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Archive for September, 2012

The cool and crisp morning air awakens my senses to all that surrounds me. While dodging kids on their way to school with their breakfast churros in hand, I catch glimpses of the city’s past. Facades of buildings chipping. Ornate wooden doors. Mexican flags waving proudly in the breeze. Querétaro, a city of living history, is full of wonder at every turn. Spanish colonial churches, skinny stone sidewalks, and tiendas selling gorditas, charm residents and visitors alike. And so, I walk. Soaking in the city, I am in a trance-like state for forty minutes, on my way to prepare for what is in store for the next two years. Within what seems like only minutes, I find myself in front of the Peace Corps office, hardly ready to start another eight hour day of training. As the clock strikes 8:30, there I stand, left contemplating my fortune to experience this gem of a city.

the twigster,

Josefina

PS: I am always really tempted to buy a churro from the street, but reconsider, wondering if churros are the best start to the day.  Tempting though, huh?

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Four years in New Orleans meant many nights parading around the humid town with a face full of glitter and homemade toile skirts. Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Second Line parades, Halloween- there was always an opportunity to let loose, to enjoy and celebrate life within the unique New Orleans culture. Friends or strangers, it never mattered. Everyone was happy and dancing while complimenting one another’s homemade costumes. This was one of my favorite things about life in NOLA, the self-proclaimed right to dance in the streets and sport purple and green hair, if only for the night.

After Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations this past weekend, I know I have found myself in another place with people that know how to appreciate and savor this life. Thursday night, with a tip from staff at the Peace Corps, I walked over to El Templo de Santa Cruz with some other Peace Corps volunteers. In celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, hundreds of people gather in this square in Querétaro in order to dance the Concheros for two full days, non-stop. A dance with indigenous roots, it has been performed since the Spanish Colonial times blending Catholic symbolism and ancient ritual.

When I arrived to the Plaza, I was in the middle of a sea of feathers. People surrounded me with costumes of all colors, dazzling spectators with costumes made of sequins, beads, gold, and silver. Feather headdresses adorned the dancers’ heads, extending a meter in each direction. Organized in a group, dancers rattled the instruments on their ankles, dancing for hours at a time. They filled the air with music coming from conch shells, drums, and string instruments. All the while, I stood there awestruck, attempting to drink in all the sites and process all that I was seeing. With incense smoke, floating into the air, I couldn’t help but float away myself. Wow, I thought. I live here now. ¡Qué suerte! ¡Viva México!

the twigster,

Josefina

PS: There is a tradition to crack cascarones on friends for good luck and shower them with confetti. Check out some instructions to make them here. They could be great for your next celebration!

El GRITO (The Cry for Independence)

¡Mexicanos!

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!

¡Víva Hidalgo!

¡Viva Morelos!

¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!

¡Viva Allende!

¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!

¡Viva la independencia nacional!

¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

 

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A year-long application process, intense anticipation, and countless nights of racking my brain for the essential items to pack all added up to this day – the pre-staging event in Washington, D.C., my gateway to Mexico. For the duration of my car ride from NYC to D.C., I planned my entrance. Saunter in, check in to my hotel room, and start chatting away with other volunteers, the whole time remaining cool, calm, and collected. Of course, I knew this would be far from the reality, but I still held on to that hope. Before I knew it, the moment had arrived and we were pulling up in front of the hotel. It was actually happening.

With my person loaded to capacity with luggage, I shuffled into the lobby, pretending not to struggle from the weight of my pack, my duffel bag, and my backpack – all loaded to full capacity. As soon as I entered the lobby, my expression involuntarily turned to a deer in the headlights. I was immobile, while my brain slowly attempted to discern what to do next. Should I look for a PC check-in table? Do I register with the hotel? Do I say goodbye to my family now? My thoughts were spiraling out of control, and all the while, I just stood there.

My mother, sensing my unease, decided to take it upon herself to pick up my slack. Spotting two people sporting the Peace Corps logo, she casually walked over to them, and tapped the gentleman on the shoulder. Still unable to change my frozen expression, I looked on in disbelief as she explained, “this is my daughter, uh, she’s here for the Peace Corps.”

The cool and collected entrance I had hoped for disintegrated right in front of my eyes. Mortified, as soon as my mom was within earshot, she got an earful. It took me a minute to regroup, but I then set down my belongings, and checked into the hotel. I came to terms with my not-so-cool entrance, realizing that I will have many more faux pas moments in the coming months. In fact, they will probably be much, much worse, especially since I will only be expressing myself in my not-so perfect Spanish for the coming months. So Peace Corps lesson one was noted. Let go of any notion of being in complete control of the situation. Gosh, that’s going to be a hard one for an OCD gal like myself.

the twigster,
Josephine

PS: Everyone in my Peace Corps training group is super nice. They are from all over…North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, California, Alaska, Washington, Montana, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma, Colorado, Michigan, Texas, Alaska, and even Puerto Rico.

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