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Life in Mexico

Life in Mexico Photography

Life in Pozos – La Fiesta de El Señor de los Trabajos

Yes, it’s a big week here in Mineral de Pozos, Mexico. It’s the annual celebration to honor the town’s patron saint: El Señor de los Trabajos (The Lord of Work).  Many Mexicans pray to El Señor de los Trabajos to help them find work to provide for their families. This is also the patron saint of our parroquia.

This week is a busy medley of processions, native drumming, dancing, marching bands, music, markets and food stands along with the constant artillery pops of firecrackers and fireworks at all hours of the day and night. There is so much going on, it’s overwhelming to experience for the first time. This fiesta is something the entire town prepares for and looks forward to all year. The fiesta will end on Sunday with the arrival of a large pilgrimage of indigenous people from Mexico City and other states of Mexico.

I love photographing Pozos and and feel blessed to live here. I will post more images as the fiesta continues, but here’s a sampling of what I photographed earlier today.

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Life in Mexico Photography

Surviving to Three – Lupita’s Presentación de Tres Años

Within the Mexican culture, which traditionally had a very high infant mortality rate, the Presentación de Tres Años is a celebration for the gift of life received by one’s child. Traditionally celebrated on the child’s third birthday, the presentación is a way for families to join together to give thanks for the life of the child and to ask for continued blessings on him or her. I was honored to be asked by Lupita’s family in Mexico to photograph her Tres Años celebration.

The events of the day included an afternoon mass and blessing at the Parroquia here in Pozos.  Then there was a large gathering of family and friends at the family’s el rancho.  The party included food supplied and prepared by family members — rice, yummy mole, and large steaming vats of beef and pork carnitas.  There was musical entertainment provided by a couple and a karaoke machine while everyone enjoyed their food.  Afterwards, there was a special procession and dance featuring  Lupita and her little escort as family watched and cheered. Then out came the piñatas filled with candies that were broken apart by stick wielding children (I admit it was a little strange to witness Thumbelina joyfully pummeled and torn apart). The night finished off with everyone sharing a rather large cake.

This was my first Tres Años and it gave me a nice glimpse into local culture.  Here’s some of my photographs and a video trailer that were presented to Lupita’s parents:

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Life in Mexico Photography

Travels in Mexico – Bacalar, Quintana Roo

We recently had our first long road trip inside Mexico after being invited by local friends to stay with them as guests at a laguna-front casa in Bacalar located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula near the border with Belize.  We spent time swimming in the laguna, ventured into the jungle to see the Mayan ruins of Dzibanche and spent a day wandering the beach at Mahahual along the Costa Maya.  Here’s some IR photographs from the trip.


Life in Mexico Photography

Hacienda Dreams in Central Mexico

On Friday, we went searching near La Granja, Guanajuato for what we were told was an old hacienda. We took a narrow, washboard, rutted, boulder-strewn “road” for 10 kilometers off the main highway to the supposed location.

Initially we didn’t see anything worth exploring, but after asking at a little family “store”, it turned out we were a few hundred feet from the hacienda. We drove up to the exterior walls and found a chapel, some outbuildings, old farm equipment, a corral, and a large “lawn” in front of a house attached to the chapel.

While Carol was taking photographs, a man came out of the house moving towards a truck that was parked out front. I was uncertain what to make of the situation, as we were on what was apparently private property. But I called out to the man and approached him, telling him my name, and saying we had heard about the hacienda and were curious about it.

I asked him if it was still a working hacienda, and he said “claro, que si” and pointed to all the machinery (OK, that was a dumb question on my part, but I wanted him to talk about the place). He didn’t look entirely convinced of what we were doing there, but when I asked him what he raised, he seemed to soften a bit, and proceeded to tell me about the cattle and goats, plus the fields he had planted with sorghum (a special strain from the states called “Kickapoo”) for the livestock, and maiz and frijoles.

Somewhere along the way we made a personal connection, and before we knew it, he was taking us on a full tour of the entire hacienda. We wound up spending 2 hours being led around the property, listening to stories of the history of the area. We listened to the life story of this man who bought the hacienda 18 years ago, and has been lovingly restoring it ever since.

By the time we were finished, we had met his family, exchanged phone numbers, and walked off with gift of 1.5+ kilos of home-made queso fresco.

Only in Mexico.

— Writing courtesy of my husband, Charles Vance.


Life in Mexico Photography

Small Town Romance – An Evening in Pozos

We’re in central Mexico visiting our casa in Mineral de Pozos. We went for a walk as the sun went down on our little pueblo magico. Pozos is a visual feast for photographers as you can see from these images that were all taken last evening during our stroll. So many scenes in just one walking loop – there are many more to explore.  I can’t wait to host photography retreats here.

Hasta luego!

Life in Mexico Photography

Día de los Muertos – Looking Back

Today is the annual celebration of Día de los Muertos in Mexico.  I’m sad that I’m not there to take part in and document the festivities this year. Instead, I’d like to pay homage to this unique cultural event though images I’ve shot during Day of the Dead during my travels in Mexico over the years.

Dedicated to my brother, Tommy and my mother-in-law, Bettye.


Life in Mexico Photography Video

Riding El Chepe – Train Trip Through Northern Mexico

In early 2010, I went on a fun train trip through the Copper Canyon of Northern Mexico along with my mother and my aunt.  It was definitely an adventure for the three of us and we can now check it off of our “bucket lists”.

I created a video slide show will some of my favorite travel memories of that trip.  Since I had to travel very light on the train, I didn’t pack my SLR, but instead went with my Sony fixed lens camera for my still images along with my little Flip Mino HD for the the video.

Riding El Chepe from Carol Watson on Vimeo.

Life in Mexico Photography

For the Love of Pozos – Textures and HDR

The new home of our art gallery, Mineral de Pozos in central Mexico, is filled with textures and colors that makes it a joy to photograph. One of the best ways to capture these textures is through HDR photography.  These series of images were shot in Pozos and processed using HDR Efex Pro from Nik software. Some of the images are 3 shots at exposures 1 stop apart and some of them are single exposures.

The left image is a reflection in the window (you can see me near the bottom). The right image is a multiple exposure combined in my Nikon D300 camera.

This is night time at Posada de Los Minas, a beautiful boutique hotel in Pozos. It’s one of our favorite places to gather for freshly prepared food in their courtyard restaurant.

I have a soft spot for the village dogs in Pozos. I have started a whole series of photographs of these dogs.

Pozos is magical at night… Note the little black village dog in the shot too.

Pozos has a great panteon (cemetary).

Ruins…. beautiful ruins everywhere in Pozos.