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Oink Flap….Oink Flap
Dec 30th, 2010 by Les

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~Anaïs Nin (French writer, born of Cuban parents) (A quote sent in by one of our readers..thanks RW)

Bill Cosby (American comedian and actor) commented: “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows life can deliver.  And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”

It is said an optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  Apparently I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist.  The older I get the less likely I am to be up at midnight.  Consequently, complaining will serve no purpose and I’m ready for where ever 2011 will take me.

To be honest, I’m more likely to be awake to watch the Kings Day celebrations here in our small village.  Our neighbor’s children have already written letters to the Magi requesting the gifts they would like to receive.  I guess it doesn’t matter which of the kings gets the letter; los Reyes Magos, Melchor, Gaspar or Baltazar, as all of them can bring the kids the gift(s) they request.  On the night of January 5th the figures of the Wise Men are placed in the nativity scene.  Traditionally, the children will leave out their shoes with hay in them to feed the animals of the Magi (often a camel).  When the children wake up in the morning of January 6th their gifts appear in place of the hay.

As we greet the New Year and await the arrival of the Magi, David and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers for their continued support, interesting and humorous comments…often off blog….and ability to appreciate the humor and absurdities my quirky brain finds in every-day life here in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.  We appreciate all of you immensely.

David’s photography remains both fascinating and beautiful.  There is never a day that goes by that he doesn’t see something that excites, delights, amazes or challenges him.  With camera strung around his neck he greets each day with the enthusiasm of youth looking for another opportunity to share with everyone the beauty of this land called Mexico.

We know there are many people who worry about drug wars and the safety of traveling in Mexico, much less settling down here.  And yet we have had many, many people, who read our blog, visit us during the past year, with some making the choice to move here and spend some time.  Perhaps it is the moment of the most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties. Talking to the people who actually live here may help nourish human hope for being able to find sense in life in Mexico and thereby experiencing first-hand its absurdities.

Our life here in Mexico has a superb cast though we are still trying to figure out the plot.  We greet each day with wonder and awe, something we’d both lost as we gave into the work-a-day-world.

If you are alive and functioning (so to speak) may I suggest you try flapping your arms and legs, spiced with a modicum of jumping around with great abandon, for life is the very opposite of death.  Therefore, if one has as absurd thoughts as moi, you must, at the very least, think noisy and colorfully, or you’re simply not alive.

Is Mexico on your agenda?  Sure, when….oink flap, oink flap…well I’ll be darned!

Viva Mexico.

One of the many absurdities...and orange tree over looking a pointsettia tree. Not something one sees in the colder climes from whence I come!

An evening on the Ajijic plaza. The Ajijic Cultural Center on the left (where David has two pictures hung). A restaurant on the right with a disco (yes folks, a disco) above the restaurant!

David at his last art show of the year.

David's interpretation of Kilroy Was Here.

One of our artist friends at David's last show. I love the color of the boa!

Here’s to choosing a purple boa to adorn your shoulders! May you dance with the abandonment of this young Mexican child as you greet 2011 with all its possibilities!

David and Les Lawrence

Entropy Has Us Outnumbered.
Dec 27th, 2010 by Les

Mark Twain was heard to say: “New Year’s Day…now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

A dog’s New Year’s resolution: I will not chase that stick unless I see it leave his hand!

If entropy has us outnumbered the disorder that exists in my ramblings is on target.  The absurdities of the New Year’s celebration cannot escape a skeptic’s mind.

Consider this:  The Mexicans are said to observe an underwear tradition.  The color of a woman’s panties at midnight helps decide her fate in the New Year.  Now really?!  Yes dear reader if one is wearing red panties they (the panties that is) ensure love.  If the panties are yellow a good job with healthy financial ramifications are ensured.  White panties suggest good health and green panties will bring more money into the household.

Don’t ask me who checks this out or what type of solid proof they have for this tradition.  Me thinks the idea of checking it out might have prompted the underwear tradition.

Skyrockets will be shot off….now there’s a surprise!  We’ve lived in Mexico over a year now and if there is one thing we are certain of… skyrockets are a part of every known, and some unknown, celebrations.  We have also learned that time of day does not matter similar to appointment times not mattering.  Skyrockets fit in good at any time as arriving for an appointment three hours or, for that matter, three days late is part and parcel of living life south of the border.

Another interesting tradition is a trip around the neighborhood carrying your luggage, will bring travel into your life in the New Year.  Or, you might consider tripping on the cobblestones (yes, I’m back to this reference) as the journey they intended…especially for us sure-footed gringos!

Then there’s the grape tradition.  I’m not sure if the color of the grape matters however tradition has it that you should eat a grape for every chime of the clock, leading to the stroke of midnight.  You should also make a wish with each of the 12 grapes eaten – each grape symbolizing the 12 months of the year.

Now back in the States, especially where I come from the former headquarters for Miller Brewing, Miller Beer representatives have always told us: think when you drink, but what they think is that you’ll think when you drink you can still think.  The truth is, when you drink you can’t think.  So before you drink, think…and then don’t drink.  Well, this sentence made sense when I started it!!

There will be a festival with food, drink, music and much merriment in the Ajijic town Plaza.  Much gaiety and fun for the entire family, gringos and expats alike will ensue.  It seems to me a good resolution to consider making is to not drink tequila too close to any of the fire dancers.

I remember one year, obviously in the olden days, when, while watching TV, they took us live to Houston and we bet the rest of the guacamole dip on whether Mickey Gilley would fall of the piano stool.  Again I digress.

Below are photographs David took of the many live Nativity scenes in the Ajijic plaza. Several towns and villages took part in the Christmas Eve show with their own interpretations of that wondrous night.

I leave you with this thought….life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely and in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting: “Holy shit, what a ride!”

Viva Mexico!

Christmas Eve in Ajijic

Beautiful Colors

This is one of my favorites. I just love Mary and Joseph!

Another Beautiful Nativity.

Note the "live" Baby Jesus.

I'm not clear on what the Fender Stratocaster has to do with Christmas Eve.

Baby Jesus sleeping soundly.

Another wonderful scene.

This is a shot of the gazebo Nativity scene with the church tower in the background. The face you see in the foreground is fascinating replication of Mary.

Visit the BoomerstoMexico Photo Store at http://boomerstomexico.com/mexico-photos/ , to see more of the beauty of Ajijic Mexico in David’s photos.  Several of David’s pieces are now exhibiting at the Ajijic Cultural Center and can be seen on the stores website. 

A Mexican Christmas
Dec 23rd, 2010 by Les

 “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”  Roy L. Smith, religious author.
 
Dave Barry, best selling American author and comedian said:
In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!

The Mexican Christmas is a festive celebration of Christ’s birth that lasts over a month.  While American commercialism has influenced the way that many celebrate the holiday, the majority of Mexicans still honor most, if not all, of the centuries-old traditions surrounding Christmas.  It is the same in our small village of Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

In order to understand the lengthy holiday season in Mexico and the significance of all the Mexican Christmas customs, it is necessary to point out the intense religious faith of much of the Mexican population. Almost 90 percent of Mexicans identify themselves as Roman Catholic, many of them devoutly so. This long standing, cohesive religious identity of most Mexicans is the backbone of Mexican Christmas celebrations.

The Mexican Christmas season begins with the first of the Posadas on December 16 and ends on February 2 with the celebration of Candelaria. The highlight of the Mexican Christmas occurs on Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve.

Las Posadas are processions of children dressed as Mary, Joseph, the Three Kings, and shepherds that take place each of the nine days before Christmas in neighborhoods throughout Mexico. The children reenact Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem.

At the first and second houses the children stop at in this Mexican Christmas tradition they are turned away, while at the third house they are told they can stay in the stable. Here the children enter, pray the rosary and then have a party with a piñata filled with fruits and candies.

An elaborate nativity scene is the primary decoration in each family’s home during the Mexican Christmas. Some families have nativity scenes that take up an entire room, with dozens of figures, lights, houses, and trees. On Christmas Eve baby Jesus is placed in the manger of the nativity scene, where he will remain until the scene is taken down on February 2.

On the Mexican Christmas Eve families attend midnight mass and then return home for a traditional Christmas Eve meal. Different food items are present at this Mexican Christmas meal depending on region and affluence, but popular items include tamales, Biscayan cod, greens in mole, turkey, or ham. After the Mexican Christmas meal the children open gifts, play with sparklers, and, perhaps, have another piñata.

On a typical Mexican Christmas Day most families rest and celebrate Christ’s birth at home with family. Epiphany, El Dia de los Reyes, on January 6 is an important day in the Mexican Christmas season, as this is the day that children wake up to find gifts left for them by the Three Magi. On this day the traditional Rosca de Reyes, or Three Kings Cake, is served with a figure of Baby Jesus hidden inside. Whoever finds the Baby Jesus figure in their piece will host a party on the Candelaria and provide a christening gown for Jesus.

Candelaria occurs on February 2 and is considered the last day of the Mexican Christmas. Most Mexicans attend dinner parties on this day and close out the holiday season by celebrating Christ as the “Light of the World.”

Many children receive their Mexican Christmas gifts on Epiphany to symbolize the gifts brought to Baby Jesus by the Wise Men. While some Mexicans have adopted the more commercialized Santa Claus tradition, many still commemorate Epiphany as the day for children to receive their gifts, just as Jesus received his gifts from the Three Kings on this day.

The poinsettia is seen often during the Mexican Christmas season and has deep roots in Mexican culture.  A Mexican legend dating from the 1500s helps to explain how poinsettias became so closely associated with the Christmas holiday.  According to the legend, a poor young girl had no gift to lay before the manger of the baby Jesus at her local church.  An angel appeared to the girl and told her to pick some weeds and take them to the church as her gift.  When the girl laid the weeds in front of the altar, they turned into poinsettias, filling the church with their color and beauty.  From then on poinsettias were used in Christmas celebrations around the country, and eventually beyond.

Que la esperanza, la paz y la felicidad de las vacaciones de permanecer con usted durante todo el año. 

May the hope, peace and happiness of the holidays remain with you throughout the New Year.

David and Les Lawrence

A Christmas altar set up in front of one of the homes on our block.

Another altar just up the street.

The gazebo in the Ajijic plaza.

A creche set up in the gazebo in Ajijic.

The gifts of the Magi.

Shepards and Magi.

An ancient cobblestone street in Ajijic with modern lights.

A Mexican poinsettia tree.

Silent Night

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