Thursday, June 14, 2007
There is always some cultural, musical, or artistic happening in this city.
Here is video of these dancers enjoying the state orchestra playing in the Plaza Independencia, everyone was having a wonderful time!
Saturday, June 2, 2007
This city has a crew of the most detailed aware and conscientious street cleaners imaginable. They even pick out the tiniest bit of trash from the landscaped trees and flowers. Each morning they wash and rinse the streets, and this is in addition to each shopkeeper who keeps the space in front of his store clean and also washes down the sidewalk each day. But even more than this there is a consciousness that garbage is a blot on the beauty of the landscape.
I have always eaten extremely well in
Thursday, May 31, 2007
there was an orchestra that combined traditional instruments with Mexican/Caribbean instruments and a dance group with dances from all over Mexico(the dancer is balencing a glass of water on her head, this is part of a dance from Veracruz)
Having just come down from the Sierra Gorda, I was pleased to find that there was a celebration going on in Queretaro with people from the towns in the Sierra Gorda. There was food, artisianas, music and plays all to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of the Bio Reserve to Mexico and the world.
Video of the dancers! /short clips from google video
Traditional Jalisco dance
Traditional dance from Veracurz
the semi desert , ocotillo and cactus
The bus ride from Xilitla to Jalpan and then on to
Sorry, I digress, back to the bus ride. I decided that I was on the bus, and there was I was nothing to do but to enjoy the ride, in this case being fatalistic was the only option.
Leaving Xilitla, you pass through very tropical, shade grown coffee country, reminds me of
Then on to
Quote from CNN article
"Obese and overweight adults went from nowhere in 1990 to 62 percent in 2000," said Barry Popkin, an economist and nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, citing a Mexican government study. "You are talking about an astronomical increase coming at a very fast rate and it's continuing."
Quote from CNN article
All is not well in the Sierra Gorda read more here
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
From Aquismon I went to Xilitla, which is in the mountains where coffee is grown. The bus trip to Xilitla was fascinating, seeing the landscape change to very lush, tropical vegetation with lots of coffee growing under the canopy. The town itself is not very large, and it is probably best known as being the location of Los Pozos, the incredible surrealist sculpture garden creation of an eccentric Englishman who was said to be the illegitimate son of King Edward. From his mother he inherited a huge fortune and hung out with the surrealists in
I spent the night in Xilitla at a house centered around a garden that was converted into a small hotel. The next morning sitting in the garden, drinking some local coffee, I was watching two kinds of hummingbirds battle over the territory of the hummingbird feeder. One type, the smaller species appeared to be the same kind we have in NC, the ruby throated, but the other was at least twice or three times as large. However the smaller hummingbird was much more aggressive and an aerial battle ensued. They got so involved in the battle they ignored me, and a few times actually flew and tumbled, brushing the tip of my nose with their wings.
The day was bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and the walk was not that far, so I did not bring my raincoat. But I should have remembered this is a jungle.
I was close to Los Pozos when the rain began, so I took shelter under the palapa of a coffee finca (farm), asking permission from the coffee workers, of course. I waited for about 20 minutes, during which time the workers brought me some lichee nuts, and then went on the gardens.I spent most of the day there, saw incredible butterflies; my favorites were the iridescent blues. The combination of the surreal sculpture and lush jungle was mysterious, beautiful, and strangely compelling.
Friday, May 25, 2007
an image from the Tenek culture (Huasteca)
Stories from the ¨real ¨Mexico. Resides helping me practice reading in Spanish, and finding out what interesting events are happening where I happen to be, local news is fascinating. The newspapers that cover lots of very small towns in an area report in great detail about the good and bad in these small towns. I was impressed at the willingness of the people in the town to make complaints or give compliments to the mayors of these villages. It would appear that is a lot of personal participatory democracy going on with some good and bad results.
For example, I read a story several days ago when I was in
The local police were called to break up two 80 plus year olds who were hitting each other. It seems that one elderly gentleman was visiting the town where he spent his youth and encountered the other elderly gentleman who had lived there his entire life. Well it seems that cause of the mano a mano was that 30 years ago, these two were rivals for the same women (now dead 30 years!) and as soon as they saw each other, old blood ran hot with the memory of the rivalry.
Another story, this time from C. Valles.
The Polica Preventiva Municipal (local police) was called to let out a man who had fallen asleep on the tomb of his mother, and thus was locked in the cemetery when it closed for the night. The article said the man was borracho (drunk) which also led to his falling asleep. Apparently all this made him confused that the police where there to arrest him when all they were going to do was let him out. He ran back into the cemetery saying ¨a los vivos son a los que tengo miedo, los muertos no hacen daño¨ which translates as it is the living that I fear the dead can do no harm. The police laughed and left him to spend the rest of the night in the cemetery.
The newspapers that cover lots of very small towns in an area report in great detail about the good and bad in these small towns. I was impressed at the willingness of the people in the town to make complaints or give compliments to the mayors of these villages. It would appear that is a lot of personal participatory democracy going on with some good and bad results.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
From Taninul I went to Aquismón, a very small town between C. Valles and Xilitla. It was EXTREMELY hot, even the locals were suffering. My hotel had air conditioning, but even so it was warm. I spent some time in the local library reading the magazine Mexican Archaeology, very interesting and well written and researched magazine. The librarians were interested to hear that I was a retired librarian. I made arrangements with a guide to take me to sótano de las golondrinas the next morning at 5am. This is a huge sinkhole, one of the deepest in the world, which is home to thousands of swallows and parrots which exit the sinkhole every morning and return each evening.
Ok, then, my impressions..... I have a short video clip, which I will try to upload to Google Video, at some point.
My guide came by right on time at 5:00 am still dark of course, a very polite and very careful driver. We drove for a short distance on pavement and then for about 45 minutes or so up rough dirt and rock road. It was still dark when we got to the sinkhole where a family that acts as guides and caretakers of the entrance to the sinkhole greeted us. Had some cafe de olla and chatted and then took a short walk (although it seemed longer in the dark) to the sinkhole. I did not get any closer to the edge than a few feet, of course we could not see the bottom, but could hear what sounded like a large waterfall running somewhere very deep. However, what I was hearing was the sound of the swallows and the green parrots. At first light the exodus started a few swallows and then lots of very talky green parrots. Then lots more swallows and parrots. I was expecting all the birds to exit, but the guide said that the birds enter and exit all day long, with the birds that left early returning with food for the young birds in the nests deep inside the sinkhole. The structure of the sinkhole was such that the birds circled repeatedly, each time getting slightly closer to the surface, finally to burst forth and fly close over our heads. However, the returning birds dropped like a rocket heading for the bottom, I could hear the whistle of their wings as they plummeted.
The young man who took me to the sinkhole was in absolutely no hurry, I got the impression that he would have waited as long as I wanted and my driver, was sleeping in his truck, so he was not concerned about the time. We stayed for about 2 and half hours and then walked back to the entrance. The young man took the time to show me all the plants that could hurt you and all the plants and flowers that could cure you.
The trip back down the mountain was beautiful, saw a family herding sheep and goats and a few very small, isolated settlements, but for the most part the jungle seems to be relatively intact.
This was an experience that was well worth getting up early for, I got the impression from my driver that except for Easter week and a few other times, this site is very little visited, and certainly my experience as the only visitor to this incredible site was a
This area is called the Huasteca potosina. the indigenous people here wear very different clothes from the Náhuatl or the Otomi. I was told they speak Tenek and that it is related to the Mayan languages spoken further south and east in Mexico but I did not hear any native speakers.
From Wikipedia:The Huastecs were unusual as one of the few cultures that attained civilization and built cities, yet usually wore no clothing. They were admired for their abilities as musicians by other Mesoamerican peoples.
About 1450, the Huastecs were defeated by the Aztecs. ; the Huastecs henceforth paid tribute to the Aztec Empire but retained a large degree of local self government.
The Huastecs were conquered by the Spanish between 1519 and the 1530s. With the imposition of the Roman Catholic faith, they were required to don clothing.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
1, video of the dancers
I walked for a long time and I think I saw all the beautiful architecture that I wanted to see, the temperature was perfect and the people seemed relaxed and prosperous. I saw evidence of this in the number of status breed dogs, and the only sign I have ever seen in Mexico, asking people to pick up after their dogs. However, on one short block, I also saw the only prostitutes that I have ever seen on a public street, this was about 2 pm in the afternoon, and the street did not appear to be different in any other way.
The tourist office is friendly and efficient and they give out lots of information and great maps. I found out here that was going to be a ¨danza¨ in one of the public squares. Lots of people watching and lots of people dancing, it was beautiful. Most of the dancers were elegantly dressed, and the dancing was superb. Of course, I did not dance; white girls don’t have rhythm, por menos esta gringa no tengo ritmo nada!