And the band played on

…and on and on and on until the wee hours of the morning.

With all hoopla going on in Taxco last night and today, it might be easy to miss a quieter but much more important celebration happening down the street and in communities around the world.

Conmemmoracion, Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico

The night before he died, Jesus celebrated his last Passover meal with his disciples. He shared bread and wine with them as symbols of his body and blood to be poured out (with his death) on behalf of all those who put faith in him and the value of his offering his perfect human body as a ransom for our sins.  This act provides all with the hope of attaining life as God originally purposed, living forever in a Paradise earth. As he passed the bread and wine to his disciples, he said to them, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

Tonight, after sundown, is the anniversary of that momentous event. If you value the ransom Christ paid for our sins, I invite you to attend the commemoration nearest you. To learn more and for a full list of locations in communities near you, around the world, click here.

Millions around the world will attend. Will you be one of them?

Mexican Traditions — Semana Santa — Taxco Style

Boom, Boom, Boom       Boom, Boom, BoomBoomBoom                                             

That is the sound of Semana Santa, “holy week,” in Taxco de Alarcon, Guerrero, Mexico — a spectacle like no other. Probably one of the most revered of all celebrations in Mexico, Semana Santa, like many Mexican celebrations incorporates elements of pre-Hispanic cultures with Catholic traditions.

Starting on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, with the traditional blessing of the palms, most houses, shops, taxis, and combis are adorned with woven palm frond crosses and other designs. For days ahead of time, indigenous people sit  in the shade of church domes and on the side of the calles, weaving simple and intricate patterns in the stiff grass.

The streets, especially the main cobblestone calle that winds through town and past my house, are filled with the devout, proudly parading their church icons to the zocolo downtown. With its 1500s colonial period whitewashed walls, red tile roofs, and cobblestone streets, Taxco has the  atmosphere of a medieval fair, minus the castle walls, with makeshift silver shops, souvenir and food stands popping up everywhere there is an empty room or a few feet of space.

Every night there is a procession or more than one. Don’t even think of heading downtown unless you are willing to walk the miles jostled by the crowd — no  vehicles of any kind are allowed, not even taxis or combis.

On Monday, it is the procession of the virgins. Every church for miles, and there are a lot of them, bring their statutes to town and hand carry them on a bier, the mile or so from the edge of town to the center. The icon bearers are surrounded by candle holders, incense bearers, little children dressed as angels, girls dressed in white (think communion outfits), and a host of other helpers.  And let’s not forget those drummers and the occasional fiddler playing a tune that sounds oddly Celtic. The groups seem to be spaced out about every 30-40 minutes, so with my bedroom facing the action, just about the time I think it is safe to go to sleep, down the street another group comes with its boom, boom, boom cadence.

Tuesday, the observances that have been happening throughout the Lenten period, take on special significance. The street is quiet, but the churches are alive with people and their traditions of the season.

Wednesday, there is a special mass representing the disciples abandonment of Jesus and a procession of “lesser saints” — Cecelia, Joseph, and others are paraded through town.

Then, Maunday Thursday arrives and it is chaos everywhere, in preparation for the biggest procession of all.  Starting about 1 pm the contingents from out of town arrive. Cars, open pickup trucks, and huge dump trucks, filled with parishioners hooting and hollering, roll into town honking that same solemn cadence.  There was even a group on motorcycles and sometimes groups come on horseback or bicycle.

People line the streets and throw buckets of water on the people in the trucks. The opposite of an American parade where the people in the vehicles throw candy to the spectators.

The night culminates with the most solemn procession of all — that of the penitents. Dressed in black robes, a horse hair belt, and their faces covered by a hood to conceal their identity, they gather along with their own entourage of young children dressed as angels, older girls barefoot and dressed in white dresses and veils, and an assortment of assistants. Of course, their patron saint is carried along for blessing.

Taxco appears to be one of the last remaining places where the three brotherhoods, the Animas (or Bent Ones), the Encruzados (the crossed), and the Flagelantes (Flagellants) reenact events from Jesus’ last day on earth in such a strict fashion.

Animas (the Bent Ones), Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico

The Bent Ones, walk bent over with chains around their ankles and candles or small crosses in their hands. This being the only group that accepts women, you will often see a nunnery of penitents walking as a group.

Flagelante, Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico

The Flagelantes carry a rosary and  a 6-7 foot wooden cross, representative of Jesus’ final walk to Gogotha. When the procession stops, they hand off their cross, kneel, and whip their bare backs causing blood to flow. Most gruesome.

Encruzado, Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico

Then, there are the Encruzados who carry rolls of blackberry thorns, weighing up to 100 pounds, across their back and shoulders on outstretched arms (some sort of variation of the crown of thorns?) they might also carry a cross, rosary or candles in their hands.

On Good Friday,in the gold adorned Santa Prisca church, the praying statue of Jesus is mock captured, jailed, and crucified before the penitents. This is followed by another procession.

Saturday night they hold a candlelight vigil until midnight when it is announced that Christ has risen and then all is quiet.

A native told me, the first year I was here, that I had to “see the show” at least once. I have to say this much, it is an interesting show even if it keeps me awake all night most of the week.

Since I have a little computer issue I am going to link you to slide show from last year.

Crash Landing!

Sorry I have not been around the last few weeks. It is a long story but I will try to make it short.

I was happily adding pictures to my Blog post one day when all of a sudden my computer screen went black. No matter what I did, it would not let me reboot, restart, or anything. The modern version of the “blue screen of death.”

A friend, who works with computers and is trained as a tech, came over and could not get it to work either. Finally I had no option but to go without until I got back to the States 6 weeks or so later of  to take it to a computer repair person.

Now having a computer failure in the States where I speak the same language (well sort of) is difficult enough but trying to explain the situation in a language you barely speak is another thing altogether. Even my tech friend did not recommend I go anywhere in Taxco. Thank goodness for the father of my English students, a successful business man about town, who knew a skilled repair person and was willing to act as my translator.

To make a long story short, the hard drive failed. We were able to retrieve my data. Whew! I had just moved all my photos over to the computer to save space on my phone and make it faster and had run out of time to back it up. That could have been a disaster. Lesson learned, the hard way.

I now have a new hard drive but being in Mexico I have a Spanish version of my operating system (which is not the same) AND more challenging yet, an unfamiliar Web browser and Windows Office in Spanish.

Did I say, I don’t speak much Spanish?

The worst part of the situation is that I lost all my programs. So for the time being I am somewhat limited, especially in the adding photos to my Blog department. I am working on solutions that are accessible from here without the program CDs or proof of purchase documentation. Please bear with me.

Blue Bear & Friend, Taxco, Mexico

You know, the concept of going paperless sounds great until something like this happens! And there is only so much you can do on/from a smart phone.

Do you have and electronic nightmare you wish to share?

A Walk in the Country – El Ocotito, Mexico

When visiting El Ocotito recently, my hostess wanted to take me for a walk (ir de pie) to a place outside of town where there was a lake. It was hot but carrying water and my parasol (not to be confused with my paragua, which are one and the same unless it is raining) I was up for the walk. Dipping my toes in a lake sounded MAHvelous!!!

So we walked a few blocks to where the cement road ended and a dirt road began.

Not the end of the world but you can see it from here, Ocotito, MexcioWe walked through a tunnel under the autopista to Acapulco, which was filled with jumbled  rocks and ruts, and came out the other side to what looked like a double walking path.

tunnel entrance, El Ocotito, MexicoWhile inside the tunnel, which was treacherous on foot, a car came bouncing along, scraping bottom every so often. Then a little further down the path, a walker in a hurry to get somewhere passed us by. Then we were met by a man on horseback, people with wheelbarrows and machetes, people on bicycles, and people herding livestock. Apparently this was a major thoroughfare from one town to another!

Along the way we discovered a horse and foal in the field, a tamarind tree ripe for harvesting, people making adobe bricks which were drying in the sun, a young man harvesting sand from the river bottom, escaping  goats, a spooked colt, and more. Take a peek below.

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After we had walked a good ways, we came to an area that had a little water covering the road. We sat under a tree, drank water and rested, letting the breeze refresh us. When we arose, it was determined that we needed to return to the house.

But what about the lake? Only after a long hot trek home did I find out that near the muddy spot on the road was where the lake used to be. It dried up and only the wet trickle that muddies the road and trickles into the neighboring field remains.

As with many things Mexican, things are not always as they at first seem.

 

Mexican Time

cellphoneI am not sure about the Southern Hemisphere (having never been there, yet anyway) but in the north, it seems that the closer you get to the equator the more laid back (or lax) the matter of time is. Now since I am an up north, Midwesterner, we pride ourselves on being punctual. If we say we will be somewhere at 10 am, we will likely be there at 10 minutes to 10 or maybe earlier. This is just not the case in Mexico.

I have commented before about how you make plans with someone and it is considered well within social norms to be 20 minutes late, which is a bit annoying, or to not show up at all, which to me is inexcusable without at least a phone call. This is not a trait exclusive to Mexico, however, as I have experienced a similar lackadaisical attitude in the southern states and my cousin used to comment about giving programs in Hawaii where 5 people might be there at the beginning but a full house by the end.

But yesterday I received a real lesson in “Mexican time.”

I was invited to una boda (a wedding) that was to start at 1 pm. Running a little late from a previous appointment, I rushed home  to find my companion, who was supposed to be ready at noon, in the shower at 12:30. Finally ready at 12:45, we hurried out the door, waited and waited for a combi going to the right town, and finally arrived about 15 minutes late.

It was really quiet as we approached the outdoor venue, and I assumed the ceremony had already started. Imagine my surprise when we came around the corner and the only people there were the DJ setting up the sound system, a hot, sweaty groom in a T-shirt, and a VW bug full of ladies (one the bride) backing out of the lot.

Do I have the wrong time? Mexican wedding My companion and I looked at each other and did the only  reasonable thing, we sat down to await other guests or at least the bride and groom.

And we waited and waited and waited.

After the DJ, the brother of a friend, finished setting up and testing his equipment, he came over to say, “Hello.” I asked if I had the wrong time because “I thought the wedding started at 1 pm.”

He said, “No, the time I had was correct “but, you know, Mexican time.”

I burst out laughing. It is one thing for me to think that, quite another for a Mexican to admit it.

Sure enough about 2:15 pm a few other guests (3 to be exact) wandered in and sat down (Whew! At least we won’t be the only ones here.)

And, about 2:30 the bride appeared with a large group of family and witnesses tagging along behind. They all sat down around a table with the local justice, answered all the legal questions, which 2 sets of parents and at least 4 witnesses on each side (some of whom had to be rounded up) affirmed. After they all signed their names (a process in itself), it was about 3 pm and more people had started to arrive.

The judge got up, asked the “Do you…”s and received the “I do”s and presented the bride and groom to the now modest sized crowd.

Mexcian weddingIn Mexico, as in many countries, a religious ceremony does not qualify as legally binding, thus the couple is married by a civil magistrate at the courthouse or in person at the wedding site, and if they want a religious ceremony it follows or is held on a subsequent day. In this case, as the civil ceremony came to a close, the majority of the guests began to arrive to witness the religious ceremony.

Now how they knew to come 2 1/2 hours late, I do not know!!!!

The rest of la boda was pretty similar to a wedding back home. The chairs were moved, tables set in place and everyone ate a typical meal of fire roasted pork, beans, a salad, and of course salsa (which was homemade, fresh, and particularly yummy), along with wedding cake. After everyone ate their fill, the tables and chairs were moved to the sides to be ready for the dancing to begin.

But before anyone danced, the groom sang a love song to his bride. A very sweet touch.

Groom sings to bride, Mexican weddingThey of course danced the first dance, their children joined them, then family and friends.

I had to leave early for an English class in town (this was a Monday after all) just as the party was really getting started. One thing I can say — Mexicans may start late but they love to dance and the party lasts and lasts.

Best wishes Cesar and Jeli!

Bride and groom, Mexican wedding

Cerro de Indio – El Ocotito

Mexicans have a great imagination, so many mountain tops and landmarks have some sort of story attached to them, like the legend of Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl, the volcanoes outside Mexico City, or the singing rocks at Teloloapan, or even just fanciful monikers like sombrero mountain, so named because it looks like a sombrero.

Sombrero Mountain near Tetipac, Mexico

Sombrero Mountain near Tetipac, Mexico

El Ocotito is no exception. Dominating the landscape above town is Cerro de Indio (Indian Hill.)

If you look at the photos of this mountain, the resemblance to an indigenous warrior lying on his back is unmistakeable — right down to the stripes of “war paint” on his cheek.

Some say that viewed from another angle you can also see a woman’s profile in the mountain behind him (facing the opposite direction.) Do you see her?

Cerro de Indio, El Ocotito, MexicoI am sure there is another Romeo and Juliet type story here as well but, if so, no one was telling me.

Do you have some landmark near where you live that has a story? Do tell.

Speaking of legends and stories, here is an absolutely striking photo of Popocatepetl “remembering Iztaccihuatl.”

And the answer is….

The person who guessed it was a tree with the bark shaved off wins the prize. Though she is the only one who made a guess. So she wins by default – not that there is anything to win really. Other than recognition here.

The odd object pictured in Tuesday’s blog is a “mula” (a mule.) Or that is what it is supposed to be. I think it looks more like an anteater with horns.

Mula handle, on a cane, Taxco de Alarcon, MexicoMula is short for muleta. Muleta, means cane or crutch, and due to the word association, they often carve the handles into mule shapes. Thus a mula. This one is definitely a crude, folk art rendition.

So why do I have a picture of the head of a cane on my blog? Welllllllll….

Spring has come to Taxco. Mid-day it is hot (for me), in the mid-80s, and much more humid than it has been. I fell victim to the fate of most foreigners at one time or another, I got overheated. But let me tell you the rest of the story.

I was just getting over a severe chemical sensitivity reaction, caused by the bus company now adding fragrance to their air handling vents. I had been dizzy for 4 days but by Saturday night felt OK. So Sunday morning I travelled to a small town about 10 miles west of town for a meeting. Afterwards, my friend, Lili, and I were going to a welcome back party for our friend, Vanessa, about 10 miles outside Taxco in the opposite direction. Another friend asked if she could some with us and since she did not know where the gathering was would we wait for her? I said, sure, no problem but that was before I thought about the fact that she is Mexican.

Now nothing against the Mexican people. I LOVE the Mexican people. They are warm, loving, family oriented and many other good things. One thing they are not, usually, is timely. For example, if you make an appointment, it is perfectly acceptable to be 20 minutes late, or not show up at all. It is just the way it is with most people. (It is that way in Hawaii and other parts of the States too, so it is not solely a Mexican attitude.

Back to my story.

So we waited while she cleaned the bathroom. Now I am not sure how she cleaned the bathroom but since it took “forever” I suspect it might have been with a toothbrush. Finally she appeared and I thought we were ready to go. Noooooooo. She had to take a blind woman home, on a combi going in the opposite direction we were headed, so we waited some more. While we were waiting, everyone else left the meeting hall and we were left standing on the side of the road , with only the skimpiest of shade in the hottest part of a very humid day. Sweating, I finally sat down on a rock about 6 inches high, and wished for water, which I always have in my bag, but not today.

Eventually, our friend returned with the combi going in the right direction and we got on. Inside was like an oven, hotter than outside but at least when it moved there was air, hot air, rushing past. Eventually the heat and the constant back and forth, back and forth as we wove up the mountain to Taxco had me feeling queasy. I told myself we will be there soon and I can get some water at a tienda (a shop) and the queasiness will go away.

When the combi pulled up to the last stop, we were not by the bus station as I had expected and there were no tiendas in sight. Not only that but there was a taxi driver protest going on so no taxis and no combis were running in town either. We had to walk a few blocks. Dutifully I put one step in front of the other looking for water and a shady place to sit down. Another friend, on the corner said, “Hello.” I said “Hello” back and muttered, “I’m going to go sit in the shade over there.” which I am pretty sure she did not understand since she does not speak English. And without stopping, I headed for an iron gate behind which were some cool looking marble steps.

I remember reaching out for the gate but the next thing I was aware of was lying on the ground with my friends calling my name, waving my hat over my face, and slapping alcohol on my neck and chest while a police officer looked on, shouting something in Spanish. I had passed out in the street, from the sun, the heat, and a lack of water.

Someone brought a chair and answered my request for water, then more water. I was starting to feel better when the ambulance arrived. Oh no…..I have been in foreign countries before when an ambulance showed up and  it is not often a good thing.

Visions of some B-movie dark comedy — with a slow motion, spin through a hospital emergency room,  where not only do you not understand a word, but you cannot speak, and  every thing seems to be going wrong — flashed through my head. In the brief moment it took them to get out of their vehicle and be at my side, all kinds of horrors caused by communication issues and cultural differences rushed through my mind. I might as well be abducted onto an alien spaceship!

But all those thoughts were just a figment of an over active imagination. In reality, EMTs in Mexico are the same professional medical technicians as they are almost anywhere.  All they did was check my vital signs and finding everything normal, sent someone for a sports (electrolytes) drink, made me drink half of it, told me to go home take a cool shower and rest (all very reasonable.Unlike the US they are not required to transport when they are called. “Whew!”

As they packed up their gear and left  I asked if I owed them anything (hoping I had enough Mexican money in my bag.) The response, “gratis,”   no charge. Wow!!! For a foreigner (even someone from outside the city) just showing up would have cost a couple thousand dollars in the States!

I was free to go, but then we faced the question of “Now what do I do.”. The taxis and combis in town were not running; the only way I can get home and rest is to walk several miles in the hot, humid, sunshine. Not reasonable. So I decided the only sensible option was to continue on to the party! At least there would be food, water, and lots of people to watch over me. So we walked on  to the out of town combi station, a couple blocks away, no problem.

At the party, I was very aware of not exerting myself, so I sat on a chair, ate a little, drank a lot of water, along with some fruit punch, talked with a few people, and watched the festivities. A few hours later, I got up to head to the bathroom and I could barely walk. I figured that when I passed out, my legs folded underneath me and no matter how slowly I set myself down the weight of my entire body landed on my leg. Now my knee was complaining. By the time I had taken a half dozen steps, it loosened up and I got there just fine. So I went back and enjoyed the party.

As time went by, my knee got worse – it throbbed and started to swell, and I could not walk without assistance. I wanted to go home but how? I couldn’t walk up the hill to the combi stop and even if I made it that far, how would I get off and home when I arrived in Taxco. I certainly didn’t want to ruin the party for Vanessa, but of course that is exactly what happened.

The ever vigilant “mom” that she is (to everybody) found someone to take “us” home; she would not hear of not going; she wanted to make sure I was comfortably settled. But wait, someone came up and insisted I let their mother, “who does manipulations” take a look at my knee. Preferring a natural approach, I agreed. Anything to make this better sooner.

I am not sure what the credentials of this woman were, all I know is she knew her anatomy. It seemed that the muscles in my leg had gone into shock as a reaction to the fall, hours earlier, and had tensed up tightly and in the process, dislocated both my ankle and my knee. She pulled and pushed, smoothed and squeezed and eventually declared me fit to go home IF I would stay off it, and if possible, use a cane for the next couple days.

That is where the mula  comes in.

The next night, after 24 hours of hobbling back and forth to the bathroom using a collection of chairs as support, Vanessa showed up with this strange looking thing that I at first though was a sweet potato on a stick. By then, thanks to the treatment, hot saltwater compresses, and arnica, both topically and orally, the pain and swelling was mostly gone, and I could bear weight with only mild discomfort. Yet, she went out of her way to find it, and bring it to me, and reminded me that the therapist said to stay off it for 48 hours. OK, I will give it a try. But, I have no intention of taking it on the street with me. Sorry Vane. (If I really needed one, I would have.)

The following day, I declared myself able to walk. The swelling was gone, I managed the stairs to the ground floor without pain, and there is very little evidence of the original injury. My how we are marvelously made!

No one ever plans to have a medical emergency in a foreign land, however if I had to have one, I could not have been surrounded by better friends who treated me like family.

You know who you are. Muchas gracias!

 

And for those of you who might worry that I am all alone in this strange speaking land, never fear, I have papers on my person with local contacts and a durable power of attorney for health care in the local language to speak for my wishes if I cannot speak for myself. Things all foreign travelers should carry along with prescription medicines, eyeglass prescriptions, and  anything else necessary for your health and well being in a foreign country. I am well taken care of here; may you be also. For some ideas on what to pack for a stress free trip, see this article by my old friend Shelley Peterman Schwarz.

Mexican Traditions – Dancing Kings

The civil “Flag Day” ceremonies over, the afternoon was quiet, then as the sun just started to drop behind the mountain, some merry music made its way closer to my door. I looked out just in time to see the dancing kings entourage go by.

Apparently, as they do during Navidad and Las Posadas, each church in town takes a turn hosting a special Lenten event. Tonight, the Ex-Convento took their statues of Mary and Jesus out of the church and paraded them through town, to the accompaniment of merry music and dancing kings.

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I wonder how the dancers in their heavy costumes and full face masks, and the musicians too, manage to keep this merry pace up for over a mile all the way through town. They wear me out just watching them skip and dance down the street.

As the sun began to drop behind the mountain,  the music paused at the local church where airworks and church bells filled the air. Then the music and festivities began anew culminating in some beautiful fireworks, the real thing this time, with fire.

Oooh, ahhhh!

It appears that in addition to the marching bands and celebrations on all the Fridays of Lent, I have a first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth Tuesday to look forward to as well.

 

El Ocotito

I just returned from El Ocotito, where I spent 6 very laid back days with the family of mi amiga, Lilibeth.

Elizabet,Tomi,Rodrigo, Lilibeth (Omar not pictured)

Elizabet,Tomi,Rodrigo, Lilibeth (Omar not pictured)

A small town, about an hour from Acapulco via autopista (the equivelant of our Interstate highway) or longer via the carretera federale (the federal highway that goes through all the small towns between here and there), Ocotito is lower in altitude and closer to the coast, so it is hotter, more humid, and much greener than Taxco. The name comes from a kind of tree (el ocotito) which used to cover the hillsides but has pretty much been eradicated in this area now.

Ocotito is a regional town (or center) for many even smaller towns around it and thus has a bustling highway strip business area where people come to buy construction materials, car parts, American clothing, and other things they cannot make or grow themselves. (See Cerro de Indio, Indian Hill in the background?)

Street scene, El Ocotito, MexicoThere is even a bull ring in town.

Bull ring, El Ocotito, MexicoIt doesn’t look like much here, but they host some major events several times a year. In July, when they run the bulls in Pamplona, you can be assured, their are bull fights here in Ocotito.

Unlike Taxco where most houses tumble up and down the hillsides, butting up against one another with barely an inch to spare, Ocotito is a typical colonial town where many live in family compounds fenced in by brick, stone, or metal walls.

Even in the center of town, what at first appears to be a really large house, opens its gates to reveal a large courtyard area with a more modest dwelling inside.

The courtyards often contain an outdoor cooking area, a dish washing and laundry area, and out back, separate stalls for toileting and a shower. They may also have a place to park cars, scooters, and bicycles, a work area with a collection of this and that that might be useful someday, perhaps a garden, a few fruit trees, and definitely a collection of dogs, cats, free range chickens (with free range of the entire house), and even a horse or burro or two.

The house might be adjacent or totally above a portion of this area or have a living/sitting area and even an indoor kitchen eating area on the ground floor, especially if they sell something from their home (and most do.) There may also be smaller dwellings along the outside walls that house grown sons and their families — sleeping areas primarily as all other activities are communal. This communal space makes a great place for parties and gatherings, which Mexicans love. Almost anything, like a visitor coming to town, can be an excuse for a party.

Even the most humble abode has at least a porch, perhaps enclosed by a chain link fence, where the family gathers most nights and on weekends. Other compounds, as judged by the ancient adobe walls of their dwellings, have been a rural compound for centuries and remain that way, as the town grew around them.

Old adobe house compound, Ocotito, MexicoHouses are designed for practical use. Sleeping rooms are just for sleeping; there is a bed, a dresser of some kind for folded clothing and a bar in the corner for hanging clothing. A single electric outlet and light bulb in the middle of the ceiling, do not encourage lingering but rather gathering with family in communal areas. (Maybe that is part of why Mexican families are so close.)

Colorful curtains serve as doors or simply a division between children and parents or cooking and sleeping areas. There is no hiding out behind closed doors. Privacy is achieved by asking permission to enter someone’s sleeping/dressing area.

A canvas shelter, broad porch, or the house upstairs provide shelter from the sun and rain, and a place to gather and catch the breeze. Though nights are cool, afternoons get quite hot and indoors, without cross ventilation, can be suffocating. Thus the ever present hammock hanging between the trees.

The people live simply, doing most everything by hand — cooking, cleaning, washing; using resources that are available — tree branches hold up lines of clothes drying in the sun, discarded vinyl posters shade laundry areas, recycled metal roofing covers the cooking area, an old, cracked bathtub catches water for the plants. Akin to America during my grampa’s time (the Depression) — nothing goes to waste.

The yard, outside any garden or fruit tree area is usually bare ground. Instead of mowing the lawn each week, daily they water down the soil by tossing bowls or small buckets full of water over the top, and then rake any fallen leaves or other refuse, which is burned, along with the garbage in a pit out back. This process tends to keep the dust down.

Occasionally you come across a large house, with tall metal fencing, and green grass. When I asked about those places, the answer was always that the people who own them live in the US. Since the dollar is worth quite a bit more than a peso right now, you can build a lot of house with just a small portion of your American earnings. These people, usually employ a couple that live in the house full time and serve as maid and caretaker, as well as a measure of security when they are gone.

Here are a few more photos from a walk around the neighborhood.

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Well that is your tour of Ocotito. I hope you enjoyed it.

Coming next: A walk in the country.

Mexican Traditions – Flag Day

The house where I live is just off of Calle de Benito Juarez, the main street of Taxco. Every, and I mean EVERY, parade, procession, or protest marches right past my balcony.

Last Friday was the first Friday of Lent, celebrated with airworks boomers and bandas roving the city to remind people of this sacred time.

Street band observing Lent, Taxco de Alaracon, MexicoBut there were more bands on Saturday, then Sunday marked a taxi protest clogging the streets with taxis with nobody inside them, and yesterday, more bands, one with children in 3 kings outfits (like those below) skipping down the street.

Three kings parade participants, , Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico

Parade, Taxco, Mexico

What is going on? I thought all this was reserved for Fridays?

After a weekend of boomers and parades marching by day and night, I thought things were finally settling down when a somber drum cadence could be heard marching closer and closer.

It is February 24, Mexican Flag Day and every school drum and bugle corps with their honor guard is marching toward La Garita to observe a flag honoring celebration. It was a solid hour and a half of snare drums bang, bang, banging a slow march cadence past my door.

Talk about a headache!!!!