connect the pieces

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Views from halfway down a stairwell

Since I am usually taller than the person I am photographing, and I often shoot photos from my eye level or even from an elevated position, I really loved the perspective of shooting from halfway down this staircase outside a very busy metro. It was new. It was Mexico City and it was hot, it made me sympathize for the musician. Why was he dressed like a policeman while he played an accordion in the street?

Photos taken September 2015 with a Nikon D3100 in Mexico City

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Tepoztlan

Sitting across the aisle from me on my flight from Dallas to Mexico City, Ulysses said to me “You go to Tepoztlan. That’s your place. They have Queso ice cream there.”

I was in.

He told me the metro to take to the bus station and which bus to take where. It would be a couple hours. It was a Sunday morning and it was sunny. It was perfection- warm in the sun, with a hint of a chill on each breeze. It was September of 2015 and the town was straight out of a movie, set in another time. 

 

 

Musicians of Plaza Garibaldi.

One day, in early 1996, I was on Church Street and rented Desperado starring Antonio Banderas. That movie, along with the song Mexico by James Taylor formed an impression in my teenage mind of an unrealistically romantic Mexico full of guitar playing mariachi/vigilantes and incredibly beautiful women with impossibly sexy accents. The music was everything.  Arguably my favorite song to listen to on the run in Mexico. Exhilarating!

I cued up the soundtrack for the movie when I walked around Mexico and my musical highlight of the country was an evening at Plaza Garibaldi, a square in Mexico City where mariachis of all shapes and sizes and attire bring their gear and best tunes each night. Beers, smoke and song filled the air, until one by one we all dragged our tired feet to the main road in search of taxis at the end of the night,  mariachis and revelers, every man for himself. They were definitely upstreaming. And they deserved to. 

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Playing an incendiary cover of La Bamba on a harp

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Thick as Thieves

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Voice Like Honey

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The Professional

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Lead Vocals

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The Hired Gun

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Soda Stereo in Tepoztlán

When I finally made it to Mexico for the first time, it was September 5th, 2015 – a quiet late Saturday Night in Mexico City. I lazily hailed a taxi at the airport rationalizing it to myself “Hey, you don’t want to miss Saturday night” although I was tired and suspected that I would only wind up having a beer or two that night. I hoped however that I would be refreshed and awakened fully soon, an exhilarating combination of exotic breezes, generous pesos and attractive accents jarring me to my senses. That never happened. It took forever to find my way, my cabbie got yelled at by a cop- these charming cobblestone streets were too narrow for a taxi they said- and so I walked around in dark circles, helpless and phoneless and carefree. It was the museum district (one of god knows how many-kudos DF) and all I found was the backs and sides of castle after fort after palace. Sure, I was happy to walk around lost, not all who wander are lost and all that, but the slight responsibility of carrying my bag was really beginning to upset me off. I was definitely hangry. 

I found my room, showered, changed. Got ready to crash and hit the next day with a vengeance. I look up and there is a bat on the ceiling. I can’t believe it. The last hostel I was in was on the other side of the world, and a bat had come into my room through the air conditioner and terrified me in my sleep. There is nothing cool about bats in person, Batman is full of it. 

I ran out to the night watchman, a huge loud coward in the quiet Mexican night, and motioned for him to come to my room. I pointed to the still, black, winged bastard on the ceiling. He said with zero confidence “Oh, es mariposa.”  

I don’t know Spanish. But I did study Spanish. And I suddenly remembered that means Butterfly.

And suddenly-er even, a few words of that ole espanol came back to me and I said “Que? Amigo, es muy grande no? Es  mariposa grande or es murcielaga poco?” BRO, IS THAT A REALLY REALLY BIG BUTTERFLY OR IS THAT A KINDA SMALL BAT? 

And yes, I do only know that murcielaga means Bat because of the Lambhorghini. And no, my Spanish is probably not grammatically correct. This actually and tragically wound up being the highlight of my Spanish skills for this trip.

The next morning I walked out after a breakfast of jam, baguette and cornflakes to a train to a bus to a village that my new buddy Ulysses (Hugh-lee-zees) had recommended to me from across the aisle on the plane. It was a day to remember. I had Googled “Best Spanish Rock Groups” before I went to Mexico and Soda Stereo kept getting mentioned. 80s and badass, and I think a lot of other bands stole their riffs because they were shredding it all the way from Buenos Aires in the 80s and 90s. I walked the streets and mountain all day long, buying Micheladas and leaving a trail of taco plates in my wake. Men threw fire crackers a few feet from busy crowds all day long. The loud bangs would go off and scare passersby for what seemed like a second before nervous laughter would kick in mixed with the belly laughs of the local village men who threw the crackers down. This repeated itself until darkness.