First week in Oaxaca

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by david b, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. david b

    david b Member

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    Hi all, just thought i would check in.

    Oaxaca is a wonderful place. hot with lots of bugs but beautiful scenery and people.

    one major set back is that I cannot use a tripod at any historic place such as Monte Alban and Mitla which makes using my Hasselblad and APX 25 next to impossible. So my XPAN is getting a workout.

    I am applying for the permit but was told it will take a minimum of 15 days to process, in Mexico City. Patience.

    Anyway, hope you all are well. More later.

    Adios,
    david b

    ps....those of you coming to santa fe for photo arts, please contact me as I am hosting a BBQ at my new home near the plaza.
     
  2. eric

    eric Member

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    DB,
    Don't buy the alabrejes from the plaza. Take the taxi to the little towns from Oaxaca and go to the artisans making them. Plenty of photo ops there. Haggle, haggle, haggle. They don't think you are manly unless you haggle. Part of the buying process.
    Don't you find it weird that there are a lot of Italian restaurants in Oaxaca?
     
  3. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    David, a "magic" phrase in Mexico to expedite paper work is... "Isn't there some way to get this done a little (better, faster, quicker, etc...)." A couple of dollars has always helped me to get things expedited. Be polite and inquisitive, sometimes it helps a lot. tim
     
  4. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    How interesting the new eyes on Oaxaca are. My brother lived and worked there for years. You need to establish a community presence. Until then you are government reg bait. Do youself a favor and do not hurry home.
     
  5. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Good luck. My experience with INAH is that it could take 15 days or 15 years. The way INAH deals with the type of permission you request is an embarassment to Mexico, but the folks who control INAH apparently either don't care, or are too ignorant to understand the issues.

    I have photographed historical places in many countries in Europe and the Americas, but have never run into the kind of brain dead mentality and total incompetency that one finds in Mexico with INAH. Others may disagree, but my own conclusion is that the folks who control INAH are just incredibly stupid and incompetent.

    But lots of wonderful things to photograph in Oaxaca and in the surrounding area that are, thankfully, not under the jurisdictioni of INAH.

    Sandy
     
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  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Can I quote your message? I would love to send it to INAH with a translation. This people dont understand the tripod and "professional" restriction. I sent them a letter telling them that allowing photographers who use tripods to photograph is in fact a good thing, that it promotes tourism and creates good will with visitors, that it is one thing to allow someone shooting a commercial or a movie to shoot there and it is another to allow photographers who want to do a good job to take pictures. Well, their answer was that the law is very clear and that anybody using "professional" equipment has to pay. If you dont mind my using your post I would like to send it to them with a translation to show them the kind of impression they are making and giving the rest of the world.

    As I told David, it is easier to bribe the guy than try to do it legit.....

    PS. If you dont want me to use your name no problem.
     
  7. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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    Hi Jorge, I just have this conversation with David at diner (by the way, we had a great diner at "El Naranjo", his treat) and I told him that this is the law since I remember. I couldn't take a photo in Monte Alban or Mitla or Dainzu with a tripod, EVER. Thats it. I don't know if you go in front of the Capitol at Washington, D.C. with a tripod and nobody stop you, but six year ago, I went to "The Galleria" at Houston, TX. and set my tripod in order to get a photo of the skate ring, and before I set the exposure, a guard approached me with his hand in his gun and asked me for my permission to do so.
     
  8. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Absolutely you may quote me.

    It won't do any good, in my opinion, because this organization is "brain dead" but do what you can.

    Frankly, I just don't understand such idiocy. I have photographed in many of the most imporant historical places in Spain with a tripod, with permission of course, and have never encountered the kind of attitude and incompetency one finds in Mexico in INAH.

    And for what it is worth, I have credentials that normally open doors in hispanic countries, including fluent Spanish, university affiliation, and a Cv. that shows scholary credentials, including numerous publications in the area of photgraphic aesthetics and history. But for the folks at INAH none of this seems to matter at all.

    Sandy
     
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  9. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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    I think that you miss the point here, you can photograph in Mexico anything, but 'without' a tripod in an official or historical place, which means that you can photograph any historical place in Mexico, but you CAN NOT USE A TRIPOD. Using a tripod means that you are a "professional photographer", and for that reason you have to get a permission, that you can get if you fulfill the requirements. And of course, you can get "A LOT" of images out of Oaxaca and the rest of Mexico, if you are good enough. A tripod is not a problem.
     
  10. sanking

    sanking Member

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    [
    Yes, I have seen some of this myself in the post 9/11 period in the US. But the issue is one of security. I have never been told to not use a tripod in any of the national parks in the US, including anthropological sites. In fact, the folks at these sites usually go out of their way to be helpful. In New Mexico, for example, the directors of some of the mission sites have even arranged to have site custodians open the gate early to allow me to photograph. Of course, if I set my 12X20 up on the Hoover Dam I would not be surprised if someone told me to leave.

    Private facilities in the US (as your skating ring) have a complete right to forbid use of cameras on their facilities. Mostly this is done to protect privacy of the people who use the facilities. As you or I might prohibit photography at a private party at our home.

    Sandy
     
  11. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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    Another consideration about this topic, if you want to get a good photo of an archeological site, don't mind if it's in Mexico or if you are using a tripod, you need the best light. The best time in Oaxaca, and I don't want to make an issue of it, is early in the morning, 7 to 9 a.m. or 6 to 8:30 p.m. (in summer time). At this time, either it is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you have to ask for a permission to be in the premisses of the archeological site.
     
  12. sanking

    sanking Member

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    No, you (and INAH) miss the point. Using a tripod does not mean that I am a professional photographer. In fact, I am not, though I use large format equipment that requires the use of a tripod.

    And the issue is not simply requesting the permission. I have done that in dozens of places in France and in Spain, where the process can be handled locally at a city or provincial level. In Mexico, unfortunately, it can only be done through D.F., and the process can be both complicated and very long. And, more often than not, it is a question of one incompetent and uncaring person passing off the baton to another incompetent and uncaring person.

    Sandy
     
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  13. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Sorry Jose, but I disagree. No matter how good I am, I cannot hand hold a 12x20 inch camera and get a good picture. I am not surprised at King's opinion. It is not so much the permit, but the difficulty and down right arrogance these people exhibit. You have to remember we all pay taxes in one form or another, and that these taxes go to pay their salaries and the mantainance of these places, it is time that Mexicans, and specially goverment employees realize that they are not doing us a favor, that in fact their job is to facilitate and help the citizens as well as tourists. This is why Mexico will never be a first world country, due to their cavalier and down right desinterest about the importance of time.

    I dont see why they cannot issue permits on the spot. As with everything in Mexico, this "permit" is nothing more than another scam to get money and to keep busy the morons working there. I have photographed in many places in the US, one of them was Puerto Rico, in their fortress when I took my camera and tripod a park ranger asked me the purpose of the photographs, all I had to say these were personal pictures and he left me alone. Try that here? it is all well and good for you who uses a 35 mm camera to say that it is no big deal all you have to do is not use a tripod. For the rest of us who use LF cameras this is a big deal.
     
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  15. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    The Galleria in Houston is private property and as such they have the right to request that you do not take pictures. This is not the case for national parks and monuments. You can go ahead and place your tripod right in front of the Lincoln memorial or the Washington monument and you will not have a problem.

    You can go to the anazasi ruins and do the same, you might be required to get a permit that the park ranger will issue on the spot.

    This is not the same thing Jose, I am not surprised at the impression King has, I am of the same opinion.
     
  16. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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    Jorge, I don't want to discuss about it, but it is not the same to photograph "El Morro" at San Juan, that photograph "The Capitol" in DC. I wonder if you need a permission to photograph, with a tripod, the "Lincoln Memorial", if they will granted the permission right in the spot, but of course, "Monte Alban" is not "Lincoln Memorial".

    Maybe we live in a corrupt country, but rules are rules, and laws are laws, no matter what country you live.

    Sorry, but those are the rules in Mexico, and, if you want to take a picture of Monte Alban with a 12x20" camera, you need to apply for a permission, not only to photograph with a tripod, also to get there out of official hours.
     
  17. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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    ok, I don't want to discusse this anymore, but, use this as an add in this forum:

    "In this corrupt country as Mexico is, don't think that you can photograph an arqueological site with a tripod if you don't have a permission to do so, it's law!"
     
  18. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Sorry Jose, but rules are rules and laws are laws only when it benefits the goverment and not the citizens. It is in fact the same to photograph the Capitol in Washington and El morro in San juan, both are public properties supported by the tax payer and as such the tax payer is entitled to use them and photograph them. This exactly is the problem in Mexico, the laws are made so that they increase revenue into the goverment without any benefit to the citizens. The least they could do is make these laws so that people do not waste their time, given that they are wasting their money.

    Accepting the problem is the first step towards fixing it. Just because it is a foreigner the one who criticised our goverment institution does not make it wrong. In fact I venture to say that it is sad that this is the impression an educated person has of the Mexican goverment.

    You say laws are laws, and rules are rules. This does not mean the laws and rules are right, by adopting a desinterested attitude you become part of what makes this country so bad. Sorry, I cannot defend an institution that is riddled with inefficiency, ineptitud and arrogance and just shrug my shoulders and take it. This is fact is the difference between practicing democracy and just paying it lip service. If the same thing had happened to King in the US, I bet you he would have been next day writing to his congressmen, and his letter would have been acknowledged. Here, nobody in the goverment gives a shit about what the citizens have to say......it is time to change this, and the only way to do it is by starting to complain and demand that the institutions become accountable to the citizen, not to the politicians.
     
  19. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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    May I be clear, are we talking about George Bush?
     
  20. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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    seriously, I think you are making a fuss out of it, if you want to photograph in an archeological site in Mexico with a tripod, YOU NEED A PERMISSION. Period.
     
  21. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Member

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  22. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Here's the reasoning used by this type of governmental B.S. "The king of England is a man. I am a man. Therefore, I am the king of England." Mexico has no lock on this type of stupidity. Here in Tucson there are several federal, state and county entities who look after parks and forests. You would need permits from the Forest Service, National Parks and State Parks to visit areas just a few miles apart. All collect revenues to feather their own nests. All are manned by incredibly stupid robots who have no discretionary abilities. At least in Mexico, you can deal with people as individuals.

    As I have said, "Isn't there some way we can resolve this matter?" works quite well for me. tim
     
  23. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Well, José, the fact that we need a permission to photograph in an archeological site in Mexico is stating the obvious. That is the reason we are having this discussion. The issue is how one obtains such a permission! As you know, it must be obtained through INAH, and there is an INAH office in Oaxaca. Logically one would assume that the local jurisdiction of INAH in Oaxaca should control the issuance of such permissions for the archeological sites in Oaxaca. But does it? Apparently not, but who knows for sure because you get the run around in dealing with INAH. In Oaxaca I went to the local office of INAH but was told that the permission had to come from Mexico City. So I contacted the central office in Mexico City and they refer me back to Oaxaca, and a non-functioning email and fax number. Eventually I just gave up.

    The thread you cite about photographing public buildings in the US is not relevant to this discussion. That prohibition exists either because of logistical or security reasons, most of which have appeared in the post 9/11 period. The parallel comparison to photographing archeological sites in Mexico would be photographing ruins in the state and national parks in the US, at say Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Hovenweep, etc. At these places not only is a tripod allowed, but often the people who run these sites will go out of their way to provide access for serious photographers, even at times to the point of arranging to open the gates early and/or close them late.


    Sandy
     
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  24. david b

    david b Member

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    Yikes....

    Sorry to have started this.

    I will state publicly that both Jose and Jorge have helped me tremendously on this trip. Jorge provided me with chemicals and Jose delivered them last night.

    Then Jose, my girlfriend and I had a wonderful dinner together that included this very discussion (as well as many other topics) and I can see all sides of this "issue".

    The frustrating point for me is the lack of info about this before I got here. I did my research. I asked the questions. Not one person, book, or website mentions the need for a permit. I bought my tickets 4 months ago. I would have applied for the permit then. Live and learn.

    On a more positive aspect, Jose will be talking to a photo class from Santa Fe today and showing his work. Then we are going to an opening tonight featuring photographs from seven female photographers. I am sure dinner and great conversation will follow.

    More later...
     
  25. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Sorry, but I think you are taking too much of a cavalier attitude towards something that should be your right to be able to do. As King says, it is not so much that you need a permit, but that you need one that is so difficult and expensive to obtain. This to do something for which you are already paying with your taxes. I think a $100 for a one day permit is outrageous, and on top of that the petitioner has to waste his/her time dealing with the bureaucracy in Mexico City.

    Bottom line Jose, I know this sounds trivial to you, but this attitude of carelessness from the citiziens and the goverment is what has made it so difficult for me to adjust living here. Let me give you a good example of the kind of total arrogance and disdain the goverment has towards it's citizens. I wanted to get a Mexican passport since I could not open a bank account with my US one. So I went to the passport office, after I wasted 2 hours having to go have the forms filled and pay at the bank $100 for a 5 year passport (more than in the US) I have all my forms filled with my payment and I get to the passport office at noon and stood in line...and I notice these people are turning away the people in front of me...so I get to the front of the line and the person attending the desk tells me they are closed, that I had to return the next day because they had too much work....I said no way, that they are supposed to work until 3 pm and that I had the right and it was their duty to accept my application, well, they call the person in charge and I said the same thing, I was not nasty or rude, but I was forcefull and demanded they do their job. Of course at the time I am arguing some of the people in front of me as well as behind me are listening. Once they had to accept my form the rest of the people started to demand their rights too.....

    So you see, this is exactly the problem with the indifferent attitude you adopt. Instead of demanding that the goverment serves you, after all you are paying their salaries with your taxes and fees. People in Mexico act like sheep, instead of complaining when the goverment does not do their job or does not do it efficiently, you all just shrug your shoulders and go on about your life as if nothing happened. As long as mexicans continue to be indifferent and fail to demand from their govemerment what is rightfully theirs, this country will continue to be third rate.

    I am sorry if my opinion hurts your nationalistic pride, but frankly mexicans have nothing to be proud about their goverment and their failure to demand what is owed to them. Mexico is abeautiful country with an incredible amount of resouces and all of it has been squandered becuase of this "no big deal" attitude.
     
  26. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Hi David,

    But the point I was trying to make is that even if you had known about the permit requirement you might not have been able to obtain the necessary permission through INAH because of the inefficiency and incompetency of those folks.

    I will also add that if I were from anywhere outside of Mexico City I would be terribly angry with the federal state for the way it plunders and sends to the capital virtually all indigenous artifacts from other regions of the country. Yes, there are some fascinating things in museums in Oaxaca, but if you want to look at any of the really significant artifacts from Monte Alban, the "danzantes" for example, guess where you will find them. Yep, D.F.

    I love Oaxaca and its people, primarily zapotec/mixtec, and as you already have seen, there are wonderful photographic opportunities outside of INAH sites.

    And don't miss the Tule tree in the nearby town of Tule. The sabino is said to be the largest tree, in terms of girth, in all of the Americas.

    For the markets, color and Hasselblads work great.

    Post some images when you can.

    Sandy
     
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