Christmas season at the Casa

leslie-poinsettia-smallWe’ve been learning how Christmas is celebrated in Mexico!  In our español class a couple of weeks ago, we started learning about how many Mexicans start their pre-Christmas celebrations through the “Posada”, the (historical) significance of piñatas and of course – food!

The Posada is a re-enactment (through singing) of the difficulties Joseph and Mary had looking for an inn – and being turned away.

This traditional celebration was held here two Saturdays ago in the evening with 60 or 70 people, families and kids.  Half the group was outside the (closed) front door with candles and the others (representing the inn keepers) on the inside.

The outside group sang a request for lodging and the inside group turned them away – it went back and forth 3 times.  Then the inside group opened the door and let everyone in with a final chorus.  It’s a beautiful traditional song!

Then piñata time!  Obviously, this is what the kids were waiting for and the Casa had 3 large ones filled with candy and oranges.

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As part of the Posada celebration, we had an old fashioned Christmas sing, but for us a twist – we alternated the carols in español and English!

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On Christmas Day, our Casa had a pot luck Christmas dinner just for the guests, the volunteers and a few invited guests. Our contribution to the potluck was meatballs and gravy and freshly cooked beets. The variety of dishes were yummy!

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There was such a turnout that extra places had to be set up! The countries represented in this picture are: El Salvador, Italy, Argentina, U.S, Canada, Russia, Columbia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Peru, Mexico, Honduras and Jamaica. A world gathering at one table!

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Watch where you drive!

street-hole-smallSo I’d just left the Monument and protest demonstration (see previous post) and walked up to Wal-Mart for my chicken breast when I saw this gaping hole in the street.

Wow – perfectly aligned for some un-suspecting driver!

This is a U-turn spot for traffic to head back to the very major boulevard of Insurgentes.

Hmmm – this is going to be interesting!

So I waited for my un-suspecting prey – I mean driver…

So here comes the first guy – nope, he’s paying attention and goes around the hole.

street-hole-with-car-medThe bottom line is I wait awhile but the several cars making u-turns all see the hole and carefully drive around it.

So I continue walking across the street to Wal-Mart, but remember another hole!  Leslie and I have walked past this hole a million times and don’t think anything about it anymore – it’s just there and to be avoided.  There’s a whole long line of rental bikes there with this pedestrian gap in the fence…

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Ah yes – keep your wits about you whether driving or walking!

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So I got my chicken breast but there was no bus back home to take (the protest demonstration) so I started to walk back when I walked past my u-turn hole.

With nothing better to do for the moment I waited – and watched…

Sure enough, a car came around for the u-turn but this guy didn’t see the hole and hit it square.  The car dropped and instantly stopped, but it only dropped maybe 4-6″.  I thought it should have dropped the car down to its frame.  After maybe 5 seconds, the guy gave it the gas and climbed out of the hole.

Hmmm – why didn’t the car become completely disabled?  When he drove off  I wandered over for a closer look and saw a chunk of concrete standing in the hole – with lots of tire marks!  That piece of concrete was keeping all the cars from completely dropping into the hole, but probably not doing so much for all those future alignments…

Just another exciting day in Mexico!

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Another day, another disruption

protest1-smallToday it’s Saturday and about noon I wanted to take a break from studying español.

I decided to walk a few blocks north to Wal-Mart and get a cooked chicken breast to take back to the Casa for lunch.  It costs $18 pesos (Mexico uses the $ sign which initially confused us here) and the peso is now about 14 to 1.

Heading out I noticed more commotion than usual around the huge Monument to the Revolution a couple of  blocks away so I sauntered on over to check it out.

Ah – another demonstration!  These are interesting to watch – lots of noise, loud speakers, chanting and banners.  But this protest demonstration also had women dressed in local costumes and men on horseback adding to the festivities.

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These demonstrations tend to completely jam the major boulevards stopping all traffic, and the with the police blocking all intersections, things get chaotic.  But I think people here in Mexico City are resigned to these somewhat regular events – but it sure messes things up for public transportation.

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I was going to take the bus back home, but I walked back instead (besides, I needed the exercise).  But for a lot of people, going much further than me, these disruptions are major set-backs in daily living here.  (The signs say there’s no service on the south route – a major route here).

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Picnic at a castle

museo-historia-smallOn Sunday our Spanish class visited a castle in the huge Chapultepec Park of Mexico City.  It’s now the Museo de Historia but it’s the actual castle where Maximilian and Carlota lived in the 1800s.

The castle sits high on a hill in the park with a panoramic view of the city. As we entered the gates and the expansive court yard, my mind envisioned visiting dignitaries in their horse and buggies and men on horseback clopping over the cobble stones.

Because our class is comprised of refugees from different countries, we have people from different countries in Africa.

When we started taking pictures of each other in the castle, I was amazed that many Latins also touring the castle quickly wanted their pictures taken with our African classmates.  Whenever we started to take a group photo, many Latins would want to scurry into the photo as well and have a friend take their picture with the group.  Don and I talked about that privately later that evening and don’t quite know what to make of that.

So that aspect of our little excursion was interesting.  After the castle tour, our español profesor (teacher) Andres provided a great picnic of tortas (like sub sandwiches) and other goodies.  It was a beautiful day weather wise and a fun time for Don and me to spend more time with our friends from class.

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