Christmas, Long Walks and Other Things

What we’ve been doing these last few weeks…

Christmas has come and gone
The crazy markets that I love
Have been dismantled
All those baby Jesus dolls
And their wardrobes
Of colorful satin and gold sandals
Hand knit jumpers
Baby Jesus for sale
Women crocheting in their stalls
Paper flowers, mylar decorations
Christmas Market
And really bad cookies, candies,
Oranges and Mandarinas,
Ponche fruits and sugar cane.
All gone already.
It’s all a little over the top
wonderful and Crazy

Mexican Christmas Markets
click on this link to view the slideshow 

We’ve been taking long walks
All over San Miguel
We discovered that from our hill
In Colonia Santa Julia,
If you can see it, you can walk there
Within 1 hour.  Anywhere.
Really. You should try it.
You find interesting things in the streets
Like this fish on the beach, found nowhere near the beach
And not really a fish, but we like the photo. 

Fish on the beach, nowhere near the beach

Today we walked down the hill
Along Calzada Aurora
Up into the hills into San Luis Rey.
From there we spent the whole walk back
Trying to pick out our rooftop
On the opposite hillside.
In three hours we walked there,
Into town for a few errands
And back home.
You can’t ask for anything more
In the weather right now

Last Tuesday
We walked up to the Placita
It takes about 45 minutes to get there
Down to town, up that big hill,
And you’re there
The first thing we found

Was a stand selling Watermelon and Papaya
We’ve been having really bad luck with Papayas lately
But these were fantastic, so we bought two.

We immediately went to the food booth
That sells meals of fresh cooked fish.
You can get a caldo de pescado, fish soup
Pescado frito – more or less fish without the chips, but with Tortillas
Pescado Frito
Or pescado enpapelado, our favorite
Which we have been trying to replicate at home.

The woman who makes pescado enpapelado
Starts with two layers of aluminum foil on the table
To this she puts down mayonaise and a sauce
That either is, or is like, Valentinas sauce.
To this, she adds shredded cabbage,
cubed carrots, tomatoes, chayote, brocolli, corn
And whatever other vegetables she has around
A few pieces of shrimp and Octopus
All of this is piled on top of each other in a little mound
Which is topped off with a white fish – perhaps tilapia
A piece of cheese – a velveeta type that comes in a wrapper
And a canned chipotle chile and lime.
The foil is closed up and it is placed on an open grill
On top of a comal, and it steams for 15 minutes
When you open it up, everything is steamed in it’s juices
It is a treat to eat and burns your mouth
If you aren’t careful.

Here you can see the foil packages roasting on the comal
This week, maybe we’ll get little video of it being made.
We replicated it at home  in a stainless steel pan
On top of the stove and it was fantastic.

Last Sunday, the 20th
We made another excursion
To Atotonilco.

It was baby baptism day
Hundreds of families were there,
Dressed up, with their babies
In white christening gowns and caps,
Tiny white shoes, some wrapped tightly
In blankets being held by their proud fathers

The left nave of the church holds the nacimiento, behind locked doors

Nacimiento, Atotonilco

In the church, a nun came out
Made everyone get up and reorganize
So the families with babies could be in the front
There was a lot of shuffling around,
People moving to the back of the church
And clergy checking the paperwork
Before they could begin.

Outside, our friend Ron
Bought crowns of thorns,
Disciplinas (for flagellating and repenting)
And a netted decorated bridal veil
To take his family for Christmas
We aren’t sure how this went over
Or who got to be the bride of Christ
We’re still waiting to hear.
Ron, buying crown of thorns, disciplina and bridal veil for Christ

There was a group of cyclists
On a pilgrimage, being led and followed
By two trucks carrying nichos with Virgins
Pilgrimage vehicle
Decorated in plastic and paper flowers
Stopping by the church for a blessing,
Some food, and a rest.
Look for more pictures of Atotnilco on one of our earlier posts.

On December 12
The saint day for the Virgin of Guadalupe
All the virgin altars, paintings and shrines are decorated.
Virgin Shrine, colonia Independencia
We took a walk in the late afternoon
To see what was going on below.
Across the gully from us
We’d been hearing music all day
We could see locos dancing
(John and his new local loco buddy below!)
John and our local loco!
Paper and floral decorations were moving in the wind.
As we walked up into Colonia San Felipe
We felt a little awkward walking past the party
But before we knew it, we were being pulled in
By our neighbor, Pastor Juarez and his wife Lourdes
Given an plate of chicken mole, rice and tortillas
Manzana soda, and introduced to our neighborhood locos.


The permanent altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe
is decorated with flowers, plants and ballo0ns
Large decorated breads are hanging around it in plastic bags
And decorated with paper flowers. 

Pastor and Lourdes' altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe

It sits on the side of  Pastor and Lourdes’ house
And is maintained by them.
Pastor is a house and decorative painter
Lourdes keeps the house and the rituals alive.
A large blue plastic tarp (lona)
Covers the end of the street
A DJ was there with five foot tall speakers
And they were dancing in front of the altar
From 8am to 8pm.
All costume, men dressed like women
With balloon breasts, children lighting off firecrackers
And booming loco music.
The children allowed us to take photos
Which we printed and took to them at Christmas
With homemade Christmas Cookies.
Young Locos yukking it up for the camera

Guadalupe day
and neighborhood Locos
click on picture to view 

Here are a few more photos from the last couple of weeks.

An altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Placita/Marketp1020771

Another Shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe


A rooster running free at the market


Large paper angels and paper mache ornaments hanging on a yukka tree
At the back side of a fountain in Colonia Guadiana


The noche buena ornament, above the fountain.


The all-seeing door  


And the local transito on Calle San Franciso
Has not been forgotten.
By the third day – when we did not have our camera
The presents were calf high and two feet around him.

Transito cop