Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I like my bulls on wheels

Went to the park this evening while bull fighting lessons were on.  What kid wouldn't want to take those?  At least up to where you actually have to fight a bull...  

In this first photo the Maestro is starting to run at the youngest student who is barely in the photo at the far right.  He's got two little spears he's going to try and shove in the neck of the bull.  

The two older students practice with a cape and a set of horns.  The one in the blue jacket has marvelous calves and is as graceful as any dancer.    He may become a great bullfighter!  

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tres Reyes

January 6th is the Dia de Reyes, the day Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior bring toys to girls and boys who live in Mexico (and in other countries too).  Evidentally it's an old Roman tradition.

How do you ask the kings for gifts?  In Morelia, many hundreds of children send their lists, rolled into scrolls, by way of helium balloon.  

The kings come into town in a parade the evening of the 5th.  Each is in a horse drawn carriage.  The governor meets them on a stage in front of the main Cathedral and presents them with a special key that will open all the houses of the city just on this one special night.

After that the cathedral bells start ringing like crazy and over a thousand list bearing balloons sail up into the sky.  (Not a thrilling site for the ecologically minded, but stunning if you can shut that part of the brain off a minute.)


Alice, who is twelve and currently attending Catholic school, has the intellect to question the truth of the virgin birth, but is willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to the kings.  In fact, last night when I offered to buy her a balloon in front of the cathedral, she declined, saying she'd rather leave her list in our manger scene by the front door where the kings might find it upon entering our house.  Letting it float into the air  clearly seemed chancey given that the kings were already on the ground.  

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Eve, a Grape Tradition

Spent New Year's Eve in a Holiday Inn ballroom in Guadalajara.  Picture a wedding reception layout.  Lots of round tables for 10 and a dancefloor with live band which was pretty good -- greatest pop Mexican tunes plus some Frank Sinatra.  The event started at 9:00, meaning you arrive around 10:00.  Dinner was served at 11:00.   It was elegant and included a salad with a raspberry stuffed artichoke heart, yum!  We were seated with 7 other people all in one family.  A brother and sister, their spouses, their 3 children -- one grown, one 13ish, one chubby boy about 6 with large protruding front teeth.  They filled us in on the grape tradition:  As the clock striked midnight we were to consume 12 grapes, and make a wish for each month.  OH COOL!  I thought. I totally get into making birthday candle wishes and first star wishes and New Year's resolutions, I only wished I had a piece of paper so I could organize my wishes by month...

When the grapes arrived on each person's plate tied in little partyesque sacks, the band was still playing and people began panicking and blowing their party horns and pointing at their watches to get the band's attention.  They wanted someone to announce it was time to start eating the grapes.  I untied the little ribbon from my mesh bag and broke out in a sweat.  Each grape was about the size of a basketball.  Well, a golf ball.  Everyone at my table started gobbling.  I couldn't concentrate on the months OR my wishes, I was too busy reviewing the steps of the Heimlich maneuver .  I only got three grapes down before midnight.  And then everyone stood up and toasted (hard -- but not impossible -- to swallow champagne with grape seeds in your mouth) and then EVERYONE started hugging EVERYONE else... everyone at our table hugged every other person at the table, then we went on to hug several people at the surrounding tables.  "Feliz año", "Feliz Año", "Feliz Año" you say into each person's ear.  It's a lovely custom really.  By the third time I said it I decided to just swallow the grape seeds.  I figure now those wishes are growing inside me.