Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dia de los Muertos - Coyoacan

Happy halloween! Here in the DF there's a strange mix of Day of the Dead and Halloween. Obviously right now there are lots of ofrendas, marigolds, candy skulls, etc for Dia de los Muertos, but I've also seen Halloween decorations, people dressed up in costumes (Fri, Sat and today) and kids carrying orange plastic pumpkins. A friend from Mexico said that when he was growing up (in Veracruz, not in the DF) there wasn't much influence of Halloween. If people dressed up, it was as La Catrina, La Llorona, a skeleton -- things relate to Dia de los Muertos. Now Halloween has become much more popular and, at least for the younger generations, intertwined with and sometimes associated with Dia de los Muertos. 

Today I went to Coyoacan and saw:

Ofrenda in the centro of Coyoacan

An installation representing souls of deceased migrants 

Skeletons playing various childhood games

Ofrendas representing the canals and trajineras in Xochimilco

the Chocolate and Pan de Muerto Fair

lots of food mostly representative
 of other Mexican States

Chapulines (grasshoppers) -- I tried one. Not terrible, but not my favorite

We ate pan de muerto filled with chantilly, a tamal with mole, hot
chocolate,and a drink from Chiapas made with cacao, corn and cinnamon

Sugar skulls and other Dia de los Muertos treats 

more skeletons -- El Pachuco 

the paleta (popsicle) seller


Alebrijes are (according to Wikipedia) "brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures." The Museum of Popular Art hosted a parade of giant alebrijes last week and, while I missed the parade, I went to see them lined up along Paseo de la Reforma.

Dia de los Muertos - Zocalo

The Zocalo has lots going on for Dia de los Muertos. On Saturday afternoon there was:

  • a huge "Arbol de la Muerte Florida"
  • various displays and ofrendas 
  • people making "pan de muerto" (the typical bread for Dia de los Muertos)
  • an elaborate stage/structure with a cirque du soleil-style performance
  • Aztec dancers
  • and a ton of people! 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Observations: Part 5

Observations, courtesy of Jeff, my first visitor in Mexico
  • Tacos -- "they're like good fast food"
  • They show TV programs on different networks (like a Fox game on ESPN) and use the US feed with Spanish text overtop (so it says "vivo", but has the advertisements for US programming)
  • There's a lot more trees than I expected
  • The cops use revolvers and keep the bullets on their belts 
  • There are videocameras at the front entrance to a lot of the houses (at least in the nicer neighborhoods
  • Even when it's hot out in the middle of the day, there are people wearing heavy coats  

    Jeff's visit: Dia de los Muertos at UNAM

    Friday we visited the UNAM campus -- and got to see more than we expected!

    Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an important celebration in Mexico.  November 1st is for infants and children who have died and November 2nd is for adults who have died and it is believed that the souls return to earth on these days to spend time with the family. Unlike in the US, where the topic of death is more likely to be avoided, here the lives of the deceased are remembered and celebrated on these days. Families build ofrendas (altars) for the deceased, usually with food and drink that the person liked. Marigolds (cempasúchitl) are used to lead the souls to the altar. 

    Right now there is a "mega ofrenda" all throughout the "islands" (commons) at UNAM, with ofrendas built by the diferent facultades (departments/schools) as well as high schools associated with UNAM. 

    Jeff's visit: Teotihuacan

    Tuesday I skipped history class to go see some history. We went to Teotihuacan, known mostly for its Piramide del Sol (Sun Pyramid -- 3rd largest in the world?) and Piramide de la Luna (Moon Pyramid). It  was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

    Jeff's visit: Zocalo and the Historic District

    Monday we wandered around the Zocalo and the Historic District. (Once again I messed up on days -- most museums are closed on Mondays!) I've already posted photos previously of most of what we saw. However, we did a tour of the Catedral Metropolitana in the Zocalo, so I'll share a few of those photos.

    The Zocalo, like much of the city, is sinking (since Mexico City is built on a drained lake).
    They add/remove dirt to try to even out the buildings, but this measures the tilt of the floor.

    Statue of Pope John Paul II

    ...made out of keys

    Chile en Nogada

    I'm a little late on this one, but I finally tried (and have a photo of) Chile en Nogada! It's a typical dish in the weeks surrounding Independence (possibly because it's red, white and green?). It's a poblano chile filled with a "picadillo" (mixture containing chopped or ground meat, fruits and spices) and topped with a walnut-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. From what I could tell it had nuts, pineapple and raisins mixed into the meat (though I've seen online it can have apple, pear and peach).  A friend ordered it in Tepoztlan and let me take a picture and try a bite! 

    Jeff's visit: Tepoztlan

    Sunday we went to Tepoztlan, which is a small town in the state of Morelos, most famous for the temple on top of the Tepozteco mountain. 

    Tepoztlan has been named a "Pueblo magico" (magical town) by Mexico. (Apparently the title was revoked in 2009, but restored in 2010??). 

    The guidebooks said the hike is a challenge, but friends had said it was easy. Unfortunately, the altitude was killing us, making the hike a bit of a challenge. 

    cat chillin in the sun

    mural made of seeds 

    mural made of seeds 

    pitaya "nieve" -- yum!