Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Goodbye Mexico, Hello Lorenzo

Last night in Mexico. Guanajuato city. Wonderful place with underground tunnel roads, serpentine above ground streets, colours and roving minstrals.

My beloved new nephew, Lorenzo Michael Recchia, born March 11, 2011.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sierra Gorda - The very very deep hole

Left at 4am atop two very impressive mules, accompanied by 5 dogs and a Mexican, up the mountain To the massive hole - 500 feet across and over 1000 feet straight down - YIKES! Awaiting dawn when the magnificent military macaws emerge noisely. Large magestic birds of lime green, turquoise blue and red. A stunning site.

Just a green fence in the very remote mountain village of Santa Maria de Cocos.

Sierra Gorda - Puente di Dios

Bridge of God

The terryifying part of the trail.

Sierra Gorda - Extreme Nature - Ayutla

Acamaya for supper. Fresh water kind of like a shrimp, kind of like a lobster. Muy Muy bien.

The Sun and the Stars Align

This is one of the beings watching over the entrance to the ancient ruins of Canada de la Virgen, just opened to the public after 12 years of excavation. On March 3, the sun set in exactly in the notch at the centre of this pyramid. Only a few people where invited to witness the event, believed to be a sign to begin the spring planting. One of the witnesses happened to have an ipod with an astromy app, which told him that not only was the sun perfectly lined up but also 3 planets. The archeologists did not expect that.

In order to build the pyramid here, the ancients traveled to the distant mountains that ring the site to calculate its positioning. Markings were found in these sites as well. Their precision was awesome.

The resessed courtyard at the base of the pyramid may have been flooded and used as a water mirror to study the stars without craning one´s neck.

The steps are terribly steep and shallow. Some say it was to facilitate the rolling of heads (literally). But also, this construction forces you to climb the steps sideways and with your head down, a position of reverence to the gods.

This is the temple of the wind, built like a whirlwind. My favourite part.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Aztec Conversion

Yesterday was a big festival officially commemoriating the Aztec conversion to Christianity. But to us it seemed to be about celebrating Aztec culture, drumming and dancing! There was a small ceremony with a black crucifiction and a moving ceremony in the church involving a skull, lots of incense, chanting, the blowing of a conch shell and other christian icons.

Meanwhile outside it was a party. Over 100 constumed dancers and drummers. It was deafening and exhilarating.

There were many men dressed in skull masks and\or animal heads. Skulls were very prevalent as masks, face paint, on dresses and flags. There were also some costumes with the Virgin of Guadalupe, sometimes with skulls next to her. Spirituality here seems deeply complex.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Strange and Wonderful Plants and Foods of Mexico

For my birthday we went to a cactus garden.

Besides cactus there are an aweful lot of these yellow-flowered acacia trees. We didn't take much notice of them until the night we went on a little night hike on the trail by the house. We kept passing by something releasing a beautiful perfume. We were searching with our flashlights to find what wonderous flower yielded this fragrance. After a while we figure out that it was the acacia trees. During the day there is no fragrance at all, but at dusk they transform into perfume factories. We love to sleep with the windows open and breath it in.

A quintinsential mexican still life.

Ok this may not look like much but it is. This is a gordita ('a little fat one'). It is a chubby corn tortilla, blue corn in this case, filled with spicey cheese, then cut open and filled with stews of meat, tomatoes, chiles, and sometimes cocoa. I eat them for breakfast every tuesday at the big open air market. My favourite trip each week.

Another delicacy from the Tuesday market, a deep fried whole fish. The teeth on this thing where fierce, we wondered if it was a piranha. Delicious.

Mexican Buses

We spend a lot of time in Mexican buses, an unexpectedly wonderful experience. If you look closely you can see the head of Jesus with a crown of thorns on the window of this bus. All of the buses have religious icons either the virgin of Guadelupe or an image of Jesus. I think they need all the blessings and protection they can get. Driving is pretty crazy here and the buses are not at their best. One bus, the bus we avoid at all costs, has a terrible list to one side which is terrifying when you are rounding corners with a cliff on one side. I am quite shy when it comes to taking photos with people in them, so this is my first attempt at bus pictures. They are quite colourful. One bus has a red velvet interior and ceiling with gold balls ever few inches. Todd says he feels like he is in a fancy coffin.

Here is one of the three madonnas at the San Miguelbus station. Quite lovely. I am really impressed with the bus drivers. Not only do they drive really broken down buses, and deal with agressive drivers, they are extremely generous always waiting for the people running to catch the bus, and stopping pretty much anywhere you ask them to. One of my favourite jobs in Mexico is the bus helper. The bus helper sits on a little stool next to the driver and collects the money, keeps track of where everyone is going, maintains eye contact with the passengers, signals driver when someone wants to get off, and jumps on and off the bus to announce the bus´s destination to the crowds at the bus stops, oh and they help you get your packages on and off the bus. A truly great service. My favourite bus helper is boy maybe 13 or so. He is terribly conscientious and never misses a cue to stop the bus, except when a certain beautiful teenage girl from the next village down from us gets on, then he can't keep his eyes off of her and you better walk tothe front of the bus before your stop comes up.

The other thing I love about Mexican buses is the variety of things being sold on the bus, from creams that will cure everthing, to crystal bracelets blessed by a saint, to songs and guitar playing. I notice that Mexicans take these bus performers and salesmen very seriously. They look closely over their wares and always pay for a good song. There seems to be a deep respect for professions here whether they are pursued on a bus, in a field, or in an office.

Todd's Mexican Life

This is where Todd spends alot of his time. El Charco. On a recent trip through the canyon with him we saw thousands of swallows leave a crack in the cliff face. It was very impressive. The Audobon Society here told us that it is rare to see that and many of them had nver seen it. How lucky we are!

Besides canyoning, Todd's other love is Mexican pastries. We don't know what any of them are called so Todd likes to make up his own names for them like the ´glazed paradise puff´and 'chocolate-covered exstasy'. Good thing we have to walk 4 miles each day just to get to town and back.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beautiful San Miguel

I would like to have a guardian angel on top of my house.

I adore the signs here. Most of them are hand painted or sculpted.

This tire store is my favourite.