In an earlier post I noted that for me the photos I take while traveling tend to fall into one of three categories. These are:
- Subjects seen in the tourist destination, but not seen at home;
- Subjects seen at home, but not expected to be seen in the tourist destination; and,
- Subjects that are expected to be seen both at home and in the tourist destination, but which have a fresh look in a new context.
In the earlier post I illustrated these three categories with three photos from China. Here I would like to do the same with several photos from southern Mexico, each in or near the city of Oaxaca.
Category I – Subjects seen there, but not seen at home
In Mexico there are many subjects available to the photographer that are seen there, but not readily seen in most of the United States. Examples include the Spanish colonial architecture, the rich diversity of art forms such as the magnificent murals found on and in public buildings, the rich traditions of handcrafts, the weaving, and the large number of indigenous traditions and festivals. Here are three photos to represent the first category.
1. Spectacular archaeological ruins
2. Ornately decorated churches
3. Traditional festivals and indigenous dress
This photo was taken during the Guelaguetza festival in July, 2007. The dress shown here is only one of the several designs worn by women from the towns on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In this case the young woman is from Juchitán de Zaragoza , Oaxaca.
Category 2: Subjects seen at home, but not expected to be seen in the tourist destination
The first time I went to Mexico in 1964 I did not realize that it was a country with so many mountains. My mental picture of Mexico was created largely by black and white television images from the Sonora desert, or some back lot on a Hollywood production set. The photo above was taken about twenty miles south east of the city of Oaxaca. What appears from a distance to be a waterfall is, in fact, white calcium deposits from pools of water on top of the precipice that form as the dripping water evaporates. The site is know as “Hierve el Agua” (Boiling Water).
The snapshot above is that of a Washington State Gala apple. I was surprised to find it in a Oaxaca produce market selling at a lower price than locally grown apples. Reportedly, one of the effects of NAFTA has been to drive small farmers in Mexico out of business as U.S. corporate agriculture can effectively compete, even in Mexico where incomes are low.
Category III: Subjects that are expected to be seen both at home and in the tourist destination, but which have a fresh look in a new context.
We expect to see fruits and vegetables everywhere, but in Oaxaca most fruits and vegetables are sold in open air markets where vendors carefully arrange their merchandise in attractive displays. To me, the produce always looks more inviting there than here in Wisconsin. Perhaps it is because of the wide variety of produce offered there. It seems that the colors are richer, and despite the Washington state apple shown above, most of the produce is locally grown. I don’t know about the radishes, but the fruit definitely tastes better in Mexico than here in Wisconsin. Most of our fruit is picked well before it is ripe.