Los Graniceros


Graniceros are Mexican shamans charged with controlling the weather by performing ancient rituals and ceremonies. They are also curanderos—traditional healers. Their name comes from granizo the Spanish word for hail; they are believed to have the power to stop hail, which would destroy crops. The rituals and ceremonies occur at different times during the agricultural cycle. The petition for rain is performed in May to ask Tlaloc, the Mexica god of rain, for abundant rain. The Canicula is done in August, during the so-called Dog Days, to ask the gods for less heat and rain. The Agradecimiento is a November ritual to give thanks to Tlaloc and other gods for the rains and for the good harvest. At each event, graniceros and participants bring offerings that the gods have asked for. The gods send their requests to the graniceros through dreams

Photos from a February event to mark the beginning of the agricultural cycle and September, when the first corn is harvested, will be posted when available.

Mezcal Production, San Diego de la Mesa, Puebla


San Diego de la Mesa is a tiny pueblo in the Mexican state of Puebla; the best guess is that 1,000 people live there. Almost all of them are involved in making mezcal, the smokey liquor made from the maguey plant. It's a labor-intensive, arduous task and it's led by maestro mezcaleros--master mezcal makers who may need ten years to learn all that's necessary to make the pueblo's artisanal mezcal.

 

Indigenous Rituals and Ceremonies


I photographed a number of indigenous ceremonies during my two years in San Gregorio Atlapulco and a few are shown here. The first few are from a solstice ceremony; the next are traditional healers (curenderas) performing a cleansing ceremony in front of a boulder that has a carving of a priest of Xipe Totec on it (Xipe Totec is, among other things, the Aztec god of sacrifice, vegetation and renewal); the next two are from ceremonies in San Gregorio; finally, the last batch is from the Pilgrimage of the Concheros. The pilgrimage happens the second Saturday in November and honors what is believed to be the first miracle attributed to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Thousands of concheros from all over Mexico converge on Tlateloco in Mexico City and then walk to the Villa Guadalupe.

 

 

Chipilo, Puebla


Chipilo is a pueblo founded on October 2, 1882 by Italians from the Veneto region in northern Italy. In the mid- to late-1800's, the Mexican government encouraged Europeans to settle in Mexico, hoping they'd help modernize the country's agriculture. Most came from Italy and settled throughout Mexico but Chipilo's the only pueblo to maintain its language and traditions.

I was there for a couple of weeks and photographed New Year's Day, where families go through the pueblo asking for treats. It's basically a daytime version of Halloween without costumes. I was also there for La Befana, a tradition brought from Italy.

The pueblo's known for its cheeses and excellent Italian restaurants.

 

La Chinampería


The chinampería is an ancient agricultural site in San Gregorio Atlapulco and three other pueblos in Xochimilco. The chinampería consists of plots of land, called chinampas, that were built on a shallow lake. They're formed by making a rectangle (usually 10'x100') using the branches of the huejote tree (a species of willow) and then filling it with mud and vegetation.

The land is still cultivated and produces a large portion of the produce for Mexico City. It's estimated that the chinampería in San Gregorio is between 1,200 and 2,000 years old. Archeologists have found evidence of chinampas dating back between 5,000 and 6,000 years.

Day of the Dead Mexico


My first trip to Mexico, way back in 1997, was to photograph Day of the Dead, one of the most important fiestas in Mexico. I spent a night in a graveyard in Metepec, a small pueblo in (I believe) Morelos and it had a tremendous impact on me. When I tried to capture what it felt to go through that night, I initially wrote, "It was like a religious experience." I quickly realized that was wrong--it wasn't like a religious experience, it was a religious experience. Since then, I've documented Day of the Dead in San Gregorio Atlapulco and Santa Ana Tlacotenco and some events in Mexico City.

 

Elements of Fiestas in San Gregorio


San Gregorio Atlapulco is in the southernmost part of Mexico City and is designated as a "Pueblo Originario," which means it has conserved its indigenous traditions. Part of those traditions are its fiestas.

Pilgrimage to Chalma


Residents of San Gregorio Atlapulco make an arduous 2 1/2 day trek to Chalma every year. Some walk, some ride horses.

 

Semana Santa (Holy Week), San Gregorio Atlapulco


Semana Santa (Holy Week) is organized by a group of 14 young men known as Los Varones. They dedicate themselves to the Catholic Church for a year or two. It's quite a commitment. During the 40 days between Lent and Easter, they can't drink alcohol, smoke, attend parties or have contact with their girlfriends. To prepare for Holy Week, they'll carry tables or another Varone on their backs to prepare themselves for carrying heavy statues and walk barefoot through the hills to toughen their feet. During Holy Week, they'll only sleep 2 or 3 hours a night and they'll fast for two days.

Aztec Dancers in San Gregorio Atlapulco


Aztec dancers perform at many ceremonies and events in San Gregorio Atlapulco.

Mexico Color-1


Mexico is such a beautiful country that you just have to shoot color once in awhile.