Category Archives: mexico

Chiapas and San Cristobal de las Casas

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The morning sky was usually beautifully bright blue and clear…with rain in the afternoons.  San Cristobal is at an altitude of 2100 metres so it can be alittle cooler there as well.

You see people of many different indigenous groups throughout the city; with their variety of native dress.san christoble de las casas 082san christoble de las casas 098

Many of them are selling things to the tourists …..and some dont like to have their photo taken….and hide their faces….

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Two interesting places to visit are the Mayan Museum of Traditional Medicine….

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And Cisco, an american who started an Orchid rescue sanctuary over 20 years ago…saving many orchid varieties that otherwise would have been destroyed from the deforestation.

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Why I went to Mexico…

222      ZOEL………

I came to meet the newest member of our family – my grandniece Zoel and help her celebrate her 1st birthday….zoel 089

…and her baptism…

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And meet the many members of her  large family in Mexico…

Zoel's AbuelitaZoel’s Abuelita….

zoel 186…her papa and Tia Gladys and Edith (who love to spoil her)

Her Godparents and Parents

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….and many other members of her extended family in Mexico.  She is very much loved by all.

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Dia de los Muertos – November 1&2

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San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas,  is where I experienced Day of the Dead.  It didnt offer the special activities found in Oaxaca or Patzcuaro; but I found it interesting enough.

Throughout the city, every restaurant, hotel, store,  public place, etc set up beautiful alters in many different forms.  They all included flowers, fruits, and other food, and a photo of the deceased person being honoured.040043 san christoble de las casas 038san christoble de las casas 064

Families take this time to visit the grave site of departed family members.  It is a time to clean the grave, freshen it up, etc.  I visited the only cemetary in San Cristobal which almost seemed like a small town with the many buildings there.  Unlike the majority of our gravesides in Canada, here there are some very elaborate structures.027014

Everywhere there were fresh flowers.022

A few families were visiting on the gravesite, sharing food, etc.031

One family even had some live Marimba music and dancing.017

In San Juan Chamula, a traditional town nearby, to commerate Day of the Dead, they keep the church bells ringing for these two days.070

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I volunteered to help pull the bells, but was told no because I was a woman.100

Halloween is celebrated almost as much as Day of the Dead in San Cristobal.  For several days prior, there were children trick or treating, parades in the main streets, etc.             san christoble de las casas 103

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Day of the Dead was a special celebration to experience and very much brought to mind my own departed family members.

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The Colonial City of Merida, Yucatan

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Merida has many beautiful colonial style buildings.  As well there are many for sale or rent, some needing upgrading.yucutan 051

The main cathedral located in a large plaza that is always busy with lots of street food, entertainment, etc.yucutan 055yucutan 052

I was fortunate to be there during the Mayan Festival, with many free cultural events in the many theatres there – art, dance, music, theatre,  I enjoyed seeing the Mexican National Ballet presentation,

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One of the highlights of my stay was the wonderful swimming pool at my hostel, Nomadas, centrally located – a great deal for ten bucks a night.

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Our pool was just as nice as the $100/night hotel next door.  The garden in the hostel was beautiful as well…a sanctuary for iguanas and gods…merida 018

The hostel offered a variety of activities…salsa lessons, yoga, trova music in the evening and a wonderful cooking class providing a dinner for only $1.50.  I learned how to make a delicious pumpkin sauce from Daniel, our chef instructor who studied cooking in Toronto.  merida 041

Even while travelling, I still have to do laundry, usually by hand…yucutan 033

and to keep the costs down, grocery shopping which offers new things to try…yucutan 043yucutan 044

I took a side trip to Sisal, a sleepy beach town on the coast about an hour from Merida.  I went to check out a beach house for rent.yucutan 066yucutan 061

Somehow it felt alittle too sleepy….but cheaper than the Mayan Rivera.yucutan 068

Valliodad and Isla Holbox, Yucatan

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From Leon, I flew to Cancun and then took a 3 hour bus ride to visit a friend, Manon, living in Valliodad – a town of approx 45,000.  A very mexican town with few tourists, I enjoyed sitting in the park around the corner from my friends house, watching the families in the cool evenings.  The children liked riding in these little cars that could be rented there.

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My friend rented a lovely little colonial house for very reasonable rent.

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We visited the San Lorenzo Cenote – sinkholes found all over the Yucatan penisula.  Some are at ground level, and others deep in the ground, with stairs to get to the water.

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From Valliodad, I went next to Isla Holbox, on the northern tip of the Yucatan penisula.  Chiquila, the place to catch the ferry was a little out of the way.  It took a bus, taxi collective, bicycle rickshaw, and another bus to reach there.

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A little boy had a good business running to the store to buy us beer while we waited for the boat to leave.

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The Tribu Hostel where I stayed had some interesting artwork on the walls.  merida 012

Unfortunately it rained and the flooded streets were difficult to navigate, so I only stayed 2 nights.

Back on the bus to Merida – 5 hours with some entertainment.

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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:

http://www.casadelosamigos.org