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, February 26, 2017

A bird in the hand...

Is worth two...., wait...  or one big one in the bush!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

So that's how they do it.. bugambillas or bougainvilleas

Last week I posted this picture of the bougainvillea I have been working on, finally getting it shaped.
This is what it looks like from the other side.
And here's another that has a couple of years of shearing and shaping.
These are some of the ones I've studied every time I drive in the city.
They are quite old and how they survive and remain healthy is simply a testimony of the resilience and power of plants.

And that's how they do it.  I'm still working on it, but making progress.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Nobody does it better... Doña Melisa's tamales

Everybody has their favorite tamales lady.... maybe there are some men out there doing it, but I've never heard of one.  Anyway, mine is Doña Melisa who sells a wide variety of some of the best tamales around in the market in Etla on Wednesdays.  
I have been enjoying hers for years, after sampling most everyone's in the market.  I know there is some very stiff competition, but she my favorite.  Hers tamales are so nice and fat and tasty.... Her rajas are sublime....Hmmm ... I think I'll have one for dinner..... now. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Everything is political..

As someone who lives most of the time in Mexico, I am pretty much freaked out by all that is happening.  I love this country and its people, their history, culture, cuisine and traditions.  For me to go off some rant would do no good.  This place has taught me that respect rules and goes both ways and is a gift to each.  And many years ago, I learned from the masters, that compassion is the only viable way to go through life..... but maybe that's only how it is in my house.  Anyway, these photos from market day in Etla are political.  They say whatever you want.
One can always tell what's in season... these greeted me at the entrance.
Some of these end up in your market, too.
But they are a bit fresher here.
Tangerines right off the trees.
 ¡Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Qual muro? - What wall?

From my morning visit to the Market in Etla.  "Do you have this in my size?"
Alas, they did not.   Trump is good... for business.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Purple rain...

Who knows where we in the dry season, it could be weeks or months until the rains come.  The countryside is so dry.  Everything is a shade of brown or yellow.  And then, all of a sudden, there are explosions of purple dotting the hills and streets.  The colors always seem to me to have a Japanese quality when framed against the sky.
The jacarandas are blooming.  They are harbingers of things to come and always such a welcome sight.  They are just starting and will continue for maybe four to six weeks.
Then, all the petals will fall and there will pools of purple everywhere.  Then the rains come... ojala!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Learning from the masters...

The people who prune the shrubs and trees here are so knowledgeable.  They have years of experience.  I have watched, observed their work and finally, learned how to come close to the quality of their work.  This bugambillas or bougainvillea is one of my pride and joys.  It was in the worst imaginable shape when I moved in to this house,  just a hideous stump with no leaves or flowers.  And now its four meters of blossoms fill the front wall... I love it!

Update:  Someone asked how they do it.  You can see from my example that it has been shaped using hedge clippers.  The ones in the city are prime examples of this.  It takes a couple of years to get old plants back in shape.  You have to cut the suckers off, get a good central trunk and then use the clippers, knowing that even though it seems brutal, the plants will fill out.  I drive by some great examples of old shaped plants on my drive into the city in the median strip just after Santa Rosa.  Really beautiful topiary work.  I also love how they prune ficus benjaminas.  The same principle using hedge clippers.  The ones in the parking lot of Plaza del Valle are amazing.  If you look up through them you can see they are actually cylinders with a hole cut at the top to let light in.  I'll have to take photos of them.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Love will tear us apart

 from Reuters
Nine asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a U.S. border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.
As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer seized their passports and questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to the border in Champlain, New York, four adults and four young children fled the cab and ran to Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the other side.
One by one they scrambled across the snowy gully separating the two countries. RCMP officers watching from the other side helped them up, lifting the younger children and asking a woman, who leaned on her fellow passenger as she walked, if she needed medical care.
 Read the whole story..... 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Somebody's watching you...

They may be watching, but some people say, "We will not adapt to this system."
People are very aware of the world of politics.... I just got a canister of gas for the hot water heater.  The price was up significantly.  I asked him why and he just smiled, winked and said, "Trump."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

So that's how they do it...

Construction workers here are artists with cement.   Domes, arches, you name it, they can do it.  So this is how to construct a small round window.  I love it.  It's simple and it works and it's an art.
It is all hard labor, no machines, except maybe a cement mixer, but most of the time, it is all hand work.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Works for me...

Ella fue advertida. Se le dio una explicación. Sin embargo ella persiste."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Feria de Carrizo - San Juan Gelavia

This past Sunday the Feria de Carrizo in San Juan Geulavia ended and by all standards, it was a great success... and a really good time.  It was just another example of how villages are learning to pro-actively and aggressively publicize these annual events.  A few years ago, this was a small event in a small village, drawing visitors by the hundreds.  Now, they draw thousands and the villages reap the rewards, the increased notoriety and much needed income.  Plus, what a good time!
Working with carrizo, the bamboo like grass that grow so prolifically in the area, is an art and it practiced by maybe ten families in the village.  It certainly looked their sales had to be way up this year because the place was absolutely packed and the artesanos had lots of wonderfully tempting things to sell.
There were lots of food vendors and music and dancing galore.  The first Sunday, they had a guelaguetza with all the regional dances performed.  Look at those happy faces.
Having so many young people involved insures traditions will continue. 
The pride of Oaxaca on display.  People feel it in their hearts and it's palpable. I'm right there with them.
This last Sunday, our friends, the danzantes from nearby Teotitlan del Valle performed to huge appreciative crowds.  Each village has its own traditions and style.  This couple from Guelavia was celebrating wearing the traditional outfits for their village's weddings.
I love this shot with the new father looking so serious, holding his sleeping child, under the banner proclaiming artisans united. ¡Via San Juan Guelavia! 


Sunday, February 5, 2017

It's the little things...

It is the dry season and it's dusty.  So at least once a year... or maybe year and a half.... I manage to get it together and get a shine for my footwear.  Guys shining shoes are everywhere, so I really have no excuse why I let mine get so dusty.  I guess is kinda like the car.  Clean it one day and it's dusty the next.  However, when I do get it together, I always got into the city to the zocalo where there lots of men who are very good at their jobs.  And so it was a couple of days ago.  You can see how they looked as he began.
It was so much fun to watch him work.  He had lots of special tricks and techniques.  His polishes have different consistencies and each had a special use.
This man worked so fastidiously for well over a half hour to transform my dusty dogs into condition better than new.  I have no idea how much it cost, probably 20 pesos, a dollar at today exchange.  I gave him more than that because it was such a good shine and such a pleasure to watch him work.  An artist at his craft.
The sandals were probably more work than simple shoes, but I loved how much effort and pride he put into his work.  This is very typical of the Oaxacan work ethic.  I only mention this for those who have no idea how hard Mexicans work.  Hmmmm... who might that be?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Julia Martinez Bautista - 100 years!

How wonderful it was to be at the celebration in Teotitlan del Valle, for one of the village's most esteemed citizens, Julia Martinez Bautista and for her birthday as she crossed the century mark.  Doña Julia is the matriarch of a large extended family and mother of Emilia, one of our favorite people and one of the best cooks ever.  Mother and daughter....
Yes, one hundred years of life and her story is a remarkable one.  A century in one of the most magical and traditional Zapotec villages in all of Mexico.  She lives alone and still go to the market every day.
We joined the  celebration at the church where there was a mass after which she was greeted by a band.
Then everyone processed through the streets to her home.
 The guest of honor arrives.
It was time for lots of food, drink, music and dancing.  The party was short by Zapotec standards... only one day, but one that went very late into the night, not like the four day affair last week.  I have lots of shots of her over the years, mostly from the weddings of her grandchildren, which I was lucky enough to attend.
One of my favorites is her sorting corn for Sergio and Virginia's wedding. 
Her hands tell the story.
It was such an honor to be there and to see so much love and respect for this remarkable woman.
Felicidades, Doña Julia,.  Here's to the next hundred.