social disorder, things here in Oaxaca continue to be more of the same.  There have been articles about how acts of vandalism seem to occur with impunity. 
On the cathedral no less.  Ay!
There are marches and blockades daily.  We are well into the fourth month of this. 
On top of it all, is the horrible news out of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.  It has really rocked the country and there have been growing protests.  It is nothing, but ugly and I have virtually no insight or observations to pass on.  I guess, think Sandy Hook except instead of kids, college students with the shooters being the cops.  Add a little cartel corruption and links to higher ups... you get the picture.  It is escalating.

Meanwhile, many of the businesses and restaurant in the zocalo have closed because of the teacher's sit-in.  They are protesting but have given up trying to stay open.  Abuela's is all closed up.
But you can still get dinosaur eggs.
What a world, what a world......

Friday, October 10, 2014

Who is that masked man?

The subalternos, Jorge Jimenez Mendoza and Pedro Hernandez Lazo, are very important players in the whole danza de la pluma in Teotitlan del Valle.  One of them takes care of the needs of Monctezuma, Malinche and Doña Marina and the other takes care of all the other dancers.
Water, injuries, broken sandals, anything and everything, they take care of it.  They also control the flow of the whole dance.  It is very subtle, but they are each quite powerful in reading the scene and making adjustments.
Plus, they work the crowd with crazy antics, often making for huge laughs. And they keep track of invading gringos.
Break time with an admirer.
 There is real love there behind those masks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Malinche and friends

Last weekend, in Teotitlan del Valle, they once again danced the danza de la pluma, the dance of the conquistadores.  It was a glorious sunny Sunday and we arrived during mid afternoon break.  So I managed to catch Malinche, Juana Lizbeth Contreras Vicente, and a couple of her friends as they played in the inner courtyard of the church.
 A classic look
Getting ready
She has a wonderful presence and it always warms the heart to see her. 
And of course, she is always there with her alter-ego, Doña Marina, Ailani Ruiz Ruiz.
The two of them represent many things, tradition, history,
But to me they always seem to be the embodiment of having fun.
They are always chatting, laughing and eating something... except when they are dancing, but they actually still keep laughing and talking to each other.  It is very sweet.