Feature Story

My neighborhood: Villahermosa,Tabasco,Mexico

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We arrived in Villahermosa (Mexico) some 3 years ago. We didn't find a school for my son who having a rare genetic disorder (Costello syndrome) was very behind kids his age. So I just stayed home with him all day and never really went out, I had good excuses, very hot weather, no car, my son couldn't walk, I didn't speak Spanish...

Six months later we found a school for my son but I had to do a 2 hour walk to take him from school to home, that's how and when my everyday travels around my Mexican neigborhood began.I then started to take pictures while pushing the stroller on a regular basis.

I started by taking pictures of kids in uniform. How these uniforms seemed and still seem vintage to me. Asking my husband I learned that they hadn't changed for the last 20 years at least. I was always out around 1pm when some kids finished school and some others were about to start it. I so loved to see mothers and young kids or babies, the way they had to hold hands, the way moms carried the kids school bags, girls hairstyles and boys with hair gel. Taking pictures of children and generally taking photos of people is not that easy here. Some people would get very suspicious about my taking photographs; others just couldn't understand my interest until I told them I was a foreigner in love with their country. I also became interested in street vendors, and all the wares they sold in the streets as I walked: fruits, toys, drinks, pastries, ice cream, furniture, bags, crosses...

Downtown Villahermosa is a very vibrant area, and to me, what makes it even more alive is the large variety of little shops where you can buy meat , chicken,vegetables,clothes or tools and where you can get anything fixed,your shoes,your car,your television ,your watch or your microwave. Most of the time these shops don't have a door to push they're directly open to the street what makes taking pictures easier. I especially love the hairdressers' shops with their vivid colors homemade decoration and old 70's furniture. I am also extremely fascinated by the religious images and objects you can see in all the shops. Especially by the omnipresence of "la virgin de Guadalupe"(the Mexican virgin).

Colors,all colors and any combination of color is another feature of this area. I so love discovering a pink house just next to an orange one or ladies who are not affraid to wear colourful clothes. I even discovered myself a passion for the walls of this area. They too come in different colors,they have messages and drawings on them. A big mouth full of decayed teeth to let you know that there is a dentist in this house or a smiling pig in a huge saucepan to advertise for a tacos restaurant. And they have something more in our tropical area, they are marked by humidity and their loosing fight against it. These damaged walls often make the most beautiful and interesting backgrounds for my pictures.

Walking in this tropical Mexican town , watching its buildings and its people its never ending activities, walking under its strong sun and being too hot, all this is strangely new and familiar in the same time. Familiar because some 30 years ago I lived in Teheran as a childd, where girls wore uniforms, where street vendors were everywhere, where I hated to go with my mom to the chicken shop but was fascinated by the darkness in the tailor's shop, where it was too hot and sunny all summer...And new because I left Iran to go to France when I was 10 years old and I never went back there, getting used to life in Paris. I got too used to the lack of color and music in the streets. I had forgotten about the tiny shops, I had forgotten about loud sounds everywhere, about people having all the time in the world for a chat, about people eating anywhere in the streets, about cars driving like mad and parking everywhere

My neighbourhood in Villahermosa is like a new place but one I've always known and loved.

1 response

  • Epin Hervin

    Epin Hervin gave props (11 Aug 2011):

    always love this story & the photo

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