martes, 27 de noviembre de 2012

Border Business

A few days ago I was in Belize, the sole purpose of the trip being a border run as my tourist visa was about to expire in Mexico.  I had caught a local bus, paying for the Corozal-Chetumal trip.  The bus was old school: brown vinyl seats, air conditioning that looked like someone had installed an old system designed for a house...  And most of the other custom (all, apart from me, as far as I could tell) was local, people visiting friends, but mostly Mexicans that had gone shopping the the Corozal Free Zone - a compound just over the border that only contains stores that are duty free).

I was a bit edgy about going through immigration, particulary on the Mexican side, as I would be getting my third visa in under a year.  I passed through the Belize immigration with the man at the desk barely glancing at me, as he continued with his conversation in what I guessed was Kriol.  Although I was a little disorientated leaving the hall, I found the carpark where a cream bus was parked.  I was cursing myself for having forgotten the colour of the bus (as buses that ran this trip all looked the same apart from their colour), but it turned out to be the only one there.  Crossing over the river, we quickly arrived at the Mexican immigration.  This was a lot busier.  This time there were queues and forms to fill out (as you would expect at immigration).  I passed through with only a couple of questions... however, it seemed that I had taken much longer than everyone else on the bus.  A couple of times I asked where the buses would be, and quickly found the street where they were parked.   As I walked down the street I kept asking myself - what colour was it again?  But I couldn't see any buses that even looked a similar style - they all looked like tour buses.  I wandered back up and down, fixing my attention on the buses, before I let myself believe the inevitable truth - the bus had left me at the border.

Swearing under my breath I headed slowly back to the corner, where the "street of buses" started, trying to work out what I was going to do.  All of the other buses looked like tour buses, a few taxis were lined up closer to the corner... but I wasn't keen on the extra cost of taking one...  Looking across the street I saw this clunky looking, small bus with green windows that was painted in the same way as the taxis: white with a yellow stripe.

It was on that bus that I took this photo.  The woman in the corner was with some friends who had crossed for some duty free shopping, and were merrily gossiping.  I think it is the blandness and the contrast with the green windows that makes this photo interesting, while the woman adds a human element to the rigidity and starkness of the immigration formalities.

lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2012

Graveyard Tunes

We were heading out of the cemetery in Oaxaca a couple of days before Día de Muertos, after having spent a couple of hours surrounded by innumerable candles and listening to choirs and a small orchestra perform.  As we were leaving, we heard the unmistakeable call of a mariachi band.  Following the notes we stumbled across them, and a small gathering clustered around a couple of graves.  We had only been there for a minute before a man came up to us offering mezcal.  My boyfriend, the non-drinker, pretending to be tough, accepted although it was fairly horrid.  He was then taken aside to talk to an old man while I watched the mariachi.  Later he told me that the old man had hired the mariachi to play at the graves of his dead family.

What I liked about this was that we had spent so long listening to the polished musicans hired by the city to perform, but on slipping away we encountered this; something that was felt much more real, more important, more personal and much more Mexican.

domingo, 11 de noviembre de 2012


Guadalupe, Mexico's own Virgin, has a habit of turning up in the most unexpected places: caps, shirts, necklaces, tiles, notebooks, bowls, lighters, fake fingernails.  This one was a recent spotting in Oaxaca.  I like this one because of its sneaky appearance and because it looks kind of like she is bringing light to the darkness.

martes, 6 de noviembre de 2012

Through Someone Else's Eyes

We were in Oaxaca recently, my boyfriend and I.  We were sitting in a cemetery, waiting for a choir to begin their performance for the Día de Muertos celebrations.  Niches lined the outer walls of the pantheon, graves, empty and occupied a like, all 2,400 of them bearing a candle.  As we waited for the performance to begin, my boyfriend trying to nap on my shoulder, I looked around, out across the grave yard, back over the niches.  I was doing this until I realised that I could see the niches through  the glasses of this man seated in front of me.  I like this photo because it is like seeing the world through someone else's eyes: a slightly contorted version of what you see as your own reality.