Monday, September 27, 2010

Look the other way: violence in Mexico today

Personal perception
A little over a year ago a family member living in the USA asked me about violence in Mexico and was wondering if he should cancel his trip here.  I was angered by his question, angered and outraged.  I gave him statistics about how it was more dangerous to be in certain cities in the States and in the end he didn't cancel his trip.  His questions made me think about how Mexico is being presented in the media in the USA and the rest of the world.  Living in the center of the country, far removed from the border cities of Cuidad Juarez and Tijuana, we are still exposed to murders, dicapitations, and violent encounters between narcos & military patrols.  We stay home on festive holidays like this past 15th of September, avoiding large crowds and people.  Two years ago explosions at Morelia's traditional "el grito" in a downtown street sent the city into panic.  Today I feel we Morelianos are more cautious, avoiding going out late at night etc.  yet I feel as if, at the same time, we are somehow looking the other way.  The violence in our city and state continues but it always seemed to be reported with some kind of spin on it.  Whether it is state run media or private media reporting, things always seem to be fault or responsibilty of the federal government.  This, in my opinion, is collective amnesia.  Mexican society allowed for this reality to be what is today. After all, who voted for the elected officials? Who allowed narcos to set up supply lines and operate? Drug trafficking and violence is nothing new to Mexico.  Drug trafficking has been the bread and butter of many Mexican politicians, officials and families for many, many years.  Perhaps this averting of our collective eyes is more a self-preservation mechanisim than out right denail.  It is an interesting topic of study for a cultural anthropoligist I would say.  
Independent Media
Interviews like this one from Democracy Now ( force me to reflect on these issues.  Putting responsibility and politics asside, what strikes me the most is how all of us, children, adults, every member of society, have to incorporate these acts of violence into our daily lives and continue life the best way we can.  I am not so visceral now when someone outside Mexico asks about violence. My answers are always more along the line of "yes there is violence...but what can I do besides carry on with my life and protect those I love as best I can?"  The truth is: what other options do we have?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The other day we decided to go to San Juan market (Mercado de la Revolución) and while we were waiting for someone to meet us, I saw a strange looking fruit laying on the ground by a bunch of crates. It looked like "baby" bananas but it was a totally different color. The skin was white wtih pinkish-red coloring at each end. It grew in a bunch just like bananas and when I asked the green grocer at the fruit stand what it was he told me it was called "timbiriche". A strange name, I thought, given the fact that there is a Mexican 80´s pop group with the same name. I didn't have my cellphone on me, so I didn't take a picture of the strange looking fruit but I did get one from the green grocer who told me to be carefull because the fruit would burn my tounge. I have to say this made me hesitant to try this exotic find but a woman who saw me struggling to get the very hard peel off of the "timbirche" told me, "Dig in your nail, pull down on the peel as you would a banana". I asked her if it would taste horrible and she said "No, not at all, just a little acidy, it is great with salt". So I went for it. It was sweet, sticky and quickly popped on my tounge with an acid sting. It was quite enjoyable, almost like eating pop rocks when I was kid! After doing some research on the fruit once I got home, I realized that it isn't "timbiriche" like the music group, but "tinbiriche" or bromelia karatas.

I still can't believe that I have lived in Michoacán for almost 5 years and never seen or tasted this fruit before. This just goes to show, that life in MY Mexico is full of new and exciting things!
Here is a website I found while looking for information on El Tinbiriche
For more detailed information on this fruit, here is a website that is an ethnobotanical reference site

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting Married in Mexico

Planning a wedding is stressfull and nerve racking. Planning a wedding Mexico is no exception. Last fall I had the results of months of planning, calling, emailing, facebooking and instant messaging fold out before me as the offical wedding planner for my younger brother´s wedding. He got married here in Morelia, a colonial city which is the state capital of Michoacán a state full of rich cultural heritage. *For more information on Morelia and Michoacan, see the bottom of this page.

The religious ceremony was held in the same church our parents got married in 1977. San José is a typical example of colonial architecture with a round plaza in the front of the church, providing a most dramatic stage for a bride to walk into her wedding.

The priest that officiated the mass was chosen because he had spent several years pastoring a church in Chicago. It was important for my brother and his wife to have a mass in English since no one in the bride's family spoke Spanish fluently. Finding a priest who speaks English is not always an easy task but not impossible.

For the wedding reception, we hired caterer extraordinare Roberto Omaña. He is one of the finest organizers with flair for the mexicana meets international in his food presentations. The party setting was held at Jardin Ego, which is strategically placed a top one of Morelia's hills, overlooking the city. Music was provided by RONA, a sounds and lights company. My brother and sister-in-law couldn't have been more pleased with the results. It was a lot of hard work, but well worth it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Un ejército musical

A musical army, an interesting thought and one that I would had never had if hadn't been for the "MAGNO CONCIERTO DE MÚSICA MEXICANA" given by the Mexican military in Morelia, Michoacán this past Friday, Febuary 5th, 2010. This year, 2010, marks the bicential of Mexico´s independence and the centenial of Mexico's revolution. (For more information on Mexico's 2010 festivities, visit this site México 2010)

The concert comprised of 13 diferent pieces by different Mexican authors and were all performed by military women and men. The Symphony Orchestra of the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, the Chorus of the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, the Mariachi of the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, and the Musical Band of the Army, directed by Rubén Estrada Corona, second capitan.

It seemed a pity to me that this concert be available to those of us lucky enough to be invited and would encourage the organizers to offer these types of musical/cultural events to children and schools. We took our children and they loved it! We got up and danced, you could see how the musicians themselves were enjoying themselves. It was an entirely new facet of the military that I had never seen! We had never imagined that the National Defense Secretary had a mariachi! Thanks to all the musicians envoloved! ¡Gracias a todos los musicos involucardos que hicieron un trabajo excepcional!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Relax, Guadalupe Reyes can be managed

W hen you live in Mexico, you discover that the holiday season starts not as soon as in the USA (which is RIGHT after Thanksgiving), but it lasts a lot longer. Guadalupe Reyes is the term used to call the days between December 12th (the day of the patron saint of Mexico, La Virgin de Guadalupe) until January 6th (Three Kings Day). I for one think holidays are stressfull no matter where you live. That is why I recommend that you try an anti-stress massage at the Hotel Portico. In the newly opened "spa room" you can let yourself relax with the help of aromatherapy and Alejandra, the hotel's massuse. For more information call Hotel Portico at 312-1446 or visit the webpage