Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Join me for Semana Santa in San Miguel de Allende

Semana Santa in San Miguel de Allende.  Please join me for six days during Holy Week which is such a colorful time of year.  Full of pageantry, processions, decorated churches, homes and fountains, just a special time to be in this 500 year old colonial town to witness the spirit of the people as they partake in celebrating Semana Santa.
Arriving on Friday, early evening, we will have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and then tour the historic center of town to view the town's fountains that have been decorated and the public and private altars that have been beautifully created in celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows (Viernas de Dolores), a time of paying homage to the anguish of the Virgin Mary.  The above is the plaza in front of the Parroquia, the parish church right off the main square, the jardin.
One of the many house that have opened their doors for the passerby who is invited in and welcomed with small gifts of candy, nuts, fruit and drink.
 The next day I will lead you on a walking tour of town where we will stroll by some of the town's old and elegant homes,
  visit some magnificent churches,
 All within the historic center of town.
  Especially the Parroquia.
A panoramic view of part of the jardin.
A stop in the Bellas Artes, an old mansion that was originally a convent that is presently one of the art schools in town.
One of the many murals at the Bellas Artes. 
This mural, The Vampire Bat, by Pedro Martinez depicts the Chupacabra.  OK, what's a chupacabra? It means "goatsucker" and it attacks livestock and makes incisions into its victim's bodies like a vampire. It's like the "Lock Ness" monster in Scotland and "Sasquatch" in North America.
One of the many quaint streets in San Miguel.
Palm Sunday is a morning of processions.
 A procession through town of Jesus riding a donkey that ends at the Parroquia.
Around the jardin, you will find artisans selling their elaborately hand-woven palm fronds in the shapes of crosses, fish and other designs.
The creativity is just amazing.
 Outside of San Miguel we will visit the Sanctuary of Atotonilco.
Often referred to as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas because of its ancient and wonderful frescoes.  
 Not too far away, in the countryside, we will have a leisurely comida (lunch),
on the patio, unbelievable Italian cuisine where one of the house specialties is hand-made squash blossom ravioli.
On Monday we will meet up with Chef Paco for a cooking class.  Originally from Mexico City, Paco has lived in San Miguel for 20 years where he owns and operates the finest bakery-patisserie in town, El Petit Four.  It all starts with a tour of the colorful Ignacio Ramirez Negromante market where everything we need is being sold by the local farmers who grow it.
Then we head for Paco’s home.   This is a hands-on class where every person will help prepare everything from scratch.  After our kitchen work, we will sit down, relax and enjoy the lunch we have prepared in the gorgeous setting of Paco’s home with an incredible view of San Miguel.
One day we will take a day trip to Guanajuato,
 a famous university town and once the richest city in the world due to its silver mining.
 First stop is the studio of world-famous ceramicist Gorky Gonzales.
A tour of the beautiful opera house and after we will visit Diego Rivera's birthplace and museum.  Comida at Las Mercedes, a gourmet family run restaurant.  After we will visit the incredible Valencia Church with its gold-encrusted altar.  Return to San Miguel via Dolores Hidalgo where virtually everyone is employed in making beautiful ceramics.  Back in San Miguel just in time to witness the Our Lord of the Column carried in procession, amid flowers and incense, from the San Juan de Dios Church to the jardin.

On Holy Wednesday, Procession de Miercoloes Santo, you will have a free day to wander around town by yourself, sight see...
Time to shop at one of the many lovely boutiques.  Los Baules, known for its one of kind, natural-dyed and hand woven textiles from ponchos, dresses (huipiles), table runners, etc..
Check out La Esquina, the Children's Folk Art Museum.
One of the best things to do in San Miguel is to visit La Esquina.   The collection is housed in an old three-story home that has been meticulously restored and is maintained beautifully.  Over one thousand Mexican toys have been collected by Angelico Tijerina over the course of fifty years. 
Hike the Botanic Gardens, Jardin Botanico - El Charco del Igenio, just outside of town with 247 acres of natural preserve, hiking trails and an incredible view of town
with extensive cactus gardens and a cactus collection within this contemporary greenhouse.
On this Holy Wednesday, there are fourteen stations of the cross that are elaborately decorated just a few blocks from our B and B.
 One of the stations of the cross.
With a procession starting early evening.  

There is plenty to do and before you know it, it will be time to meet up at the B and B when I take you out for dinner on our final night in town.

It is an extremely popular time in San Miguel and the charming B and B in which we stay at only has nine rooms.  The sooner I can book this, the better, so I can secure our rooms.  
If you would like to join me, please email me your contact information (name, email,  mailing address and phone number) and I will send you a detailed itinerary with pricing, along with a deposit request and plane information.

It's a special time to experience San Miguel de Allende, its culture and people. 

Semana Santa in San Miguel de Allende
April 12 - 18, 2019.

Robin Mullen

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Murals in San Cristobal de Las Casas around the main cathedral

Just this month I lead a group of eleven of us around Chiapas, Mexico.  The earthquake in September of 2017 fortunately did not harm many people but it was the old churches,  convents and landmark buildings that suffered the most damage.  We could still enjoy the beautiful facades but entry to many of the buildings was prohibited.
There is Phil and Norma in the photo with the Cathedral de San Cristobal de Las Casas.
Corrugated metal fencing has been installed around all the old buildings that desperately need restoration.  Local artist have painted murals on these temporary barriers which I think are marvelous.  I love how this one vendor has positioned his goods right smack in the middle of the heart surrounded by flowers.
Colorful octopus with all his tentacles and suction cups.
Great Dia de los Muertos skull.
Abstract blue bird with a jaguar behind him.
Pretty goldfish.

She looks rather startled.

A bit of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
The side of the cathedral.
Mural of a mask.  
The slits below the blue eyes is where the person who wears the mask sees.  
This one is a Parachico, which is worn by the men in Chiapa de Corzo during the festival in January celebrating Saint Sebastian.  
During the 18th century, a wealthy woman, Maria de Angulo arrived from Spain with her crippled son.  She took her son to a curandero, a local healer called a namandiyuguá.  He instructed her to bath her son in the waters of a small lake called Cumbujuya.  Her son was miraculously cured.   To distract and amuse the boy, a local group disguised themselves as Spaniards with masks and began to dance, “para el chico” which means “for the boy."   According to one version of the story, this is what cured the child.  The tradition of these dancers began in 1711, leading the Spanish to call the event “para el chico”, which eventually evolved into "Parachicos".
Maria de Angulo was so extremely grateful, she donated food and supplies to the people which helped immensely since the region was going through a bad drought.
The giant mask is used in La Danza del Gigante in San Juan Chamula at Carnival. The dance represents the story of David and Goliath.  Goliath, who carries a wooden machete, repeatedly charges the audience and frightens the children.  We were fortunate to be in San Juan Chamula one day during carnival.  It was pretty exciting!
Two Jaguar masks surrounding the Jade mask of King Pakal of Palenque.  Jaguar dances are concerned with maintaining balance in the natural world and the agricultural cycle.

So realistic.
The backside of the cathedral.  I hope the funding comes soon to Chiapas so the beautiful, old buildings can be restored.  Maybe a "Maria de Angulo" will help out!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Museo de Los Altos de Chiapas Ex Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán has an unbelievable Maya textile collection

Located in the historic center of San Cristobal de Las Casas is the Museo de Lost Altos de Chiapas Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán.  The second floor is home to an amazing Maya textile collection from Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala.  There are three collections on display from the Formento Cultural Banamex collection (1990 - 2000), the Guatemala collection (1920-2000) and the Pellizzi collection (1950 - 1979). 
The building dates back to the 17th century when the Dominicans occupied the convent until 1853.  It later became a national heritage site.
It is a beautifully displayed museum with drawers under each garment that pull out to showcase other huipils or cloths from the region that the garment that is on display is from.
This particular drawer displayed a women's cloth (pano de mujer), 1930 - 1940, from Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
San Andres Larrainzar, Chiapas huipil from 1975.
A man's ceremonial cloth, 2012, from Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, the only Tzotzil weaving community in the tropical lowlands. 
Simply gorgeous!
A ceremonial napkin from San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Gautemala.  1950 - 1960.
A beautiful huipil from Chajul in Guatemala, around 1980 - 1990.
The Maya clothing has undergone changes over the years due to political, economic and religious factors.  The dress for the women during the Classic period (A.D. 2000- 90) was a huipil (a handwoven short blouse or long dress) and an enreado (a wrap skirt made of hand-woven fabric.  The configuration of the hand pleating at the waist varies from each region).  The men wore a taparrabo (a loincloth) and a tilma (a cloak-like outer garment).   It was not until the 16th century with the introduction of Catholicism the the dress changed, more of an emphasis that the whole body be covered, especially for the men. The introduction of silk and wool dramatically changed the weaving of the garments.
The 20th century brought major change with the use of industrial cotton thread available in countless colors and man-made fibers such as rayon which replaced silk and acrylic which replaced wool.  There was certainly an explosion of color in the 1970's and 1980's.
Today there is a large movement to bring back the natural dyes and ancient designs.
A gorgeous combination of colors on this huipil from Comalapa, Guatemala.
A wedding Huipil, circa 1970, from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Huipils from the Highlands in Chiapas, Mexico.
A huipil from San Juan El Bosque in Chiapas, 1975.  El Bosque is the most northern village in the Highlands where cross-stitch embroidery was originated.  Settled by refugees from San Juan Chamula after the Caste war of 1869.   Due to the warmer climate in El Bosque, the woolen dress from San Juan Chamula was substituted to a blue cotton skirt and a wide, red vertical striped huipil.
Love the colors on this huipil with its ancient designs from Tenejapa, Chiapas. 1972. 
 A huipil from Comalapa, Guatemala / 1986.   Such an interesting selection of colors.
A 1955 huipil from Magdalenas Aldama, Chiapas.  Legion has it that is was Mary Magdalene who taught the women how to weave these elaborate brocaded fabrics at the beginning of the world.  Many of the designs can be traced back to the Maya Classic period.
Pieces from San Juan Chamula (left) and Zinacantan (right).
Guatemala, 1980.
A wool huipil from San Juan Chamula, Chiapas / 1974.   Prior to the Dominicans arrival, woven pelts of rabbit and cotton were worn to ward off the cold.   The introduction of sheep's wool proved to be a far superior fabric.  I have a natural wool hand-woven cape that I use as a throw and it is so beautifully, tightly woven.  I can contest, is does keep you warm!
Huipil from Concepcion Chiquirichapa, Gautemala.  1980.
1990 - Huipil from Nebaj, Guatemala.
Zinacantan, Chiapas / 2015.  A wedding garment, a hand-woven huipil with feathers spun into the thread in the lower border and in the pre-conquest-type rectangular design below the neck opening. 
 Textiles from Guatemala and Mexico
1.  Shawl from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1910 - 1920
2 and 3. See below
4. Skirt from San Juan Cotzal, Guatemala / 196- - 1970
5. Shawl from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1980
6. Skirt from Chajul, Guatemala / 1940 - 1950
7. Cloth from Totonicapan, Guatemala / 1930
8.  Belt from Zinacantan, Mexico / 2006
9. Cloth from Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala / 1940-1950
10.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1930 - 1940
11.  Cloth from Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala / 1940
12.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1940 - 1950
13.  Skirt from San Pedro Sacatepequez, Guatemala / 1960 - 1970

2. A Huipil, from Tactic, Guatemala / 1979. 
Talk about a lively combination of color and design.
No. 3 - A skirt from Cuyotenanago, Guatemala / 1990
We visited the museo on the third day of my Magic of the Maya World tour that I lead just this month.  A definite visit when you are in San Cristobal de Las Casas!  I could have spent hours in the textile department.

Museo de Los Altos de Chiapas Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
Avenida 20 de Noviembre s/n
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico