Tag Archives: Mexican celebrations

A foreigner at home

Coming in to Mexico City

Ten hours after leaving our house, Mex and I paused to eat our Minnesota Haroldson apples while looking down at the swelling custom’s line. Five flights arriving almost simultaneously created a chaotic scene at the Mexico City airport.

I looked at the two lines, one that said Ciudadanos Mexicanos and one that said Extranjeros, Foreigners.

“How does it feel to be entering Mexico as a foreigner?” I asked.

After a pause, he smiled slowly and said, “Strange.” This is the first time visiting Mexico since he became a US Citizen.

Our 17-month-old son fell asleep as the plane descended, and slept thru his first passport stamp. For the first time in our journeys to Mexico, a member of Mex’s family was waiting for us at the airport. In the past, I’ve always been a little jealous of traveler’s who exit customs (aduanas) in to the arms of happy family members. It was nice to see my sister-in-law Sofia, and eleven-year-old niece Arlin waiting eagerly for us.

It has been two years, almost to the day, since we were last in Mexico. My husband’s father passed away in late August 2009, and to help Mex with his grief, we decided to visit eight weeks later for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It was one of the most eerily beautiful, touching experiences of my life. When trying to decide a time to visit before our son’s “dreaded” second birthday when he becomes a paying airline traveler, we settled on Day of the Dead over Christmas.

Candy skulls for Day of the Dead

An added bonus for Mex, was the fact that one of the big festivals in his town was Saturday, the day we arrived. One thing I love the most about him is, even though he’s been to Disney World, the Minnesota State Fair and other large festivals in the US, his whole face brightens when he talks about Tianguis, nicknamed Las Naranjas (The Oranges- a very little festival in comparison) and I can see the happiness small celebrations brought in to his impoverished childhood.

Toddler-size mole paddles- that’s mo-lay, the national dish of Mexico, not mole, the wicked little creatures that destroy our lawn. Though the paddles may be useful for those too…

Unfortunately, our son had a fever, congestion, and four hours less sleep than in his normal day so we went rather quickly though the displays. Everyone walking around was dressed up (which, after traveling a total of 14 hours and sleeping only two hours the night before I was way too exhausted to do) and there are vendors selling clay jars, enormous wooden paddles for mole,  tamarind and nut candies, clothing, fruit, toys… There were people serving up fresh potato chips, tacos on tiny 4-inch corn tortillas (always doubled), pozole in big bowls , large slices of thick-crust pizza (with nine types of hot sauce to drizzle on top), rich vanilla ice cream on miniature cones, and of course, piles of oranges which Mex claims are the sweetest of the entire year.

In the small plaza area by the elementary school were some carnival rides. The two-story Ferris wheel,  mini kids roller coaster, and a rather rickety version of the tilt-a-whirl seemed to be the favorites. It was great people watching and, as always, entertaining to be “watched” ourselves. It was funny to see people look at Mex carrying our son (who is pale like his mom), see the wrinkled eyebrows, glance at me trailing just a little bit behind and almost shake their heads like “oh, that explains it!”

Just after our son was born he had jaundice which gave his skin a yellow brown tone darkening him to Mex’s color. When I would take him to Barnes and Noble so I could have a Frappucino and get out of the house, usually an older-than-me (my definition of “older” seems to change rapidly with each year that goes by) woman tell me how cute he was and then flow right on with “What is his dad?” Now of course I realize they meant what ethnicity but I just always found the phrasing of the question interesting. I have a friend who is married to a Korean man and she has had people assume her children are adopted, since Korea is one of the most popular countries to adopt from in Minnesota. All I can say, is it certainly is… interesting… the observations that come from the mouths of complete strangers.

Anyone can toss up a foodstand at the fiesta

Deciding we had to put our baby boy to bed after his long day and high fever, we left without doing any activities or munching any delicious snacks. An hour-long struggle at bed time, meant the weary little traveler ended up in bed with his mom while dad went to enjoy the fiesta with his sister’s. He came back at 12:15 a.m. with stories of near-death experiences on carnival rides and mini tacos.

“Was it as good as you remember?” I asked, before biting in to my still-warm chicken taco.

“Oh, yes!” he exclaimed instantly, his eyes lighting up as if reliving all the excitement of childhood in one momentous flash.

After 16 years living in the United States, marrying a Minnesotan, becoming a US citizen, and travelling across the US and in Europe, few things bring innocent joy to his face like reliving his youth in the little town of Tetelilla, Morelos, Mexico.


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Filed under Bicultural and biracial marriage, Family, Holidays and Celebrations, Mexican culture, Mexico, Morelos State, Tetelilla, Morelos

Lots of visiting

Here is a picture of our pile of treats from the posadas on Christmas Eve. Totally crazy and not nearly enough chocolate for me but lots of these things called chicharones that are sort of like a cheeto without the cheese and with either a salt and lime flavor or chili flavor.

Here is Mex with his younger sister (30) Ely on Saturday after we went to a Quinceañera (15th birthday party) for a distant relative of Mex’s called Astrid Linely who was actually born in the US and lives in New Jersey most of the time. It was a giant party with at least 500 people in this family’s back yard. His sister thought a party like that probably cost about $10,000 which just amazes me. That’s more than our wedding cost! It was totally fun to get dressed up with his sisters and nieces Gaby and Deysi and go to the party though. There was barbacoa, beans and rice to eat and I did eat the meat (beef) even though I was sick last time in Mexico both times I ate beef. Luckily, I didn’t get sick this time. They had great green salsa. We didn’t stay for the giant cake but we did stay to see the first dance where the Quinceañera dances with her chanbelanes (her closest guy friends- you can see one in the white jacket here) which was to Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” so at least I understood the words. We took a movie but those don’t show up on the blog. Then there is a coronation where she gets a crown put on her and then they change her shoes which symbolizes her changing from a girl to a woman. It is hard to see the girls dress in this photo but it was very pretty. I believe the Quinceañera is a nice tradition for a girl because it gives her an opportunity to be princess for a day besides her wedding.
Other than that we haven’t been doing much except sitting around and visiting. Mex and I are getting a little restless with not much “action” as Mex likes to say. Every day consists of sweeping and mopping and cleaning and more cleaning. Washing dishes and clothes by hand certainly takes more time than loading a washer at home. My feet are horribly dirty and dry and do not come clean no matter how much soap I put on them. I think they only look so much dirtier than everyone else’s because they are so pale compared to everyone else’s. His family is going to come for New Year’s but it isn’t as big a production as Mex remembers. His sister Abelina (Andrea) did get to talk on my computer with her kids and grandkids and see them which was nice for all of them. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that again. I showed his sister Ely how to use Skype so hopefully we can talk to them that way from now on instead of paying for phone cards.
Well, that’s all for now. I’m getting more sore throat back (I had one for 10 days before we left) which is unfortunate since spicy food doesn’t agree with it and I don’t have any of my pain medicine with me. Ay qué lástima as my hubby would tell me (too bad!).

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Filed under Holidays and Celebrations, Mexican culture, Mexico, Tetelilla, Morelos