"...He prayeth well, who loveth well, Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best, All things both great and small;
for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all..."

The Rime of the Anchient Mariner -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Viva Mexico 2010

A few highlights to cover since my last blog post.
1) My field trip to Ciudad Guzman in Jalisco Mexico:
I had a great time there & one of my best days so far was the feeling of getting to the top of a dormant volcanoe & hearing the sister volcanoe rumble (ok, it could have been thunder too)--breathing at 11,000ft/4,000m really is hard! Basically, they made the top of the dormant volcanoe a National Park (Nevado de Colima); they are working to implement methods to prevent errossion. caused because the area was logged in the 80's (before it became a national park), so while logging is no longer permitted they still have cattle from the surrounding areas whose owners allow them to roam the National Park--illegal cattle grazing. The owners get fined only after the damage is done (cattle are very destructive)...so the answer is never easy, but this national park does make a good effort to educate the visiting public.

2) The Mexican Bicentenial:
Someone told me this was the event of the century in Mexico, but another person told me this is the way Independence day is celebrated every year. Either way, it was an event of epic proportions. It's difficult to explain in words b/c there was so much going on, but I will attemp.

Mexicans celebrate their indepence on Sept 15th by gathering in their town's main Plaza & at 11pm, when the mayor or govornor leads the crowd in shouting "Viva Mexico" and the crowd shouts back "Viva!" (actual indp day is sept 16th)

We knew the Plaza de Armas in Queretaro would be get so crowded that walking would be impossibe, so we staked out out spots in front of the main fountain, where we sat for 6 hours. We witnessed the lighting of the torch that was to be carried by runners to our sister city 65km away. Then, we had live orchestra music until the main event @ around 10:30. At 9ish I decided I had to use the bathroom, which turned out to be one of the worst mistakes I had made in a long while. By the time I got back, the plaza was so packed that walking through it was impossible. It took me nearly an hour and a half to make it back to my group...but I almost didn't make it. People were snearing at me and I'm really lucky I didn't get hurt. Anyway, I was so happy to make it back I hugged the first person I saw (Dan Evans, the Peace Corps Country Director). So I reclaimed my seat on the fountain, and then the festivities started. The crowd, the snycronous responsive shouting, the music, the AMAZING fireworks display snyced to the music, and being around all my friends (b/c all our group ended up finding us & we had the best spot to congregate around)---now picture all of this for a full 20 minutes.

That sets the scene, here's a video from one of my fellow Peace Corps Trainees John Dye:

Then I came home, and my family was celebrating w/ awesome food & music, and best of all my 65 year old host-mom out danced me & out lasted me that night. I went to bed at 2:30am.

I'm not used to having this much fun!

3) I visit La Catrina!
Ok, not really,...but really.

First let me explain that Mexicans give the manisfestation of death 100+ names and it is represented as a female figure and the most common name is 'La Catrina.' The names range from gods of the prehispanic cultural eras to common names of modern day culture. The names and characterizations are female because in the indigeonous cultures, it was thought life started nine months in the womb and that death was the return to womb/mother earth (i think there were nine levels to death too). So death was not feared, rather it was the natural course of life and the continuation of life...so Mexico's Day of the Dead is a celebration of the lifecycle of those who have died (not as macabre as I had thought before it was explained to me).

My host family happens to live two houses down from an actor who gets hired every year to dress up as La Catrina. He's been doing this for about 11 years and has made a business combining his passion for graphic design and his passion for acting, seeded in Mex culture and folklore, by opening a store that sells shirts/mugs/jewlry/bingo/decks of cards/magets etc all of which have his interpretation Las Catrinas. Meeting him was a real treat, and we ran into him on the street this afternoon...so I know a celebrity. Check out his website at: http://www.calakitas.com.mx/

4) Bernal, Blue corn gorditas & Bubblee:
I returned to el Pen~on de Bernal to hike up to the 3rd largest monolith in the world...I thought to myself, I'm pretty outdoorsy for a girl who is not outdoorsy. Then afterward we visited a champaign winery (even though they call it bubbly wine b/c only bubbly from France can bee called champaign). We took a tour of the caves where the wines & champaigns are fermented. Mariachi's, a bottle of Brut & Rose`, & friends--it was nice.

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