Wildlife at the Mexican deserts

Photo I shot of a Mexican prairie dog.

What one can find at the apparent desolate and barren deserts can be surprising. Is it because no one expects anything and suddenly you stumble upon life? Or is it because there is indeed a wealth of thriving life?

It has always surprised me to find beautiful flowers, bunch of critters, colorful birds and of course the occasional furry friend like this one.

Contrary to worldwide popular belief Mexico is not all desert. Central Mexico has pine forests, and South Mexico has jungles and swamps. I’ve visited all of them! The place that never fails to surprise me when finding little animals, or just life, is the Mexican desert.

Of course I won’t like to cross roads with a bear or a jaguar — probably won’t since they’re in near extinction. Sad. And still the lonely desert is a cradle of life.

These furry pals are could also face extinction. Prairie dogs along with other desert animals are in danger due to human activity (hunting or poaching). Until recent years the Mexican government has enforced protecting these animals, and hunt down illegal hunting. Especially in San Luis Potosi state I have seen it, people getting arrested for killing endangered coyotes or selling baby deer to passing tourists.

Still much has to be done. And I for one support hunting animals with a camera. It’s actually more fun, and like pretty gals say when we men foolishly drool at their beauty “take a picture, it lasts longer.” Indeed it does!

If you’re interested in Mexico and its riches, check out my ebook novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

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Remember, remember, the 5th of November

Photo I shot at Mexico City.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

There is a crisis with police worldwide. It’s not just a one-nation phenomenon.

Civilians are having trouble with police — aggressive, authoritarian, corrupt, insensitive, and racist. Yours truly too. It is not an issue of complying or not anymore. It is not an issue of criminal activity anymore. It is about undermining democracy and freedom (if any).

For those of us who have had issues with police for NO reason is frustrating for other police or authorities to understand. Especially here in Mexico, where laws are only a list of good will.

This ends up ultimately with world governments, they inability to see the issue. We ended up in a police state world, where the Internet, free speech, or even carrying a camera at a demonstration is far worse offense than rape, kidnapping, or mass murder.

Criminals all around the world are getting a nice treatment — warlorlds, drug pins, and mass shooters. We the people have become the scapegoats for the blunt inefficiency of police. Their frustrations vent on us.

We should remind the police (the bad apples that is) that we are the more. That they work for us. That they serve and protect us, not themselves. The moment we begin to do this reminding to police corporations around the world, the moment democracy has failed — though we need to do something to mend it.

Unless you don’t believe in democracy, the police should be held accountable for their actions — the good and the bad. Good actions should be rewarded, yes. Bad actions from police should have the most severe repercusions.

If you’re interested in how a system becomes rotten check out my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes, and see how Yacanes and Atotoztli defended their love in Ancient Mexico against the actions of the High Ruler’s police.

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Mexico City metro area — what is it?

Photo I shot at Cuautitlan, Mexico.

Mexico City metro area is gigantic. Not only it spans over a large area but it’s also over-populated. There is a Federal District, locally known as DF — Mexico City proper. Surrounding it is the other metropolitan area in the State of Mexico.

Outside the DF limits there are 22 municipalities, to explain each one is a hard task (perhaps for another post). Each has its goodies and its bad sides, as with any place.

The northern municipalities of Mexico City’s metro area is the more vast, it encompass Teotihuacan pyramids for instance. We could divide it in Northeastern and Northwestern, all beyonf the Guadalupe Sierra mountains. Tepotzotlan and Cuautitlan are here. Before the mountains there are other municipalities as well.

Then you have the western municipalities, more posh and upscale. They’re best attractions are the pine forests. Yes, in Mexico we have forests, sorry to dissappoint Hollywood.

On the East, behind the airport we have small towns that also have ancient ruins and yearly fairs.

Finally there’s the Chalco region and volcanoes, where the main attractions are obvious although there are also beautiful colonial towns and breathtaking landscapes.

If you’re interested in Mexico, check out my novel set in Ancient Mexico. Till Stars Shut Their Eyes, a romance and political thriller based on true events.

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Let the Earth remain

Ancient Mexico’s poet saw it way before the heavily ideological Climate Change quarrels from both sides.

One side says Climate Change suddenly appeared, blaming fossil fuels (instead of many other made factors).

The other side is either in denial human activity has anything to do, or call for more science evidence.

Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin talked about the ephemeral nature of our existence as people. He lamented how people and things have to perish. So in his poem he says that at least our planet, which in nahuatl ancient indigenous people called it Tlalticpac, should remain.

No matter how, let’s save our planet!

If you want to read about how Atotoztli and Yacanex wanted to change the world, check my ebook novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

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School systems have failed

School systems world wide have failed.

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Every school in every city in the world is failing as you read these lines. The argument defending school systems is is laughable when we see the world we live in — violence, numb sleepy minds, disregard for nature, wars, no jobs, racism, and rampant ignorance.

To defend the world’s school systems is to be blind to the chaos we’ve been spiraling into. We erected part-time jails for our children (yes, I have children) to waste years and years of their lives in useless trivialities with the utmost stupid way of evaluating them.

It’s like having Ussain Bolt learning all-things skiing, and telling him the goal in life is to ski at Aspen. Poor Ussain Bolt wouldn’t be the fastest human on the planet, but surely the most frustrated one. Well, all kids are having this problem. We all had this issue.

And those are first-world problems to say the least. In countries like here in Mexico children are taught to be employees or factory workers, not innovators. Systems like these only create robot-like flocks instead of artists and scientists.

You wonder why there is no cure for cancer? It may be locked in one of the millions of numbed minds in the workforce (or unemployed). Worried to pay bills, watch sports, and envy on materialistic things, the cure for cancer may be doomed to never be known. Or teleportation for that matter, or the solution for peace in the Middle East, and such.

Schools are so important that the moment they failed (and they did) the world begins to look as the dark ages or Colonial Mexico. With inquisition-like institutions and lack of quality debate. The way we think has become less scientific, less spiritual, less artistic, less free, while being more stupid and frivolous.

If you’re interested in fighting the system check my novel, Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

My Day of the Dead altar

Photos I shot of my Day of the Dead altar.

A Mexican tradition which involves mainly going to the cemetery for an all-nighter and literally dine with the dead. For some reason this has transformed into making the recreation of the tomb at our homes, schools, offices, and malls.

Maybe is the lazyness of going to the cemetery during the wee hours of early November 2nd. After all in places like here in Mexico City it can get overcrowded. Yes, he have not only traffic jams and packed subways, also cemeteries.

There are endless ways of doing a day of the dead altar. Some very odd, others very Catholic. I may say I’m no scholar but actually I am an Anthropologist, so I’m gonna tell you what I use and put.

A must is cempaxochitl flowers (also known as cempazuchil). These are the flowers of the dead. Then I put food, candles, and objects.

For food what I put were amaranth skulls (these are the original ones used by the Aztecs Mexica), sugar skulls (more modern and popularized by White American hipsters for some odd reason), bread of the dead (which is made and sold only during these days), some like my mom like to put their favorite meals when they were alive, perhaps also alcohol drinks and cigarretes (against hipsters’ advice they can’t do any more harm in the other side).

With candles many make crosses, circles — I make a native cross signaling the fours cardinal points. Yes, indigenous peoples had crosses, not Christian though.

Some put photos of the dead, I prefer objects.

If you like Mexican traditions and stories yoy may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

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Pumpkins are Mexican

Photo I shot last year of the carved pumpkin I did.

Whether Mexicans accept it or not, Pumpkins are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. And I fear Mexicans will be more prone to reject the historical fact than Americans (or the rest of the world for that matter) because there’s a strong anti-Halloween sentiment in Mexico.

And to think Mexicans feel offended by Donald Trump’s vision for HIS country, and still they also feel hatred (and even bigotry, I shall add) against all things Halloween. Allegedly they dislike Halloween because it’s an “all-American Holiday”, but if you ask me that title should go to the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. Anyhow, in the process Mexicans have developed hatred against pumpkins! They hate more these innocent pumpkins (they’re food after all) than Donald Trump! Media, ads, and even government propaganda attach these orange yankee “demons”.

Let’s have a raw reality check.

Pumpkins are Mexican. I wonder if the RNC are asking for visas to these friendly orange fellas. They were originally domesticated 10,000 years ago by the indigenous people that inhabited the region, most likely the ancestors of today’s Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Mixes (and others). Just like it was done with beans, squash, corn and chilli in Tamaulipas and Puebla, pumpkins began to take its current shape in Oaxaca.

The reason pumpkins ended up in Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, is because it is what white settlers found (or immigrants, I’m confused to what Ann Coulter would say — not). To those days pumpkins had already extended over North America. “So those savages had trading routes before the arrival of Europeans?” Yup, pretty neat for a hoard of savaged, won’t you think. (Coff, coff, sarcasm, sorry if you’re like Sheldon Cooper and can’t read between lines. Coff, coff!).

To sum up.

Mexicans are bigots with their own stuff. Most of the time Mexicans are fighting for things they don’t have facts or data. That’s why there’s a saying here in Mexico that you gotta have the “hair of the donkey in you hand”. Don’t ask me, that’s the way the proverb goes, but I assure you it sounds way cooler in Spanish. It means that you gotta have your info before speaking, whether we’re talking gossip or a scientific breakthrough.

If you want to read or more know about true (and exciting) Mexican history, download my ebook Till Stars Shut Their Eyes. It has romance, action, and poetry!

Carved pumpkin. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.
Carved pumpkin. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.

Family at the Mexican border

Photo I shot at Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

While interviewing him, this man worked on construction structures. These structures hold cement columns, and also seem to hold the survival of this family.

After giving me permission to take portraits of him working and of his son, he explained the hardships of living in such conditions. This place was (and still is) at the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo.

Nuevo Laredo is considered an international trade hub, where goods and people pass through from the US into Mexico and vice-versa. Because of its strategic position it has attracted the best riches can get and the worst poverty can summon. This the dark side of this city and the whole of the US-Mexico border. A couple of miles from this place the United States begin.

When I presented this at my university in the American side, they were baffled and even incredulous that such scenes could exist on the other side of the river where they live, work and sleep.

If you’re interested in Mexico and inequality you should look into my novel, Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Family at Mexican border. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.
Family at Mexican border. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.

Me doing a photoshoot

Me doing a photoshoot with my model CJ.

The behind-the-scenes shot of one of my shootings here the US. I am grateful to her and her lovely family that accompanied us during the session. I’ve always loved making this shootings within a family-friendly environment. Many have requested her for modeling, but she decided to try it with me. Professionalism goes beyond gadgets or the know-how, but encompass the human touch one imprints.

And well when two crazies meet supported by both their families, wonders are born. My wife accompanies to every shoot I do too. Not only for safety, but because it is something I like to share with those close to me. It is not a hobby or just work, it is me.

Photoshoot with a model. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Photoshoot with a model. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Mexican woman, mother of two

Acrylic painting I did of a Mexican girl.

Life modeling for me to paint. Artworks can be daunting when done in front of a model (or behind) but it is an amazing experience that makes us remember of times before instagram of photography.

Here, she is a mother of two I wanted to do a portrait.

If you like Mexican beauty, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes, where a young man falls madly in love with some he shouldn’t be with. Her curves amazed his eyes, but her wits brought him down to her feet.

Mexican girl painting. Copyright 2009 Miguel Omaña.
Mexican girl sexy painting. Copyright 2009 Miguel Omaña.

A girl from Nuevo Laredo.

Photo I shot many years ago at Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

It is a face I still remember. Just as we are prone to photograph a vivid sunset for our eyes sake into posterity, so I felt with this beautiful girl.

I never knew who she was. It must have been 2006. I was shooting photos at the border city’s downtown. There was some kind of event which for some reason organizers called it a callejoneada. Then I saw her up in the air. Well, she wasn’t literally floating or anything. She was an edecan of sorts for some beer. An edecan is a girl that promotes products, yes, usually on the ground. But for some reason she was up there, I can’t even remember on what.

Whatever she was doing up there she was teasing us with her girly smile and zesty eyes. I wanted to get up close but I also remember why I couldn’t. Believe me when I say I don’t suffer from memory loss (at least not yet). But he encounter had me confused with loss of time, just like abductees describe their horrid experiences with aliens. Except there was nothing nightmarish about this, but quite the contrary.

If you are out there, I would love to know at least who you are. If you know her, please let her know about this mini-quest of mine to find her. She may still be living in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Whatever the case, please let her know I took this picture. At least that.

Girl from Nuevo Laredo. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Girl from Nuevo Laredo. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Nuevo Laredo / Laredo International Bridge

Photo I shot at Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas / Laredo, Texas.

This is International Bridge #2 at the US-Mexico border. Below streams the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo as it is known to Mexicans).

Nuevo Laredo and Laredo have several international bridges. Nuevo Laredo has three and Laredo has four — the disparity is because Laredo also borders another state. One of those bridges is used exclusively for trade, where epic cues of transfer trailers cross several times a day in both directions. There’s also a railroad bridge which nobody counts but is there nonetheless.

These bridge, officially known as Juarez-Lincoln bridge (in honor of both presidents that live the same time and also faced divided nations) it is used for cars only. Pedestrians use Bridge #1, the oldest of them all. But in bridge #2, where I shot this photograph, people tend to go and sell whatever they can from pirate DVDs, pillows, figures of saints and like in this cases lollipops. They sell them in the Mexican side of the bridge, which gives them safety from the occasional American officer checking things out.

The US-Mexico border has many realities, and this is just one of them. Unlike what politicians in Washington or Mexico City think every border city or region has its own goodness and difficulties. In this case the Laredos (or Los Dos Laredos as they are also known in Spanish) are a commerce powerhouse. It is considered the fifth most important trade spot in the whole world, and the first in the whole of Latin America. And Laredoans don’t take it lightly (and Nuevo Laredo people too), they have pride on the fact that commerce between North America and Latin America takes place here. This has attracted one of the brightest people but also one of the worst kind at the same time. For obvious reasons in the Drug War, if Laredo and Nuevo Laredo are pivotal in international trade so it will be in illegal activities and smuggling.

US-Mexico international Bridge. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
US-Mexico international Bridge. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Ancient Maya writing basics

Photo I shot of my student Fatima.

One of my students learning how to write Ancient Maya glyphs.

First I taught them how to transliterate their name phonetically into Maya glyphs. This in order to grasp the concept of constructing Maya cartouches.

A Maya cartouche is composed by one or several glyphs.

Once they knew how to write their name in Mayan, we began building sentences in order to comprehend structure. One easy task was to begin writing using the TZOLKIN-HAAB’ DATE + NAME + “WAS BORN” sentence that was used a lot by the ancient indigenous Mayas. This formula was written like that in glyphs while read: In the year X of the month Y so and so was born.

If you’re interested in Ancient Mexico or native history you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

For classes in your city, please contact me.

Mexican girl learning ancient Maya writing. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Mexican girl learning ancient Maya writing. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Mexico City Public Transportation 101

Photo I shot at Mexico City metro area.

In Mexico City suburban areas and the inner city have different kinds of public transportation. In the Federal District, which is Mexico City proper, there is a vast subway, metrobus, trolebus, normal buses, cabs, electric cabs, tricycle cabs, a small commuting train, and a long interstate commuting train that connects with the State of Mexico northern municipalities.

In the surrounding area of the Federal District, locally known as Distrito Federal or simply DF, there is of course the commuting train, cabs, mexibus, normal buses, and what locals call combis (which are glorified minivans that swarm the almost 21 municipalities that surround Mexico City).

The one in the picture is known as a micro (pronounced mee-cro), which usually are outdated American buses from yesteryear. These micros roam in the metro area, while buses usually connect to Mexico City downtown.

Mexico City inhabitants and yours truly have to undergo the intricate public transport at some point. American cities are more car oriented but the Mexican capital is enormous and overpopulated that at times it makes its avenues and expressways useless because of epic traffic jams. After all, this is the third largest urban agglomeration of the world. Hence, its mobility problems are far greater and more challenging than way (way) smaller cities like New York or New Delhi.

I have crossed the whole city from one city limit to the other using only public transportation, it took me a bit more than 4 hours. And I was lucky, because I avoided rush hour. I did the same time one makes from Mexico City to Acapulco beach by car.

If you’re interested in Mexico City and its history, check out my book Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Girl on Public Transport. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Girl on Public Transport. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

There Is Always Another Day — Shortstory.

Photo I shot at Cholula, Mexico.

The sun went down to hide behind the volcanos. That afternoon was really chilly — a typical Central Mexico summer day. I was walking behind the huge Cholula pyramid temple (or what is left of it). Away from the usual tourist path, I discovered this track and field place. The air turned colder and windier as if the day hurried in vain despair to make its presence known, when it was well aware its death was inevitable. Suddenly the sky bled, gushing to the mountains and to my skin. The red hues signalled the looming demise of that day. And with his head high and proud the Sun realized it could not hold any longer but to fall into a dignified death — it was its time. So the Sun slowly descended into the pitch darkness of the underworld, not without glaring a final goodbye for a day that will never be again. I turned and no one was watching. So I realized the mighty Sun was waving at me, regal but sadly. My hands swiftly went to brag my trusty camera. But when I took it in my hands, it was actually an old camera. I was furious to discovering this camera instead of the new one I had. The final day’s light suddenly shone my eyes, they were reflecting below my. The Sun did not wait for me, for death does not way for anyone, not even the shiniest of stars. All it could do was to give me a monumental farewell that lit the clouds. So I took my camera, and trusted it would take one final photograph, for it was too the end of its life. Barely I could make it work. “This is it”, I murmured to my old camera. One last light for one last photograph. Two lives fade, two lives willing to leave one final effort for each other in order to be remembered. I shot the photograph, and then my camera blinked into its death. As I struggled to turn it back on the Sun blinked as well. I lifted my eyes towards the west, and the light dimmed into its doom. As the wind ceased and the cold became harsh, I sat to mourn. The two have died but not in vain, for both gave each other a chance to be remembered of their existence as one. It wasn’t just a sunset or an old digital camera, it was majesty. Their death was not unsung or ill-remembered since it brought hope for goodness in this world. Darkness now reigned but I thought, “there is always another day.”

Cholula Sunset. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Cholula Sunset. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Innocence in a boy’s eyes

Photo I shot of my model Abigail.

I wanted to mimic Renoir’s vision of women changing or bathing. Of course one of the great masters of painting did it in a time so different from our own. Today the idea of seeing a women in a private place seems more apt for a sexy webcam chat. Perhaps we need to go back to the basics.

Something that always struck me about the work of Renoir is the pastel rose tones that inundate his cadres (paintings). There are some of his oevres (artwork) here in Mexico City at the Soumaya Museum. They are my favorites to go and see. I see those rosy brush strokes bring innocence and peeping tom curiosity intertwined into one. No man can say, “Oh right, a nude women bathing” and carry on. There is an element of voyeurism in Renoir’s paintings, but more realistic, almost as if seen by a honest-to-God curious boy. And maybe, just maybe, this is why women are able to see his paintings without overtly censoring ideas.

His arrangement of innocence and voyeurism always defined the way I wanted to portray my work of portrait photography. After all, in case you haven’t noticed, I tend to paint, draw, photograph, and write poetry about women.

Abigail. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Abigail. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Photographing everyday women

Portrait I shot of my Mexican model Lina.

I love to do portraitures with everyday girls and women I meet out there. From the most elaborate to the simplest (like in this case) I ask if they’ll like to model. Usually many don’t know consider themselves as models — you’d be surprised the huge low self-esteem that roams amongst women.

People I know are fascinated by how I approach them — I’m not. So here’s how I do it, I simply approach a totally strange female and ask them if they would like being photographed (either on the spot or by appointment, depends of the kind of girl). Sometimes this takes place at public places, i.e. movie theaters, parks, grocery stores, malls, museums, and even at kid’s parties (yeah, I’m a dad, so I don’t frequent actual parties, lol).

And actually people do get excited, especially if there’s a husband or boyfriend involved since they encourage them. But I don’t do it massively, or randomly. First of all they have to be a girl I see myself photographing. Second, they need to have an air of je ne sais quoi that tells me she may be willing to do so. After all, a camera lens can be intimidating and even invasive.

So even though I state they are MY models, they’re actually ordinary people, moms, or college students. Tricky part is they have to be of legal age, and sometimes when they’re underage (search for my teen model Adriana) I must have her parent’s/guardian’s permission.

Lina. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña. Lina. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Climate Change isn’t new

by Miguel Angel Omaña

Many are struggling to decipher what causes Climate Change in this world of ours. Scientists and politicians alike have their ideological thoughts about what is creating Climate Change. One thing that is at the core of the debate is how fast is happening in such a short time. What I’ve found is that there is evidence of it happening since many centuries even millenia ago in Ancient Mexico.

There are two major periods in Mexican history in which Climate Change appeared in Mexico way before fossil fuels. I focus on the years 600’s and 1200’s, but we can even bridge both periods into one huge period. Then there’s also a third period immediately after the Europeans began populating Central Mexico. I want to refer to the pre-hispanic periods because it may be more dramatic to see how Climate Change could have existed in a low-tech era.

The Fall of Teotihuacan.

It was the most powerful and influential city of the time perhaps in the entire Americas, although the era is more commonly associated with the Classical Maya nations. Climate Change studies focus on the disappearance of these nations, especially Tikal, Calakmul, and later Yucatan nations, but not on Teotihuacan. It would be as if people in the future would focus on a major catastrophe of our days in Paris or Tokyo and not New York City, for instance. Teotihuacan was the New York of that time — multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual, with numerous embassies from various part of the known world, highly urban, sophisticated, and of course influential to the rest of the major capitals of the time in fashion and politics. So why not look at Teotihuacan.

Mysteriously Teotihuacan fell around the year 600 and after that Maya and Zapotec cities fell as well in an eerie domino effect. Climate Change scientists focus on the latter effects of this domino effect, and not on the beginning. Whatever destroyed Teotihuacan (or weakened it for a major political fallout) had to be related by climate. Why? Because Teotihuacan was not only described but painted in murals of its time as a paradise-like place with numerous trees, exotic animals, with abundance of water. Now, Teotihuacan is located in a dry (almost barren) environment that resembles more the deserts of the American Southwest than the pictures left to posterity by the native artists of the time. There is one word for this: desertification. And desertification is a symptom of today’s Climate Change.

This desertification process also appeared in Monte Alban, the capital of the Zapotecs, and at major Maya cities like Tikal and Calakmul. Once the so-called Classical cities fell, the process extended to Yucatec Maya cities, Western Mexico cities, until something dramatic happened in the northern Mexico and Southwestern US.

The rise of Xolotl the Great.

Xolotl became a powerful ruler only because he was the first of millions of refugees that migrated south to today’s Mexico City’s basin. What was he and many others fleeing from? Desertification, once again. Once a land with big cities like La Quemada in Zacatecas became dry, barren, and ultimately inadequate to live and harvest food. Entire nations fled, and were welcomed by Xolotl and his descendants. This people might very well be the first refugees produced by Climate Change — and we’re talking about mid thirteen to early fourteen century!

Chronicles written by natives and Spanish describe these people as wanderers looking for a hospitable land to live. Whatever pushed them from their ancestral lands in Northern Mexico and Southwest USA was so menacing and life-threatening that they needed to migrate and clutter the Mexico City basin. The last to arrive were the Mexica, later known to world history as the Aztecs, and they were so desperate that they even went and inhabit in a tiny island in the middle of the great Texcoco Lake.

Climate Change studies should focus in this time periods. Although human activity is suspected, we should not discard any cyclical behavior from our weather. Apparently the growth of cities and the need for resources are linked. But we should remember this was a low-tech civilization type, other factors may and should be accounted to. Still, to say Climate Change is recent or modern is a mistake. What we are certain is that Climate Change phenomenon is now global and perilous to our world.

If you’re interested about these times of migration and social changes it brought, you may enjoy my historical novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes based on true events.

Melancholy in a picture

There is a strong melancholy that emerges from my heart evertime I see this photograph. Is it the wide endless desert sky that reminds me of my youthful reckless days? Or perhaps the place itself — with those lamps towering above me everytime I came out of the photography dark room to take the last bus during the dry cold winter? The smell of Texas grass? Was it that air so pure that bordered in being bland? The loneliness of the place, the city, and my heart?

If you think of it, my heart aches for a barren flat land and a lonely sky. Now that I think of it, I yearn for senseless days of my younger years where only dreams existed but nothing more. The idleness of my past now jolts my mind longing for it. The recklessnes of other years now makes my heart sit to remember them in the serenity of the present. The fire that ignited my dreams have now scorched my hopes.

And just perhaps that is what I fear most when I see this photograph. That all I ever wanted has become, all that I dreamed has vanished, for there is no future to pursuit since I am here now. And that — that I can’t bear.

Photo I shot at Laredo, Texas. Back in 2006 at the campus of Texas A&M International University, aka, TAMIU.

Photo I shot at Laredo, Texas. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.
Photo I shot at Laredo, Texas. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.

Mexican caterpillar

Mobile photo I shot at Mexico City of a Mexican caterpillar.

Locally called azotador, because if touched it can hurt you by leaving a burned irritated skin.

Since ancient times this little critter was famous for its spiky appearance, known in Nahuatl (or Mexican language) as Chinahuate (Chignahuate), Huahuatl or Ahuate.

Nowadays, people in Mexico with thick eyebrows are called Azotador Eyebrows, an expression that also comes from Nahuatl language.


If you like Mexican languages and native stories you will enjoy my novel, Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Mexican caterpillar. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Mexican caterpillar. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Listening is a big part of communicating in a relationship.

We think therefore we communicate. In a marital (or any) relationship things may get tricky, since the recipient listens therefore interprets as rampantly as his/her imagination allows it. The majority of issues in a relationship may be caused by bad communication, and the fallout does not rely solely on the speaker. The listener plays a huge part in a communication, otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for communicating if no one could understand.

Shrinks are not the magic pill for a bad marriage — there I said it. Now, now, psychologists need not to worry, for they can agree that communication is a key factor in any relationship debacle. We are thinking rational beings — we speak our thoughts too. Cancelling communication as a big player in any relationship is marital suicide. You thought it was money and good looks? Perhaps pheromones? Think again!

We communicate, so we mingle. And as we mingle we choose our partner (or do they choose us? Mhmm). Sure people can get married by the size of their bank account, but if they can’t communicate well they’ll divorce. That’s why divorce is the number one hobby in early 21st century society. It is not that we’re not thinking straight, it’s that we are not communicating accordingly.

So what’s the deal with communication. For starters, it’s not just talking — that’s babbling (and even ranting, if taken to extremes). For monologues please refer to your nearest late night show host. But we’re no Stephen Colbert, we are people in relationships that not only express through verbals and non-verbals but also listen, decode, and interpret what is being told to us.

Now here’s the tricky part… What if I told you that listening is 50% of this whole communication deal-e-o. So not only you have to be good in making yourself understandable, you also need to excel at understanding whatever is being told to you. Again, verbals and non-verbals.

So a partner could say to his other half about a financial trouble they are undergoing. The other person may interpet the conversation about money as reference to multiple possibilities:

  • Oh, he/she is subtly telling me I should get a job. Does he/she think I’m lazy, or what?
  • Well what do you know, I should’ve married that stock broker I met in college. Seems we’re broke.
  • We’re having money issues, but why is he/she telling me. I’m no Alan Greenspan.
  • How conforting that he/she is telling me this.
  • Is this his/her way of telling me I should’ve not used my credit card on that thing.
  • The money is going somewhere, I bet he/she has something to do with it.
  • We need to plan what we’re going to do about this.

Again, the possibilities are endless for the listener to interpret when he or she hears the “honey, we’re having money problems” line. True, the speaker needs to be right on target when talking about issues. But the listener should never jump to whatever conclusions his or her free-rein vivid mind permits. As a listener we owe it to the speaker to ask questions or clear out any doubts. This simple problem has brought marriages to the ground.

People are complicated already. Why strive to tangle things even further? Try listening, not imagining things. Be part of the communication in your relationship not just a spectator at a useless monologue.

My take on family issues in stake. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
My take on family issues in stake. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

When the past lives around us.

Photo I shot at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

There are places, especially here in Mexico, where the past live side by side with today. It is after all a place filled with millenia-long history.

Sometimes museums are more valuable for what they are than for what they contain. Streets are wortht to walk to follow the steps of past people than to where you are actually going. It is surreal to smell the same kind of flowers the ancient indigenous poets smelled than the sight of it. With it’s huge problems Mexico has many wonderful things that not even we Mexicans could cope with its magnificence.


If you’re interested in Mexican history and the lives of who inhabited it, check out my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes, based on a true story in ancient Mexico.

San Miguel de Allende. Copyright 2010 Miguel Omaña.
San Miguel de Allende. Copyright 2010 Miguel Omaña.

Sensual Lady Coyolicatzin of Mexico Tenochtitlan

Pastel drawing I did of Lady Coyolicatzin.

Coyolicatzin was a Mexica Aztec lady that stopped a bloody war. Known in her time for her paler than normal skin.

Stories of old recount that she appeared in the baths of Cocijoeza of Zaachila, whom she convinced the War of Guiengola would end if they were to be married. Not only her sensual physique but her cunning plan convinced Cocijoeza .

So Cocijoeza did accordingly, and asked her hand to his enemies the Mexica in exchange of ceasing hostilities. The Mexica Aztecs agreed, the exhausting Siege of Guiengola ended, and he got to marry this beautiful and intelligent woman. She became a co-ruler at what is now the state of Oaxaca.


If you’re interested in true story love stories from indigenous Ancient Mexico download my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes

Coyolicatzin (Pelaxilla). Copyright 2009 Miguel Omaña.
Coyolicatzin (Pelaxilla). Copyright 2009 Miguel Omaña.

Coyolicatzin (Pelaxilla). Copyright 2009 Miguel Omaña.

Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico

Photo I shot at Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico.

A few minutes away from the bustling San Miguel de Allende town is Dolores, in the center of Guanajuato state and in the hearts of many Mexicans. It is after all the birthplace of modern Mexico.

Today is a calm town, but already heading to be a touristy place like its neighbors San Miguel, Leon, or Guanajuato city.

Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Hispanic media not challenging source of Illegal Immigrants, Mexico

Jorge Ramos is a great journalist and leading figure of Univision channel, but I’ve never seen anyone (not only him) in the Hispanic media debating so passionately against the government of Mexico and other deeply corrupt and racist state-nations in Latin America. Why is such blunt candor by Ramos so heavy against Donald Trump and not against those like the Mexican leaders, who not only created the conditions of poverty but also advocate for illegal immigration into America.

We all may know now that Jorge Ramos was kicked out by Donald Trump from his own press conference, but afterwards he did have a long and interesting exchange of ideas between the two of them.

Tonight, many feel offended by Trump’s action of “deporting” Jorge Ramos out of his press conference. On the other hand I feel more offended at how the Hispanic media gets touchy with Republican candidate Donald Trump and not with the myriad of corrupt leaders in Mexico. Shouldn’t we be looking first at ourselves? Shouldn’t we Mexicans be more worried about what went wrong in Mexico that created this Illegal Immigration crisis? No one in the Hispanic media cares about pointing fingers south of the border — be that the drug wars, politicians, the racist system, or even economics. For Hispanic and Mexican media it’s all about Trump, like he created the problem.

There is a widespread notion amongst Mexicans that outspoken billionaire Donald Trump is an awful person to lead America. The big reason? Because he’s racist, Mexicans say. And still no Mexican or Hispanic media has ever addressed to diligently the fact that the government of Mexico is racist. Mexican officials, many elected or appointed, are callously racist against natives, Afro-Mexicans (black Mexicans who live in the coasts and Coahuila), and even YES… even against Central American illegal immigrants.

High (very high) officials like Lorenzo Cordova from the National Electoral Institute (INE) was taped in audio mocking indigenous peoples way of talking and their “Lone Ranger” kind of attitude. Did Hispanic Media picked that up the way they’ve done with a still not elected candidate? The Mexican government daily deports illegal immigrants that come mainly from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. And none of the Mexican leaders are called bigots like the Hispanic media and Mexican people is so fascinated in doing so with Donald Trump.

Do you think Donald Trump is racist? Newsflash! Mexican government is far more racists to its own people. He may be loud, and even offensive, but not as racist as Mexican government officials that force people entering from the Southern border to sing the National Anthem to catch undocumented Central Americans.

I’m more scared that Hispanic media and public figures like Jorge Ramos are so focused on Donald Trump instead of the epicenter of all troubles, the overwhelming crooked Mexican government. Mexico is not only a failed state in every sense (I’m a living example after fleeing from the northeastern war-thorn part of Mexico) but leaders and dependencies literally push Mexicans to become illegal immigrants. They paste posters and pay ads that recommend Mexicans what to carry or what to watch out for when traveling up north illegally. Mexico even implemented a group of watchers at some point, who aided migrants with water and food supplies on they way to our northern neighbor… instead of stopping them to care for them here.

Hispanic media should focus more on a government that incites illegal immigration, with all the dangers which it comes with it like rape and murder, instead of the candidate that’s pointing at it. I care for my people, and my heart aches that my brethren have to pass through hell — apparently for Mexico’s leaders their journey may very well be business as usual and good riddance.

Worlds within worlds.

Mobile photograph I shot at a small patch of garden on the sidewalk, in Mexico City.

It is amazing how one can easily find worlds within our own world. As I was walking, an activity which I am so fond of, I discovered these mushrooms still with morning dew. Perhaps our own world is also embedded within a colossal one, one so large the entire cosmos wouldn’t suffice. After all, for ants their world seems large enough, ignoring there are supernovas and black holes bending space-time.

Worlds within worlds. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Worlds within worlds. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Mexico City’s main avenue

Photo I shot at Mexico City’s Reforma Avenue.

I did this long exposure photography while I was lying near where the cars passed in order to obtain this light effect.

Once an imperial boulevard during the times of the Second Mexican Empire led by Emperors Maximilian of Hapsburg and Carlotta of Belgium, today it is a financial and posh street. It has become the most important street in all of Mexico.

The independence column houses the remains of men and women who led the Mexican Independence War.

Commonly called the angel by Mexicans in general, in reality it’s the semi-nude Greek goddess of Victory.

Long Exposure in Mexico City. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.
Long Exposure in Mexico City. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Mexico once faced immigration issues. Before Donald Trump, there was Xolotl.

By Miguel Omaña.

800 years before Donald Trump highlighted immigration issues Mexico faced the very same challenges. What solution did the ancient indigenous found? You’d surprised.

In the years 1200’s massive contingents of people migrated from the northern lands which in modern days consist of northern Mexico and Southwestern United States. Back in the day people didn’t migrate northbound but to the south, specifically to the colossal Valley of Mexico and its surrounding valleys.

After the fall of Tula (Tollan Xicocotitlan), the Toltec capital, entire nations of northern and western native nations moved towards to what today is Mexico City and its surrounding states. Most pushed by a phenomenon we now call Climate Change. By the time the migrants arrived to the fertile lands and huge lake areas the Chichimec Domain* was already established ruled by mighty Xolotl.

Every day people kept pouring in.

Xolotl saw the influx of migrants as a major issue in his government. It was a do or break moment for the Huey Tlatoani (High Ruler). There was no time to waste, every day people kept pouring in. Contrary to what the United States is experiencing today, entire nations were moving into his realm — America’s illegal immigration issue according to Donald Trump seems to be primarily with Mexicans. But Xolotl had to deal with multiple nations moving altogether to a rather small place in comparison to the open northern range.

What solution did Xolotl thought about? His 800 year old answer may surprise you.

The all-powerful Xolotl decided to not only welcome all of the huge groups of weary and tired migrants (hmh, hmh, well before the Statue of Liberty ever existed), but under several non-negotiable conditions. Each native nation that arrived accepted his unmoving terms. What were Xolotl’s terms?
We may call them the Xolotl laws.

  • Each immigrant group or nation would receive their own piece of land, and that land would be decided only by Xolotl himself on the basis of availability and land size.
  • Each immigrant group or nation had to supply with men to the Chichimec Domain army should it be needed.
    There had to be no quarrels between groups of immigrants for land or power, all of it derived from the Chichimec capital Tenayuca.
  • But the most important decree Xolotl gave to each and every person who arrived to his nation was… that all had to abide to assimilation into Toltec culture, language, and way of life.

The last and most important precept was the pivotal policy of his rule and of his descendants. There was a genuine need to have immigrants comply to the customs and laws of the land. But I have to stress, these immigrants had nothing asked but to comply to Xolotl’s decrees. Visas, long waiting times, entry permits — those were not part of Xolotl’s true open-arms immigrant nation. Each Chichimec ruler continued this legacy of letting people in as long as they abide to the laws, language, and Toltec traditions of the land.

An open-door policy may be dismissed by any candidate.

America’s immigration issues of today has many differences, mainly an ongoing war in Mexico (hint, hint! War’s not only raging in Syria or Ukraine). This has made the region volatile with the ongoing turf wars, which spills into the USA as what Trump refers as crimes and raping. Americans are afraid of ISIS combatants, and yet they have far more bloodier massacres next door. So an open-door policy may be dismissed by any candidate, while a wall seems a more comforting one.

Are we in for a simplistic solution?

What’s better in the long run, might ask Xolotl? What ideas might a powerful Xolotl give to the powerful Trump? After all, both share the same can-do attitude stemmed from their omnipresent power. At least Xolotl saw an opportunity out of immigrants, maybe thinking as a modern-day businessman. A good businessman can turn into benefit every situation. Is it really that the age of American creativity over? The same nation that once invented the planes, the car, harnessed nuclear energy, and went to the Moon (and even Pluto) can’t come with an out-of-the-box solution for illegal immigration? Or are we in for a simplistic solution? It can’t just be either amnesty or booting everyone out — right?

The anticipation

Street photography I shot at Mexico City metro area, in public transportation.

There is beauty that goes beyond expensive cosmetics or posh clothes, a beauty that emerges from the soul and youth. And youth just like a flower is gorgeous for an ephemeral time, and then fades leaving a wake of mementos. But the young don’t care, they just anticipate the future without realizing it is they who are at the pinnacle of life.

The anticipation. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
The anticipation. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

America has a porous border? Yes and no.

Much has been debated in recent days not only by Donald Trump, but by many in the GOP race for the White House. Porous, invisible, non-existant, weak, and open — these are the adjectives associated to the US-Mexico border. What is true and what is not about this hotly debated issue.

By Miguel Omaña.

For years since I was a young child I witnessed a border, no question about that. The limit between both countries does exist, and it is at some point blatantly present. In the case where I lived a river divided both nations, the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo as it is called by Mexicans). And even when laws, full equipped port of entries, and the Border Patrol has existed, yes, there is a before and after pivotal moment.

The morning that changed the US – Mexico border forever.

The morning of Tuesday September 11th 2001 we woke to a harsh new world, one in which terror and war would reign in never-before seen deadly events. By noon there were rumors the border was going to be shut down. At nightfall the border did not close, but the American side did step up security for good (till our days). Security became strict, even harshly rude towards Mexicans. Two cities once considered sisters were forever seen with distrust thanks to a man inside a cave in Afghanistan, two cities with predominantly high Mexican population.

We used to call ourselves the Two Laredos or Los Dos Laredos. Nuevo Laredo is located in northwestern Tamaulipas state and Laredo situated in Southern Texas. Family and friends sprawl across the border, so much, that the United States government decided pre-9/11 to implement a Border Crossing Card (known as BCC in Department of State lingo or mica in Spanish, which means card). The Border Crossing Card was only for those Mexicans living in the border, so they can cross whenever they want to shop (mhm, mhm, economic boost) and traveling. The photo-issued card was relatively easy to obtain at the US consulate. The rest of the Mexicans needed (and still need) a valid US tourist visa stamped (or rather pasted) on their passports. Basically anyone who lived in the border next to the US could travel into the States.

Stories float about people who used to lend their cards to friends or relatives to go and shop into the US. There was no need to go and stay inside the United States. At least not in a small town like Nuevo Laredo or Laredo. And to go into the rest of the country you need a permit, this would be the second lock because Mexicans need to ask permission at the bridge to go to… say Houston. So the officer would ask you (and still do) exact address and such. A full inspection would come after being approved, with K9 sniffing officers and the whole shebang. Today they use gamma-ray detectors, anti-bomb devices, and the such. If a tire was suspicious to the sweaty officer who’s been under the sun the whole day, he would check it.

The difference 9/11 brought was that the border went into an all-out strict mode. New cards and enhanced visas are swiped like credit cards every time we enter into the United States. If not sure, the officer heavily relies on sending people into “Secondary”, a place where you are sit down and asked to-the-point CSI-like questions. Each entry into the US is saved in the system. And the info can be pulled from any port of entry (not only bridges, but also airports, etc).

One time I crossed through another city, and the officer raised his eyebrows and came towards me with a wary look, “did you cross last week via Laredo?” I was about to answer yes, when he interrupted me with an as-a-matter-of-factly tone, “because the system shows you did.” I explained to him I was visiting that other city, McAllen, Texas. But truthfully I was amazed, and this was a year or so after 9/11.

I know, I know — people can swim.

I tell you about bridges and documents, not only because that is the only way I knew of crossing into the US but also because I worked at a US consulate in Mexico, and became savvy about such things. Yes, yes, Hillary Clinton used to be my boss at some point in my life. But hey, it was an honest paying job and the only time I have ever worked under Uncle Sam’s Old Glory — most Mexican’s dream. Sniff, sniff.

Of course there is a river, one of the most famous ones in the history of mankind — and I know, I know, people can swim. So yes, there were and people are still crossing the river illegally into the United States. Some swim with nothing but one arm while the other grabs a supermarket plastic bag. Others travel across the river on a tire, a piece of wood, you name it — I’ve almost seen it all. One time I saw a man cross the bridge and just did a parkour jump above a high fence a few yards away from Custom officials and cameras. Some just try to cross across the bridge with forged documents and are immediately returned.

After 9/11 infrared cameras were installed in turret-like installations all over the border. Wherever you were standing at the shores of the Rio Grande, you could see at least one of those tall metallic structures. Some are manned (by Border Patrol agents) some are not. When they installed them I was wowed. But that was not all, just before I left the border the US beefed up their security on the Rio Grande, using low-flying helicopters and high-speed boats. Both the boats and the helicopters patrolled the whole river unchecked, even near the shore of the Mexican side. The word militarized came to my mind at that point almost five years ago. Five years before Donald Trump’s comments that was happening in the border!

So back to the question. Does America has a porous border?

Yes and no. No border will ever be secured, ask modern-day Israel, the Roman Empire, the Chinese Empire, and many more. And still, technology and gadgets have been used since the Reagan administration. The myth Donald Trump and others want to expose of an ultimate open border is not true. And yet, illegal immigration keeps pouring in.

Though I found a flaw in the system, something not even Fox News would tell you even when they should. (Geez, maybe I should work one day at Fox News and become the first-ever Mexican anchor.) Here it goes… When you cross by car or walking across a bridge or port of entry, they check you up and down like a barely explained already. I will write more on that someday. But when Mexicans travel by air into an International Airport inside the United States, we are received more courteously and checking just the essentials on our backgrounds. If celebrity-turned-candidate Donald Trump wants to tackle a porous border, he shouldn’t be just visiting Laredo, Texas like he did days ago, but any international airport in America. I understand people are using more the border to cross illegally, but there are weaker spots if you look elsewhere. And for what I know, America should be interest in looking for weak spots, not publicity stunts.

There is another issue any GOP candidate hasn’t firmly addressed. Laws are strangely fashioned towards Mexicans. There are up to 15-year waiting cues to enter legally with a green card, and more years to become a US citizen. Of course, of course America is the land of order and law, and it should remain that way in order to be a beacon of example to other corrupt nation-states like Mexico. I could go on and on about those waiting lines, but that’s not what concerns me. Those waiting lines policies aren’t even available to any Mexican national! If a normal Mexican person wants to legally reside in the US they have nothing but to cross their arms and sniff. America has the toughest immigration rules in the world. Many Mexicans are actually turning to Australia or New Zealand to migrate. The problem is the distance. Some do gather some money and leave. But to reside legally in the United States is basically next to impossible for your average Mexican.

Many presidents have tried to curtail this issue by creating programs like the brasero program, or the temporary worker. But it is challenging for most Mexicans to find an adequate program, because there is simply none for the average family. Some have gathered lots of money and used it to invest in America and create a company. That’s great. But not many are money savvy. This is America’s Achiles heel. And yes, this is also Mexico’s problems, where people go and not comply with rules (however odd they may be).

So here we are, 2015, with a huge problem that has started to create tension between two people. Mexicans blaming Trump and his supporters as racists and bigots. Americans calling out how inclined Mexicans are to trespass and violate laws. And both are right. Americans have these issues because they are immersed in a nation already divided by racial turmoil (i.e. Ferguson) and exhausted by a long war on terror. Mexicans have these issues because they have lived in a violence-is-all corrupt system which have made them poor and uneducated. Whoever understands both sides will find the solution, if not, walls will be erected and hatred will erupt.

Politically Insurrect. Column by Miguel Omaña. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Politically Insurrect. Column by Miguel Omaña. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Mexican senate taken by police

This was the moment armed Federal Police took hold of the Mexican Senate’s main entrance from the ire of hundreds of thousands of protesters and anarchists. Even though they took the Senate well in the night, it was about this moment of the day that hundreds of Federal Policemen completely took the Senate inside out. This was before the controversial landmark education bill was passed. A block away, at Reforma and Bucareli junction, all-out anarchists clashed with other Federal Policemen, resulting in injuries. The protesters chanted for an uprise, and threatened to take over Mexico City.

Photo taken in 2013, but since then, this type of action have become common not only in Mexico City but mainly in Southern states.

For centuries people in Mexico have attempted to fight for freedom and basic rights. The notorious Mexican Revolution is an example of it. And yet, even before the arrival of Europeans to then called Anahuac, people have fought against injustice or their rights. One such example is the war led by Yacanex, which I explain in my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes how he fought for their rights against the ambitions of the powerful.

Mexican Senate taken by police. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Mexican Senate taken by police. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Mexican girl painted portrait

One of the commissions I worked on last weekend.

Oil on white cardboard, 9 x 10.


If you’re interested in a painted portrait, please contact me for prices and Shipping and Handling info.


I try to bring realism to the painted portraits, but also imprint a part of how I look at people. Like in this case, they tend to commission me these portraits as gifts or mementos. And yet, if I do a photograph-like painting, it would be best if they just put the original photo.

That’s my take on doing this sort of portraits — make it look realistic and yet have the feel you’re looking at a piece of art. Don’t get me wrong, I admire hyper realist artists, it is a feat of creativity what they do. Then again, people want to have a more artsy portrait on their hands. At least that’s what I have sensed and heard from my clients.

What I love is when they give me Carte Blanche, and literally ask me to do it as I would a personal portrait for me.

Mexican girl painted portrait. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Mexican girl painted portrait. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Summer rain at Central Mexico

Jilotepec is a town an hour-driving outside of Mexico City’s metro city limits. While visiting this place and its fields, it started raining. The daily afternoon rain is a trademark of a true Mexican summer, contrary to popular belief abroad.

Ominous clouds, roaring thunders, copious rainfall, a nightly coldness, and the once-a-week hail constitute a typical Mexican summer in Central Mexico and many parts of the country.

The idea of a desert nation comes from Hollywood movies and America’s mindset because of the huge desert located in the border with the United States. The rest of Mexico is a mosaic of isolated and differing climates. You could be in grassy landscape like this one in Jilotepec, and no one would guess that a 15-minute driving westward one will find a thick pine tree forest in El Ocotal area. It’s like saying all of America has all-Americana wooden red barns.

Just like the terrain of this nations is misunderstood, so the people. Mexicans can actually be more good than foreigners can think, and yet there are also far more dangerous ones — let’s say the spectrum is way off Trump’s mindset.

Jilotepec is a nice town to visit, nearby Tula’s archeological ruins left by the ancient Toltecs. In fact, all this area was once important in times of the Mexica Aztecs. Plan ahead if you’re staying in Mexico City, for it can be hard to leave the city due to traffic conditions of apocalyptic proportions — a bit of a joke, but it can be weary for someone not used to it.

Jilotepec means Hill of the tender (not ripe) corn.


If you’re interested in Mexico, its history and people, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.


Summer rain at Jilotepec, Mexico. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Summer rain at Jilotepec, Mexico. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

3 reasons that make Mexico’s “No” to Trump’s wall an irony.

After much delay the Mexican government has officially spoken about Donald Trump’s proposal of Mexico paying for the wall at the border. Luis Videgaray, one of the strongest and loyal men of the Mexican president, has declared that not “one peso” will be spent on the wall using Mexican people’s money.

Videgaray is the Secretary of Finance in Mexico, all things money goes through him. And there resides the irony of his words – his office and himself have been involved in major corruption controversies. After all, he handles public finances – making Videgaray the man with which Trump will have to face inevitably (If the Donald secures the US presidency, of course).

3 major corruption scandals that make Videgaray’s “no” to Trump’s wall an irony.
Bear in mind the word major, since more allegations abound.

1.

Dubious Mexican presidential campaign money.

As Enrique Peña Nieto’s strong man during the campaign of 2012, he helped secured big-time donors in order to make a dent on then favorite leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. As pressure mounted from special interest groups and the media, Videgaray made cash began to flow. The way he did it is still a polemic debate from Mexican opposition.

Videgaray secured impressive donations from Soriana market store chain (our equivalent of Wal-Mart). It was documented at the time how Videgaray’s party PRI distributed Soriana gift cards with petty cash in exchange for votes. Their campaign also received money from abroad who had interests in not letting Obrador turning Mexico in the next Venezuela. So most of the money he raised was illegal by Mexican electoral law.

2.

Lavish mansions, dirty deeds.

A contractor with shady links to the President of Mexico, and especially Videgaray allegedly bribed them with vast lands and mansions that would make the late Queen of France look modest. Videgaray has his own luxurious mansion at Malinalco small town, while the President and his curvaceous wife have their colossal mansion in the upscale western Mexico City side.

The Mexican First Lady has already explained on national television that they pay with their own money their brand-new house, even when their children (the ones who called poor Mexican people disgusting) go for safari at Africa and do shopping sprees in Beverly Hills. The opposition thinks Videgaray did a good job covering whatever muddy deeds they have done with those contractors.

3.

Controversial energy deals and taxes.

Videgaray has pushed every year for heavy taxes upon an already burdensome Mexican people. He says results will be seen on the long run, but on the short run he has been surrounded with shifty characters involved with corruption in Pemex (the state and only oil company) and other Energy sectors. Many ask where are the taxes he so vehemently rooted for are going. Utility bills are more expensive than ever in Mexico, but it seems that money is going to some pockets – but whose?

Mexican leaders soft spot is not nationalism (we’ve been invaded since 1521) or people’s dissent (hey, they let Texas go after all). All that Mexican government officials and White Mexican elites are money. As simplistic as it sounds it is what has brought misery to Mexico for centuries.

Now that Donald Trump is threatening the status quo not only in America but also in Mexico, Mexican leaders might think it is more troubling to give money for Trump’s wall than to keep purchasing mansions, silence of obscure deals, and political campaigns. If you summed it up, the wall would be a cheaper way out of a spat with Trump than what their mansions cost.

Opposition leaders calculate 10% of public finances in Mexico’s government goes to documented corruption – stealing or bribery. But Videgaray insists he will not pay a single peso from Mexico’s public finances. You see the irony, or at least the moral hypocrisy?

5 Reasons why George Lopez was wrong in using violent imagery against Trump

George Lopez just recently uploaded a gory image via his twitter account portraying El Chapo drug lord holding a beheaded Donald Trump. And he’s not the only Mexican in the US making this kind of allegory of drug war terrorism – Univision and Telemundo are doing so too through telenovelas (Mexican soap operas). One thing is portrayal through news outlets but enabling it is wrong. The world is appalled with drug war-related violence, Mexicans should repudiate it too and there are reasons why.

1. Violence generates violence.

As cliché as it sounds, it holds true in Mexico. For years, since the drug war broke in 2003 in Nuevo Laredo, rival groups have used the web to their fear-imposing advantage. Cartels attack each other through videos and imagery of their deeds, while using it as a recruitment tool.

2. Open wounds.

Contrary to the life George Lopez have lived, the bulk of Mexicans in Mexico had to bear for years the traumatic burden of war. Entire cities taken over either by a drug cartel or Mexican army – or both. Lives disrupted forever. Thousands displaced because of massive deaths, kidnappings, and psychological harassment. The war still rages in Mexico and I wonder if sending meme-like images from a cozy celebrity home will make anyone an anti-Donald Trump activist.

3. Bad image

One thing Mexicans and other nations agree is disavowing from violence carried out by small factions or a government. We feel we are not violent, thus spreading this imagery that propagates a wrong idea of who we are. It’s like saying all Americans are KKK members, which is not true. If a Mexican enables this type of images born out of a drug war, then it could seem that he identifies with that violent culture. Does George Lopez buy into this drug cartel terrorism propaganda? I know most Mexicans in Mexico don’t.

4. Insulting to real activists.

Cheap images born out of drug violence undermines honest work made by many activists that fight for the rights of Mexicans or racism against minorities in the US. People have given their life, literally – hence insulting their legacy and their work to bring prosperity to war-thorn Mexico. Many groups in Southern Mexico have rose in arms against bloody drug cartels, meaning people are against this culture of violence. Not repudiating violence in Mexico makes you part of that violence.

5. Not art.

I know art, I am an artist. Actually there is amazing counter-government artwork and street art in Mexico. Propagating hate imagery that was created by violent Mexicans to murder and provoke fear to other Mexicans is supporting it. It’s the same mimic principle done by ISIS terror cells within the US and Europe. So, please – Mexican or not Mexican, don’t do it.

I have suffered from the war in Mexico, people I know have too. It is no laughing matter as it is for George Lopez. I feel personally offended by it, especially coming from a person that could do so much for our people via other fronts — but not with cheap shots. Whatever issues against Donald Trump could be said, it can be said in a vast myriad ways. Especially when the drug war and illegal immigration is the fault of corrupt Mexican government, not Donald Trump.

How former Mexican president Fox’s words against Trump exposes way of doing things

The manner Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, expressed his disapproval of Donald Trump’s wall exposes the irate, compulsive, and demeaning ways Mexican leaders have ruled over the Mexican people for centuries – but barely no one in the world noticed.

Even though Fox is one of the few (very few) Mexican presidents actually elected by the people, a dictatorial way of doing government has endured to our days. If not ask the Texans, who noticed this issue and did not wait to separate from Mexico — or unsuccesfully Yucatan, the Rio Grande Republic, Guatemala, and Chiapas. Many have pointed out that Mexican presidents rule with insults, racism, bullets, and dangerous improvisation.

Only words.

Many would say Fox leveled in tone with Trump. But bare in mind that Trump is a candidate in his own party. Fox has already been the ruler of a 100 million Mexicans plus the 10 million illegals in the US he wanted during his campaign to vote for him so he could bring them back. His words have always been that, words. He made wild promises of change, democracy, and creating jobs so that people wouldn’t have a need to migrate to the United States. The result was an utter sham.

Not only he didn’t bring illegals back to Mexico, but his only economic goal of 7% growth was a flop. So Mexicans fled, not only to the US but elsewhere.

With Mexican economy stalled Mexican Congress became overrun by opposition, so that Fox became a sitting duck – our Mexican version of Obama if you will (except a right-winged Obama). Fox started a dirty media campaign against a promising left-winged Mexico City mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Insult after insult, a one-sided war of words against a man who was the de facto candidate for all leftist parties. He even orchestrated his political demise through shadowy maneuvers, which made Obrador even more popular. Sounds familiar?

The dawn of war.

Fox’s legacy are not just words and his flamboyant insults, but his ineptitude to rule a nation. The job is simple, but his obsession to destroy Obrador and his “populist” menace blinded him to urgent matters in Mexico. After all, the country is vast in territory – danger brewed in its northeastern corner.

In 2003 new drug cartels appeared in Tamaulipas. Yes, there were drug cartels in Mexico, but this new breed stormed in with freighting military tactics and such hatred against the population as a whole. Previous cartels have only operated against Mexico military. Many of the old cartels faded under the blood-thirsty new ones, who executed people in the streets and performed terror attacks at public places. Other cartels adapted at such wrath, such as El Chapo. But Fox did nothing, for words and insults could not make this away.

As his non-democratic predecessors of the 20th century, he controlled the media, so “nothing happens” was the motto. We don’t have to be historians to know how this developed, and how it has prompted Trump to build the wall at the border.

Lack of policy

I’ve come to the conclusion that Mexican presidents become dictatorial because they have no policies or ideals. Mexican presidents (and emperors) with clear policy making ideals die or are killed. After all, we Mexicans have lived under dictators under 500 years. Invaded by the Hispanics, for us government is one person laying down our destinies for his personal gain.

There is a (not so unreal) joke about Mexican presidents here in Mexico: “What time is it” asks the president. A lackey answers, “Whatever you want it to be.”

This notion that Mexican presidents can get away with murder (literally) is engraved in all Mexicans. This makes them crazy with power. Not one (except for a few cases, again) have they used their kingly power to do good.

Everything has to do for personal glory or business. There is no government policy ever made that the president in turn doesn’t have an economic or business advantage. Thus, a systematic machine of corruption, racism, and gestapo-like police is in place. American criminals always flee to Mexico because there is a sense of lawlessness when it actually has harsh non-sequitur laws… unless you are out of sight of the government (Federal, state or municipal).

One thing is the leadership

Just as Americans as uncomfortable on how things are run in Washington, so the majority of people in Mexico thinks of the Mexican government and special interest groups. Did you know that after the Arab Spring young Mexicans rose against the government in social media? And did you know that the internet was almost, almost in peril of being shut down in all of Mexico? Did you know there are political prisoners right now? I’m not talking about Cuba but Mexico. Did you know the upscale children of Mexican politicians are right now vacationing on yachts in Europe or doing safari in Africa?

Please, dear Americans or foreigner — whether you’re left or right-winged, liberal or conservative – one thing is the corrupt and racist Mexican government, politicians and criminals. Then there’s the rest of us. Whatever Mexican leaders say or do is in their interests, not in our name. And remember they have Mexican and Spanish-speaking media under their sleeve for that same reason.

8 ancient ruins in Mexico City you should visit

Mexico is worldwide known for its ancient cities that once stood tall and magnificent. Built by masterful native architects and artists today lie in ruins – awaiting for our eyes to see their grandeur of times past.

Chichen Itza is one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world but Mexico City has wonders worth of sightseeing and marvel upon. Here’s a list I’ve compiled of ancient ruins if you’re ever at the Mexican capital and wish to delve into the experience of indigenous cities.

If you don’t mind walking, a bit of sun, and wandering amongst millenia-old buildings then this is for you!

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Teotihuacan
Location: Northeastern Mexico City metro area.
Walking: *****
Native food: Yes
Touristy: Yes
Built not by Aztecs but by a multicultural population of Huuastec and Otomi people, it became the most powerful city of its time, much more than Mayan cities. Two major pyramid-temples and dozens of smaller ones await you. Plus, the exquisite palaces that still stand are a delight. It is a huge place, after all it is the actual downtown of one of the most massive cities in the world.

Cuicuilco
Location: Southern Mexico City’s Pedregal area.
Walking: **
Native food: No.
Touristy: Yes.
There is a spirited debate concerning its antiquity, some say 8000 years old but mainstream scholars have it at 3000 years old. Famous for its round pyramid, one of the oldest structure in the Americas. No texts survive so we don’t have any info on Cuicuilco’s history. Nowadays surrounded by shopping malls, expect traffic.

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Tenayuca
Location: northern Mexico City, in Tlalnepantla municipality.
Walking: **
Native food: No.
Touristy: Partly.
Founded by Xolotl the Great, it was once the capital of the Chichimec Domain. Part of it is enclosed by government, but the other part you can literally walk into it. Main structures are the towering pyramids and a palace complex. Mainly local tourists know of this place.

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Santa Cecilia Acatitla
Location: Northern Mexico City, Tlalnepantla municipality.
Walking: *
Native food: No.
Touristy: No.
Firsthand, it is hard to reach it, located in a maze of streets but nothing Waze or Google Maps can’t handle (I’ve been to places that aren’t in the satellites yet!). Once you get there the reward is the ONLY native pyramid temple intact. Lots of photo-ops. A small museum houses the artifacts found there. Don’t go late, locals say it can be dangerous during the night.

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Tlatelolco
Location: Near downtown area and Reforma Avenue.
Walking: ***
Native food: No
Touristy: Partly
The ancient ruins share its place with a colonial church and mid-20th century apartment buildings. Thus known as the Three Cultures Plaza. The place is well organized but there is literally no parking area or usual tourist-trap vendors. Local tourists and couples do hang in there. In Tlatelolco Hernan Cortes fought the definitive battle that meant the defeat of the Triple Alliance, aka wrongly-named Aztec Empire.

Pino Suarez subway station
Location: Downtown southern area.
Walking: *
Native food: No.
Touristy: No.
Inside this station of Mexico City’s subway is a drum-like temple built by the Mexica Aztecs in honor of the spirit of the wind, Ehecatl Quetzalcoatl. It is definitely not touristy, as this subway station is used by local commuters. The ancient city of Tenochtitlan is under modern Mexico City, this means most buildings remain down there, but not visible, except a few like this one.

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Calmecac
Location: Downtown
Walking: *
Native food: No
Touristy: Yes
When the Spanish Centre was digging to build an underground parking garage of their own they stumbled with the Mexica Aztec university, known as Calmecac. This ancient school was where people studied priesthood, sciences, and military. Not only the ruins are down there but artwork that was found as well. Once done, you can check for contemporary art upstairs.

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Tenochtitlan
Location: Downtown
Walking: ***
Native food: Yes
Touristy: Yes
Last but not least the proper capital of the Mexica Azteca. Decimated by the Hispanics, they never imagined countless pyramids would survive under the main temple, since they were built like Russian dolls. One can walk around them seeing each period. The walk culminates with the museum. Outside there are restaurants, yes, but if you want authentic Aztec food try crickets with chilli.

If you’re interested in Ancient Mexico history check out my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.