Tianguis Turístico—My Expo and Behind the Scenes

DSC_0036I am enormously excited and honored to have a photo exhibition at the entrance to the Mazatlán International Center during the Mexican National Tourism Fair. Honestly, beyond words lucky and blessed. With over 30,000 people attending from over 50 countries, and all of them walking through my photos to get to their meetings, workshops and conferences, it is a privilege I never would have dreamed of!

The exhibition is entitled, “Mazatlán: City of Contrasts,” and is comprised of 19 photos plus my biography and the exhibit overview. CULTURA Mazatlán commissioned 10 new outdoor mounts for the exhibition, structures which will now be available for other outdoor art exhibitions. They look great! I hope you’ll agree.

We set up yesterday with Maritza and Don Gus from CULTURA. They worked past midnight last night, and today it all looks beautiful. THANK YOU all so very, very much, from the bottom of my heart I appreciate you! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

While we were up at the convention center today, we took a tour around. Many of you  have asked if “normal people” can get in. As I explained in a previous post, the event is for tourism and hospitality professionals and is primarily a business event. You can buy a US$150 ticket to attend, though that doesn’t get you entry to the private dinners and shows; those are by invitation only. For the first time in the 21 year history of the Tourism Fair, there are several events open to the public—that is because our local and state officials made that happen. See my previous article for details. Note also that I’ve seen people advertising on Facebook that Credence Clearwater Revisited is at 2:00 pm. The official press release we received says it’s at 8:00 pm, though I’d recommend you get there by 6:00 pm as it’ll be crowded.

Anyway, the convention center is completely transformed from the usual. They have built a huge new building on the back yard, they have built loads of new walls and rooms inside, and many of the huge promotional stands are still being built. There is a food court outside at the entrance, another one upstairs, and they are LOCAL PROVIDERS! Woot woot! Fish Market, Muchacho Alegre, Pedro y Lola, Wing’s Army, Costa Marinera and Carnitas El Bigotes.

Here are some photos of the inside of the fair at the convention center, which they are still setting up. The temporary building they built in the back has a grand entrance opening up to the Sinaloa state stand. That portion contains stands for each state of the Republic.

That new temporary outdoor building has a second section with stands for private enterprise: hotel chains, tour operators, travel agencies, bus lines, airlines, car rentals, beer companies, etc. The lower level indoor room contained more of those private stands, but off to the side of the main thoroughfare.

The upper level ballrooms are equipped for workshops, speeches and meetings, as is the upper mezzanine.

One thing I absolutely LOVED is that upstairs they have a display of footballs—NFL style footballs—decorated by indigenous people from all over Mexico. Excellent exhibition of art, play, creativity and indigenous pride!

I know everyone living downtown is having a hard time as they are taking cars off the streets today and moving them to parking garages/areas, and movement will be restricted during the inauguration tomorrow (Sunday) evening in the theater and Olas Altas. Let’s all remember it’s for a good cause, a chance to show our pride in and love for our fair city and state, and to showcase it on the world stage!

 

So Proud of Sinaloa!

TTingSinaloa is shaking things up and leading the way for Mexico, people!

Mexico’s National Tourism Fair—the Tianguis Turístico—is a business event. It was designed as such and since its inception has always been a closed event for the elite of the world’s tourism and hospitality industries. The fair’s days are filled with business meetings, conferences, networking and deal making. It is normally all about work, and not much play. Below is from the Tianguis website; excuse the strange English—national tourism could obviously benefit from some fluent English speakers!

Tianguis Turistico is the most important event of the tourism sector in Mexico, where entrepreneurs, hoteliers, travel agents, in-bound operators, tour operators, meeting planners and specialized media of the tourist industry from more than 80 countries in the world, gather to concrete business appointments with all the destinations of the country, being the most representative event for the commercialization of the Mexican tourist offer.

Leave it to my beloved Sinaloa to change all that! April 15-18, 2018, when Mazatlán hosts the event, the Tianguis will still include loads of private business meetings, but it will also include two of the things that Sinaloa is most famous for — COMMUNITY and FUN! Our Sinaloa, making things better than ever!

We’ve all moaned about the construction city-wide that has preceded the Tourism Fair—its been year of noise, dust and inconvenience—and we’re all excited about the fact that our hometown will be showcased as the tourist gem that it is. Now that the event is close, however, I’ve heard quite a few people complain that the Tianguis events are private and not open to the public, after all the suffering we’ve been through.

While business access to the event starts at $200USD if you pay before April , this year there will be some very cool events that are indeed open to the public. Our Governor, Secretary of Tourism and Director of Cultura say they wanted to be more inclusive of the local community.

So, what events can we all get into without a ticket or invitation? They are in bold type in the chronological list of events, below.

Saturday April 14th at 8 pm near the Fisherman’s Monument everyone is invited to a free concert by “Credence Clearwater Revisited.” Don’t expect John Fogerty, but CCR members Doug Clifford on drums and Stu Cook on bass will be there, along with another expected 30,000 people.

Opening night on Sunday April 15th at 6 pm—invitation only—includes a spectacle that will rock the Angela Peralta Theater, including a brief 10-15 minute Cirque du Soleil show and remarks from the President of the Republic, Enrique Peña Nieto.

After the event’s opening 1200 invitation-only “Captains of Industry” will dine al fresco along Paseo de Olas Altas beginning at 8 pm. They will be served dinner from seven different kitchens located between the Escudo and the Deer Monument. Security will be tight, as Mexico’s President EPN will be there. This is the night when there will be a VERY abbreviated 15-float Carnaval parade as well as a VERY short Combate Naval. The latter, I have been told, will last only 10-15 minutes, also. Sunday evening will include entertainment that will begin with opera from around the world, continue with Mexican music, and end with banda and other Sinaloa music. Performances will include:

  • Alexandr Borodín’s “Polovtsian Dances” from the opera, Prince Igor; “Woman is Fickle” from Giuseppe Verde’s opera, Rigoletto; “Love is a Rebellious Bird” or “Habanera” and also “Toreador” from Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen; “Oh My Dear Daddy” from the opera, Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini.
  • Songs of Pedro Infante, Lola Beltrán, Juan Gabriel and José Alfredo Jiménez as well as mariachi music.

I am so very pleased to know that our local artistic and performance talent will be front and center, including the orchestra, the camerata, Delfos, the adult and youth choruses, and a banda created just for this event, called Puro Sinaloa! 2018 is also the first Tianguis in history that will showcase the culture and talent of the hosting city and state.

The Tianguis will be based at the Mazatlán Convention Center. I was out there two days ago, and they have built a two-story building in the back yard to house the multitude of meeting rooms that will be required for this huge event. I’m also very pleased to report that photos from my “Yo Soy Fuereña, Nací de Aquí Muy Lejos” exhibit, in Galería Peralta now through 14 April, will be reprinted and mounted at the entrance to the Convention Center, to welcome Tianguis visitors to Mazatlán.

Monday through Wednesday are mostly business meetings, but at 1 pm Monday afternoon Steve Wozniak will speak. Monday evening at 7 pm in Centro Histórico the states of Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, Guanajuato and Aguascalientes will put on an artisan fair and festival that will be open to the public. Simultaneously there will be an invitation-only reception in the Plazuela Machado. But, the fact that it’s invitation-only doesn’t mean the public can’t enjoy the events from and on the outside of the perimeter!

Tuesday at 8 pm my favorite hometown band, La Falsa Orquesta Cubana, will play dance music in the Plazuela Machado, and public opportunities to enjoy the event will finish up on Wednesday evening from 8 – 10 pm with the music of Suncaí Gitano,  a presentation of the Circo Machado, and the voice of Heidi Herrera.

I know I’m still surrounded by construction on all four sides, with noise and dust 24/7; a short respite will be more than welcome. Enjoy!

Festival of Lights 2018

DSC_0726©You know I love fireworks, and my favorites of the year here in Mazatlán tend to be the Festival de la Luz, because TEN THOUSAND fireworks are launched 300 meters into the air from FIFTEEN locations over FOUR KILOMETERS along the malecón, lighting up the city’s boardwalk. These fireworks normally take place during Maratón del Pacífico, but they were delayed this year. This tenth annual event included 2-1/2 TONS of 20 different kinds of fireworks at a cost of 1,300,000 pesos, and lasted a full thirty minutes. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

This year was a challenge photographically. High tide during launch meant the beach was off limits. Brisk wind meant that shooting from the south was out of the question—that is where the smoke headed. So, I set up north of the viewing area, which was less than ideal for a good view.

I was blessed to be joined by a good friend and three visiting Colombian artists, so we enjoyed a good time. I set up both my cameras, though my intervalometer decided not to work, so having two cameras made for a busy viewing. I won’t be repeating that anytime soon.

I trust you were able to enjoy the show. Many, many thanks to José Ramón Manguart Sánchez, Tres Islas Hotel Association, Secretaria de Turismo Sinaloa, and the municipal authorities!

 

 

 

Inside Scoop on Tonight’s Fireworks

Ready for Combate Naval!

Yes, the huge Carnaval fireworks show, Combate Naval (click through to see photos from 2017), has been moved north this year. It will take place between Casa del Marino on the north and the Monumento a la Vida/dolphin monument on the south. And it won’t happen till 11 pm, in hopes that people (normal, un-police escorted people) can make the show after the coronation.

But stop worrying about the view. You won’t have to crane your neck to see any of the gorgeous fireworks that are normally launched from the beach, nor those incredible aquatics; all fireworks this year will be aerial. Meaning, they will launch high up, from one of five barges in the bay, so that all can see. We will all, regardless of where we are standing or, if you’re lucky, sitting, be able to enjoy the show!

I got a behind-the-scenes look while Lux Pirotecnia set up the barges today, with help from Big Bang Fireworks out of Calgary. You may remember my full behind-the-scenes explanation last year. In 2018 I got up and personal with the barges and the crew putting it all in place. While I was there, the first two barges were complete and undergoing final testing; three barges remained to be finalized. Yet the fishermen were waiting anxiously, saying that the barges needed to be pulled out now while the surf was calm, because the later in the afternoon it gets the surf will get higher and the fireworks equipment loaded on the barges in more danger of getting wet. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Crew member Mike Toth gave me a brief tour of what they were assembling on the barges:

It can take from two hours to a full day to program just one minute of a fireworks show, depending on how complex it is. Every single firework is labelled with “Mazatlán Carnaval,” the event and date, and then it has a number. That number indicates where the charge goes, and in what order; the “choreography” or design is listed out in a black waterproof folder and constantly consulted by the crew as they assemble.

Everyone has their role and they know what it is; the coordination among them is pretty incredible. They are all assembled in order, then wired and connected to black boxes. If something is not connected properly, a light shows up on the control panel, and an error shows in the computer. I found myself very welcome on the barges this afternoon, until, barge by barge, the fireworks were connected and ready. Once everything is set, I was not allowed to board the barge with the finished and ready to go fireworks, nor was anyone besides Jorge and his “number one.” Thank goodness, as at that point they basically could fire off anytime.

Big Bang owner Dan Roy spoke to me about how our Carnaval fireworks are world class, one of the biggest and best shows you’ll find anywhere on the planet. This same crew did Mexico’s bicentennial in Mexico City, so he knows big shows!

I also interviewed crowd favorite, German Klaus Ulrich, the flame expert. You’ve seen and felt his flame throwers during the coronations and during the fireworks shows:

We will be attending our god son’s wedding this evening, and I will have to miss my favorite night of the entire year. Please, please take photos and videos and share them with us! I will be forever grateful. Enjoy!

Miss Universo Carnaval 2018

God bless you, Thalia! Last night was the BEST EVER Miss Universo Carnavál (Gay Carnaval Queen) pageant, full of trans-gendered and trans-sexual pride and pure human joy.

I was born into this world with a whole lot of privileges. I’m white, I’m straight, I’m fairly intelligent. While born into a working-class family, we had a solid home and food, and all our necessities. I’ve received a good education.

Despite these facts, I’ve had my share of identity crises, as has most anyone. I’m sensitive, so at times I’ve listened too much to what others have to say, rather than following my heart. I have worried about how I appear, how I look, that I live in Mexico as a woman and don’t regularly put on makeup or dress up. I’d like to think now, at 57, I’ve reconciled most of these identity issues. I’m happy in my own skin. But, still… that triple chin, those extra kilitos…

Thus my complete and utter admiration for these drag queens born into our hetero-centric world, many of whom have had to struggle with gaining acceptance from family and friends, say nothing about themselves. Their identity questions were so much more fundamental than my own comparatively trivial ones, and most of them seem to have come out of that challenge more beautiful, confident and resilient than I could dream of being. When we are a bit different from the dominant “norm,” we are presented with loads of possibilities for exploration, creativity, and love, if we can find the presence of mind and strength of heart to see them. Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The gowns! The dresses! The swimsuits! The makeup! The hair! The shoes! The guts! The maturity! The confidence! The strength!

We saw chubby queens and skinny queens, buff queens and those with a roll or two. We saw cross-dressers and those who have undergone reassignment and cosmetic surgeries. In the dressing room we saw queens stuffing themselves into girdles and support hose, balancing fake boobies and butts, and those who’ve survived the pain of implants. I congratulate each and every one of you. You have more joie de vivre and bravery than I could ever aspire to have (and that’s a high bar, lol)!

Last night the money collected went to pay hospital bills for a local lady who is ill in the hospital in Culiacán. Thus, this fun event is actually a labor of love by the members of “Belleza con Propósito,” “Beauty with a purpose.”

This event always takes place just prior to Carnaval. Put it on your calendar for next year. I always announce it on the VidaMaz Facebook page. The last few years it takes place at Castillo de Lulu in Playa Sur. The event is BYOB: bring your own drinks. A lady sells hibiscus tea/agua de jamaica and tostilocos (chips with ceviche), but other than that, bring your snacks. Entrance is usually 60-70 pesos and goes to a good cause, and donations are gratefully accepted.

The pageant includes self presentation, dresses, swimsuit, evening gown, and questions. In between stages of the pageant we enjoy entertainment by dance troupes and drag queen performers, this year including Cher. I’m guessing the crowd last night numbered about 150-200, a good mix of locals and internationals. The judging table always includes local celebrities and politicians as well as members of the international community.

The organizer of all this is Thalia Fedorova Chequer-Zahap. I can not imagine the work that goes into this, the details, the pressure. And she pulls it off with incredible grace and beauty.

May we all grow more tolerant, more accepting, more respectful, of ourselves and others. May we all reach out to help a fellow human, today and every day. And may we all enjoy life to its fullest!

Oh, and CONGRATS to Miss Colombia, Yeimi, our Miss Universo Carnaval 2018!