Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Waiting For The Dust To Settle Feb 2010

With nearly two weeks behind us since my friends violent 9mm-in-your-face carjacking experience, we are slow to recover.  

It's not that it was a carjacking, they have become common around the world, not shocking at all anymore.  What is nerve-wracking is that it happened here in our peaceful little nondescript ranchero pueblo.  

What else it is that shakes me to the core is the arrogant brazenness of it all.  They knew they wouldn't get caught!  After assaulting her, they drove off in her car and went to her house to rob it by gaining access with her keys.  Then, they drove her car — Mexican man driving US plated car with 2 kayaks on top, mind you — down main street, along the plaza, past the church, and on to the highway where they were observed making a right hand turn toward Guadalajara.  

Did they thumb their noses at the Municipal Building as they passed it? 

It's a new Mexico, and I am not as comfy as I once was.  The 'Drug War' is trickling down, can it do that? 

I see new faces and new cars in town.  Many sporting US plates, and containing single men with cervezas in hand, slumped down low, red-faced and cold-eyed with knit caps and neck tats.  I recently encountered just such a thing on a rural road in my neighborhood last week while walking the dog.  They drove so slowly they were barely moving, no place to go and nothing to do, then made disparaging remarks when they passed.  I averted my eyes as they pulled up to where I was, and my blood chilled.  I realized how lucky I was that they rolled on.  I don't go there any more.

Admirably, my friend organized a town hall meeting with other victims of crimes and a few Jocotepec Municipality dignitaries.  Here is the account of the meeting from the local paper.  They listened intently as people read their prepared statements, but had little to offer in return.  A website.  An emergency phone number to call to report your crime.  

The bone-chilling reality is, what can they do?  What would you choose, given the choice of the bribe or the bullet?  plata o plomo  For a dose of reality read this!  USA Today

Mexico has always been the wild, wild west, and that's one of the aspects of this country that attracted me to it   Maybe now we're paying the price for that.

I'm afraid it's going to get much worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm. . . Feb 2010

Mexican Pot Scrubbers -  The World's Best!




Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Little Too Close To Home Feb 2010

Last Wednesday, Feb 9, 2010, my friend Linda
was carjacked by 4 Mexican guys while hiking the new bypass
road through Jocotepec with her dogs.

They robbed her at gunpoint of her cash, keys, shoes and socks
and her car.

They then went directly to her house and tried to gain entry with her keys.
They were thwarted by a neighbor who yelled at them.
They remain at large.
Here is the wanted poster, for those of you living in Mexico,
if you should happen to see this car, with or without the kayaks,
please call the national number 065.

Do not approach or confront them, they are armed and dangerous!


El 9 de Febrero 2010 se produjo un robo de autos
armados en la carretera de circunvalación en Jocotepec.
Buscando un 2008 4-puertas, negro, Jeep Wrangler
con placas de South Dakota, USA.
El coche tiene un bastidor atomillado en el techo 
y en el momento del robo habia 2 kayaks arriba.
Si Usted debe ver este coche, por favor repórtelo
a las autoridades Mexicanos a 065


On Feb. 9, 2010 there was an armed 
carjacking on the new bypass highway
in Jocotepec.
 Authorities are looking for a 2008
4-door, black, Jeep Wrangler with
South Dakota license plates.
The car has a bolted-on roof rack
and at the time of the robbery there
were 2 kayaks on the rack.
If you see this car, please report
it to the Mexican authorities at 065.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Growing Up Hawaiian - Part 3 - Ki Ho'Alu Feb 2010

Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

In March of 1820 the first boatload of Christian missionaries
arrived in the Hawai'ian Islands from Boston.
They brought with them an appetite for beef.
Were it not for their culinary preferences, 
we would not have Hawai'ian Slack Key Guitar.

As the story goes, cows were brought by ship to the islands
but neither the Hawai'ians nor the missionaries
knew how to ranch, so vaqueros (Spanish cowboys)  were imported 
from Spain to manage the ranches and teach the 
Hawai'ians to be cowboys. 
Hawai'ian cowboys are called paniolos.

The vaqueros brought Spanish acoustic guitars with them
and the Hawai'ians were enchanted by their music.

When the vaquero's were no longer needed they returned to Spain,
leaving their guitars behind with their Hawai'ian counterparts.

Again, as the story goes, the Hawai'ians had never really learned
how to tune the guitars so they tuned them to what sounded good to them.  
Which ended up being an 'open' harmonious sound when strummed 
without fingering.  

They managed this by 'slacking' the strings down from E tuning
until they liked the way it sounded.

Musicians devised their own tunings and named them things 
like "Taro Patch" (DGDGBD) and "Wahine".  
These tunings became closely guarded secrets
and part of the  Ki Ho'Alu (slack key) history and folklore.

Ki Ho 'Alu is written in tablature form and played with a rolling base
accompanied by picking the melody at the same time.  

My most most most all-time favorite slack key guitarist and just all-around 
great talented guy is Keola Beamer.

There are many slack key artists in the islands, and around the world,
and much information on the subject is on the web.
Google and You Tube are loaded with it!
Some Slack Key Video Samples:

Non-traditional slack key, sort of Rock and Roll Slack Key

Ledward Ka'apana
More traditional, an absolute slack key master!  

Keali'i Reichel
Wonderful Hawai'ian musician and entertainer.

Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole
The all-time god of Hawaiian music.  
Sadly, he died of morbid obesity (not uncommon with native Hawai'ians)
at an early age a few years ago.
That is his funeral towards the end of the video and
those are his ashes being scattered from the urn.
I hope I've given you a little taste for the music of my homeland.
If you are interested in slack key guitar music, 
Dancing Cat Music has an incredible catalog of CDs.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

San Cristóbal Zapotitlán - South Shore Lake Chapala Feb 2010

Cooperativa Mi Pueblito San Cristóbal

I can always think of a reason to take a ride over to the 
south shore of Lake Chapala to visit San Cristóbal,
and up high on that list is a stop at the 
basket (canasta) and corn husk doll (muñeca) cooperative.

Zaragosa #33 A

There is a small green sign on the highway
with an arrow pointing towards the lake - turn there.
The road is paved, follow it about a mile
until you reach the big soccer field on the right.
The cooperativo is just past that.
Thirty artists, all from San Cristóbal, have formed a cooperative
to produce and sell the palm baskets and corn husk dolls they make.
They have been doing this for 13 years.

Here are a few of their offerings.

The front show room.


More baskets!
More dolls!

María Florentina Osorio Rito with flower bouquet and raw palm
spines used in the baskets.

María is the woman in charge and is very knowledgeable, 
friendly, and helpful.

The dolls are all exquisitely different, and range in size from about 6 inches
to about a foot and a half for the Virgin de Guadalupe.  
Most dolls are about a foot high.

Prices for the dolls go from $12 pesos (about 90 cents US)
to $75 pesos for the 'foot high' size (about $5.75 US)

The most impressive doll of all is, 
fittingly, the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Here she is.

The Virgin of Guadalupe

The artist and her daughter.

The dolls are all made by hand and entirely of corn husks.
It is a long and intricate process.

First step is selecting and sorting the best dried corn husks.
Then the husks are painted and allowed to dry.
Following that, they wet them and shape them into the design.
Next they are dried.
Finally, any added touches are put on and the doll is ready.

Here is a catalog of basket shapes:

Click to enlarge.
All the baskets are sturdy and well made.

 Go visit!  
You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm. . . Feb 2010

And. . .this from the local Farmácia.

Click to enlarge. . .  :)

No translation needed!