Posted on November 3, 2016
Following the traditions around the Day of the Dead in Mexico, this year my wife and I decided to set up an altar dedicated to our beloved ones who are not around anymore. The altar includes different symbols including the four basic elements (water, fire, air and earth); pictures of the remembered ones; their favourite food & drink; skulls representing death; a special bread prepared around the day of the dead (pan de día de muerto); flower; confetti; copal and incense.
According to pre-hispanic cultures in Mexico, Day of the Dead altars act as a gateway between the material and the spiritual worlds and help guide the souls of our beloved ones to visit their families during the Day of the Dead. Regardless of each person’s beliefs, setting up Day of the Dead altars is a beautiful way to remember and to honour those that are not around anymore.
Posted on January 4, 2015
I love Mexico. I love its colonial cities. I love its magical towns. I love its mountains, volcanoes and deserts. I love the Mexican caribbean. I love the pacific coast. I love Mexican food. I love Mexican traditions. I love Mexican folk music. But above all, I love Oaxaca. Last time I had been there was almost 15 years ago. I liked it then. This time, I developed an infatuation with the city and its surroundings.
Oaxaca is full of culture and traditions. The region distills mezcal and art. In Oaxaca City you can smell chocolate and social activism. You can find traditional tlayuderias, slow-food restaurants and renowned author’s cuisine but no McDonalds. You can walk in the city center and find dozens of small coffee shops selling organic coffee but no Starbucks. You can find several traditional markets before running into a supermarket. Everywhere you look there is popular and contemporary art, traditional handicrafts and the influence of the great Francisco Toledo.
Santiago Matatlan, about 30 minutes away from Oaxaca City, is known as the World Capital of Mezcal. Dozens of family-owned small-scale distilleries (‘Palenques’) are located one after the other. The production process of mezcal is beautiful. From the harvesting of maguey (i.e. the cactus), to the cooking of the piña (i.e. the maguey fruit) in earth ovens, to the crushing of the fruits in a stone wheel pulled by horses, to the fermentation of the mash in wooden barrels, and finally to the distillation in copper or clay pots, the whole process is entirely artisanal. Knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. Usually, there is a mezcal master that oversees the entire process. Most of the mezcal is produced from maguey espadin, the variety that is most easily farmed usually taking 7 to 10 years before being harvested. However, there is also production of mezcal from wild species of maguey, including Tobalá, Cuish and others. If you are in Oaxaca City, a visit to Santiago Matatlan is definitely worth it.
Another village worth visiting less than 30 minutes away from Oaxaca City is Teottilán del Valle. Teotitlán is famous for the production of hand-woven textiles arts using traditional techniques. Several of the artisans continue to use natural dying processes using cochinilla (a bug that grows on the cacti in Central America), indigo and turmeric. Traditional wooden looms continue to be used for the weaving process.
Oaxaca has a long-tradition of social resistance and social movements. This is largely reflected in the art-scene in the city and its surroundings.
Posted on November 22, 2013
In the outskirts of Huamantla, one of the magical towns in the tiny state of Tlaxcala, in Central Mexico, lies the beautiful Hacienda Santa Barbara, also known as Casa Malinche. The property, erected four hundred years ago, is situated in the middle of a rural village called Chapultepec at the foothills of the Malinche vulcano.
In addition to its beautiful surroundings, the Hacienda has some majestic and relaxing interiors and a delightful decoration that includes an amazing collection of ceramics from the region, traditional cooking utensils and a vegetable patch supplying fresh and organic vegetables to the guests.
The eclectic decoration of the rooms and bathrooms combines local materials, recycled goods and traditional ornaments. If you are planning to spend the night at the Hacienda, make sure that you book the room that faces the vulcano. That room is just amazing!
Posted on November 18, 2013
This weekend, I visited Tlaxcala, one of the tiniest states in Mexico and also, one of the states with the lowest economic development in the country. I was absolutely astonished with the beauty of the state. Despite not being a top touristic destination in Mexico, the state has some historical and natural sites that are as beautiful as some of the famous ‘Haciendas’ in other states, most of them in a very genuine conservation state (i.e. non ‘touristy’) and free of the crowds of other more popular destinations in Mexico.
This is a collection of pictures I took in Hacienda Santa María Xalostoc. The hacienda was been around for almost five centuries and is a must if you are planning to visit the Haciendas in the state. Santa María Xalostoc is located close to Tlaxco, about 90 minutes away from Mexico City and only 25 minutes away from the state of Tlaxcala. You can learn more from the Hacienda on their website and find some relevant information.
Posted on August 15, 2013
One hundred and thirty kilometers north from Mexico City, lies the beautiful town of Huasca in the state of Hidalgo. Established as a mining town, Huasca is home to some of the finest and most amazing ‘Haciendas’ (estates) in the central part of Mexico. Huasca also is surrounded by enchanting natural spots, including the Basaltic Prisms, amazing geometric rocks carved by water over millions of years.
Posted on January 3, 2013