Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state bordering on Guatemala, is a magical place. Jungles and rivers give way to pine covered mountains. Waterfalls pour out of thick forests, ancient Mayan ruins lay deep in forests prowled by jaguars, remote colonial cities reflect early Spanish life in the New World while one third of the population retains their Mayan heritage and speak Mayan as their first language instead of Spanish. There are various indigenous groups across the state; Mixes, Chiapa and various Mayan groups (Tzotzil, Lacandon, Tzeltal). Each retains their individual customs, clothes and towns. The whole place is endlessly fascinating. Continue reading
We decided to revisit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, this time a little off the usual tourist trail with the Mayan ruins of Uxmal (oosh-mall) and Calakmul (kal-ack-mool) a high priority. It was July, rainy season, but the rains come in the form of afternoon thundershowers, not days long monsoons. Since our route would be a giant circle around the Yucatan Peninsula we rented a car, unusual for us as we usually travel by bus in Mexico. Continue reading
After days of partying at our niece’s Quinceañera (keen-seen-YER-ah) in Chihuahua, Mexico we decided to take a day exploring the towns and high desert outside of town (see post, A Girl’s Coming of Age – La Quinceañera). I borrowed my brother-in-law’s Chevy Suburban, loaded it up with aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, mother-in-law, . . . thirteen people in all, and trundled off towards the Mennonite city of Cuahtemoc (Kwah-TAY-muk), 100 kilometers away (63 miles). But before we reach Cuahtemoc, we have a couple stops to make.Continue reading
Prepare for heavy partying. We’ve been invited to our niece’s quinceañera (keen-seen-YER-ah) in Chihuahua Mexico with friends and family arriving from around northern Mexico and the United Sates for it. So what exactly is a quinceañera anyway?Continue reading
The state of Veracruz lies along the western shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the city of the same name, El Puerto de Veracruz (the port of Veracruz), has been the entry point into Mexico for centuries. We’re traveling through the state starting in the Puerto de Veracruz and then moving up into the cloud forested mountains at the state’s capital, Xalapa.
Strategically located on the Gulf of Mexico, the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez conquered Mexico from it in 1519. The Americans invaded Mexico through it in 1846, the French in 1862. Yet despite its troubled past the port of Veracruz, and the state of the same name, remains a festive place enriched rather than diminished by the mix of cultures it has experienced over the centuries. Here you’ll find formally-dressed couples dancing the European, waltz-like Danzón, you’ll hear the Afro-Cuban rhythms of the son Jarocho (son ha-ROE-choe; the sound of Veracruz), bakeries make French-inspired bolillos (boh-LEE-yos; small baguettes), small towns in the hills make jamon serrano and longaniza (Spanish ham and sausage). Continue reading