Posted on November 5, 2015
The summer is gone and so is my time in Orange County. One of the things that marked this time period were the periodical photowalks or photo meetings with my dear Nathalie. To mark the end of this time we spent a full day strolling downtown Santa Ana. From main streets, to alleys & parking lots, we photographed it all.
Santa Ana is one of the many towns that get lost in the Orange County sprawl. Despite the bad rep this town gets from some people I found it much more interesting, culturally alive & eclectic than it’s relative cookie cutter neighbors.
The downtown architecture shows the decades that went by the city since it’s founding days in 1868. The different signages and stores reflects the mix of cultures and styles. If you know were to look and don’t mind other’s judgements Santa Ana has a lot to offer to you.
Posted on November 3, 2015
I still remember visiting the family graveyard as a child on November 2nd to clean up graves and leave fresh flowers for the ones already gone. Celebrating the dead ones was for me something sweet but very sober and with no major preparations.
In Mexico, it is a different story. It is believed that at midnight on October 31st the gates of heaven open to let the “Angelitos” (young deceased ones) reunite with their families for 24 hours, while on November 2nd it is the turn for the adults. It is a joyful, and sometimes also grieving time, where the dead ones are believed to come back to visit their worldly relatives for a short time. There is nothing scary or macabre about the celebrations, there is also no “Trick or Treating” involved or pumpkin carving.
Now that we live so close to Tijuana, Alex & I decided to visit the city for the day and see how they keep the tradition alive. Despite people telling us how much bigger the celebrations are in the South people seemed to be going all out with their offerings and displays.
The fist thing we did was to stop at the Mercado Hidalgo where every year they do a huge altar to commemorate departed members of the market. They also invite non members to bring the names of their loved ones that they’d like to see included.
Sugar sculls, marigolds, candles, toys, candies and all kinds of different food and drink are included in the altars as offerings so that the dead ones can have them after their long trek back home.
Marigolds are the flowers used on altars and are also seen decorating graves, it is believed that their strong scent and bright color help guide the spirits while they make their way back home.
The merchants in the markets sell all kinds of skulls, Catrinas & even piñatas. Being so close to the border you can also see all kinds pumpkin and vampire themed candies and piñatas.
And even some political ones…
A random portrait of Alex just because…
We also visited the Food garden to grab something to eat. There we found “Papel Picado” hanging from roof, friendly human sized Catrinas, and a little colorful altar with offerings.
To end the day we visited the cemetery where there were people cleaning graves, thousands of marigolds, some altars, mariachis and families picnicking. I let my camera rest and took only the picture below as I didn’t want to intrude on such private and moving reunions.
Posted on September 22, 2015
My favorite yerba mate blend had been sitting in a hotel lobby in Hollywood for almost a week. The drive to go get it from Laguna Beach was three hours round trip. To justify the drive, I invited Nathalie to join me and made a day out of it. By 10:30 our yerba mate mission was accomplished so we proceeded to drive to Silverlake to explore a new neighborhood.
I forgot my SD card so we ended up sharing Nathalie’s camera, so the pictures below are a true collaboration!
Nathalie is part german part french, she lived in so many countries and continents that listing them would take me to long. Due to her multiple nationalities she holds many traditions and currywurst sausage eating is one of them. Currywurst is a sausage covered in ketchup and curry. When she saw this little german shop on Silverlake stopping for a taste was a must. I tend to never eat sausages but when with a german eat like a german, right?
Coming from Orange County where everything blends together in a beige palette, it was refreshing to see street art everywhere and all kinds of speciality stores each of them with a unique style.
After walking and eating for a couple of hours in Silverlake we drove to Echo Park to visit a Uruguayan friend who I have’t seen in years. He is an amazing artist that works with dying formats. He was having friends over and we joined the party. To my surprise all of the guests were Uruguayans. In classic Uruguayan style turns out we were all related in some way or another: a college professor, a friend of friend, and even a distant relative.
With a camera full with pictures, yerba mate in hand, new friends and memories we returned to our dear suburbia. Only in LA can you live such a cross cultural experience in so little time…from Germany, to Uruguay and back to the US in a couple of hours.