Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Check out photos at Flickr to see some glimpses of our travels through Mexico, which involved: home-made mezcal in a cantina in Morelia, a clackety rental car with many deficits, cool old fashioned thermal baths in Ixtapan de la Sal, insanely narrow cobble stoned streets in Taxco, insanely petrifying cab drivers in Acapulco, several unanticipated hours at a quiet beach in Pie de la Cuesta, and too little time at the glamorous old Hotel Francés in Guadalajara...
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
... or, "slaquera." I just made that up - it's not real Spanglish...
It's been so long since I posted that I bet anybody who was reading is now fed up with the lack of posts and has left my readership forever. But oh how I hope not!
The photo of this post is from Paracho, another town we visited on our tour near Pátzcuaro (the same one with the horses). Paracho is known worldwide for its fine guitar craftsmanship. The main street is lined with dozens of guitar workshops...
Today I had the last of my final exams. It's been agreed upon amongst all of the students I've talked to that this year was definitely more academically rigorous than last. Or at least taxing. I'm glad to say that I'm now officially free! (Until fall term, that is.) I was very happy with my two classes taught by a local professor here - Mexican short stories from the revolution forward; and Mexican muralism. Both classes have spurred my interest and I'll definitely be geeking out on Mexican history once I get back.
It's been one of those semesters in which I leave feeling like I've just got so much more to learn... that's the best way to end, I think. Inspired. And a little bit overwhelmed also.
And now the travel adventures begin:
Brett flies down tomorrow and meets me in Morelia. I'm so excited! We're renting a car and driving to some hot springs/mud baths near Morelia, then Ixtapa de la Sal (toward but not all the way to Mexico City); then south to Taxco - I am soooo excited for charming Taxco, which I've always wanted to visit; then to the coast, Acapulco; then up the coast to Zihuatanejo and back to Morelia.
So we'll be traveling and I'll probably not post again til I get back to the states. But rest assured, I'll take lots of photos and share them with you afterward!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Today I visited an amazing site: Paricutin. It's a volcanic field that used to be the towns of Paricutin and San Juan Parangaricutiro until 1943, when a farmer felt the earth shake and then saw a crack in the earth appear before him. Within days, a volcano erupted. A year later, the town was covered in lava. Nobody in the towns died, and the people relocated to a nearby location. (The whole story can be found if you click on "Paricutin" above - as well as some pretty terrific historical photos.)
Now, what's left of the old towns is the remains of the church of San Juan, jutting out of lava rock. Our group rode horses down into the rocks surrounding the ruins (Mariachi, my horse, liked to gallop), and then we walked around and in the caverns of the church. The smoke from nearby barbecued corn filled the air, and our voices echoed around the rocks. Check out the photos on flickr. I left feeling exhilarated and amazed...
Today we also went to a Parque Nacional and Paracho (a town famous for guitar craftsmanship). Now I'm back in wet Morelia.
I still smell like Mariachi.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Today we came to Tzintzuntzan (with ruins of the Purépecha and a market with amazing woven crafts), Pátzcuaro (a charming little cobblestoned town on a lake of the same name, known for its "nieve" or ice cream) and Janitzio (an island famous for its Día de los Muertos celebrations). Check out my flickr site for photos.
This photo is Janitzio. We walked from the dock up to the top of the island, back and forth up steep, windy alleys. At one point we all decided that if we run away someday and hide from everyone we know, this would be the perfect place.
At the moment I need to vegetate - I'm writing from the Fiesta Inn where we have an amazing shower, TV in English, and room service. Aaaaahhhhh!
More adventures tomorrow... I'll write an update.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
One of my classes focuses on looking at Mexican identity through the study of murals (in Spanish, "muralismo") - in particular, the works of Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We saw lots of murals in DF and Guadalajara, and next week we'll be taking excursions to check out the murals here in Morelia.
Here's the work I'm going to write my essay about: Nuestra Imagen Actual by Siqueiros. This was painted near the end of period we're studying (1922-1947), in which muralists were strongly supported by the state. It's actually not a mural but a painting of a man with a stone for a head, opening his hands as if asking for something. It seems to me to be Siqueiros' response to 25 years of muralists exploring the question of Mexican identity. So, this is what I'm going to be pondering for the next few days...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
One of the best things about all countries of Latin America, in my opinion, is the abundance of public spaces that people actually spend time in. Families, couples, and just about everybody hangs out in plazas and parks, at cafes... I just posted some photos of Morelia's evening activities. The dancers are doing "La Danza de Los Viejitos" - a traditional dance from this state, Michoacán - they wear very loud cloppy shoes and dance around really fast, wearing silly (creepy) masks.