Monthly Archives: October 2013

Guanajauto and the Cerventino Festival…

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I think of Guanajauto as an up and down city, full of twisting back streets and little lane ways.  It’s shaped like a bowl…with the historic centre in the middle of the city and the colourful houses creeping up the hillsides around it.  Five hours north of Mexico City by bus, it’s a manageable size of about 200,000 population.  Much of the traffic travels underground in a maze of tunnels that were originally used for water flowing from the mountains around.  This allows for many streets to be pedestrian only.guanajauto 025

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Guanajauto is a wonderful city to explore on foot.  Walk up or down one of the lanes and you’re likely to find a cosy little restaurant …guanajauto 022

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with some entertainment strolling through…or you may come across one of its numerous plazas, usually with a fountain in the middle.

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Its reported that this fountain is the oldest in Mexico.

There is alot of street food to be found at all hours, but it seems to thrive after hours.  Tacos, tamales, tortas (sandwiches), gorditos ( thick tortillas stuffed with egg, meat, cheese, etc….guanajauto 015

Also lots of beautiful flowers available in street stalls.

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Guanajauto is the birthplace of Mexico’s most famous painter…Diego Rivera.  A museum in his honour displays his home, and the largest collection of his artwork.  guanajauto 013

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The 41st annual Cerventino Festival is happening from October 9 -27/13.  It is a wonderful mix of dance, theatre, all kinds of music, art etc…with over 3600 participants from 31 countries.  This year Uruguay is the featured country and Puebla the invited state of Mexico.guanajauto 004

There are many theatres, museums, and outdoor spaces used as venues.  Theatro Juarez, the opera house, is the largest and the place to hear Verdi or Wagner presented by several orchestras.

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Many events are free of charge such as Explanada de la Alhondiga that presents a different act each night.guanajauto 027

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The University stairs are used for a nightly showing of Mexican films, with a huge screen set up at the bottom.guanajauto 007guanajauto 029

There is also a nightly showing of Opera Movies; and the University Cineclub has daytime showings of older Mexican and American movies, all for free.

I saw Daniel Viglietti, a Uruguayan singer and political activist perform / he was involved with the New Song movement in the 60’s and 70’s and has played with Victor Jara and Violetta Parra, activists from the Chilean revolution. guanajauto 046

His concert was at Ex Hacienda de San Gabriel de Barrera..a beautiful museum and gardens.guanajauto 054

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Throughout the Cerventino Festival there is alot of street theatre, and music is heard everywhere.guanajauto 078guanajauto 083

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And there’s lots of kissing in the streets here as well.guanajauto 028


A Refuge in Mexico City

Casa de los Amigos, founded in 1956,  is a Quaker Center for Peace and International Understanding.  Centrally located near the Monument of the Revolution, the work of the Casa involves a community center and Guesthouse along with many social justice mexico city 004

programs.  The Casa occupies a spacious historic building that formerly was the home and studio for the muralist Jose Clemente Orozco.

This is my second time to stay in the Casa’s guesthouse.  It offers clean, affordable lodging in the female dorm; as well it has private rooms; a kitchen for cooking, wifi,  and a library.mexico city 009

The female dorm has a private balcony; a place to dry clothes or mexicocity 004

sit in the sun.

I enjoy the international community of the Casa.  Every sunday there are potluck dinners, other times new friends share some of their mexico city 002

delicious food. A common kitchen is available for everyone’s use.mexico city 001

The Casa offers a Volunteer Program for anyone able to commit between 9-12 months.  The volunteers work in the Reception area, cooking breakfast, and many other areas.  Its a great opportunity to learn Spanish, be involved in social justice issues, and make new friends.

The Casa works with partner organizations, including ‘Without Frontiers (Sin Fronteras), and the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.mexico city 009 mexico city 008

The Casa offers housing to refugees, migrant, and asylum-seekers.  Casa volunteers work to educate the community about the roots and realities of migration.  Since the daily wage is so low, there is alot of movement in the country to find employment.  The Casa raises money for this program through the sale of home-made jams, etc.  This money buys food for the migrants passing through on the trains.

To contact Casa de los Amigos, go to:

From Mayne Island to Mexico City…

From a community of 1000, to a city of 20 million is quite a shock.
Since the last time I was here, it feels like the number of cars in Mexico City has doubled. Traffic everywhere is heavy at all hours.mexico city 005
But the drivers have entertainment at the stop lights…a clown to wash your windows.mexico city 002

A new addition to aid transportation throughout the city is the Metro-Bus….it’s like a Metro…but a bus above the ground. It has four different lines that go virtually everywhere the older Metro goes, including the Airport.mexicocity 003
The Metro-Bus at 6 pesos is twice the cost of the Metro. Even with the extra cost, it still is jam packed full at rush hour.

The two things the working class can afford tend to have the longest lines… buying tickets inside the Metro and buying their daily supply of tortillas.mexico city 006

One can buy many things along the street…from luggage..mexico city 159
to juice and fruit salad..mexico city 007

Saturdays are a day of Tianguis and Football. Throughout the city, the tianguis, or markets are busy selling fruits, vegatables, great Oaxacan cheese, etc…mexico city 016mexico city 021mexico city 019
..and the Mexicans do love their Chicharrones (deep fried pork rinds)..mexico city 025

Saturday football games are loudly played on every television found in every bar and restaurant throughout the city…and even televisions on the street…mexico city 032..its so popular.

Reforma Avenue, a wide street with impressive buildings, leads you to the Historic District. mexico city 174

There are bike lanes for riding the Eco-bici bikes, that are available for rent throughout the city.mexico city 009

Bellas Artes, a beautiful historic theatre housing Diego Rivera murals and the Mexican Folkloric Ballet is worth visiting.mexico city 189

Condesa, is an upscale neighbourhood with many cafes, restaurants, galleries, etc.mexico city 013mexico city 014

Wandering through there, I came across a wonderful art exhibit at a government building. This was an exhibit from the Mexican School of Down Art, started in 1993 by the John Langdon Down Foundation, to work with artistically talented people with Downs Syndrome. mexico city 025mexico city 027mexico city 028
Wandering about, one can find many wonderful little art galleries.

One thing I’ve noticed about this city is…love ..or lust is in the air at all times…couples openly kissing, madly hugging, oblivious to others. mexico city 004

Many things to discover in a city this size…

A Mexican Birthday Party

My grand-niece, Zoel, turned one on Sunday. It was a big day for her. In the morning, she was baptized; her god-parents bought her a beautiful baptismal outfit and she looked like a little princess.zoel 015

In the afternoon was her birthday party.
About 40 family members came to help her celebrate. Her large extended family filled the hall with colorful balloons, etc.zoel 005zoel 111

Lunch was served first; tortillas, Pico de Gallo, salad, and beer. The the games started. Finger painting for the young children.zoel 120zoel 117
The young ones also enjoyed playing in a pool of coloured balls.zoel 129
The older kids had fun playing on the trampoline.
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The highlight of the party was the two pinata’s full of candy. Maki-maki was Zoel’s favourite cartoon character.
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Two guys had to stand on the roof to pull the rope for the pinatas.
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Everyone had a turn hitting the pinatas with a strong stick, from the youngest first to the strongest. When it finally broke, there was a mad dash for the candy – young and old alike.
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Zoel’s parents with another of her favourite cartoon characters.
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The finale of the party was the cake and party favours.
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And Zoel blowing out her candle.
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A grand party for her first birthday.