Miracles Happen

Cultural Detective Blog

IMG_1539I grew up in small town Wisconsin surrounded by Catholics of German ancestry. While I moved when I was eleven, I remember the town as having a wonderful community spirit—a volunteer ambulance way back before small US towns had such things. I remember a town that was lily white, the men barrel-chested; hard-working people who weren’t very emotionally expressive. The biggest cultural differences, and they were huge, were between town folk and farmers.

Today I have tears in my eyes as I have witnessed a most beautiful blessing. I heard there would be an outdoor Mass in my hometown, Burlington, in the park where I ice skated as a kid. I love outdoor spiritual celebrations. It’s a beautiful day, and I was excited to attend.

IMG_1537When I showed up at Echo Park there were several large tents set up and an altar ready in the pergola. Parking was at a…

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Nature in All Its Glory

27982748_10160137908320637_2440691768523619203_oDo you love birds, animals, marine life, plants? Then head over to the Centro Cultural Multiversidad downtown at 21 de Marzo #36 for Cielo, Mar y Tierra: Vision of the Naturalists. They have a photo exhibit on the second floor with photos from five biologists and an actress (yes, but her photos are good!).

Especially now, when it seems our governor is intent on cementing over everything he can in Mazatlán, treasuring the very natural resources that bring so many tourists to our port seems more important than ever. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow (sorry, I only took my cell phone).

The opening last night was at 7pm, and attended by a couple of hundred people, I’d guess. It was typical: everyone had to wait, crowded into a corridor, but when they eventually opened the gallery it was worth the discomfort. All six photographers spent time with their photos, in order to tell those of us attending the backstory of each photo and answer our questions. It was a terrific chance to get to know a few experts in our local flora and fauna, and to learn a few more places to go out and take some photos!

Once you’ve enjoyed the gorgeousness that our environment has to offer, you might be wondering what you can do to help preserve it. First, I’d urge you to encourage our governor to stop cementing over estuaries and tearing down historic forts in order to cement over that area, too. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly long term for our planet, is to make every effort you can to stop using plastic. You’ve seen the horrible photos of the plastic “black hole” out in the Pacific, and we know how awful our beaches get after a big party weekend. Today I saw a photography project that uses beauty to profile the horrific reality of plastic’s effect on Sian Ka’an federally protected reserve. Click here to view it.

 

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!

 

Annual Carnavál Infographic

We’ve got some amazing entertainers, world-class fireworks, two incredible parades and a whole lot of merriment coming up for Carnavál de Mazatlán—the oldest Carnavál in Mexico! Things may be a bit different from prior years due to the construction on the malecón and throughout the city, but we know that 2018 will be a Carnavál to remember!

You can choose “Carnaval” under “Categories” on this site or search these pages using keyword “Carnavál” to read some of the many in-depth stories we’ve written over the years about this terrific event.

Enjoy the infographic!

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