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, August 31, 2016

¿Quién es más macho?

Maybe macho is not quite the right word...hmmmm... how about,,,desconcierto?...embarrassing? Trump or Peña Nieto?  Wow.... just painful to watch... so I stopped.

¡No lo queremos!

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox on Wednesday morning said:

"We don't like him. We don't want him. We reject his message. I don't understand why President Pena has offered this opportunity. I think it's nothing more than a political stunt," Fox said on CNN's "New Day." "Trump is using Mexico, is using President Pena to boost his sinking poll numbers. I think that President Pena is taking an enormous political risk by hosting Trump. If he's perceived as going soft on Trump, it will hurt him greatly."

Monday, August 29, 2016

Worth the wait

I first saw this beautiful rug at Casa Cruz in Teotitlan del Valle, the home of Fidel and Maria Luisa, over ten years ago.  It immediately called my name, but I played deaf.  Well, actually, I heard it loud and clear, but.... never took that final step.  Fidel is one of the real masters of colors, one who has done years of research, experimentation and he has made incredible progress and developed new colors and techniques.  He and Maria Luisa know things... I mean they are very, very advanced.
I have visited their home many times over those ten years and every time, the rug called my name.  I learned all about the special dyeing techniques and the secrets to some of those colors.  I could tell you, but then, you know, I would have to silence you.  I was there a week or two ago and again, it called.  This time I answered and yesterday, it jumped into my car and away we went.  It's hard to believe that no one bought it in all those years.  It must have known that I would finally come through and answer its call.  Density.... I mean, destiny... well, maybe both.

Friday, August 26, 2016

My daily fruit fix

I am so lucky to have this fruit stand just down the road from me.  I stop there almost every day.  They always seem to have the best of seasonal produce.  Right now, it is mango, papaya, coco, watermelon and cucumber season.  I always get mine neat and unadorned, but I could get it like everyone else, with lime juice and chili.  I am so spoiled by daily access to all this fresh fruit, always so good..... and so inexpensive.  Everything is ten pesos.  That's 53 cents US.  Right now, the mangoes are just about as good as they can get.  Manna from Heaven.  There really is nothing like fresh fruit.
Not only do they take care of me with fresh fruit, but they also give me all the fruit waste I want for the worms I'm cultivating.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Into the belly of the beast

I live near one of the hot spots in terms of protests and blockades.  The stretch from Viguera out to Hacienda Blanca is popular mainly because it is just about the only access from the north to the city and the teachers have intensified their presence on protest lines.
Oh, and school was supposed to start yesterday.  So needless to say it's a mess.  I took the back roads down to check out the action and it was laid back, but highly effective. 
There was zero traffic heading north...nada.

They were letting a single lane in from the north, but I think if was blocked further down because I saw cars jumping the median to drive on the other side of the road.  The freshest chicken......hmmm.
Fresh eggs a'sittin'... and notice the zika, chikungunya and dengue billboard hovering over the scene.  Good times!
 I'm not sure how people got through it.  It looks like the teachers' parked cars blocked the way out.
This was the scene at the Viguera end.
Normally, I would head to Etla for market day, but no way today.  Luckily, I could get everything I needed within a few kilometers.  I was most glad to avoid the mess today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? ... probably more chaos.  As for the opposing sides in this never-ending, damaging and demoralizing drama.... a pox on both their houses.  Oh, and irony is not dead.
Whatever it will be, I do not think it will be....

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The colors of time

While visiting the home of Porfirio Gutierrez, his sister, Juana Gutierrez Contreras, showed us her metates that she used for grinding indigo and cochineal, the vivid blue and red used by the weavers in Teotitlan del Valle. 
Those are lumps of indigo in the bowl off to the left.
 Look at that color!
I have seen this many times, but never have I seen such well-worn stones.  Here, she uses the indigo one that she said she got from her mother-in-law and that it was over fifty years old.  The other, for the cochineal, came from her grandmother and was over eighty years old.  You can see how beautifully worn and shaped they are by all those years.
Those manos started out as conical cylinders and now they have those nice handles worn in on either end.  It took a lot of hard physical work over the years to get them that way.  Here is a random shot of someone trying out a new one in the market in Tlacolula
Metates and manos, the base and the roller, are common wedding gifts and can be found in almost every home, at least in Teotitlan.  They are used for grinding not only things for making dyes, but also for corn, chocolate, spices, chiles... but not the same ones as for the dyes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Market Day in Etla

It is always such a nice experience going to the market in Etla on Wednesdays, market day.  The energy from all the activity is palpable.  No better way to shop.
I go to this market every few days and on the other days of the week, the place is always vibrant and I can get everything I want easily and inexpensively.  However, Wednesdays, the place is hoppin'.
I was looking at this side of ribs and imagining how good a BBQ they would make.  You can see how big it is.  No, it does not come with an arm.  That belongs the man hidden behind them.  I mean, it it is a whole side of ribs!
And with the ribs, comes the head...
One can get so many good things, like rambutan.
Or rosas
Or a snack
And it's funny, the things we take for granted like these nice baskets.  I can just imagine college students in Boston buying them for their laundry hampers. 
We could make a fortune!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The latest teachers' demands and planned actions

Submitted without comment. (translated from Proceso)
Two months and 17 days before the PRI's Alejandro Ismael Murat Hinojosa takes possession as Governor of Oaxaca, the Assembly State of the section 22 of the Union national of workers of the education (SNTE-CNTE) agreed to prevent his taking possession scheduled for December 1.
Although the magisterial did not prevent the son of the former Governor José Nelson Murat Casab from winning the governorship, section 22 is now ready for preventing the ceremony and warn that teachers will be the worst nightmare for the friend of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Similarly, they agreed to promote immediately, through the municipal authorities, the Committee of victims of Nochixtlán and the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of section 22, an impeachment and removal of Gabino Cué Monteagudo as the mastermind of the massacre of 19 June.

In addition, they rejected the report submitted the Office of the Attorney-General and the Prosecutor General of Oaxaca before the Committee of the Senate on the massacre of Nochixtlán, and confirms that the only guilty of the facts is the Mexican State.

It also determined the boycott of companies that participated in the lockout on August 8, organized by the business Coordinating Council.

The State Assembly agreed to reactivate locks 37 sectors to demand the reinstatement of the negotiating table and the solution to their list of demands, not to mention that they are paralyzed with not to start the next school year 2016-2017.

The CNTE and the popular movement also ratified the political and legal support Rubén Núñez Ginez as general Secretary and Francisco Manuel Villalobos Ricárdez as Secretary of organization.

Before, condemned strongly to the State by order to the police Federal and state the attack bloody to teachers and people of Oaxaca in Nochixtlán and the cruise of Viguera the Sunday 19 of June, what left as balance 11 dead, 27 detained and a number indeterminate of wounded and disappeared.

Also condemned "the criminal actions of the repressive forces" to prevent the care of our wounded companions to the hedge of public and private hospitals.

Therefore, they require the immediate departure of Aurelio Nuño Mayer of the Secretariat of public education and Gabino Cué Monteagudo in the governorship of the State.

They also insisted on request the assistance of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission perform thorough and unbiased facts of repression investigation be punished guilty materials and intellectuals and repaired damage to the families of the fallen, as well as the demand for the integration of a special prosecutor for the case of June 19, 2016.

And located at the federal and State Governments that give satisfactory answers to the demands of the Magisterium, the social movement and justice for the crime against humanity of June 19, otherwise "we will not start the school year 2016-2017".

Finally, he asked to make the call to join the National Mediation Commission the writer Javier Sicilia, Bishop Raúl Vera and Father Alejandro Solalinde.

Friday, August 12, 2016

El Dia del Taxistas

On my morning errand run, I passed the florist just down the road from me and the place was hoppin'.  Ah yes, it's El Dia del Taxistas and all the local drivers were getting decorations for their rides.
There will be celebrations everywhere, I mean, everywhere.  Many taxis will be much more elaborately festooned than these, however, it is another day in which Oaxaqueños express happiness and pride.
Very tasteful.  Anyone for Tlaltinango?
After parading, all the drivers will be off to fiestas, with lots of music, food and drink and soon it will be el dai del no taxistas.
Party on, Garthino.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How does your garden grow? - Before/After

In gardening, it is always today, the here and now, the present.  I check things, not only everyday, but often several times a day.  So I forget how much progress has been made as the time passed.... just three years ago.
And today..... really, just the blink of an eye, however, things are so nice and lush now, it just makes all the work more fun.
The garden is the great teacher.  Life and death in endless cycles.... and a little bit or paradise.
All those zinnias always attract mariposas... and lots of birds. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

What's your Olympic experience?

I don't mean your personal medal count, I mean your TV coverage.  Here in el campo, I have Dish  with five or six channels in HD, showing pretty much everything from early morning until 10 PM..... along with lots of other channels... all for $22 US a month.  And very few commercials and no NBC up close and personal BS,  Party on, Garth.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

There's always Hope - Esperanza

If you are a regular reader here, you will recognize this smiling face.  Once again, here is one of our favorite people, Esperanza from Tlacolula.  On most days she can be found just inside the mercado there, serving up some of the best barbacoa anywhere.  However, when it comes to dancing and representing her pueblo, she is always front and center, both in calendas and in the guelaguetza.  She really is amazing, always smiling and positive and strong..... that basket weighs 15 kilos and she dances like it weighs nothing.  Just like that pesky Energizer bunny, she just keeps going and going....
And it may be a coincidence, but in lots of shots of her, something in the background gives her a kind of halo or radiance about her head.  Really, I think it is just her natural aura appearing.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Techo de cristal? Glass ceiling?

Well, this certainly was a first for me.  In Monday's guelaguetza in Etla, two of the danzantes for the danza de la pluma were female. 
It is not unusual to see guys with long hair, so it took a while to actually notice.... because, doh... they were very good dancers.
One tends to view plumas dancers as a group unless it is Monctezuma, who has lots of solos.... maybe someday.... a female Monctezuma.
Anyway, I like to imagine what these three girls, watching next to me, were thinking.... Hmmmm...someday.... I'm gonna.....

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Jarabe Mixteco in Etla

This jarabe mixteco is from last Monday's guelaguetza in Etla.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Guelaguetza in Etla - Perfection

What a glorious day!  While over 10,000 people were watching the guelaguetza in the auditorio overlooking the city, I was in a much more intimate setting with a few hundred people in nearby Etla. 
I feel so lucky to be close to both Reyes Etla and Etla for these wonderful celebrations of traditions and dances from the various regions of the state.
All the guelaguetzas share similar formats.  Group after group comes out and performs, the only changes are in which dances are performed.  Each is a little different, although there are always crowd favorites like the danza de la pluma,
the flor de piña,
the jarabe,
but there is always something new and different in each guelaguetza.  This is because there are countless dances and variations, depending on which region is being represented.  It is a big and diverse state.  They could never fit all of them in one performance..... or could they?
So yesterday, it was Etla in all its glory.  This is my market village, so I am there all the time, but yesterday was something special and folks sat on the steps facing the stage or under large canopies on either side.  I always joke that I am a horrible person, which is probably true, but my time as a reporter taught me that you always have to get the shot and that means you have to get to the right spot to get it....  I was lucky and did.
So many beautiful moments. Mother and daughter.
Guelaguetza is really more than celebration and dance.  It is a way of life in certain villages, a term that concocts shared wealth and shared debt.  This woman's face says it better.
Four hours went by in a whirl.
Insuring that the traditions continue, there were plenty of young dancers.  This girl could really hoof it with powerful heel and toe tapping and stomping.  Really!
Tradition.... ¡Viva Oaxaca!
Lots of photos and video to go through.  I get to relive it all again.  What a blast, Oaxaca at its very best!
More in a bit.....