Archive for ‘Churches’

July 5, 2011

Locos Parade

Every June in San Miguel de Allende, they celebrate the feast day of San Antonio de Padua with first, Rockets beginning at about 4am, followed by religious processions and masses and a full size carnival with lots of kiddie rides, ending a week later with the Locos Liturgy and Parade.

Ten years ago this parade lasted about twenty minutes and was a rag tag group of neighborhood youth dresses as indians, pirates, skeletons.. all the typical characters.

It has grown into a full blown thanksgiving style parade with whole neighborhoods spending the entire year creating colorful elaborate costumes around a theme.

They say about 10,000 people participate in it now.  They begin about a mile and a half outside of the center of town, ending up in the Jardin (the town plaza) to dance and have some fun. The parade itself takes a good couple of hours or more to loop through the town.

Here’s a video of parts from this year’s parade.
[vimeo 25984655]

And the slideshow

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

December 12, 2009

Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe

CLICK on this photo to view the video, Virgen de Guadalupe 2009

I think the saying goes
‘Let me count the ways’
And today, the multitude of ways they honor the Guadalupe, Lupe, Lupita, beginning at midnight with fireworks and a mariachi mass.

At 7am there is a rosary at the altar down the street, with singing, praying, tamales and atole.

Every statue in town is decorated, every statue is sung and prayed to. Many are carried through the town in arms, atop taxis, in nichos, carried by four women on litters that are covered in flowers. She is placed in doorways and windows, serenaded to by norteno bands, recorded music in the markets, and the people.

Her altars are decorated in gold lamé,
Red, white and green flowers and Christmas lights.
She is made from wood, paper,
Plastic, plaster, metal, clay and sequins.
Her image is on everything from notebooks
To curtains to car windows.
She resides in everyone’s home.
They believe in her with all their hearts.

In our neighborhood
Her altar is painted on a wall, decorated with flowers, bread and food. There is a rosary and singing after which everyone dresses up in their locos costume to party, eat and dance. There’s even a greased pole with presents at the top for the children to climb.

Click on the photo below
to watch the movie of how today’s day in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe unfolds.

CLICK on this photo to view the video -- Virgen de Guadalupe 2009

March 3, 2009

Palenque & Mayan Ruins

Last week
We hopped a plane in Mexico City
For Villahermosa and Palenque



Villahermosa is about 1.5 hours
From the jungle and Mayan ruins.
We landed, and took a taxi
As it was getting late in the day. 

We were immediately hit with
Moist jungle climate, our bodies sweating
From the moment we got off the plane.
The ride was smooth and uneventful
Arriving in Palenque town about 6pm.

From there, it was a 7km ride out to el Panchan,
A jungle village of cabanas which range in style
To concrete houses painted bright green
To screened in rooms with bunks
Or hammock campgrounds.

We stayed at Margarita and Ed’s Cabanas,
In the downstairs back side of the main house
We had a room with double bed and pink walls
Jungle ferns and red blooming flowers outside our window
The grounds were meticulously landscaped and clean
Inside the door, there is a sign
Which says don’t flush the paper in the toilets.

After settling in we wandered over to Don Muchos
A big restaurant underneath a large palapa roof.
The restaurant was filled with Europeans
Mostly German and French, with a big mix
Of  young people with dreadlocks and tattoos
Who were either passing through
Or living there permanently.

I ate the enchiladas with red sauce
Which was more like spagetti sauce
The tortillas folded in half over chicken
Rather tasteless to tell the truth.
After eating, we passed by the jewelry tables
And went to bed.

We arose early to eat and be off to the ruins
We sat down to eat at an outdoor food stall,
Named something that had to do with Monkeys
But weren’t served after 10 minutes
So we went off to Don Muchos again
For a rather uninspiring breakfast
Which was neither Mexican, Italian or American
And decided no more tasteless meals there.

We decided to walk into the ruins
Which are about a km walk
From the entrance to el Panchan
We bought our park entrance bracelet
For 20 pesos, and were on our way.
There’s a concrete winding path
With fallen coconut hulls everywhere
Everything seemed to be in bloom

Along the way
Are various jungle accomodations
Cabins, hammocks, campgrounds and hotels
Locals have homes within the park
And an elementary school
Resides in the middle of a field,

Schoolhouse in the jungle

Schoolhouse in the jungle

Children working and playing
Around a roof with two walls.

At the first entrance to the ruins
Is a large, modern museum.
Combi vans honk along the way
To see if you want a ride in
We bought our tickets
Walked in the first entrance
Which is a km long set of stairs
Set into the steep hillside
A gorgeous walk which meets up
With minor ruins along the way.

The main ruins site
Is set in a large, open grassy area
Which houses many large pyramids
Various minor excavations
Few of which are marked
To tell you what they were
You had to go out to the main gate
To read the sign board map for that,
Rather a flaw, we thought,
As we had no idea what we were seeing
Which didn’t matter really, as it was all
Ancient and beautiful and serene.

Here’s a slideshow of the ruins, palenque & El Panchan

CLICK ON PHOTO to view the slideshow

CLICK ON PHOTO to view the slideshow



We exited through the upper entrance
Passing colorful booths with local crafts,
Food booths, and the usual artistans.

July 16, 2008

Atotonilco – New World Heritage Site

Last Sunday we thought it was the weekend for the Feria de Atotonilco, and decided to go. Our neighbors Marta, Aron and their son Ariel went with us. Upon arrival, we discovered that the fair was not this weekend, but next – however, it was the weekly market day, and the arrival of a large group of pilgrims who are here to pray, do pennance and repent for the week.

Photo above: Aron (in black) Marta and Ariel

We entered town from the El Cotijo side, near the entrance to La Gruta hot springs along the back side of the town. There were many cars parked along the stone fence going into town. We walked along into town. Booths began appearing, covered in colorful plastic ‘lona’ tarps – the Sunday market day.

Atotonilco is known for it’s beautiful frescoes in the church, and this last week, along with San Miguel de Allende, Atotonilco was awarded the honor of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a great honor which will give international heritage status as well as much needed funding for restoration. Use this link to go to our tales from the road blog to see photos of the town, church and frescos.

The ceiling, walls and doors of this church are adorned with beautiful old paintings depicting religious and Hispanic scenes. The church also attracts about two million pilgrims a year, who we were told come weekly by bus, foot or car to be locked indoors for a week to pray, flagellate themselves (really) and do penance for their sins here on earth.

Atotonilco is locally famous for it’s statue of Senor de las Columnas, depicted below as Christ leaning over an urn, with disciplinas (for flagellating) wrapped around his waist and neck, bloody and tired with three gold rays, his halo.

The statue of ‘el senor’ makes the annual pilgrimage of about 10 km to San Miguel de Allende, overnight, every Easter for the Semana Santa Processions, arriving two weeks before the event and enters the town on a mile long flower filled street. To see photos of this, follow this link

Outside in the market, you’ll find religious paraphernalia – disciplinas, large, small and in key chains, hand made by local artisans, and worn by all the pilgrims –

Along with Cd’s that have images under resin of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, San Judas Tadeo to name a few – plus rosaries, gilded plastic frames with images of santos, religious cards —

Crowns of thorns
made of wood and thorny spines from the bisnaga cactus – and hand made veils made of net and flowers which the women pilgrims, young and old wear during the week of prayer.
Everything you need for the passion play.

And you can also buy an array of items for daily use –    

dishes, plastic goods, food, plants or a beautiful sequined purse like John is showing here.





The food booths are selling botanas – Enchiladas, tortillas half dipped in chili salsa, fried rolled and filled with chicken and fresh cheese – gorditas, big fat tortillas rolled into a ball, cheese and chili inside, patted into a disc that is fried, then cut open and filled with meat, potatoes and corn – tacos with meat or nopales and cheese and carmelized onions. Down the way you can buy a nieve – iced milk or fruit in a variety of flavors, mango, chocolate or vanilla, zapote, limon, fresa or sandia.

Musicians wander in groups, find an area to stand or sit and play typical Mexican music with guitars and accordians.

Most of the crowd are pilgrims from ranchos and villages all over Mexico who still wear traditional clothing –

Women in colorful satin dresses, some wearing capes with crosses sewn on them and many wearing a mixture of traditional and modern clothing and hats – all of them wearing disciplinas, ready for their week of prayer and pennance.
I have to say, that coming into town, was like going back in time to another world of people, still steeped in traditional values, clothing and reverence for god. We were unaware upon arrival, that Atotonilco, while being famous for it’s beautiful church, is also a pilgrimage site for two million pilgrims per year, many of whom come from villages that still maintain traditional ways of living, and who you see here.

At 5PM the pilgrims will go to the back of the church where the doors will be shut to the outside world for a week. They will be fed and basic needs taken care of while they reflect.

The windows and doors of the church are all open today
, shedding light throughout. Groups take turns kneeling at the altar to cross themselves and pray. Women are crying as they pray. Tourists wander about with cameras taking pictures of the frescoes, statues and architecture. The wood floors are mosaic designs, and the wood entrance to the doorway worn down from years of footsteps passing through.

There are retablos of the stations of the cross and other religious stories painted into the doors and walls of the church and vestibules contain Santos to pray to. We were told that because of the new UNESCO World Heritage status that the market booths which surround the church in the center of town, and which have probably been a tradition for as long as the church has been standing, will no longer be allowed in front of the site after this year. The fair, which is a local event, will most likely be flooded with tourists. The status comes as a mixed blessing, bringing restoration, money and tourism to the town, but will surely change it’s nature in the coming years.

Go to: Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

Photo below: Ariel & me

© All rights reserved, 2008, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art
January 1, 2008

San Miguel Viejo

This week we rented bicycles, after being told by a friend that there are trails out of San Miguel into the countryside, around the lake, to the hot springs and around the campo.

Click on the last photo to view all the photos of our ride into the countryside and the original chapel of San Miguel de Allende

For those of you who have never been to San Miguel de Allende, it is a hilly (often steep) town with rock cobblestones on most streets. Neither of us had ridden a bicycle in a few years and the rental company was at the top of town so our first 10 minutes of riding was on bumpy rocks (more commonly and thought of as ‘charming’ cobblestones). Straight downhill.

We were weaving back and forth, like little children new to bicycles, and had to wind our way down Canal street, past the bus station on the way out of town, down to the train station and off into the countryside.

Once outside of town we were on more bumpy roads going past very small enclaves of houses, and eventually into San Miguel Viejo where San Miguel was founded by Fray Juan de San Miguel in 1542, a part of the Antiguo Camino Real, the silver route from Zacatecas.

Once inside San Miguel Viejo, we had to keep asking directions to the original church (chapel) of San Miguel, and discovered this little gem of a church near the lake. Although the doors were locked, we were able to photograph the nativity behind the altar

through the keyhole, as you will see lin the photos in the slideshow.

Click on the photo below to go to the full slideshow

© All rights reserved, 2007, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art


Go to: Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

June 15, 2007

Corpus Christi San Miguel de Allende

The procession for Corpus Christi, June, 2007

© All rights reserved, June 2007, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

March 27, 2007

Semana Santa 2007

The procession of Senor de las Columnas

from Atotonilco, to San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende, Sunday, March 25th

The all night procession of the statues of Senor de las columnas & the Virgen de Dolores (mary of sorrows) leaves Atotonilco and travels by foot, all night long to to San Miguel de Allende, where it ends up on Avenida Independencia, where the statues are unveiled.

At 4 am, the statues arrive in San Miguel to an array of fireworks, rockets, music and people. Avenida Independencia has been carpeted with greenery, flowers and paper decorations.

The fireworks are persistent from 4 am on and no one can sleep, so the streets begin to fill with people who await the walkers from Atotonilco.

At 7 am the procession begins, with Judas, Roman soldiers, Angels, priests and the statues follow.

Senior de las columnas – Jesus, bloody from flagellation, leaning on an urn and mounted on a frame that is laden with flowers, carried by local parishoners.

Followed by the Virgen de Dolores, Mary of sorrows. She is wrapped in a deep purple velvel cloak, and carried on a pallet of flowers, with a group of women to hold her long cloak, following behind her.

Other statues and saints follow

As Mary passes, the people fall in behind, and the procession becomes less a parade than a participatory event with everyone walking, singing, praying together.

For about a half mile, the procession route is lined with floral arches and is decorated to the sky with balloons, flowers and garlands, cut paper decorations, both hand made and purchased

As the route heads into town to the San Juan de Dios church, the symbolic crown of thorns is represented by the welcome arch at the entry to San Antonio Abad, the final route to the church, where the statues will reside, and be carried throughout the town during the two weeks leading up to Easter Sunday.

As the procession moves through the streets, people gather the flowers & paper decorations and carry them to the church to be placed around the statues.

The entry is carpeted with colored sawdust and flower murals, awaiting the statues, priests and parishoners

At the front of the procession are small girls dressed as angels.

The bishop, priests and altar boys follow

Roman soldiers

El Senor

La Virgen de Dolores

Men from the campo singing Ave Maria

Upon the arrival in the church courtyard, purple and white confetti is thrown from the church towers

The statues are lined in the courtyard while mass is given

The people are gathered to hear mass and celebrate

© All rights reserved, April 2006, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

January 29, 2007

The Frescos at the Iglesia in Atotonilco

The Frescos of the sanctuario at Atotonilco

more to come..

© All rights reserved, April 2006, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

January 7, 2007

Christmas, Posadas & the Markets

December 2006

The christmas markets

A typical home nacimiento — fills a room or corner of the home.

Fireworks at the market place

Our neighborhood posada. Each night one family hosts the posada. A family member from the home carries the statues through the neighborhood, going home to home, looking for a place to stay.

At each home, a song is sung, and from inside a response is sung back.

At the final home, everyone is let in for refreshements, and there are pinatas every night for the children.

The photos below are of a public posada, given by four Orphanages of San Miguel de Allende. All of the children are dressed in costume, with animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, going home to home.

Mary & Jesus


and pinatas for all

the boys keep their goodies in their hats

A neighborhood posada, winding it’s way through the streets.

The Parroquia, with a public procession in the back of a pickup truck, and people walking behind singing.

© All rights reserved, January, 2007, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art