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, February 21, 2018

Market Day in Etla

Wednesday is market day in nearby Etla.  I guess I consider it to be my market, as I go there all the time and know lots of people there.  I love the place.  It is also one of the go-to places for some of the best cooking classes in the area.  I always see them getting tours of what a real Oaxacan market is all about.  Today is was Alma de mi Tierra and Seasons of the Heart.
Right now, the area where lots of normal market action takes place, is under construction and has been for a few months.  It's a big project that I've been following.  The progress is slow, but sure. The finished part looks great.  It will be wonderful to see in when it's done in a few months.  These guys know their craft.
Anyway, one of the best parts of the market is this line of prepared foods that are offered every single week by the ladies of Etla. 
And I can attest that there is lots of incredibly good food, all homemade and fresh, at ridiculously low prices. 
The rajas tamales I get, are really nice and fat and so good all for about $.50 US .  Hungry yet?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

More Carnaval - San Martin Tilcajete

It is hard to take in the many looks and aspects of carnaval in San Martin Tilcajete.  Also, as a visitor, an alien, it is impossible to take in all the background, the traditions, the subtleties, the things you had to be born there to know.  There are families that have participated for years, long before it was the place to be for tourists.  I wonder what they think of all the attention.  I mean, all those people sticking cameras in their faces... uh, me, included.  Here are some of the candid portraits I manged to snap.  The bride.....
Her (his) attendants...
"Please, Mister, get me outta here."
And some not so cute looks....
Some muxe, Mexico third gender joined in the festivities.
 And girls with moustaches...
And unmasked....
And the classic look....
And my favorite, Juana from Matlacihua Arte, holding one of her masks... the horns are not hers.  There was another mask behind her that just happened to line up.  Her husband, Jesus Sosa Calvo, liked the shot.
One suggestion I would make is that there should be many more food vendors earlier in the day.  The crowds were huge and they could have made a fortune.... uh, I was hungry and could have gone for just about any kind of food.  The area is famous for empanadas (hint, hint).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Carnaval in San Martin Tilcajete

San Martin Tilcajete certainly was the place to be on Fat Tuesday for one of the best and biggest (and only?) celebrations in the surrounding area.  Carnaval here has become more and more popular and yesterday, the village was filled with more people than on any other day of the year.  Lila Downs, as well as some the folks who made "Coco," was there. 
San Martin Tilcajete is one of the most famous wood-carving villages and the masks are always spectacular.  This one is by good friend, Jesus Sosa Calvo and his wife Juana.  Yes, they painted the person as well.
The central part of the celebration features a "wedding", a procession through the streets of the village and a "ceremony" in front of the municipal building. Yes, the bride is a young man.
I'm not sure how the bride and groom are selected, but each is holding a photo, so maybe there are deeper meanings than just fun and irreverence.
In addition to the wedding party, there were roving bands of "diablitos" wearing bells and often covered with oil.
Here's another mask from Jesus and Juana.... simply wonderful.
Some absolutely amazing costumes.
And, of course, the Queen of Carnaval.
So many wonderful looks..... ¡Viva San Martin Tilcajete!
More in a bit.....

Monday, February 12, 2018

Watching the Olympics in Oaxaca

Watching the Winter Games is pure fun here.  They are on for 18-24 hours a day, as far as I can tell, with very few commercials and, because the Mexican team is so small, the coverage covers everything and everyone relatively equally.  I have not read how well NBC is handling it all in the States, but it's almost pure sports here, no "up close and personal" and no nationalism.  Of course, the Mexican team may be small, but they have created quite a stir with their uniforms.
¡Viva Mexico!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

This is a woman's world..... or it should be

The women of Oaxaca continue to amaze and inspire me.  They have a strength and resiliency, often a smile and a little mischievous glint in their eyes.  Like the women above from San Marcos Tlapazola, a village near Tlacolula.  They are renown for their ceramics, which is produced by a large women's collective.  I see them all the time and they are always happy, willing to joke and ready to do business.  In fact, I don't ever remember meeting a man from the village, but I must have.  Their pieces are reasonably priced, a little higher than other places, but the design and quality is second to none.  They rule.
And they are representative of many of the qualities that many women seem to possess here.  They are the backbone of the place, no matter what any man says.  They start young....
Grow into young women....
Until they are seasoned with strength and wisdom
They persevere...
James Brown sang "This is a Man's World" but guess what?  It ain't.  Time to let the women run the place.... for the next 5000 years.  Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, El Norte... and everyplace else.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Let us have lettuce...

I'm a little neurotic about my greens.  It's partially because I've gotten so ill from them in the past.... but that was in the States!  And here.... well, it hard to know exactly what you are getting and how fresh it is.  I've learned to wash/soak everything in Microdyn, an anti-bacterial, both here and there.  Better safe than sorry and it's so easy. 
My solution is to grow it all myself.  These have grown in total shade on the north side of the house. I've been eating from the top one for a couple of months.  Now it's time to start the next batch.  They never get full sun during the winter months and don't bolt or go to seed.  I still wash the lettuce as I pick the leaves for fresh salads.  I try to have a constant source and the crazy thing is when the sun hits them and they do go to seed, they reseed and I find little lettuce plants growing everywhere. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Street art - Sweet art

 The murals, posters and paintings, the street art, is ever-changing, and so much fun with which to try and keep current.
Oaxaca has a varied and vibrant world of art, not only the wide variety of folk art, but the contemporary art scene is very well established with many famous and yet to be famous artists working in every medium imaginable.  The graffiti artists are quite renown and it's easy to see why.
There are galleries all over the city filled with art, but one can see great things just walking around doing errands.  Pretty sweet, eh?  Well some of it is not so sweet, much more bittersweet and important.
"For the mothers who cry over the empty graves of children never to return."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

This is so Oaxaca...

What do you notice?  Besides that there are lots of tourists in town.  A hint:  the sun is starting to intensify and it's hot...... That's right,  everyone is walking on the shady side of the street.  It's just the way folks deal with the heat here, but people probably do this everywhere in the world when the sun is beating down.

Monday, February 5, 2018

More Gotta Dance - San Juan Geulavia

I just love the look on the little girl's face as she watched this elegant dancer perform... and there was much more.
The Feria del Carrizo in San Juan Gelavia was so good last week that a return trip was in order for the second and last Sunday of the celebration.  This time there was actually more and a better selection of pieces made from the bamboo-like grass.  I was early once again and brought more of an appetite, but was a bit early for all the food stalls to be ready.  However, just like last week there was dance, and it appeared like most of the dances came from northern Mexico, some from the state of Chihuahua.
No matter where the folkloric group was from, and I missed that, they were good and tight as they performed what almost appeared to be variations on country swing and two-step.
 Not too intense a look on her face...
They all could really cut a rug, very tight and crisp in all their steps.
Like most groups, they would dance and then run and change outfits quickly for the next dance.  In between the group dances, this elegant couple performed.
  Their swirling dresses always remind me of flowers or butterflies.
 What an amazing look.
More on the carrizo and the rest of the day in a bit.