Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Road Trip Finale

Last Friday we left Angangueo to go to Cuernavaca. Husband was adamant that we avoid Mexico City so the route we selected was intentionally “round about” however our 4-6 hour drive turned into one of our worst navigational attempts. Suffice it to say we missed many turns, back tracked and were generally frustrated. My last word is avoid the "Yellow Roads." We left at 7:30am and arrived at 5:30pm. We did give the boys Dramamine so they did not get car sick and slept the 1st 4 hours.

Las Estacas
We went through Cuernavaca to Tlaltizapán to Las Estacas to camp and explore the balnearo (swimming park.) We finally got to use our pop-up camper that we had hauled all over Mexico! The irony is this was the most expensive place so far and we were camping!!

This balnearo is spectacular – really. There are 300 year old palm trees brought in from Madagascar, 1,000 year old local trees, a crystal clear river for all kinds of water activities, mini-golf, restaurant, hotel, camp ground, cappuccino bar, gift shop, horses, hotel, spa and on and on.

We decided to spend Saturday at Las Estacas. We did the following:
· Mini-golf
· Raft ride with guide telling history of the balnearo
· Oldest Son flying out on trapeze swing and dropping into river
· Both boys (and Mommy) riding on trees swings over river and sometimes dropping in
· Mommy and boys taking raft down river – mostly Mommy doing the “taking” with oars
· Jumping off diving platform into river
· Playing in large kids water area
· Oldest Son doing zip line trapeze into river
· Boys watching Finding Nemo (in Spanish) while Mommy & Husband had drink at bar
· Youngest Son and Mommy going to bonfire for singing and marshmallows (Oldest Son too tired)

This place clearly caters to Mexico’s upper end. Even the camping area had 40+ tents that were nicer than some homes I have seen in Mexico (like you would buy at REI.)

The boys were thrilled to camp for 2 nights and play in water all day. We did have a great time.

We left Las Estacas Sunday morning by 7:45am and headed south to Xochimilco, our last excursion. We had the usual logistical snafu. We missed the exit which was right at a toll booth. So we ended up paying 5 tolls versus 2 – all well. It was well worth the stop.
Xochimilco is the 4th most significant archeological site according to the guide we engaged. It had a sophisticated museum of Mayan artifacts and the site itself was impressive. We spent over 2 hours learning many historical facts and exploring.

Even among all this Pyramid splendor, the boys alternatively discovered Ant Lions and seemed just as interested in sticking small sticks in small holes to lure out the small creatures.

Journey Home
We stopped for the night in Ixtapa – what a zoo – ugh. After the Colonial villages, mountains and locals, Ixtapa was a shock back to American tourism.

Monday morning we left for our Pacific Coast Mexican Casa. The drive along coast line is very beautiful but very curvy. Youngest Son was car sick again – we did have the vomit bucket but obviously forgot the Dramamine. He is quite the little trooper and recovered quickly.

What’s Next …
We are home now. Atlanta friends arrive tomorrow. We are excited to see Atlanta Mom, Atlanta Dad, Atlanta Oldest Son (age 11), Atlanta Middle Son (age 8) and Atlanta Youngest Daughter (age 6).

We also have a dryer not working - hanging clothes to dry - very Mexican of us ...

We are back!

We arrived back in our Mexico home last night! The last few days of our Road Trip great and full of adventure as always - more detail in next post ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chanukah 7th & 8th Nights – Butterflies, Pyramid & the Gifts

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
Wednesday we headed up to the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. The hike to the Monarch Butterflies was a good 1.5 to 2 miles each way with some pretty steep inclines on well groomed trails. We enjoy hiking so the pine trees and views across the valley and mountains created a peaceful feeling. There were signs posted along the way to educate visitors about the environment, the reserve and of course the butterflies.

We really did not know what to expect. At first you just saw trees. Then you see the “clumps” of butterflies all up and down the trees – millions of them. As the afternoon warmed up they began to fly out of these groups. It never warmed up enough for us to see all of them fly but there was enough to create absolute awe.

Humorous moment: Husband reached in to bring out the two water bottles for us to drink during the long hike. The first was – you guessed it --- the Rubbing Alcohol from yesterday's poisoning incident!

On the way back, we were dropped off in Centro where we had Chicken w/ Verde Mole Sauce - so good. We visited the churches and bought some produce where the Mexican clerk gave both boys a jicama at no charge - they were thrilled. On the walk back to Hotel, we spotted the shingle hanging for the Doctor who had made the "Hotel Call" Tuesday. We stopped in to show him how well Oldest Son had recovered. The Doctor was SO sweet, hugging and kissing both kids.

Los Alzate
Today we drove into the valley to the archaeological area of San Felipe los Alzate-Zirahuato. There is an impressive pyramid built by the Matiatzinca culture abandoned in 1250 A.D. As we have found at most places on this Road Trip, we were the only gringos there. Many Mexican families gathered there to picnic and enjoy their Christmas Day.
Ruins are always great places for little boys. They climbed, jumped, ran and played ball. Youngest Son befriended some Mexican children with whom the boys played with for over an hour communicating in Spanish! The sun shown bright and we relaxed completely.

Chanukah Comes to an End
Last night, in front of the flickering lights of the fireplace and the Hanakiah, the boys acted out the story of the Macabees and The Miracle of Chanukah. They do this every year and really enjoy picking the parts and obviously they like the big battle scene.
Tonight is the 8th and Final Night of Chanukah. Our true gifts this year are the many acts of kindness shown to us by Mexican individuals during this trip. I have to say it has been a joyful surprise.

A Mexican family literally shared their lunch today at the pyramids - they brought us 3 cups of jicama & hot sauce, 3 tangerines and candies. Another family gave the boys some sugar cane – the raw kind you peel and chew. These were clearly not families that had an abundance. We have been overwhelmed with the generous spirits of the Mexicans we have encountered.

Miracles take many forms ... Amen

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chanukah 6th Night – A Day of Family Lore

Yesterday became part of our Family Lore including the part of day when I tried to poison Oldest Son - oh I am jumping ahead. Let’s start at the beginning. The target for the day is to get to Butterfly Sanctuary by early afternoon …

Day Begins
We had packed and organized everything Monday night so we could leave at 7am Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning, we go out to the hotel parking lot to hook up the pop-up camper and the parking lot is super full! We along with a couple Mexican helpers manage to maneuver the SUV and move the camper manually to hitch to SUV. We are off by 7:30 am.

We go the wrong way once in Patzcuaro but correct our direction quickly to head toward Morelia. We get through Morelia with minor stress. In Mexico, we seldom know exactly where we are but measure success as the ability to get from place to place without too many wrong turns. No wrong turns in Morelia!

And Let the Vomiting Begin
The mountainous Hwy 15 to CD Hidalgo is breathtakingly beautiful and very, very, very, curvy. We know that Youngest Son gets car sick on these twisty roads so we should have had a vomit bucket ready for him. We did not.

Youngest Son announces “I have to vomit!” and 2 seconds later he is vomiting.
I yell “Stop!”
Husband says “No, it too dangerous!”
I say “Stop!”

Husband stops on side of curvey mountain road.

I yank Youngest Son out while in his booster seat while he is still vomiting. We are on the other side of a curve and it IS dangerous. I quickly strip Youngest Son, Husband empties a small ice chest (now the vomit bucket) and I thrust Youngest Son in seat clothed only in Superman underwear with a Dora the Explorer blanket and the vomit bucket. Husband resumes driving. Breath.

Youngest Son vomits again but now he uses the vomit bucket. Youngest Son seems to recover. Then Oldest Son announces he has to vomit. Vomit bucket goes to Oldest Son and he uses it. Oh man. Oldest Son completes his business and goes to sleep.

Road to Angangueo
After going through CD Hidalgo, we arrive in Irimbo were we are supposed to take a Yellow Road (see yesterday’s posting) to Angangueo. As often happens in Mexico, the road splits and there is no way to tell which way to go. We choose straight. Seems okay.

Sh-t! We run up into a DIRT road heading into the mountains. This cannot be right. Ever turned around on a narrow dirt road pulling camper? Not fun. We back track to Irimbo and choose other road and all is good.

Arrival in Angangueo
We had already decided not to camp (again) due to Oldest Son’s condition. We knew two places to stay in Angangueo and we chose Hotel Margarita - thank goodness.

Upon arrival we quickly access that Oldest Son has gotten progressively sicker and there is no way we are hiking to Butterfly Sanctuary on Tuesday. Frankly, we need a Doctor for him. It also appears the back of our camper is falling off. Someone was clearly trying to take a piece of it and took out 3 of 5 screws. We also have an issue with timing for our trip now since we cannot arrive anywhere on Christmas. Oh let’s not forget the bag of clothes with vomit on them.

I literally sit down on curb and cry for 5 minutes. Recover. We will stay here until Friday morning and then resume our journey. This is a wonderful setting to spend a few days. It will be just fine. A gift really.

In comes, Carlos who is the hotel keeper and son of owner. Carlos speaks some English and Husband speaks decent Spanish so here we go.

Husband lets Carlos know we will stay until Friday and we need a doctor, someone to wash our clothes, a guide to Butterfly Sanctuary for Wednesday, a hardware store and internet if possible – all in that order.

Mexican Doctor and Family Lore ...
Carlos arranges for his brother, Roberto, to bring a Doctor to Hotel Margarita. Doctor arrives. Husband, Carlos, Doctor, Oldest Son and I are all in hotel room for check up. Doctor recommends a shot.

Out comes a very large needle and Doctor sends Carlos out for something. Carlos returns with bottle of clear liquid (I think it is water) and cleans Oldest Sons shot area on his bottom. In it goes. Ouch. Oldest Son does great.

Carlos tells us Doctor will be back in 20 minutes with more medicine.

I want Oldest Son to drink liquids to stay hydrated. I fill his water bottle with the clear liquid and squeeze “water” into his mouth.

Oldest Son says “There is something wrong with that water!”

He immediately starts to gag and tear up. Oh my God. I have given him Rubbing Alcohol! I yell for Husband. Out comes the vomit bucket again. Oldest Son vomits it all up and is okay within 10 minutes. Perhaps I should learn to read Spanish better …

Family Lore is born. Tuesday, December 23, 2008 is the day I tried to poison my first born.

Doctor returns with 2 medicines that are to be administered multiple but different times through the day. Husband gets that task. The Doctor is very friendly and affectionate with the kids. We just hope he knows what he is doing.

Oldest Son is much better within a couple hours. We are so relieved.

Carlos and Other Stuff
Carlos is able to assist with the other necessities. Mucho Gracias Carlos!
- We handed off our vomit clothes to girls who work at hotel
- Roberto will take us to the Butterfly Sanctuary Wednesday
- Husband got directions to hardware store
- Hotel office/restaurant has wireless internet

Hotel Margarita
Hotel Margarita has 11 rooms, is family owned and just right for us. At $510 pesos per night we consider it a deal. We ate dinner in their family style restaurant which is more like a room with the family kitchen attached. Food is very comforting and good.
Federal Policia
Oh did I mention the Federal Policia are staying here too? There are 4 armed guards at the entrance and we had dinner with at least 11 policeman and their weapons Tuesday evening. Should I feel safer or not?
Chanukah 6th Night
Carlos came to build our fire since that is the only source of heat for our room. We lit the 6 candles for Chanukah. We were all thankful that Oldest Son survived the day. The 4 of us snuggled in our beds watching the Hanakiah flicker above the fire. Perfecto!

Images below are at the Hotel Margarita and The Poison!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chanukah 5th Night – Angahuan , Volcano, Horses

Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I set out for Uruapan with a vague plan for the day. We decided to start with a trip to Angahuan to see the volcano, Paricutin. We had the usual navigational misstep but ultimately arrived at Angahuan without too much trouble.

Angahuan Arrival
We are approached by a Local Man who offers to take us to Paricutin on horseback. He presents a 5 hour option all the way to volcano or a 2 hour option that takes you just to Church partially buried in lava. We elect the 2 hour version but indicate we need to eat first. Local Man says “Follow me”, mounts his horse and takes off.

Angahuan is a Purepecha Indian village.
- Rustic - very
- Lots of dirt roads not terribly well maintained
- Short, plain square adobe buildings
- Men riding horses all over
- Women in traditional peasant type dress

We pass the village square and church and drive for about 10 minutes in a confused state. Are we going to eat? Where are we?

We finally arrive at a lodging area with cabins, playground, horses and lots of local people. We ask about food. Local Man says indicates we can eat at top. Okay, no food yet. We are handed off to Abel who we guess is our guide. He sets us up on 4 horses. Abel leads my horse while two little local boys lead horses for Oldest Son and Youngest Son. Husband gets to handle his horse alone. I feel slightly discriminated against but having someone else lead for once is kinda nice.
We are very excited especially Youngest Son who is wearing his cowboy hat purchased on Janitzio Island. The ride through the mountain and forest is so peaceful.

Paricutin and Church
You may have heard the story of Paricutin. In 1943, a farmer was plowing his field when the ground began to shake and a new volcano sprouted ultimately creating a volcano 1,700 feet above the corn field. It erupted for 9 years destroying two villages and leaving behind acres and acres of black lava rock. In the middle of all this black lava rock is a Church, built in 16i8, only partially destroyed - looks like a miracle to me.

We arrive at the Church with the Paricutin volcano looming in the background. There is a small shanty area where food and goods are available. Abel starts to lead us toward Church. We ask about food again. Abel says when we get back. Husband and I laugh because yesterday at Janitzio Island we had food at every turn and today we cannot seem to get a morsel.
Husband made a significant packing error for our camping and hiking vacation: he only brought flip flops. So Husband hiked through all the lava rock in flip flops. Not recommended.

Lunch Finally
We hike back to shanty area and sit down to eat. An old woman is making green tortillas and her old man is tending several simmering pots of mole, beans, rice, pork and beef. The wait for food is so worth it. All was savory. Oldest Son is chilled so we get him a great Mexican pull over. He looks very cute.

This Adventure Ends
The strenuous hike through the lava rocks and Church ruins was just incredible. Natural disaster, history and religion all in a setting of great mountainous, volcanic beauty – our family loved it.
We road our horses back through the lava rock and woods and were sad that the outing had ended.

Our guide was Abel. He did not speak English but he communicated with kindness and consideration. He focused us on points of interests, told us about the history, took several family photos (for once I am in a photo!) and conducted himself with humor. The two little boys were ages 9 and 10 and they were working on this lovely Monday ...

Oldest Son
Oldest Son starts deteriorating after lunch. Mistakenly, we left the medicine at hotel. We went in search of a Farmacia in Angahuan. With locals speaking a different dialect and buildings not labeled, finding anything was challenging. We did end up seeing Local Man (from start of outing) who pointed us in right direction. Medicine was found.

Yellow Roads
Our route back included a Yellow Road to Santa Clara del Cobre, known for copper metalwork. A Yellow Road is yellow on the map and is not usually as well kept nor clearly marked – think of yellow as “Warning - think before you make this road choice.” Husband got quite stressed as we ventured through rural villages and cobblestone Yellow Roads.

We did finally arrive at Santa Clara del Cobre late in day. I quickly purchased a candelabra for Shabbat. Oh yeah, Husband got a pair of $20 sneakers too.

The Day Ends
We head back to Patzcuaro. Husband gets provisions at Soriana grocery store. Oldest Son has gotten worse. Husband and I spend allot of time pouring over maps and books to figure out the next route – the best we can in Mexico – the land of adventure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chanukah 4th Night – Patzcuaro & Janitzio Island

We put on jeans for the 1st time in months. It was fun to wake up to chilly temperatures. Our next surprise was a large hotel breakfast buffet that had so many appealing Mexican dishes. I had Café de Olla for 1st time – traditional Mexican Coffee with cinnamon sticks and brown sugar that I liked very much.

Little Fried Fish Snack
We went to Lake Patzcuaro docks to find a ride to Janitzio Island. Youngest Son begged for this small fried fish snack with limes. Husband and kids really liked it. It was everywhere today – obviously popular! See picture below to see how it is cooked. I have to say there were snack vendors everywhere with all kinds of foods.

Janitzio Island, Pescado Blanco & Potent Peppers
We boarded the boat and I was thrilled when Janitzio Island came into view. It was an entire community built up the side of the island with the Statue of Morelos topping it off. Local fishermen were in their boats with distinctive hats and nets to catch the pescado blanco (notice them in the pictures below.) Pescado blanco is a small, almost transparent whitefish that is local favorite – we had it for lunch. While eating lunch, poor Youngest Son picked up what he thought was an orange bell pepper ring – UH NO! His mouth was on fire from the potent pepper. We tried it and it was very, very hot. Youngest Son managed not to cry but he was quite uncomfortable for awhile.

Statue of Morelos
There were many, many steps to the top with steep incline with locals selling their wares all along the way. It was worth the climb. The Statue of Morelos was impressive and we climbed to the top of his hand for an amazing view. Boys loved sliding up and down the statue base and playing on a small playground.

Los Viejitos (the little old men)
We thoroughly enjoyed a colorful native dance, the Los Viejitos (the little old men), which originated in this area. It was an amusing and entertaining performance with lots of humor and wit. Boys liked it so much we watched it twice!
Shopping & Banos
I am not a big shopper in general but did acquire some items for me. Husband and the boys provided many opinions as I selected two shirts for $270 pesos. I also got a shawl for $85 pesos. Oldest Son handled the money transaction for me in Spanish. Happy Chanukah to me …

The other common but new experience for us was the $3 pesos for every time we went to the banos (bathroom.) and providing us with the neatly folded toilet paper. Next time, we will have lots of coinage – getting change can be a problem.

Janitzio Island was so much fun. I had not expected an extraordinary day of local culture, cuisine and beauty. While clearly a tourist destination, we were the only gringos we saw the entire time we were there - lots of Mexican families. As Oldest Son said today as we climbed the many steps “Mommy, it's Mexico, it’s an adventure!”

Our day is ending back in the hotel. Oldest Son is still running a fever up and down. And I still have internet!

Oldest Son lit the Hanukkiah on our balcony. We read from The Eight Nights of Hanukah by Judy Nayer which Oldest Son received as a gift on his 1st Chanukah. It has an excerpt for each day and we have read it for 8 years, every year for each of the 8 days -the comfort of traditions no matter where we are in the world.

Silver Shoe Mystery? And I will sign off with this - This silver shoe was hanging in the top of our return boat. Youngest Son asked why? Why indeed?

Chanukah 3rd Night – In Patzcuaro

We began our Road Trip yesterday morning. Husband and I had our expected tense verbal exchanges (always occurs when we are leaving for a trip) as we prepared for our 10 day journey but recovered once on the road. We had various map versions and books to provide all the clues to figure out the maze of roads.

I was talking with a man from Guadalajara last week about our trip and was telling him the road numbers (200, 15, etc.) for our planned route. He started laughing and kindly let me know that no Mexican would talk about road numbers – only the gringos! I did understand what he was saying. It is imperative to focus on names of cities and towns when navigating because road number signs are few and far between.

Husband and I were quite proud of ourselves. We got through Guadalajara and to Patzcuaro fairly well. The drive into Patzcuaro is just beautiful.

Our plan was to camp in Patzcuaro but Oldest Son is not feeling great and I had some work (needed internet) to do so we opted to stay at hotel in Patzcuaro. It is quaint, clean and only $81 USD. And warm! It is cold here.

We brought one of our Hanukkiah. What a gift – to kindle the lights of Chanukah and recite our 2 blessings in this lovely Colonial village nestled in the mountains and lakes of Mexico:

Barukh Atta Adonay Eloheynu Melekh Ha-olam Asher Kiddeshanu Be-mitsvotav Ve-tsivanu Lehadlik Ner Shel khanuka

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.

Barukh Atta Adonay Eloheynu Melekh Ha-olam She-asa Nissim La-avoteynu Ba-yyamim Ha-hem Ba-zzman Ha-zze

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chanukah 2nd Night – Macabees, Freedom & Latkes

We celebrated the 2nd night of Chanukah with Other American Family (Mom, Dad and 3 boys) who also brought along a 10 year old Mexican girl.

I started our celebration with the story Chanukah from the The First Book of Maccabees:

"About 2200 years ago, Greek kings, who reigned from Damascus, ruled over the land of Judea and the Jews living there.

A Greco-Syrian King, Antiochus Epiphanes, forbade the Jewish people from praying to their God, practicing their customs, and studying their Torah. Antiochus forced the Jews to worship the Greek gods. It is said that he placed an idol of the Greek God Zeus on the alter in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.

In response to this persecution, Judah Maccabee and his four brothers organized a group of resistance fighters known as the Maccabees. They fought against paganism and oppression.

The tenacity of the rebels, which came from their steadfast faith in one God, is one reason this military victory has been so celebrated by Jews in future generations. In one battle near Beit Horon, Judah's small army is intimidated by the size of the enemy army and Judah tells them to have faith that God is on their side.

Against great odds, after three years of fighting, the Maccabees succeeded to drive the Greco-Syrians out of Judea. Chanukah proclaims the message of the prophet Zachariah: "Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit."

The Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. They cleaned the Temple, removing the Greek symbols and statues. When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they rededicated it. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev in 164 BCE, the Temple was purified and rededicated.

According to tradition, when the Maccabees entered the Holy Temple, they discovered that the Greco-Syrians had defiled the oil which was used to Temple's menorah. Only one vat of purified oil remained - enough for only one day. It would take the Jews a week to process more purified oil. Then a miracle occurred. The Maccabees lit the menorah and it burned for not one, but eight days, by which time the new, purified oil was ready. This is why the Chanukah Menorah has eight candles (not including the shammes candle used to light the others) and one reason why Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days."

The 6 children then lit all 7 Hanukkiah, we recited the prayers, exchanged gifts and then we got to eat Latkes!

Husband makes the best Latkes! Latkes are traditional fare for Chanukah. Many holiday foods such as latkes and donuts are fried in oil, a symbolic ingredient that represents the one-day's supply of oil that burned for eight days.

To complete our celebration, Oldest Son read aloud Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, Illustrated by Greg Harlin. Based on the diary entries of Louisa Hart, the step-daughter of Michael Hart, a Jewish merchant known to Washington, Washington told the Harts about meeting a Polish-born Jewish solider at Valley Forge who explained the holiday of Hanukkah to him. I highly recommend it for people of all faiths.

Chanukah 1st Night

Chanukah officially starts at sundown December 21st and then will continue for 8 days. Our family tradition is to open gifts on the 1st and 8th nights and have theme nights the other days (like game night, watch Fiddler on the Roof night, decorate dreidals night, etc.)

With the big Road Trip (more on this later) and Chanukah overlapping, we decided to start Chanukah on December 18th and open all gifts the 1st night. It is good to a Reform Jew!

The kids and I actually put out Chanukah decorations last Saturday. I transported a large box of special Chanukah items to Mexico: 7 Hanukkiah (the nine-branched candleholder), along with many books, wall hangings, dreidals and other good stuff.

Each night at sundown we light the shammes candle (server or lighter candle) and use it to light 1 candle the 1st night, 2 candles the 2nd night, on and on till we light all 8 candles on the 8th night. Each family member lit their own special Hanukkiah.

Youngest Son read his own Chanukah book he made when he was 3 years old - ahhh. Oldest Son read the 2 blessings, also known as brachos, which are spoken each of the eight nights of Chanukah. Together, we all said a special 3rd blessing which is only said on the 1st night:

Barukh atah Adonai, Elohaynu, melekh ha-olam
she-hecheeyanu v'keey'manu v'heegeeyanu la- z'man ha-zeh (Amein)

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season (Amen)

Oh Yeah – then it was then crazy present time! The kids had made us the sweetest message and laid it out to surprise us. Highlights included Star Wars Action Figures, Professor Noggin Games, Puzzles, Superman PJs, LOTS of Books, Risk Game, Sequence Game, and Charades Game. Husband got an AWESOME portable Chess set and I got very cool sterling silver dangle earrings.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Interior Road Trip & Camping

Last Spring Husband bought me Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping by Mike & Terri Church. We brought our Pop-up Camper all the way from the USA to Mexico (pic above is after crossing border last July.) So we are finally putting both to use.

Husband and I are frantically trying to get all our work done so we can head out Saturday morning to visit the following places in the Mexico Interior:

El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

We have guide books, maps, an Atlas and a AAA Trip-tick. We have a plan of sorts but after this long in Mexico we also know to be ready for what may come. Our one rule is to make sure we do plan our route well enough to not drive at night.
Got allot to do in next couple days ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Mexican Holiday season is under way ...

As I ran along the beach last Saturday afternoon, I saw 4 posada celebrations. We were invited and attended a posada which included:

- A progressive scavenger hunt type relay game for the children which they loved

- The singing of a traditional song telling of the Holy Family requests for shelter for the night but being turned away - they are told that while there is no room in the posada (inn) but they are welcome to take refuge in the stable ... the song ends with a joyful welcoming. Sheets of paper were handed out and the guests split into 2 groups to sing the parts.

- A piñata with 7 points representing the 7 deadly sins was eagerly smashed by the children (this started an interesting conversation with our boys about the sins which are not part of Jewish liturgy)

- And lots of great food, of course!

About Pastorelas - "(Shepherds Plays) are staged throughout the holiday season in Mexico by both amateur and professional groups. The light, humor-filled Pastorelas tell of the shepherds' adoration of the Christ Child. First they are visited in the fields by an angel who announces the holy birth. As the shepherds attempt to follow the great star leading them to Bethlehem they are plagued by a series of evils and misadventures provoked by the Devil. But in the proverbial all's-well-that-ends-well finale, good triumphs over evil and the shepherd's reach their intended destination."
Our Pastorela was last night at the kids' school. Wow. It was 2 1/2 hours of organized, wonderful choas:
- Youngest Son was a Devil in the pre-school presentation of the pastorela. Since all in Spanish, I could not understand the words but the costumes and acting were so, so cute! Youngest Son and I made his costume which included very scary face make-up and crazy fiery hair - he looked amazing.

- Grades 1 - 6 each did a couple songs and dances. Oldest Son was truly rocking to Jingle Bell Rock with his enthusiastic dance moves, wrist bells and Santa cap

- Some older students sang and played music several times along with being the MC
- Several girl dance groups did ballet and hip hop
- There were tamales, cake and some kind of chicken soup type dish
- Lots of lights and decorations ...