Monday, December 12, 2011

Pastorela and Posada with Rotaract

Saturday I attended, for the second time, a Pastorela and Posada with the Ciudad de Mexico Rotaract Club at Fundación Renace.

Fundación Renace is a treatment center for alcoholics and drug addicts and the patients range from children to adults. They've been open 5 years in the current location and were in another location for 8 years before that. Over the 13 years they've received around 36,000 patients

The day started with the pastorela: a skit, whose tradition goes back to colonial times when the Spanish used skits to evangelize/convert the indigenous. The pastores or common people are always faced with a dilemma and there is an angel(s) and devil(s) who try to convince them to choose the good/bad option. There's a battle between good and evil and good always wins.

Afterward, the guys of Rotaract led the activity of the piñatas (complete with blindfold, singing/chanting,  and the eventual breaking of the piñata and stampede for candy), while the girls prepped the food. We made guajolotas, which is a tamal sandwich (tamal + bread = carb overload!). There were tamales with salsa verde (green salsa), rajas (a type of chili pepper), and mole as well as sweet tamales

Once the 2 piñatas had been broken open, everyone ate the guajolotas and drank atole. It was the first time I'd tried a guajolota -- very filling, but tasty. Since I started by asking which were more or less spicy, they gave me a sweet tamal so I wouldn't have to worry about it. 

guajolota made with a sweet tamal


Before we left, everyone received their aguinaldo, a bag of candies/treats. 

We had a guided tour to see the facility and learn more about how it works. The building used to be a public bath house, so it's a bit odd. They had remodeled the medical attention section since last year and it looked great! 

To read about last year's Pastorela and Posada, click here.

Family's Visit: Queretaro

While my family was here we took a two-day trip out of the DF to visit the state of Querétaro. We took a (very nice) bus to the capital, Santiago de Querétaro.  

on the bus to Queretaro 

view leaving the DF of houses built up the the mountain

Once in Querétaro we did a walking tour and two trolley tours to see and learn about the city. 

statue of a danza de los concheros or
danza azteca dancer 

Casa de la Corregidora, where planning
for Independence took place

Casa de la Corregidora

The first trolley tour was focused on the aqueduct. 

juggler in traffic


back in downtown

back in downtown

The second trolley tour went to the Cerro de las Campanas, or "Hill of the Bells." It gets its name from the many rocks that have metallic elements in them and therefore sound like bells when hit. This is where the Maximiliano de Habsburgo, Emperor of Mexico, was executed along with Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía for being disloyal to the country. A chapel was built in honor of Maximiliano and, in order for the hill to not be a remembrance of Maximiliano, a gigantic statue of Benito Juarez (president after the empire/French rule). 

Benito Juarez 

chapel dedicated to Maximiliano

Teatro de la República 

downtown Querétaro 

downtown Querétaro 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

As I'm working on my (last!) final essay, I can hear fireworks going off outside as an anticipatory celebration of tomorrow (or I suppose within a few hours at midnight).

December 12th is the Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe) and one of the most important days in México. It celebrates the day that the Virgen de Guadalupe appeared to the indigenous man Juan Diego and the miracle occurred in which her image appeared on his cloak (or tilma).  The Virgen de Guadalupe is an incredibly important figure in Mexico, in part due to the strong Catholic influence throughout the country and the ties to prehispanic heritage and beliefs.

People from all over the country make a pilgrimage to the Basilica. In fact, in one of the news stories about the earthquake last night, it mentioned that the earthquake had temporarily halted the pilgrimage but they resumed shortly afterward. They start days in advance, with many people making the final approach to the Basilica on their knees. Apparently some people who, over the year have been granted requests made to the Virgen, prepare and give food to the people on the way to the Basilica. For those who don't make their way to the Basilica, there are also celebrations in towns throughout the country.

I won't be doing anything special this year, but click here to read about last year when I went to the Basilica.
Or visit for more information.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Earthquake #2

Tonight I experienced my second earthquake. The first one I felt was back in May and, well, the second time around I'm still not a fan.

Reports are saying it was between 6.5 and 6.8 (depends on who's reporting), with the epicenter in the state of Guerrero. It was also felt in Oaxaca, Puebla, Colima, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Morelos and the State of México. So far reports are saying that in the DF there are 30 neighborhoods without power, but no reported injuries.

This one felt a lot stronger than last time and lasted a lot longer. Last time it stopped as soon as I figured out what it was. This time I realized the room was shaking, I moved from where I was, and still had time to watch the lamp and mini Christmas tree shaking with my roommate. From what I've seen online, it lasted about 42 seconds - but it felt longer.

Apparently earthquakes were reported in Indonesia and Japan within the same hour.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Diego Rivera

I like today's Google Doodle, celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Mexican painter Diego Rivera's birth.

Google Doodle Dec. 8, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Choir: Esti Dal

Choir singing Esti Dal (Zoltán Kodály) at the 6th Anniversary Concert in San Ildefonso. 

Choir: Se equivocó la paloma

Part of Se equivocó la paloma (Carlos Guastavino) from our 6th Anniversary Concert at San Ildefonso. 

Choir: Agnus Dei

Look what I found on Youtube! Here's a video of the choir singing Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei from our 6th Anniversary Concert at San Ildefonso.

Family's Visit: Birria, Tlalpan and La Llorona in Xochimilco

On Sunday my family went to Birria Michoacanísimo for lunch. The family-style tables fill up on weekends and the sound of conversations mix with norteña music from the live band (pay-per-song) and probably a soccer game on the tv as everyone enjoys their birria (stew made with goat meat) and beer. This is one of the places where, whenever I visit, I'm reminded "I'm in Mexico. I live here." 

birria -- a stew made with goat meat

prepped with onion, cilantro, lime
and salsa and ready to be eaten

flan for dessert

and pineapple icecream in a pineapple! 

the family at Birria Michoacanisimo 

From there we went for coffee and to explore quaint downtown of Tlalpan. 
(And apparently the only photo is of the cream liqueurs we tried and what looks like the police coming after my dad -- he wasn't. You can see a few more photos of Tlalpan from a previous visit here

That evening we went to Xochimilco, one of the delegaciones in the DF, which is famous for it's canals and trajineras. It's the "Venice of Mexico," but with history and traditions dating back to prehispanic times. On any given day, you can rent a trajinera (including the "driver") and enjoy the leisurely ride, eat/drink (with food or drinks you bring or purchased from venders in canoes or trajineras along the canal) and be serenaded by a mariachi band (pay per song of course). 

(For photos and a video of my visit to Xochimilco last year click here and here).


This particular evening we went to see the show La llorona. We took trajineras out to an island, were we watched the performance from the boat. According to our "driver", there were 80 trajineras (each seating about 20) that took people to the show. Along the canals we bought ponche (a hot fruit drink; it can also include alcohol but ours did not), atole (a corn-based drink) and esquite (corn mixed with mayonaise, cheese, lime and usually chile) from venders also in trajineras.  

La llorona is a popular legend in Mexico and other Latin American countries. While there are many versions, this show told the story of an indigenous woman who fell in love with a Spaniard. They marry and have children, but one day he must return to Spain. Once he is gone, the woman is raped by another Spaniard. In her grief and rage, she walks into the lake with her children, drowning them all. She is said to haunt the nights, dressed in white and wailing and crying for her children. 

show La llorona

show La llorona
After the show, all 80 trajineras making their way back to the docks would have been enough to cause traffic -- but there was another show after ours and trajineras going both ways along the canal! While slow (and chilly!), it was a bit entertaining to observe the dynamics of traffic jams with trajineras