A Travellerspoint blog

Posada

Meeting neighbourhood kids, by Ailsa

sunny 19 °C

The first thing we were told by our parents when we got here was smile, say 'hola' and be friendly. For about a week or two all we did was smile. Then one day we were coming back from the market and walking up del Potrero. About half way up the street a young local girl, her tortuga (turtle) and a stool where in the middle of the street so we ran up to play a game with the girl. We eventually came back inside because the girl went inside her house for dinner. Later that night while we ate our supper we heard lots of kids voices on the street. We ate our supper as fast as we could and ran out onto the street. There were five kids playing and we just joined in! They spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish so we communicated with hand actions. We played regularly over the next week, learning more Spanish words as we played. One night they invited us to join them at their local church for posada.

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Posada acts out the story of Mary and Joseph (Maria and Jose) looking for a place to spend the night in Bethlehem. A parade forms (the front holding a toy sized Mary sitting on a donkey) and pretends to ask for room and is told 'no, there is no room for you'! After a few tries they are told that there is a place for them and each person is given a bag of candy and a bag of fruit to represent generosity. After the posada at the local church we headed to the fancy Basilica with our friends for another posada. We met more new friends and headed on from there to our third and final posada of the night at the beautiful large stone church. We tried to sing along with their posada songs, then lit candles and followed our friends and all the other kids as they paraded around the church. We also lit sparklers in the church. What fun! Everyone ended up outside in the church's courtyard to line up for the piñatas. There were three piñatas and the little kids got to whack at them first. For the third piñata the priest pulled me out from the lineup and I swung a few times and broke it open. They were filled with a few candies and lots of citrus fruit, short stalks of sugarcane and peanuts in their shells. I kept a piece of that piñata to remember it.

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By the time we had finished it was quite late and we returned to our house tired and ready for bed. We laid all our loot on the table and it was like Halloween. But, they do nine nights in a row of posadas, ending on Christmas Eve. Can you imagine nine Halloween nights in a row? Wow. There were fireworks each night and lots of church bells ringing. On Christmas Eve the bells rang for hours and hours and hours. We think the people here party so much! When do they sleep? It has been an amazing experience joining in with their celebrations.

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Posted by Salsa Sojourns 20:04 Archived in Mexico Tagged posada Comments (1)

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, by Norm

sunny 20 °C

The acoustics of a natural amphitheatre are amazing!

The historical Centro Guanajuato is set between several hills, so everything sounds like it is coming from just below our patio. On our first night Shona and I were disappointed that we were too tired to check out the fireworks and parade, only to find out that they would increase nightly up to a fevered pitch on December 12 to celebrate the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe - Our Lady of Guadalupe. For the next few evenings we would hear drums and bugles start, thinking they were very close by.

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We finally witnessed one of the parades and they actually took place on the opposite side of the valley from our home - despite how close they sounded each previous night. It started with kids dressed up as animals and devils being chased by someone with a whip! The procession included banners and portraits of the famous image housed in Mexico City. The drum and bugle corps were interspersed with all ages playing. There were various groups all playing the same tune, but it seemed that they seldom played them in sync. The beat and music was infectious, driving us up the very steep hill with the parade to its end point, Santuario de La Virgen de Guadalupe. The church bells were ringing madly without pause, scarcely heard beneath the defending noise of the bands. The participants marched right into the church for blessings (including the devils being whipped!).

The City was a hive of activity on December 12. All the kids were dressed in traditional outfits and carried offerings of fruits and vegetables. Everyone moved in a mass up the narrow road to the Santuario for blessings. We felt blessed as well for having witnessed it.

PS: the kids questioned if what we witnessed was technically a parade as there were no bagpipes! Toto, we're not in Fergus anymore!

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Posted by Salsa Sojourns 07:18 Archived in Mexico Tagged guadalupe Comments (0)

Come on, Vamonos!

Arriving in Guanajuato, by Shona

sunny 24 °C

Well the big day that had been circled in red Sharpie on the family calendar finally arrived. Norm had spent the previous four weeks curling and drinking his way around Scotland. And according to him - having as much fun as he did on his curling tour is hard work. (Poor boy). And after a hectic few months of over-scheduled activities and the challenges that come with the kids changing school - we were all looking forward to the luxury of spending the next few months together with no obligations.

We woke at 4am and drove to the Toronto Airport where Grandma Cable dropped us off. I often say we are a very lucky family, and wouldn't you know it... we were upgraded to business class for our flight from Toronto! The kids were just excited to get pop (deprived!) and the extra inches of leg room were heaven to Norm and I. A long stop over in Atlanta and then we finally arrived in Mexico City late in the evening. We had a few hours before we had to catch our very early bus so we decided to catch a few hours sleep at the airport. Norm and I may not be the most observant people on the planet, but how did we not notice the airport was open air? It got surprisingly cold and we were pretty miserable when we headed out of the city in the early hours.

Our first destination was the city of Guanajuato, which is close to the geographical middle of the country. Hopefully far enough away from the dangers of being too near the border, and also not really on the gringo radar. We have rented a house in the old part of the town for the next five weeks so we'll be here for Christmas and Hogmanay. Very little English is spoken here so we are hoping to pick up some Spanish before heading out on the rest of our trip through Central America.

We'll write more in the next few weeks (the kids want to give their two cents too) but our early impressions of Guanajuato are: stunning location, delicious food (my God, the food!) and beautiful welcoming people. We had never met anyone who had visited here before, but we liked the look of the town when we did Google image searches. Seriously, that is the extent of our previous knowledge of this place, so we are again feeling extremely lucky - what a beautiful destination.

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We have spent the past few years talking about, and planning, this trip and it certainly feels surreal that we have finally begun our travels...

Posted by Salsa Sojourns 13:44 Archived in Mexico Tagged guanajuato Comments (2)

The longest journey begins with a single step...

Selling our home in Fergus, by Shona

As you likely already know, Norm and I are preparing for a five month backpacking trip through Mexico and Central America with our three kids: Ailsa (10), Mirren (8), and Fraser (5).

We recently sold our home in lovely Fergus, Ontario, Canada, moved our remaining pared-down possessions into storage, and are essentially squatting in Norm's parents' condo in Guelph (they are out east for the summer) until we leave on our trip on December 1st.

We moved to Fergus 10 years ago when Ailsa was only a few weeks old and we had the most wonderful years there living the best of small-town life to its fullest and meeting many fantastic people. We will sadly miss our life in Fergus as we plan to permanently relocate down the road to Guelph following our trip. But we have a bucketful of memories and amazing friendships to keep us strongly connected with that special place.

This blog is intended to keep our family and friends (and our kids' friends!) up-to-date with our travels. 'Salsa Sojourns' seemed an apt title for our family's travel blog. We will be trying our best to 'sojourn' in a few spots along our intended route, rather than whipping around seeing all the sights as we would have done in our previous child-free (comparatively stress-free?) travels. And 'salsa'... well as many of our friends can attest, Norm has an obsession of sorts with perfecting his homemade salsa and we are all (well, maybe not Fraser...) very excited to try new foods and flavours while there. And 'salsa' music? Yes please! And hopefully some mariachi, reggae, calypso and Garifuna punta as well! And who knows, we may even learn to dance the 'salsa'. (Stop laughing). ;-P

So, Salsa Sojourns it is.
We hope you enjoy sharing our adventures!
Shona, Norm, Ailsa, Mirren & Fraser

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Posted by Salsa Sojourns 21:35 Comments (3)

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