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, December 31, 2017

The best gorditas? - Tlacolula Market

Gorditas are different everywhere you go, but for me, the best are right at the top of the street ,just as one enters the extended Sunday market.  It is under an orange tarp which messes with the color of these photos, but the tacos and gorditas are sublime.  They know me there.  I remember a time when I went seven Sundays in a row just to get one and I live on the opposite side of the city.  What's an hour drive for one of these. 
First the masa is flattened by hand.  Today it was made from blue corn. 
 Then it is filled with chicken, pork or vegetables like potatoes,
Then a little cheese,
Then formed into a ball and flattened.
Into the oil.
Until they are done, golden and crispy.
Then filled with lettuce, onions, various salsas and sour cream..... just stop!  Soooo good.
It's a popular place.  The tacos are also really exceptional.
And the wait staff is especially charming.
Hungry yet?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Feria de Empanada - San Antonino Castillo Velasco

This video is from a couple of years ago. There's just too much to do and I can't do everything, but the empanadas remain the same.... the best!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

It's all happening...

Saturday may have been Rabanos, but everywhere you turned there was something else happening.  The city is just overflowing with people and they are finding plenty to see and do.  There are lots of artesanos with stalls filled with amazing things for sale. 
There's a feria de Cafe. 
There's live music and plenty of calendas and of course, weddings and quinceaneras.  Look at these four young gentlemen.
They were the escorts for this young lady.
And weddings or bodas....
I saw at least three brides....
I was taught by a master wedding photographer, Sonya Melescu,  and the First Rule of wedding photography is the bride must always look good and she does.
The groom looks pretty good, too. Party on, Garth!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Posada in Teotitlan del Valle

This was my first posada and it was an honor and a privilege to be invited to the home of Ana Ruiz Gonzalez to take in this annual celebration.  "Posada" translates as "inn" and the nine day event reenacts Mary and Joseph's travails as they search for a place to stay for the night.   Posadas vary in in different places, but in Teotitlan del Valle, the two statues from the church are carried from house to house each evening, eventually ending up at the house where the baby Jesus is waiting for them on the last night.  In this case, the Ruiz family left their house to go and pick up the statues at the house where they had spent the night before.  Here's Zacarias Ruiz...
 and Emilia Gonzalez, Ana's parents, as they hasten to their destination,
where Mary and Joseph await.
Then, carried by four women from the previous house, they leave, beginning a long candlelit procession through the streets.
I spoke with the women carrying the statues and they said it was quite heavy, but each felt blessed to have done it.
It was a long slow walk.
Meanwhile, the people of the village lined the streets to watch, while others sat waiting patiently for the procession's arrival.
While others spent time out in front of the house having fun.
Eventually they ended up at the Ruiz's house, where there were many rituals, music and later in the evening, food.
The Ruiz's spend the night and next day with the statues and then the whole thing repeats, which in this case was the final destination after which the three are returned to the church for Navidad.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The people behind the Radishes - La Noche del Rabanos

Today was the 120th Noche del Rabanos and it was, as always, fantastic! And it was drawing tourists in droves.  The crowds were huge, the lines long, but what a happy occasion... and a real boon for the city and surrounding regions.  There is so much happening, it is hard to keep up.  I got there early and had a total blast, as lots of the participants recognized me from previous years, so it was like seeing friends.  I have lots of shots of their creations, made from radishes, dried flowers or corn husks, but I thought I would start with impromptu portraits of some of the participants, all so typically Oaxacan in their artistic abilities and creativity.  You can almost see her off to the left in the shot above, but this is the woman responsible for the radish pieta.
They come in all ages and backgrounds.  Some are very traditional and some enjoy pushing the proverbial envelope.
I should have all their names, but I don't, my mistake, but here are just some of them, each so special.
I'll post shots of their creations in a bit.... in the meantime, in between time, Oaxaca is simply the best. ¡Viva!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Looking at El Norte

With mouth agape.....history repeating itself, again.   I'm shocked, shocked, I tell ya.
 Hmmm... a certain word comes to mind.  Bull looking skeptical. Any posters like this in your town?
Living here, one knows that civilizations rise and fall.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It's beginning to look like....

One of the nice things about Oaxaca is that Christmas is nowhere near as commercial as it is in El Norte. Maybe it's because the place is more religious or less inclined to spend hard-earned money on such things or maybe it's because gifts are given on Three Kings Day (Jan 6) and mostly for children, but whatever it is, it is nice. That piñata is huuuge. And this shot makes me think of one of my favorite carols, "Angels we have heard while high.""
And well, it can get kinda tacky....
That doesn't mean we are not getting psyched for posadas, and rabanos and Noche Buena in the zocalo.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Yesterday was the feast day of one of Oaxaca most revered holy figures,  La Santísima Virgen de La Soledad (The Virgin of Solitude) and the cathedral named in her honor was the place to be.  I've been recovering from a cold that has knocked me out for a while so I  figured I could sure use her blessing.  I need all the help I can get.  I confess to be slightly more spaced out than normal.
This was the outside version.  The figure inside the cathedral was so far in the distance, she was invisible, but one could feel her presence in the respectful reverence of the huge crowds.
Roses are all a part of the ceremony and they were there in abundance.
Be sure to check out Shannon's post over at Casa Colibri.  Hers is much more informative and thorough.... Hey, I've been ill.  I blame....

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mayordomos de la Virgen de Guadalupe

Yesterday, we were honored and lucky to be invited to Casa Cruz in Teotitlan del Valle, the home of Fidel and Maria Luisa, the mayordomos for the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Actually, there are two mayordomos, the other being Bulmaro Perez Mendoza, whose house is just across the road.  Being a mayordomo is a big deal, full of responsibilities and obligations, a tradition going back centuries. It is also a lot of work and expense.  They maintain the altar in the church and give numerous celebrations like yesterday.  It is a way to give back to the church and to the village.
Really, there are so many aspects to the event, it all seems a blur, but a very organized, formal and wonderful blur.  Here, bread for breakfast and the velas, candles that will be carried to the church.  They are hand-crafted all from pure wax.
Everyone works!  It takes days of prep.  For the Cruz family, months of work.  It's a year long commitment.  The women prepare and cook the food.  Here they are making hundreds of tlayudas, the large crisp tortillas.
The men set up, serve and, for this celebration, killed 200 chickens, four steer, and six large pigs.  This morning's fare was sopa de oregano, made from beef stock, onions and oregano and big chunks of meat.  Notice, no utensils, only tlayudas and fingers.  Incidentally, the food was made by many of the best and most famous cooks in all of Oaxaca and Mexico... all in the family.  More on them later.
The danzantes arrived with their band.
The unmarried girls and women of the village were present as they woud process two kilometers to the church and then the convite, the traditional procession through the streets of the village, and then back to Casa Cruz, a total of seven kilometers!
Fidel and Maria Luisa were flat out, running around and directing much of the action.  They must be exhausted and I did not get a good shot of them, but I will.  However, I did get this nice shot of Fidel's proud parents.
More in a bit....