Archive for ‘Travel Stories’

January 8, 2012

Molcajete Bubbling Meal

This is something everyone should try some day.
A bubbling hot molcajete dish with arrachera, chorizo, fried cheese, avocado, onion and nopales in tomatillo sauce and cilantro. Serve with tortillas, a beer or a margarita!

December 9, 2011

Virgen de Guadalupe

Last night was the 6th Novena for the Guadalupe in our neighborhood. Each day more people come and live music arrived on the fourth Novena. (Video below)

Don’t let the peacefulness of it fool you or make you nostalgic for simpler times because once it got started, about 30 boys under 12 showed up.

Half of them went down into the arroyo behind me to play soccer and yell, lighting sparklers that caused a raging bonfire, causing every rooftop dog to bark like crazy while everyone recited prayers and sang and ignored the cacophony.

The rest of the boys stood in front of me pushing and shoving each other around for fun, their mothers slapping at them as they ducked away. By the end of the night, it was almost an old time religious revival with people singing, clapping and dancing, every bit of it heartfelt with love.

These novenas are a crescendo building toward the big party they have at the end, you can feel it coming.

If it’s anything like last year’s party on the 12th, it’s going to be fun, locos and all.

© 2011 Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

September 28, 2011

Festival of San Miguel

Pilgrimage of San Miguel to the Parroquia to be blessed for the upcoming town celebration – The Festival of San Miguel 

[vimeo 29683174]
This Weekend’s Festivities:
Midnight Friday:  Procession of the estrellas to the Parroquia for las mañanitas
4 a.m Saturday:  The Alborada and fireworks in the Jardin
2 p.m Saturday: Parade of los monos to the Jardin to be blown up
5 p.m Saturday:  The procession of the Xúchiles and dancers
9:30 – 10 p.m Saturday night: Castillo fireworks in the Jardin
11 a.m. Sunday: The big parade of dancers up Zacateros, around town and to the Jardin
9:30 – 10 p.m Saturday night: Castillo fireworks in the Jardin

Throughout the day the Voladores perform in front of the Parroquia

July 21, 2011

Museo Antropologia

Mexico city




January 1, 2010

Seven Deadly Sins

In Queretaro, there is a nacimiento in the main plaza – four blocks filled with larger than life Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the three kings bearing gifts, walking along with their elephant and white horse. There’s the annunciation, with Mary and the Archangel Gabriel, a menagerie of animals surrounding the manger, shepherds and towns people, a garden of Eden – not just a little garden but complete with a lake, flamingos, water birds and a naked adam and eve.

On one side there are statues of families breaking pinatas, women in nostalgic Mexican dress in the kitchen cooking, a forest with bears and wolves. But not to be outdone by the worst of them all – the seven deadly sins depicted as super size devils, some with their heads in the ground, only their feet and legs dangling in the air, the rest as the seven deadlies – Greed, Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, as shown in the slideshow below. What can I say except only in Mexico will you see the Virgin Mary with naked Adam and Eve, and the seven deadly sins depicted as devils – and bigger than life at that – in a Christmas nativity.

Click on the Devil to view this community nativity.

The Nativity and the Seven Deadly Sins -- Click on the photo to view the slideshow

December 19, 2009

Castillo Fireworks

Click on the photo to view the slideshow and fireworks movie

Thursday night, near the mercado Ignacio Ramirez, the final event of the celebration of the Virgen de Guadalupe was held. Vendors food booths and people filled the streets. The Virgin’s altar was in full bloom, the procession of women carrying a wood nicho on a litter of flowers, and singing Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, had just arrived, followed by a lineup of followers who are served tamales and atole.

Castillo fireworks, which in this case include the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe who will be burned up in flames at the end of the evening, are being assembled in the street, roped to the surrounding buildings. It is a raggedy but self assured group of men from Guanajuato climbing around these towers, tying rockets, whistlers and vueltas. Grupo La Tuna Provinciana de San Miguel de Allende, dressed in black velvet shakespearan costume continue on from the women carrying the litter with Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, one of the many songs written for the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is song you would probably recognize, widely sung by mariachis, norteno bands, school children and women carrying statues, whenever the Virgin is present.

As the evening wears on and the crowd has had it’s share of pozole, tamales, enchiladas, gorditas, hamburgers and fries, the rockets begin. Roman candles are lit off in the middle of the street one after another from a triple iron stand, watched by it’s owner who counts the number of booms by bobbing his head and looking up in the sky after each one. The rockets are followed by the lighting of the first side of the castillo, popping and crackling as the first fuse ignites.

The banda Risuena, dressed in shiny silver suits, decked out for the occasion, begin playing a cacophany of songs and drum rolls, accompanied by trumpets, trombone, clarinets, providing music for the display. After all these years, I still don’t quite get the banda music, which in local groups include the youngest of children to the old guys who have been practicing for years but sound like they can’t hold a tune. But over time, even I can hear the difference between the local neighborhood groups and the professionals. One thing for sure though, if there is a banda, there is a party, and they are there to help it along.

CLICK ON THE PHOTO to view the movie

The photos of castillo fireworks towers don’t really do justice to the feeling they create in the street while they are going off all over the place, sending flames and paper into the crowds. Up until about three years ago, young boys, from ages five to about thirteen, were allowed to run under the falling sparks, wearing cardboard boxes over their heads and backs, a rite of passage that is no longer allowed here in San Miguel. Nevertheless, these are thrilling fireworks to watch in person, something impossible to compare to anything you’ve ever seen in the U.S. and certainly nothing you would ever be allowed to watch from 25 feet away.

Click on the photo to view the song

As for the subject of this post, Buenos días, Paloma Blanca, here is the Grupo La Tuna Provinciana singing the song, with the words to follow along below. Click on the photo to view the video.

Here’s the words, which kick in mid-song:
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca

Hoy te vengo a saludar.
Saludando tu belleza
En tu trono celestial.
Eres Madre del creador
Y a mi corazón encantas
Grácias te doy con amor
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca.

Niña linda, niña santa
Tu dulce nombre alabar.
Porque eres tan sacrosanta
Hoy te vengo a saludar.
Reluciente como el alba
Pura, sencilla y sin mancha
Qué gusto recibe mi alma!
Buenos días, Paloma Blanca.

Que linda está la mañana
El aroma de las flores.
Despiden suaves olores
Antes de romper el alba.
Mi pecho con voz ufana
Grácias te da, Madre mía
En este dichoso día
Antes de romper el alba.

Cielo azul yo te convido
En este dichoso día.
A que prestes tu hermosura
A las flores de María.
Madre mía de Guadalupe
Dáme ya tu bendición
Recibe éstas mañanitas
De un humilde corazón.

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.

January 11, 2009

Where All Those Cantera Stone Carvings Come From

Many of the carved Cantera stone figures
Architectural details, columns and canales,
Saints, angels and fountains
Come from a small town
In the Queretaro mountains
Adjacent and a few kilometers away
From the town of Pedro Escobedo,
In a town named Escolasticas.
A rose amidst simple round column shapes, Escolastica, Cantera

John had gone there with his boys
Two Christmases ago and wanted to go back.
We hopped in the car with Richard & Chris,
And were off to see if we could find
This remote town on our own.

Escolastica lies in the hills,
About an hour outside of Queretaro.
The highways are good and it’s easy going
Until you get to Pedro Escobedo
Where you know you have to turn.

The highway makes a detour
To main street, where you can buy
Tacos, chicken, baskets, groceries
Visit with your neighbors, buy eggs,
Get your car washed or find a taxi.
But there isn’t one sign for the road to Escolastica

Studio at Escolasticas

About four blocks down,
I unroll my window
Ask a man on the street
If he knows the road to Escolastica.
‘Hijole’ he says (like oh God!)
He motions around in a circle
Tells us to go left, then left, then straight
And keep going.
Which of course leads us exactly back
To where we were.

We go left, where there is a line up of taxis
We ask the lead driver if he knows the route.
He tells us to go left, then left and straight
Todo direcho – keep going straight
And you’ll get there.
Wall insert of a lion, Escolasticas, Cantera
It looks like a dead end to nowhere
So we head back up the highway road
Thinking once we get out of town
There will be a sign.
As we leave town, we realize the map says
That the road is not outside of town
But somewhere in the middle.
We turn around again and John
Stops a gas truck to ask a third time.
The driver tells us, “go past the light, three streets
Turn left and keep going.
You’ll see signs for la Lira
Then Escolastica.”

This works, but it doesn’t look right
A cobblestone road, barely rideable
Past old buildings that look like
Abandoned stone jails.
But soon there is a sign for la Lira,
A town, and down a little street
That doesn’t seem like it can go anywhere
Then across the ‘highway’
Really, a small two lane paved road
Which leads us 7 km more into Escolastica.
You know you are there
When you start seeing things like the carvings below
And when a car goes by, or the wind blows
It picks up all the stone dust and blows it around
Drying out your face and throat.

Griffin figure, Escolasticas, Cantera

As we arrive, there is a long stretch of nothing but carvings
Then a long stretch of town, which is surprisingly large
Followed by a stretch of countryside
With a few studios, carvings behind wire fences,
Then a long stretch of big workshops
Where they cut the large pieces
With saws that have teeth that are an inch and a half long
Whose cuttings, mixed with water hit the wall beyond
Making an image the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Large saw with carbide 'dientes' Teeth, Escolasticas, Cantera

There are carvings of every imaginable shape and style,
Angels, virgins, saints, monsters, soldiers and mermaids

And architectural features and forms
Canales that look like animals, along with simple plain ones
You can imagine water flowing from their mouths

Jaguar canales, Escolastica, Cantera
Sitting atop blocks and cylinders of stone,
with carved pillars at top

Men fighting beasts
Where would one put something like this?

Roman soldier and the minataur, Escolastica, Cantera

Angels of all kinds

Angel holding flowers, Escolastica, Cantera

In the midst of what appears to be a dirty, dusty, unkempt, disorderly
Group of workshops, you’ll find inside
A very neatly arranged tool bench

Tools of the trade, hand carving tools, Escolastica, Cantera

A workspace worthy of the piece they are working on,
A large round rose that will go in the top of a church
Carving a rose, Escolastica, Cantera

Next to the calendar girl that normally adorns the workshop wall
But there are no walls in these workshops
So she is bound to the telephone pole

Every shop has one of these, or something similar, Escolastica, Cantera

Roman, Christian soldiers on chariots
Are surrounded by birds and fountains
And we all started singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’

Roman soldier in a chariot, Escolastica, Cantera

A rustic hacienda style,
Low palapa roof home
Sits at the back of one workshop
Guarded by a life size lion
Shaded by a large tree
In a garden of cactus.

Click on the photo below
to view the slideshow

Shady studio with large lion, Escolasticas, Cantera

Go to: Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art


© All rights reserved, 2009, Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art

October 8, 2008

Festival of San Miguel

Festivals and rituals
Are taken VERY seriously,
Historic and religious beliefs
Are acted out in public passion plays,
The many faces and times of Mexico
Are featured in this festival
The Aztec dancers, local Indios,
Homage to San Miguel Arcangel
In the form of floats with young girls
Acting out San Miguel slaying the devil,
Baby angels all around.

The battle of the France against Mexico
Fought in the streets
The youngest to the oldest participate
And a trance is created
With three days of drumming, pounding
Dancing Singing, rockets and fireworks.
Pilgrims come by the thousands
On foot, horseback, and carried by others
To watch, participate, pray, sing,
And just have a good old time.

Here is a slide show of John’s 25 favorite photos:

Click on photo above to start the slide show

Saturday –

1PM – Chinelos in the San Juan de Dios Market
On our way into town
We ducked into the outer entrance
To the San Juan de Dios Market
We could hear a banda
Bandas are whole stories unto themselves
Groups of locals who play traditional,
Fun, lively, out of tune, almost Cacaphonic music.

Then the colorful costumes
Made of velvet, sequins and embroidery
Hats made of upside down lampshades,
Velvet with swinging strands of colorful beads
Men wrapping their heads in scarves
Dancing and jumping around
Where the tortilla ladies usually sit.

Chinelos Dancing

Chinelos Video

From the market we wandered up the streets
Which were uncharacteristically quiet
Just a few men on horseback,
A few parade people, carrying costumes
And the transito police talking to each other

1:30pm – a pilgrimage
From the ranchos outside of San Miguel
They wander in on the Salida de Queretaro
They have walked six hours
120 on horseback
1000 by foot
Waving flags and carrying altars
Singing traditional chants,
wrapped in shawls, wearing baseball hats,
carrying children.

2pm – the blowing up of the Monitos
The horses make a procession out of the Jardin
Followed by chanting pilgrims.
A pickup truck drives in, filled
With paper mache dolls, called monitos,
Or little monkeys.
They stand on a round frame
Built from bamboo.
They are decorated with……….. more to come…

The Voladores (for now, see our previous post from last year’s festival)

The Parades -Below – The slideshow of parade photos
click on the photo to begin

Slideshow of Parade Photos

The Dancers


Go to: Dos Mujeres Mexican Folk Art


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