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Archive for February, 2008

Xalapa has a lot going on if you know when and where to look.  The first place to keep an eye on for “up and coming events” are the streets with colorful signs announcing feature events.  It also helps to have friends alerting you because not all performances are easy to learn about.  Here is  a poster announcing a performance at the Café Teatro el son de corazón, a restaurant just two blocks from our “la casita.”

 Sign Announcing Event

We decided to attend but had not reserved a table thinking it would not be necessary . . . were we wrong.  Every table on the first floor but two in the back corners were marked “reserved” so we headed upstairs and found two plastic tables, one of which became our sidewalk café experience for the evening.  The performance took place in the “courtyard” below us, and we had a bird’s eye view. Here are some photos to get you started.

Entrance of Dancers
Floor Shot
Close up of two dancers.

The upper level of the restaurant filled up with spectators on chairs all around, but we had the only table upstairs and still received excellent service from a very small and overworked hostess.  Of course the upper level had its own “performance” which those people in the reserved sits on the main floor missed.

Lovers Focused on Each Other

Our view of the main floor from above.

View of Dancers From Above

At the conclusion of the performance, the audience was able to join the dancers for a couple of sets.

Audience Gets Into The Act

Now our friend, Marie, who also attended with us had lived for two years in Africa and knew a little bit about African drum music and dance herself.  While the drums music were somewhat reminiscent of her African experience, she felt the dance was actually more modern and choreographed.   But, depending upon your life experiences, we will let you be the judge of it yourself by clicking on the below video.

And, of course, it would only be fair to let you judge Marie and her own dance performance, unfortunately not caught on video, that we witnessed on the street on the way home after a fine evening.

Marie, our Amiga, Takes the Dancing to the Streets

Stephen, also posting at — http://www.Genuine-Tourist.com

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Vodpod videos no longer available. from s116.photobucket.com posted with vodpod

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 The two young people in the video below seemed to have captured the spirit of “Polka” music, but I will let you judge for yourself —

The above video does not have a photo embedded in it for some reason, but if you click on it you will see a short demonstration of young people dancing on a challenging stage surface.

Below are some samples of dancing in the streets —

Beauty and The Beast, perhaps?

Beauty and “the Beast” Dancing . . . which drew a lot of attention 😉

The Beasts in the Crowd

Some of “the Beasts” on the Streets

Perhaps someone could write a comment about the nature of the costumes and the wood masks and the tradition they actually represent.

Finally, the dancing in the parade was both organized and spontaneous.   

One Enthusiastic Young Lady

The young lady above seemed to capture the “spirit” of the event

Stephen, a Genuine Tourist posting at http://www.Genuine-Tourist.com

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On Sunday afternoon we were off to look for a major ecological park in Xalapa and didn’t know which way to go to pick up a bus to do so.  So, we headed towards our neighorhood park thinking it was the place to catch transport headed in the right direction.  However, the sound of music drew us into “our” park, and this is what we discovered —

One couple performed a dance with a ribbon at their feet on the ground.   Within moments, however, they presented the ribbon tied in a bow to the audience which they had tied with their feet while dancing —

Tied in Knots 

This little performer was delightful as well as her companions who danced with candles on their heads.  However, please notice the musician playing a “jaw bone” as a musical instrument behind her —

A Musical Jawbone

We did make it to the ecological park later in the afternoon but not before watching the other dancers in the park on a Sunday afternoon.  Here are some snapshots of what we were privileged to enjoy in our very own neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon —

Candles and DancersComedy and DancePregnant and RacingMore With Many ColorsA Talented CoupleBoys Can Do It

While we didn’t understand all the announcements following the dances, we got the impression much more was on the agenda for this little park in the early evening.  Unfortunately, it rained and we came back from our exploration too late and with not enough energy to return to the park to see if they were able to present an evening performance.

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As noted in the previous posting, we had the privilege of attending Carnaval in a mountain village northeast of Xalapa named Coyolillo. Roy Dudley, professional photographer and guide extraordinaire, transported us through the sugar cane fields and mountain vistas to the village kind of perched on the mountainside about an hour from Xalapa.

We were not the only visitors from afar that day, however, because the Governor of the state of Veracruz also attended in order to start off the festivities by signing many documents and crowning the King, Queen, and princesses great and small. Now, we relied on Roy’s knowledge of the highways to get us there, but the Governor probably was guided to the community by the three crosses located high above the village on the mountain because he arrived in a shiny, bright red helicopter.

Crosses Sited Above Coyolillo

Unfortunately, neither Roy nor I got a shot of the helicopter,
but here are the crosses that probably guided him in.

The Governor’s arrival on stage

Ok, I digressed a bit to work the Governor’s arrival in, so now let’s go back to the village of Coyolillo and its fine people. Apparently, they elected a King, Queen and Court from the youth of their community. It would be interesting to know what criteria they used to elect the young people. One wonders how much the quality of their character or educational achievement may have played a part in their decision to display them in such a nice manner.

Crowning of King by Governor

The crowning of the king

Governor Addresses Audience Flanked By Installed Court

The Governor addresses the crowd flanked by court and other dignitaries

Roy Dudley and Royal Court

Roy Dudley, our photographer and guide,
trying to get himself in a picture with the court

While another digression from the theme, it would be unkind not to mention the great politeness of the residents of the community. You see, we didn’t always know where we were or what we were doing because Roy was off bonding with old friends in the community. So, when we didn’t know where to go or where to stand, residents of the community very lightly touched our shoulders and pointed to where we should go in order to see the parade or actually led us to a different street where it was coming around again. Another person, thinking we were official media photographers, alerted us to an African drum performance that she didn’t want us to miss by leaving too early.

Oh, I’m sure the community has its problems and problem people like any community anywhere, but it will always be a very special community to us, their seemingly treasured guests for one day on a “Fat Tuesday” in the mountains near Xalapa.

Stephen
Genuine Tourist at —  http://www.genuine-tourist.com

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02-03-08-three-tall-fellows-web.jpg

How the Three Tall Fellows were able to walk
on such uneven streets on stilts is beyond me.

This past Tuesday we had the wonderful opportunity to attend Carnaval during Fat Tuesday in the community of Coyolillo somewhere northeast of Xalapa, Mexico, in the mountains. We were the guests of Roy Dudley (http://www.xalaparoy.com/), our landlord, who wanted to reconnect with friends in the community he had not visited with for several years.

Woman “line dancing” ;-)

While one doesn’t really know where to start, let me begin by mentioning that we could not believe how well people young and old were able to dance so smartly on a well constructed but uneven stage made out of planks. It seemed that not a single dancer missed a step, although I suppose they would probably disagree with me. We were also very impressed by the wonderful costumes of all the performers. They must have been made with considerable skill and purchased by much sacrifice.

The following photos will give you some idea of the marvelous dancing we were privileged to watch over more than a two hour period.

Woman in Yellow
Woman in Yellow Spinning

Click on thumbnails below to see larger photos of other dancers.
Woman in LavendarWoman in All ColorsYoung Man and Woman

 

Young “Polka” dancers

The best “Polka” dancers in Mexico I have ever seen.

It would be neglectful for me to not mention the wonderful meal prepared for us in the home of a friend of Roy’s. We were invited into a small kitchen and sat down at a table nicely laid out with foods that I can only describe as the best I have ever had in Mexico. My spouse, Patricia (who is a real good cook in her own right), could not believe how they prepared it all on a small wood stove in the kitchen where we sat.

Child watches us eat

While we enjoyed the feast prepared for us,
a little girl in the house did not seem so happy.

I cannot leave without describing another kind of orchestration that occurred in order to free our vehicle from its bondage! You see, Roy parked dutifully at the end of a long dead end street and returned to find the vehicle locked in by other parked cars and trucks parked too close together to drive between. When he and some of the men of the community realized our plight, a kind of symphony was conducted between men and machines as the owners were found (while Carnaval was still going on) and vehicles moved so that Roy could return our captured vehicle to the main roadway. I say a “symphony” because one could have barely gotten a sheet of paper between Roy’s vehicles and the vehicles he passed between!

We close with a photo of some of the street dancing.

Girls Dancing in the Streets

Stephen, also at —  http://www.Genuine-Tourist.com

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