It has really been too long since I´ve written! I apologize! I have experienced so much since the last time, it was really hard to limit this blog and I´ve been working on it for awhile, so some of it is slightly out dated! Forgive me?
So it begins….. Xalapa has two large museums: the MIX and MAX. The Museo de Antropología, MAX is the second largest in Mexico and has the largest number of Olmeca heads housed there. I have been 3 times and STILL feel like there is more that I have not seen, or seen close enough! The state of Veracruz is what is known as the Golf region of Mesoamerica. Los Olmecas are the most ancient of three civilizations that lived this region over the centuries. They were around from 1900-900 B.C: over 3000 thousand years ago! There are 17 Olmeca heads in total, 7 which are now in this museum.
Anthropologists think that the heads may represent important governors or players of the game Pelota. Pelota was a very important part of many Mesoamerica cultures and is one of the few things that transferred to different groups over all the years. Jaguars and snakes were important animals and played an important role in the Olmeca culture. I am taking a Culture and Civilization class that is all about Mesoamerica and all of the ancient civilizations, and there is so much more that goes into these cultures and into each individual piece.
My wonderful boyfriend came to visit me early March and we hit up MAX and MIX too. MIX is the Museo Interactivo de Xalapa- Interactive Museum! It was my first time there and there was a college recruiting function going on in the main lobby so the rest of the museum was empty! It was just us and a Personal guide! :D The guide took us to all the most fun exhibits like the bed of nails, SUPER tug of war, foot piano, marimbas, and a space shuttle! They also have an IMAX theater and a planetarium.
We also went to el jardin de esculturas, the waterfalls at Xico, the symphonic orchestra of Xalapa, la playa and much much more! It was really nice to have Kyle here for a week or so, but it was terribly sad to see him go. Only a few short weeks later, Nikki, my youngest sister and her Friend Justice came to visit. I showed them around Xalapa a bit, hit up the beach a few times, and even took a day trip south in Veracruz to Catemaco. I have to say I am very lucky to be able to have so many people so close to me be able to come visit me, to experience my life here for a few days.
Here are a Few Pics from their visits!
And The Girls
The weekend after Kyle left I went with other exchange students to a Festival at Tajin. Tajin is the site of ruins of the Totonaca civilization and every year during the spring solstice they have a big cultural festival with crafts, food, and lots lots of music. We camped and ate cheese and chips sandwiches for 3 days. We ate tostados and quesadillas too, and don’t get me wrong they were great but nothing surpasses festival food like the home-made sandwiches we had! I made a maraca and a dream catcher as well as a little Totonacan style vase. We had to carve down the stick for the maraca, and somehow I got a HUGE stick and was carving for like 45 minutes when one of the organizers came over and took it away and whittled it down to size. I was happy for the help but slightly discouraged. Later we went to make dream catchers. I had so much fun making mine, and I knew it wasn´t perfect but I liked it just fine. However, the helper did not and once again he grabbed it and started tightening string after string until all were perfectly in line. Great. Good. Thanks, I guess. At the clay tent, you could make whatever you wanted to. Some made little statues of ancient peramides, others ash trays. I tried my best to make a vase that I knew how. When I finished it was fragile, unbalanced and beautiful. You´ll never guess what happens next….. Perfection. Yep, once again they fixed it right up! Do I look so helpless? Or do I just REALLY suck at crafts? Who knows. Don´t get me wrong it was a good vase, but it wasn´t My vase. Hours later while it was drying in the tent, I scotched over to let someone sit next to me, and landed on the vase. Now it is crooked and full of holes. That’s more like it! When I got home I added ribbon, buttons and leaves to my dream catcher and my maraca is still unfinished. They are mine after all!
Los Voladores de Papantla
They had so many other interactive activities at the festival too. For example, we found ourselves caught in an African drum circle! It was so great to be a little rhythm in the grand scheme of a song.
It kinda made me miss my days in the school marching band! There was also an interactive play-type-thing called Senmsorama. This was by far my favorite part of the entire trip. They blindfolded you and you became the main character of the play. We were not allowed to speak either, so it gave us an opportunity to really pay attention to our other sources. They walked us through the scenes: Starting as dirt, the earth. Growing into a tree. Being cut down. A walk through Garbage. A magical recycling revelation. Becoming a stream. And ultimately back into human selves. The focus was to open our eyes to the terrible things that are going on to our world in regards to the relationship between the human race and mother Earth. It was the most emotional, magical 45 minutes of my life and really opened my eyes.
All day everyday there was free music and free dancing. Sometimes they were African dance or Salsa lessons. Other times they were groups dancing. Every night there were concerts starting at about 8 going till 2 or 3 or later into the early morning. One night, some friends invited us to enjoy the concerts from backstage! Some of the artists we saw include: Lila Downs (who I enjoyed quite a bit), Julieta Venegas, Sonex (a local band from Xalapa!), Pit Bull, Don Omar, and Rubén Blades y 6 Del Solar (Salsa). In addition, there was a place called the ´Chill out tent´ with and Indie setting. Very relaxing, and always with lots of electronic music to rock out at! Because we were often the only people dancing at the concerts (with the exception of salsa, lots were dancing) we kept bouncing back and forth between Chill out and the main concert. We would carry the energy where ever we went, it was such a Blast!! We arrived at the festival Friday afternoon and I headed back to Xalapa at almost 3 in the morning arriving in time for a quick shower and breakfast before my 9 a.m class on Monday! Woooofta.
Before I came to Mexico several friends who had lived here advised me to be careful with the street dogs. I think I have been more frightened by dogs behind gates then ANY street dog. Some of them jump really high and bark furiously just because you are walking by. Most of the street dogs however just hang out taking naps under pick-up truck beds or park benches. I met a really cute small city puppy in Naoliinco, about an hour up into the hills from home.
He Looked A Bit Like This:
I saw him peeking around a corner at as, he was even smiling a little bit. When we got closer I saw that he had what appeared to be a leash on and I got really excited that he was someones pet and not out on his own. So when he came closer I didn’t hesitate to give em´ a lil´ pet on the back! Javier and his girlfriend weren´t paying the pup any attention and they just told me to be sure to wash my hands really well after. However, there was something in their faces that disturbed me, they looked half shocked, half disgusted that I was playing with my new friend. I didn’t understand and didn’t care to pay much attention to it thinking that they just saw him as any other dog around. When I turned around to see the puppy down the path, eager, waiting for me to play some more, waging his tail with a doggy grin on his face, is only when I understood. The leash was not a leash at all. It was a rope. Tied around his neck sometime before, now too small, cutting into his skin. He was no longer anyone’s pet, and hadn’t been for awhile. My heart broke. My eyes filled with tears as he came trotting closer and I saw the open wounds on his upper hind leg and behind his ear. I wasn’t sure what had happened to him. I stood there staring at him, staring at me confused at why I had suddenly stopped playing with him, just like everyone else had. I felt so much for him, so terribly helpless and alone for him. I loaded my hands with hand sanitizer and let him follow me everywhere. We played catch a bit until I had to leave, leaving him hurt and alone again. I felt so bad, like if I Really wanted to help him I could have. I could have cut the rope off. Fed him something. Played longer. But I didn’t. I couldn’t sleep that night. The next day after my 9 o´clock class, a friend asked me what happened to my neck. I was surprised, I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with my neck at all. A small red rash had about the size of 2 quarters had appeared. Instantly I thought of my little, fox like friend. After showing it to Licha she advised me it was likely sarna or mange from touching the pup. She gave me some cream. Three days it was gone, but I still think about going back and trying to find the lil´ fella.
A Few Xalapeño dogs:
Sorry to end on such a sad note but there it is: Music- Museums- and Mange. Oooh Mexico : )
Have a Pleasant week and Hope all enjoy Spring!
P.s- Went Rafting!