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!

 

Chickens for Christmas 2017

DSC_4956I trust you all are enjoying wonderful holidays, and that 2018 will bring you much health and joy.

This year as we handed out chickens and food to over 2500 needy families, the most popular items— other than the food, of course—were the blankets and tools! We had a few drills, some hand tools, and a couple of electric tools, and my oh my did this make the men happy! Fortunately we had 80 blankets, thanks to the generosity of one donor and the intelligence and kindness of an expat couple who traveled to Guadalajara to buy them. If we had had 800, people would have been thrilled. We chose the elderly most in need as recipients of the very soft and warm blankets. Click on any photo to view it larger or watch a slideshow.

 

The spinners and the balls were just some of the many toys that our nieces bought with the proceeds from the sale of their brownies. Lots of local children donated their gently used toys, so this year we were blessed to be able to make over 300 children very happy. Perla and Brisa, the two neighborhood girls who have accompanied us the past five years joined in again; they have gotten really good and bringing Christmas cheer to those in need. Baby things are also very popular: diapers, clothes, blankets.

 

Our group handed out food, clothing, shoes and toys in three places this year: Rincón de Mazatlán (in Colonia Universo/Ébano), El Basurón (the city dump) and Rancho de los Niños. We felt especially blessed that it was just our group this year: our family, our good friends the Hernández, and friends of ours and theirs. It rocked to be together with loved ones on Christmas bringing smiles to the faces of everyone from 90 to 3 months!

We tried a new method of handing things out that worked wonderfully. As you can imagine, people get anxious and over-eager, and that makes for lots of confusion if we don’t manage things well. Well, we lined up our heavily-laden trucks and cars as usual: chickens first, then despensas/food, followed by toys. Once all that was given out, we opened up the clothes, displaying them on the ground on sheets as if in a store, and keeping the line moving steadily.

 

We announced the plan to everyone ahead of time, so that those who wanted clothes would stick around. They were all lined up, the community leaders had made sure of that, and then our volunteers lined up as well, forming a human chain or wall between those in the line and the gifts. At first we felt awkward, but it worked beautifully! No more cutting the line, everyone got something, it felt organized and there was happiness galore. Bless all our volunteers and their smiling faces and love-filled hearts!

We had so many clothes and shoes this time that, despite serving over 350 families, we had extra! I especially loved how everyone tried on shoes to make sure they fit, leaving them for others if they didn’t, and then glowed with happiness when they found the perfect pair of leather flip flops or high heels. We packed up the leftover clothing and shoes and left them with the community leaders to hand out to those in need who couldn’t make our event on Christmas Eve morning.

 

People really love blankets and other bedding, including sheets and pillows. They love pots and pans and kitchen things; most have outdoor kitchens and these items don’t last long. If you have any extra tools you don’t use, or see any at garage sales this summer and you drive down, please bring them! My one great sadness this year was a gentleman who showed up at 11:30 with a ticket for a chicken AND food, but we’d already handed it all out. He didn’t want toys or clothes, and in his disappointment was very upset with us. We had asked them to show up at 8:30, so he was late. But, he really was looking forward to the chicken. I didn’t have any cash on me to give him, and he left in a huff. God bless him; I do hope something else happened to make his Christmas beautiful.

We started loading at Quince Letras about 6am. We are a multinational group of locals and expats, including dozens of young adults, many of whom have been doing this since they were kids and who now bring their friends—the next generation. I love watching them grow in strength of character and love each year. We also have a solid group of children who join in to help. We form bucket brigades or rally lines to load the trucks with food, toys and clothes, then set out on different routes to reach people all the way to Villa Unión. This year we also served the community of desplazados, those displaced by violence in the Sierras; I was thrilled with that! After loading all the trucks and cars, we form a large circle to say a prayer, and then we are off!

 

Our group first went to the Basurón, then Rincón de Mazatlán, and finished up visiting Rancho de los Niños, where we all enjoyed playing with the disabled kids. Hugging and loving on them made for a perfectly wonderful end to our Christmas Eve morning. We saw the new buildings that are being built for Rancho de los Niños by Back to Back Ministries, including a physical therapy pool. The new digs look great and should be ready early in the new year!

 

THANK YOU ALL immensely, for participating in the myriad ways you do! We look forward to seeing you again next year. I have written lots of stories and posted many photos of this event over the past 16 years. Just search for “pollos” or “chicken” in the search box if you’d like to see more. And remember, details can be found at www.VidaMaz.com/Pollos

Participate in Online Auction to Benefit Mayo-Yoreme

Please participate in this very affordable online auction to gain a photo for your home or office, plus support people who will very much appreciate your assistance! Below from SIETAR France. You are also invited to my photo talk and exhibit in both Paris and Vienna. I look forward to seeing you there and to having you enjoy a taste of indigenous Sinaloa!

VENTE AUX ENCHERES DE PHOTOGRAPHIES !
SILENT AUCTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS!

Nous espérons que vous allez bien. Nous sommes ravis de pouvoir vous annoncer notre toute première vente aux enchères qui commencera le 1er novembre à 9h00 et se terminera le 19 novembre à minuit.

Nous avons 10 photographies originales qui nous ont été gracieusement fournies par Dianne Hofner Saphiere et qui sont le résultat de son travail avec la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme au Sinola, Mexique.

We hope you are well. We are very pleased to be able to announce our very first SIETAR France Silent Auction which will begin on November 1st at 9h00 and end on November 19th at midnight.

We have 10 original photographs to be auctioned which have all been graciously donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere and which have come out of her work with the Mayo-Yoreme community of Sinaloa, Mexico.


Comment participer à notre vente aux enchères — 10 photographies  originales données par Dianne Hofner Saphiere

How to participate in Our Silent Auction —10 Original photographs
donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Pour participer à cette vente aux enchères, il vous suffit de vous enregistrer sur notre site web dédié au :
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Une fois votre profil créé, vous aurez la possibilité de miser sur les différentes photographies et configurer votre profil pour recevoir des alertes par mail ou par SMS si quelqu’un surenchère.

Les gagnants seront automatiquement avertis à la fin de la vente et recevront leur version électronique de la photographie par mail.

Les recettes de la vente seront partagées à égalité entre SIETAR France et la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme.

To participate in our silent auction you will need to register on our dedicated website at:
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Once you have created your profile, you will be able to bid for the different photographs and configure your profile to receive alerts by mail or SMS if you are out bid.

The winners of the auction will be automatically contacted and will receive their electronic version of the photograph by email.

The proceeds of the auction will be shared equally by SIETAR France and the Mayo-Yoreme community.

Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Photographe et consultante en développement interculturel des organisations, elle est l’auteur de plusieurs ouvrages dont “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” et de “Ecotonos : A simulation for collaborating across cultures”. Elle est la créatrice de Cultural Detective®, un projet de développement des compétences interculturelles impliquant plus de 150 experts interculturels partout dans le monde.

Au cours de ses trente années de carrière dédiés à la coopération interculturelle, Dianne a collaboré avec des personnes de plus de 100 pays différents. Née aux Etats-Unis, elle a vécu 12 ans au Japon et vit au Mexique depuis 10 ans.

Au cours de ces quatre dernières années, elle a développé sa passion pour la photographie, se spécialisant dans le photojournalisme – privilégiant l’approche ethnographique, les événements au sein des communautés et les “trésors culturels de l’humanité”.

Photographer and intercultural organization development consultant

Dianne has worked with people from over 100 countries during her 30+ years facilitating cross-cultural collaboration. USA-born, she spent twelve years in Japan and has lived in Mexico for the last ten years.

Dianne has authored various volumes including “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” and “Ecotonos: A simulation for collaborating across cultures”, and is the creator of Cultural Detective®, an intercultural competence development project involving over 150 intercultural specialists worldwide. 

She has dedicated the past four years to her passion for photography, specializing in photojournalism — often through the lenses of ethnography, community events, and “human cultural treasures.”

Happy People with Chickens!

Thank you all so much!!! We had 2500 very happy families today, on Christmas Eve, who received a whole chicken, bags of food, clothing, toys and candy. Below are just a few of the faces. One man gave me a rose from his bush in thanks. Another lady put on her makeup and best dress, and waited all morning for us to arrive. Then she plead with me to take her photo. Several babies were just a few weeks old. All looked very excited to have a nice Christmas dinner! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Below I will share a few photos of their homes, most made of found, recycled items, including pallets and lonas/canvas signs. Kitchens are almost always outdoors, so boiled chicken will be much more popular than roasted.

Many thanks to EVERYONE who helped make this possible: people who made items, collected items, donated items, helped pack, helped deliver… Especially thanks to the Medina family, who lead this entire project and give us all the opportunity to have the best Christmas ever. Today is the 25th anniversary of Desayuno de los Pollos. Despite having THREE weddings and a baptism in the immediate family, the Medinas still managed to pull off our annual holiday tradition. God bless them, the people we shared this with, and you, one and all!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! If you’d like to join us next year, there are MANY ways to help; click here to learn how.

OMG! You ROCK!

15442265_10210953960342116_6240638173370377805_n

  • My Mazatlecan nieces made delicious brownies and packed them in mason jars, then sold them to raise money to buy toys. I am so proud of their caring for others.
  • Helen James had her birthday party and asked everyone attending to bring toys for Pollos’ kids instead of gifts. Thanks to her friends we have three garbage bags full of brand new gorgeous toys.
  • Kathryn Stillings, a friend and co-worker, requested that we donate to Pollos instead of giving her a Christmas gift this year.
  • Salsa and Salsa took up a collection for a second year in a row and donated the proceeds.
  • Friends went all around town to collect gift certificates and items for our raffles and the silent auction.
  • About a dozen different women sewed and crocheted items during the year to donate to Pollos. Hey, guys? You make things, too; I know you do! 😉 There is always next year.
  • My friends and nieces showed up to a charity breakfast and, when we were short on wait staff due to people not showing up, they volunteered to help (even though they’d paid for tickets).
  • Other friends volunteered to sell raffle tickets, even though they’d also paid to attend. So generous!
  • Jeanette Leraand sold dozens of tickets, brought her zumba group to entertain us at the breakfast, and conducted a 50/50 raffle, out of the generosity of her heart.
  • Sonrisas, a local charity that gives scholarships to deserving yet needy young people, donated items to help us. I donate my photos to their fundraiser calendar each year; what goes around comes around!
  • Nearly 400 people showed up this morning to a fundraiser breakfast. Nationals showed curiosity about our foreign customs (“what’s a silent auction and did I win?”), we expats learned about Mexican customs (“2 hours of door prizes?”) and we all enjoyed one another’s company and a common purpose.
  • And you, no doubt, did something awesome as well!

I could go on and on. We are so incredibly blessed in this community with people who love and give, who want to help others and act on that desire. God bless you all! And thank you Yolanda Medina, who started Desayuno de los Pollos 27 years ago in honor of her namesake daughter. Please know that 4000 families, many of whom live in houses constructed of lonas / vinyl, cardboard or recycled pallets, most of whom don’t have electricity or water, will eat well for two weeks at Christmas and New Year’s because of YOU!

An extended community of expats and foreigners sold 700 tickets to the Desayuno de los Pollos / Chicken Breakfast this year, and 100% of the money taken in (180 pesos/person) goes to buy whole chickens and food / despensas for needy families (food, preparation and serving are all donated). The silent auction that I’ve been in charge of, to which a whole community of people contribute, raised 38,000 pesos this year to buy food and chickens. All of this means your donations and purchases are helping feed families for two weeks at Christmas time! Bless you! You totally and completely rock!

Please patronize the businesses that support those in most need in our community. I will list some of them below. Many others contributed to the raffles but I don’t have your names; let me know and I’ll add you to the list. Please, next time you visit one of these businesses, thank them for supporting Desayuno de los Pollos and your Mazatlán community; tell them they are good community citizens and that you appreciate them.


Ana María Osuna Rose Massage
Azteca Inn
Casa de Leyendas
Chuy’s Organics
Gaia Bistrot
Galería de Rosy
Galería Uno
Irma Alicia Gastelúm Lizárraga, artista
Karen Devine
Martha Parra, artista
May Woodford, fiber artist
Quince Letras Wrought Iron
Ricardo’s Leather Shop
La Rosa de las Barras de Piaxtla
Wendy of the baby quilts

I don’t know the names of everyone who so generously contributed, so please let me know if yours is missing and I’ll add it in!

For those of you who want to help pack food, THANK YOU. The Medina family will start packing things next Wednesday, December 14th. You can head over to Quince Letras almost any day from then till the 24th to help; call one of them first to check. They are celebrating the weddings of TWO different children this year, so EXTRA KUDOS to their family for doing the “Chickens” this year as well! I no doubt would have cancelled for sanity’s sake.

We will see the rest of you on December 24th! Instructions are in the link. Blessed holidays! Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if everyone were as generous and considerate of others as those involved in this effort. I like that thought; we might just grow some justice and equity in this world. It’s a pleasure to know you all and work with you.