Saturday, December 3, 2011

El Último Viaje Revisited

It is nearly a year now since Marie left on her ultimate sketchbook journey. As I sit here in la casita in Cholula, I cannot help but think back on the last time we were here, together. There are so many vivid memories, our time in Atlangatepec, our side trips to Vera Cruz, Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Chiapas. The places we visited, the people we met, they are all in Marie's sketchbooks, and mine as well. Merci Marie! This entry will be stained with tears, some of sadness for what is no more, and others of happiness for what was. It will be a visual trip through our life of 2008-09. Many of the pages from Marie's sketchbook are from a project she was never able to bring to fruition: Faces and Stories: a Sketchbook Journey in Mexico. I made a promise to Marie that I would do something with her images. I am stilling working through how best to do that. Some of these images and stories will appear in the Jan-Feb issue of Skipping Stones Magazine, a multicultural magazine for young people published by my friend, Arun Toke, in Eugene. There are so many faces and stories, that it is difficult to know where to start. Let this post be a beginning.
Maura, our hostess

Tzin Tzun Tzan Michoacan - Day of the Dead
Nestor Dimas - Purepecha
Nestor and Maura are friends we stayed with in Morelia.

Nestor was director of La Universidad Indigena de Michoacan and a good musician. Nestor, and his wife Maura,  entertained us well! We also made a visit to Santa Clara del Cobre, a pueblo that specializes in working copper. Marie arranged to bring her workshop participants there to sketch.

Morelia Michoacan - Oct 2011
Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan
Copper forge, Santa Clara
Riachuelo, Vera Cruz - Dec 2008

My sketchbook - Riachuelo Dec 2008
Street Musicians - Vera Cruz
El Tajin, Vera Cruz ruins

Doña Elvira 102 Yrs - Atlangatepec
Doña Elvira - Atlangatepec

 We spent Christmas in Riachuelo, Vera Cruz with Quena, Armelle and Ana. Marie did a portrait of Lizzet, the daughter of the owner of the hotel we were at. Riachuelo was on an estuary
in a fairly isolated area not too far from the archeological site of El Tajin. The ruins are spectacular, in a lush, tropical setting. The voladores still climb atop a very high post, and with ropes attached to their ankles, spin earthward to the sound of a wooden flute.

 We also went to el Puerto de Vera Cruz a couple of times. There was always music in the streets and people dancing to el son Cubano. A real treat! Unfortunately the Zetas have now spread fear throughout the area.

We spent most of our time in our pueblo, Atlangatepec. Marie was able to get to know and sketch many of the people who lived there. Doña Elvira was a 102 year old, cigarette smoking, beer drinking, woman who still had her cigarette and beer in front of her house daily. Marie was able to get her to consent to a portrait, and while Marie sketched, Doña Elvira shared stories from her long life. That was Marie's magic, not sketching only peoples faces, but their lives.
 In April 2009, we had to leave Mexico to renew our visas. We took advantage to visit Chiapas. Our most memorable time was spent on the small island of La Palma. We stayed in a very basic thatch-roofed cabin. Again, Marie's pen brought us in contact with several locals who opened their homes and their lives to us. Most notable were Manuela and her 103 year old mother, Doña Francisca.

Doña Francisca was still very alert and prepared the wood fires for cooking and helped prepare meals. While Marie sketched her, she told us stories from her life and how La Palma used to be.

The trip to renew visas also allowed us to stop in Oaxaca. A friend had organized a workshop for Marie on our way down, so we were able to spend a few days in one of the places Marie liked best.

And I will conclude with a few pages from San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. It was very close to Semana Santa (Holy Week) when we were there and the streets were full of color and activity. As usual, Marie connected with a young shoe shine boy and asked permission to sketch him. He agreed and in the end Marie gave him what a shine would have cost (it is hard to shine Tevas!) He almost refused the pesos.

I could go on forever with images, and perhaps will someday when I decide how to best do a book of Marie's sketches. For now, it has been a heartfelt experience going through sketchbook pages and remembering the good times that went with them. I hope you enjoy them and much as I have.
Jema y Rafael - Atlangatepec
Jema, our milk and cheese lady

Boat ride to La Palma

Doña Francisca - 103 yrs.

Manuela - La Palma

Doña Francisca - La Palma
One of my pages from La Palma
Oaxaca - 2009
My Oaxaca page - collage
Shoe shine boy - San Cristobal
My San Cristobal page

Marie in her element

Sketching the band - Atlangatepec


Teri said...

Wonderful images. I never went sketching with her but I so admired her art and zest for life. Thank you.

Deborah said...

So glad to hear you are doing well and on an adventure.
Mari is definitely with you, strolling down a street or alley way, stopping every now and then to capture the moment and touch a new life. I will add you to my blog list and check in with you often. Take care and travel safe my friend. Deborah

Quena said...

Wonderful Papito. Let us all remember to "sketch with our eyes" and enjoy this beautiful world!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Deek. We all miss Marie so this helps. Hugs, carol savonen

amada Irma perez said...

Hi Dick, Gracias for a beautiful journey. Yes, Marie is with you. I am grateful I get to read your precious blog.

Mark said...

Glad to hear you are revisiting good memories here in Mexico. Thanks for sharing Marie's wonderful sketches.
Mark & Vicki Reed
La Paz, Baja California Sur

Anonymous said...

Hola, Deek,
Thanks for keeping us updated on your whereabouts and activities. These images do evoke memories and also remind us that Mari is still with us in spirit.