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

Monday, January 30, 2017

There's always Hope - Esperanza

Yesterday, at the Feria de Carrizo in San Juan Guelavia, which was great, the day was made even better by seeing one of my favorite people serving up her delicious barbacoa.... Esperanza.  If her smile doesn't brighten your day, nothing will.
She is always smiling and wearing a perfect traje and yes, the plaid is traditional.  What a look... and what a wonderful person.  Go see her in the market in Tlacolula.  Her joy is contagious.... oh, and the barbacoa is some of the best.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

El Colado - The Pouring of the Roof

In a certain way this is a political post.  These are the people I live with and love.  For the most part, they are all warm and friendly and my god, look at how hard they work.  Integrity in the work, stamina, and an amazing work ethic.
This is a very traditional way of putting a roof.  It even has a name: colado.  Lots of time the cement is hand mixed, but because this is such a huge project, they have a mixer.  Still, imagine carrying a bucket up hand made ramps and ladders, for hour after hour.  And for the entire time, they keep a banter going filled with laughter and energy.  They were joking with me about the Wall and Tr**p.  They could build it in a couple of days... to keep him out. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Aeromexico Ad...

What a powerful statement, one with which I concur.
And.... just in case you missed it, that's a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the end made in the GoodOleUSofA

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Corona – Let’s make America great again?

¡Viva Corona! Hey, I don't even drink unless required to by custom... in fact, I had a little bottle of Corona yesterday at Casa Cruz.  Yes, it was pretty much required as was a shot or two of mezcal. That being said, this ad is very well done and powerful.

Update:  Sadly, the video is no longer available.  Sad!
Update 2: I do believe.... uh, thanks Obama?
Update 3: Bummer... uh, thanks, Cheeto?


Here are the women of Teotitlan del Valle making hundreds (thousands) of tlayudas for the recent fiesta at Casa Cruz.   They make it look so easy, but believe me, it is sooo hard.  I've never met a man who could do it and we laugh about it all the time.  "Who me? No, I can't do it."

Tlayudas are large crisp tortillas and are on the table for almost all meals and no eating utensils are used, only tlayudas.  Tear off a piece and use it as a spoon to eat mole.  Fold a piece over to make a little taco stuffed with a bite sized morsel.  And they work as a "doggie bag" to take food home.  A couple underneath, the food, and a couple as a cover.  Ready to go. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Another special day in Teotitlan del Valle

The traditions in the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle are fascinating and complex.  After years of going there, I am amazed at how complicated and interconnected almost all aspects of the village life are.  Even though I keep asking questions and getting answers, the more I learn, the more I realize, I don't have a clue.  So a little more research is required, but here's the starting point:  Fidel and Maria Luisa of Casa Cruz, along with Bulmaro Perez Mendoza, are the majordomos (sp) for the Virgin of Guadalupe.  What all this entails, I am still trying to understand, but I do understand it is a major commitment that will culminate in December with a final fiesta. 
However, if there is one thing I do understand, it's food and what could be better than an entire day eating taste treats prepared by the women of the village overseen by Abigail Mendoza, who is world renown as perhaps the best cook in Oaxaca.  I only say "perhaps" because Emilia Ruiz is like family to me and well, you will recall I have called her "one of the best in the entire intergalactic universe."  So needless to say, when you get the two of them (and many, many more) working together, the food is pretty spectacular starting with a late breakfast of higaditos and atole topped with espuma.
That's the foam from home made chocolate.
Here's how it was served.
Mole rojo for hundreds.  Stirring it requires serious strength.
The finished dish... before it was finished off.

The bigger the bowl, the more important its recipient.  They don't eat much of it, but it is symbolic of respect and it does goes home with them.  Here, Emilia does the honors.
All of this took many day of preparation.  In fact I remember Maria Luisa and Fidel preparing months ago.  It is only in the last couple of weeks that many more helped with the work.   It is a four day celebration and we will be heading back mañana.... I don't know how they do it.  It's exhausting, but exhilarating.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Women's March - Random shots

The Sister March in Oaxaca got a lot of press (here and here) and much information got passed on to the sites further up the food chain.  Obviously, there are millions of shots and millions of hours of video so... why not more?  It was a lotta people.. over 3000, but really more like 300,000,000.  I mean, look at the photos.  They do not lie if you use alternate facts.
First, let me just say that Oaxaca had well over 3600 marches/protests/blockades last year - averaging over ten each day.    And I think I experienced most of them or at least, it felt that way. 
So I can't tell you how great it was to be in one, a totally legit one with permits and everything... and police protection... really they were just leading the procession just like they do for every single one.  And they seemed into it.
Half the world....
If oaxaquenas ruled the world.... let's just say they are strong, smart and savvy.
 And if he who shall not be named can say it... There were lots of pussy hats.
 And lastly, this shot.  I love the smile on his face, the marcher with her T-shirt in front of a rug from Teotitlan del Valle and the hairy eyeball from the guy in blue.   Things that make you go hmmmmm....

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Women's March - Oaxacan style

This morning, under bright azure skies, 2000 people marched in support with all the other sister marches around the world and in opposition of Donald Trump.  That's right... 2000!
It was a quiet protest starting at Santo Domingo and then, led by the police, just like every other march here (and there are hundreds of them) it processed to the Alameda, just in front of the cathedral.
It was a large and diverse crowd. Pussy (Hats) Galore
I should say that is was primarily for US and foreigners, not necessarily for Mexicans.  They had a large march yesterday.  We can not participate in Mexican politics, but apparently, we own Trump, so it was fine to bring it.  And bring it, we did.  All ages were represented.
After all, it's their future more than ours.
One of the key organizers was sister blogger, spixl, who has many years of being politically active.
She and her sister organizers really did it... a YUUUGE success... and only the beginning.

Screen grab

Friday, January 20, 2017

The peso is not happy

It is up to 21.6 to the dollar, the highest I can recall in quite a while.  And when I say high, I mean, high like golf scores.... high is not good.  Something smells fishy, don't it?
 Uh... did something happen today that might have caused this?  Am I missing something? 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Atzompa - It never gets old

Well, of course, it is old, from around 650 AD, but the experience of visiting the place never gets old.  I can see it from my house and whenever I hear its call, I jump in the car and head over and up... and up... and up.  It is great exercise and the views and the vibe....
This time, there was one other car in the parking lot, but I never saw any sign of them.  Once again, I'm alone in this amazing archaeological site.... well, almost alone. 
I know there were a few workers out there.  This renovation has been ongoing for quite a few years and over the years, there has been lots of progress.  I was here when is was just rubble and then watched as they sorted all the stones and slowly put things back together.
This restoration is not perfect.  It is a bit too pristine in spots.  There is no climbing on anything.
However, it is a wonderful and important project.  This was the historical hangout for the elites from Monte Alban and was a very important from a strategic point of view.... one can see many kms in all directions.  That's my house down there!  See it?
It must have been an amazing place to live.  There a ceramic kiln on the north side of the site.
And at the very bottom of the mountain is the newly renovated ceramic market, one of Oaxaca's best.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Someone to watch over me...

Andra Day - Rise Up [Audio]

Women's March - Oaxaca

Levante!  January 21, 2017 - 11:00 AM. (map) In front of Santo Domingo and then a march down the Alcala to the zocalo.  Be There or Be Square.
Artwork is attributed to Patrick Sean Farley
Blogger buddy spixl has been instrumental in getting this organized.... and others have been involved, too.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's the simple things

Not exactly a trip to Home Depot...
And it appears to be the beginning of mango season..

Friday, January 13, 2017

¿Quién es peor? - Who is worse?

Ay!  Politicos!  It seems like it's a race to the bottom. 
Translation:  Peña Nieto plagiarized his thesis and he wants to evaluate the teachers.
And EPN isn't the only guy I'm talkin' about..... Cheeto Mussolini.....  Srsly
I'm depressed, but inspired.  So please don't make me get out my leathers and my motorcycle...  Go ahead, make my day.... As the title from one of my favorite films, "Start the revolution without me."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My backyard

January in Oaxaca, cold clear nights, warm days with azure skies.... what's not to like?  I always enjoy walking the streets in the city, but I love my afternoon walks around my house.  I am so lucky to have vistas like this... the archeological site of Aztompa.
The trees in the foreground, sorry I forget the name, however, the leaves have a wonderful fragrance and when rubbed on the face, the forehead and around the eyes, relieve stress.  It works!  There is almost no dew in the morning, the air is that dry, so the plants and the countryside have entered a dormant period and the palette changes from greens to browns.
Of course, next month the annual explosions of purple of the jacarandas will begin and they will carry us into the rains, although it will be months.  Still, we all adapt.
What a country..

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Got duct tape?

One more thing I love about living here is improvising when things go wrong or get broken.  Rather than run out and hire someone to fix it or run out to get a replacement part, one just wings it.  And of course, the joke is that with duct tape and a paper clip, a Mexican can fix most anything.  This is simply not true at all and I present the following example to back this up.

After driving around a few days,  I got this weird vibe that I should check the engine and, lo and behold, the oil cap was gone.  Who knows what happened, but I bet some idiot was involved... moi.
There should have been oil all over the place, but there wasn't.  Even though I had just driven it to Teotitlan del Valle and back through the city, I was hesitant to jump back in the car to get a replacement.  I looked things up online and they warned of fire and oil damaging belts and such, so I had to come up with a quick fix.  And voila...
See it was not duct tape and a paper clip after all, even though I have used that one plenty of times in the past.  No, it was gaffer's tape and a lid off a wine bottle..... and it worked like a charm.

With the fix in place I was off to try and find a replacement cap.  I drove to the two small places right down the road, both run by middle-aged ladies, but no luck.  Although one of them told me of a place to try not too far away.  On the way, I stopped at Autozone and they had one, but it was way across the city.  The lady's recommendation was just on the other side of the road, so what the heck.  It was a tiny place, a real hole in the wall, and was run by an old lady with a cat in her lap.  She said, "Sure, I've got one," and pulled out a box of various caps.  "Here, this looks right. Try it."  It worked and the adventure ended with me happily handing her $1.25 US.

So there, you see, it isn't always duct tape... well actually, it is.  I should tell you how I fixed my brake lights with tape and a one peso coin years ago and it still works.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Tres Reyes in Tres Reyes

Where better to spend el Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos than in nearby Tres Reyes Etla.  I was a bit early for all the action, but watched the mass and listened to the music and singing. Yes, it really looked like this, so bright and beautiful with all the papeles moving in the breezes.
 With valet parking of a sort.
 A sure sign of plenty of action to come.
I love the drama from the shadows....
Meanwhile, in the city, yesterday, they laid out the pathway of toys for the kids of the city. 
I've never seen the kids actually get the toys, but I am sure it is fun.
I am not sure how the whole thing works, but there were some pretty nice toys.
Again, I was a bit early and only caught the big kids eating snacks during morning recess.
So, Happy Three Kings Days!