Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Enjoying Poland

Wednesday marks one week into our adventures in Europe and so far I'm loving it!

After a full day of traveling (the DF to Paris to Berlin to Szczecin) we arrived in Szczecin, Poland where we stayed with wonderful host families. We had a concert at the castle, toured around and ate (too much) delicious food.

From there we went to Miedzyzdroje, Poland, which is on the coast. It's definitely a lot chillier than I would have imagined for a beach in the summer! Ice cream and waffles are the most popular treats and are sold everywhere! The other days the weather was nice but it didn't stopped raining all day today and the wind was so strong (aka various broken umbrellas).

Tonight we had our concert, in which 3 of the songs were also part of a competition. It was a slightly strange but very cool experience to be representing the UNAM and Mexico wearing an embroidered dress from Oaxaca, knowing that I'm not from Mexico but have called it home (away from home) for almost 3 years. The concert went really well and the crowd loved us! :) Two people from Szczecin showed up and surprised us tonight, including our host mom! After the concert we went to the  party with the other choirs. We sang Bésame Mucho and Cielito Lindo with the Polish choir and we joined them for a Polish song / dance. It's awesome how music (and dance) can connect people, even when there are language barriers.

Tomorrow (in a few hours really) we'll participate in the Sacred Music category of the competition before heading to Poznan.

More updates to come! (Though photos will probably have to wait until I'm back in the DF)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gala Concert and CD Release

Sunday June 16th the choir had our Gala Concerta and CD release at the Casino Español de México, a gorgeous building located in the Historic Downtown. 

We performed songs from Mexico and Latin America - both from the new CD ("Colores de Latinoamérica") as well as others. 

About 250 people came to hear us! I think my favorite part was that so many people had come to support me and hear the choir sing. I frequently have one or two people that come to any given concert, but this time there were various people and from different aspects of my life: from my Master's program, from Elon that happened to be visting, from the gym, from Rotary, and from my group of friends my first semester in Mexico. It made me so happing looking out into the audience as I sang and seeing friends dispersed throughout the crowd.

with friends from my Master's program,
after the concert

with friends from Elon,
after the concert

A big thanks to everyone who came out to support us! It means so much to me and the rest of the choir!

Dinner Concert

Thursday June 13th was the choir's Dinner Concert with Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita at the Azul y Oro restaurant in the Cultural Center of the UNAM. 

Chef Muñoz has four restaurants: Azul y Oro Centro Cultural Universitario, Azul y Oro Torre de Ingeniería, Azul Condesa y Azul Histórico. His bio (though it appears to be a few years old) on Cocinar Mexicano reads: 

A recent special issue of Time Magazine described Ricardo Muñoz Zurita as "a prophet and preserver of a culinary tradition." Former executive chef of Mexico City's Hotel Nikko, author of four cookbooks in Spanish, including an important encyclopedia of Mexican cuisine, Muñoz has been a tireless campaigner for recognition of Mexico as one of the world's leading cuisines in international forums. He is also the culinary genius and chef behind Azul y Oro, the innnovative cafeteria of Mexico's national university, in Mexico City.

You can read a review of Chef Muñoz's Azul Histórico restaurant here.

We started the evening off with a concert of about 30 minutes, featuring songs from Mexico and Latin America.

A (sous-chef?) gave an inicial explanation of the menu since Chef Muñoz was caught in traffic. 

Once Chef Muñoz arrived, he explained the menu (please excuse my sorry attempt to describe). We started off with black rice (with squid ink) and an abalone, which were flown in from (Ensenada?), Mexico. Abalone is an edible sea snail which Muñoz explained is somewhat rare (at least not a common dish to try) and can cost around $70 or $80 USD in Japan, where it's considered a delicacy. The main dish was steak (I don't know what cut) in a chipotle sauce that was tasty, though a little spicy for a wimp like me. Dessert was an incredible chocolate molten cake with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream on the side. Dessert was definitely my favorite part!

Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita

It was definitely a fun (and delicious!) evening! 

Axel's birthday

I went back to Maltrata for my little buddy Axel's 3rd birthday. This time I brought Rabea with me as well so she could meet my wonderful Maltrata family.

Friday afternoon we took a spin around town to show her the sights.

Alex "driving" 

Saturday we went into Orizaba. Rabea and I took Axel to see the animals by the river while Arturo picked up things for the birthday party.

When we got back it was time for the birthday party! Axel and Alex both love Toy Story right now. Axel dressed up as Woody and Alex wore his Buzz Lightyear Jacket.

I had brought a Buzz Lightyear piñata from the DF (there's a piñata store near my house with really well done piñatas). I knew that Woody was his favorite, but they only had large ones (like as tall as me!) and I thought that might be even more of a challenge transporting it to Maltrata. I chose the "small" Buzz and we covered it in a trashbag, with just his feet sticking out of the bottom, and hoped he'd make it in one piece. It kept reminding me of the scene from E.T. where he dresses up as a ghost. Fortunately he made it just fine, though Axel did ask me right away why I didn't bring him Woody - ha! They decided it was too cool to smash, so the boys have a new piñata buddy.

Axel gets shy in front of large groups, but eventually he warmed up to the crowd. There were two clowns and guest appearances by Sponge Bob and Winnie the Pooh.

the boys' expression crack me up in this one

They also smashed two (3?) piñatas (but not Buzz!).
piñata time!

Sunday we only had the morning to hang out with our little buddies before heading back to the DF.

I still can't get over how time flies! I met Axel when he was about 14 months old and have loved watching him grow up! Just for fun, below are photos from 2011, 2012 and now 2013.

August 3, 2011 (1 yr,  2 months old)
May 5, 2012 (2 years old) 
May 11, 2013 (3 years old) 

Taxco with the choir

May 3-5 the choir went to Taxco to give two concerts: Friday at UNAM's CEPE and Saturday in the Santa Prisca Church. This was my third time going to Taxco with the choir (read about the first and second trips).

promoting our 2 concertos (no, I'm not in the photo - it's an old one) 
Santa Prisca Church at night

view from the hotel

Saturday morning rehearsal
*Nira's photo

Saturday morning rehesarsal
*Elizabeth's photo

Santa Prisca Church

*Nira's photo

after Saturday's concert
*Elizabeth's photo