Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Skating and other adventures

Today was attempt #2 at iceskating and fortunately -- after a few hours of wait time -- we were successful! We got to the Zócalo around noon and waited in line for about an hour to get our bracelet and time -- and the first available time wasn't until 5:30pm! (It was strange waiting in line for iceskating in December and yet the sun was so strong I got a bit sunburned!) 

So we decided to stay in the area. We toured inside the National Palace (Palacio Nacional), which includes the President's office, the Federal Treasury and the National Archives. There's a museum with the various versions of the Mexican flag and historical maps/paintings/artifacts from the Spanish conquest to present day.  We also saw the Hall of Presidents, with the various presidential portraits, and the president's office, dining room and other (very extravagant) rooms. Apparently it was not open previously to the public, but was opened this year for the bicentennial. 

I couldn't take pictures in most of the rooms, but did get these shots: 

Diego Rivera's mural depicting Mexican history


From there, we went for food. After waiting for about an hour before finally getting soup and dirty silverware, we gave up and grabbed McDonalds to eat in line for SKATING!

I enjoy iceskating and it was neat to be surrounded by the Catedral Metropolitana and the Palacio Nacional. Skating was a bit of a challenge with so many people -- including those going at various speeds and falling all over the place (and of course the steady stream along the wall), but definitely fun!

Día de La Virgin de Guadalupe

Group dancing in front of the new Basilica on Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Dec 12). 

Vacation time!

I was so focused on finals that when I woke up Friday I realized I had no plans for the next few days. Funny how that works -- because it turned out to be a very busy and very fun few days.

From Friday to Monday I:

  • Went to a dinner party that also included a gift exchange (a surprise of real/gag gifts -- I ended up with 2 joke gifts) 
  • Attended the pastorela/posada hosted by Ciudad de Mexico Rotaract Club at Fundación Renace
  • Went out to lunch with Rotaract members
  • Checked out the lights in the Zocalo and, after a failed attempt at iceskating, went for dinner and salsa dancing 
  • Visited the Basilica on Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, along with some 5.5 million other people
  • Attended a going away dinner party
  • (did laundry, cleaned my room and other not exciting things)
  • Had a coffee date with a friend in Coyoacan
  • Picked up a few last Christmas gifts 
  • Met up with a new friend for tacos 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ... in Coyoacan

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ... in Gustavo A. Madero

On my way to and from the basilica (which is located in the Delegación Gustavo A. Madero), I passed this Christmas-y scene: 

Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe

Sunday (December 12) was the Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe (Day of the Virgin Guadalupe). La Virgen de Guadalupe (also known as Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is a Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary, Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image, and the Patron Saint of Mexico. Both Miguel Hidalgo (during the War of Independence) and Emiliano Zapata (during the Mexican Revolution) carried flags bearing the image of la Virgen de Guadalupe. 

According to the story, an indigenous peasant named Juan Diego saw a vision of a young woman on December of 1531 on the hill of Tepeyac. She asked for a church to be built on that site in her honor, and then Juan Diego recognized her as the Virgin Mary. He told the local bishop, who wanted proof of the story. Juan Diego went again to the Virgin Mary and she told him to collect flowers and bring them to the bishop. Although it was December, when he went to the top of the hill he found it covered with flowers. He collected the flowers in his cloak and brought them to the bishop. When he removed the flowers, the image of the Virgin Mary appeared on Juan Diego's cloak. 

From 1519-1521, a temple of the mother goddess Tonantzin at Tepeyac was destroyed and a chapel dedicated to the Virgen was constructed on the site. Newly converted Indians came to worship there, but continued to direct their worship to Tonantzin.

On December 11 and 12, millions of people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica, including people from all across Mexico. The news reported that 5.5 million people visited the Basilica yesterday. Lots of people go in groups and I saw various people carrying statues of the Virgen de Guadalupe or with a picture of the Virgen tied to their backs. The plaza was filled with groups dancing. They looked like the Aztec dancers I've seen in the Zócalo -- with drums, shell bracelets on their ankles, feathers, etc-- but I can't explain the connection. I'm assuming people spent the night (11th to the 12th) in the plaza. Some people had set tents up or had marked out their space in corners of the plaza. 

a group entering the Plaza, carrying banners with the
image of the Virgen de Guadalupe

the plaza filled with dancers  

dancers in the plaza

dancers in the plaza

tents in the plaza

dancers in the plaza

not sure the explanation -- but people walked/jumped
across to the other side of the rope with a group
of people dancing below

the original Basilica (Antingua Basilica de Nuestra Señora Guadalupe),
now Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey

inside the old Basilica

inside the old Basilica

inside the old Basilica

candles inside the old Basilica

inside the old Basilica

inside the old Basilica

inside the old Basilica

inside the old Basilica

view of the new Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,
with dancers in front

inside the new Basilica

in the new Basilica

entrance to the museum 

climbing Tepeyac Hill

view of the old Basilica from Tepeyac hill

Panteon del Tepeyac

Chapel on top of Tepeyac Hill, where Juan Diego
saw la Virgen 

"In this place, at dawn on Saturday December 9, 1531,
the Mother of God spoke for the first time with Juan Diego.
On the afternoon of that same day and at dusk on
Sunday December 10 she spoke again with him.
The morning of December 12, Juan Diego
collected from this site the roses that became part of the miracle." 

temple on Tepeyac Hill

inside the Temple on Tepeyac Hill


Templo del Pocito

Antigua Parroquia de Indios