Giant Alebrije Parade

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I was most fortunate to have to work in Mexico City on Friday October 18th. The reason? Because the following day was the Desfile de Alebrijes Monumentales, a parade of gigantic, whimsical and fantastical wooden folk art pieces made from papier maché.

This year at the commencement of the parade the giant alebrijes were named a Mexican cultural heritage—the only form of folk art unique to the old Federal District. Since they came to life from the imagination of Pedro Linares in the 1930s, a couple of pueblos in Oaxaca have made names for themselves by carving alebrijes out of copal wood. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The parade included more than TWO HUNDRED handmade, monumentally sized alebrijes in fantastical shapes and colors. I was psyched to be able to photograph them in front of the cathedral and with the Palace of Fine Arts as a backdrop. After the several hour parade they “parked” the alebrijes along Reforma Avenue, and thousands more people were able to admire their beauty.

Many of the artists marched in the parade together with their works, as did many of the “hands” that helped build the incredible pieces. They honest to God took my breath away! What a great way to spend a weekend with girlfriends!

On the other side of La Reforma was a huge exhibition of skulls, called “MexiCráneos,” also very cool. The cempasúchil flowers were all out. I was excited to take photos of them with the Angel de la Independencia, but she is covered with scaffolding and under rehabilitation, and the flowers were full of thousands of people. So much for those gorgeous, quiet, no-people photos with the Angel in her glory!

 

 

 

Gay Pride Mazatlán 2017

DSC_0280Our 9th annual gay pride parade started at 5:30 pm Saturday afternoon, June 3rd, from in front of Valentino’s heading south down Avenida del Mar to the Glorieta Sanchez Taboada (cliff divers). It was better attended than ever. What a joy to see so many participants and the large number of spectators cheering them on and supporting authenticity! Witnessing our beautiful malecón lined with lesbian and gay lovers was rather nice, too. A society that embraces difference and has a place for everyone just as they are is a society where justice can reign and violence becomes unnecessary. Such is the hope for Mazatlán on a day of such sadness in London.

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LGBTQ Pride Mazatlán 2017

I absolutely loved the messages printed on front of each float, reminding us why celebrations such as this are so healthy not only for the LGBTQ community but society as a whole. Who can criticize the parade’s lead slogan, “With respect and love, less discrimination”? Key messages included:

  • Honesty: Know who you are and express what you feel.
  • Liberty: Sexual liberty without stigmas or discrimination.
  • Respect: We live together in diversity.

Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Riders on the float included performers at the various gay nightclubs in town as well as the winners of charity and other beauty contests. My girl Thalia Fedorova was there with her entourage of drag queens. A man in a thong wore a full Aztec feathered headdress and a glittery big-horned-sheep-type mask. I loved the angel hottie.

CULTURA supports the celebration and thus the parade included floats from Carnavál 2017. There were no live bands but lots of upbeat dance music, and one group of young dancers in a comparsa. Candy, condoms and pens were thrown, and gay pride flags were circulated. Confetti was shot through the air and floated along the avenue.

People of all ages attended and participated. Some wore t-shirts supporting the cause—there were various types. Most waved flags and pet dogs and pigs got in on the act; there was even a costumed roller blader. Eye candy for every sexual orientation was on full display. Frank (Juan Francisco Diaz) from The Voice Mexico was there, as was a vendor selling flags.

A young migrant who just arrived Saturday via La Bestia from Honduras made the mistake of telling me he was Christian and didn’t approve of this sort of thing. After quoting him a few of Jesus’ words, and explaining to him that, as a migrant/undocumented worker, if he wanted acceptance, respect and inclusion, how could he deny it to others, he changed his tune long enough for us to give him a few hundred pesos to help him on his journey.

I’ve been blessed to have been able to attend quite a few Pride parades in my day, but Mazatlán is definitely the prettiest location of any of them. Thank goodness this parade grows in size and joy every year, and that participants hold strong to constructive messages that benefit our whole community. Lead on, friends!

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It’s a Horse Parade!

CabalgataDo you love horses? Do you love an excuse to party, and are amenable to doing so before, during and after you ride 25 kilometers on a horse? Do you have kids who enjoy watching horses dance? If so, you ought to join in the Familia Escobar’s cabalgata or cavalcade next year. The cabalgata is held up in Cerritos on the second to last weekend in January every year, and this time 600 horses and riders, from five states of Mexico, participated.

This was so very different from our first cabalgata—in Jerez de Zacatecas, on Holy Saturday of 2011. That one hosted thousands of charros with incredibly beautiful sombreros, tooled leather and embroidered suits. Here in Mazatlán, it’s puro Sinaloa, baby! Most everyone wore a cowboy hat rather than a sombrero, though we did see a few baseball caps as well. Almost everyone had a bandanna around their neck, jeans instead of leather, knee-high leather boots, and either a brightly colored shirt or a plaid shirt instead of an embroidered, fancy mariachi-like top. And, in typical Mazatlán style, we saw one guy without a shirt.

One surprising thing, at least to us: they were drinking a whole lot less here than what we witnessed in Jerez. Amazing? I’m confident they made up for it at the final ranch, or perhaps it’s because this is much more a family event, but we only saw beer, not the quantity of tequila and whiskey that we did in spring 2011 in Zacatecas. I will also say that Mazatlán wins, hands-down, in the friendliness department!

Men, women, children, couples, families, and singles participated. Riders told us there were over 1000 people participating, Tourism reported 600, but at most we saw 250-300 pass by us. We waited on the beach in Delfín for quite a while, significantly north of the bridge. However, the riders must have turned back to the road from the beach quite a ways north of Delfín, because we only saw a few on the beach—the bulk of them we saw on the road to Emerald Bay.

The cabalgata started at Rancho Chuchupira, which is about 14 km north of town. Because the bridge is under construction, the riders this year rested at Oceanica, the drug rehab center in Delfín just north of the wonderful new bridge. There the facility’s staff watered the horses, and guys on 4-wheelers handed out beer and water. The riders continued south along the railroad tracks, turning west for another rest at Rancho El Palomo, and then ate lunch and partied with beer, food and banda music at Rancho Las Habas. Quite a deal for 150 pesos! We met riders from Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Durango and the USA, and were struck by how incredibly friendly everyone was. Greg and I both received multiple offers to hop on a horse and join the fun.

If you’ve never witnessed a cabalgata, it’s worthwhile taking the opportunity. Sinaloa is farm country; raising horses is part of one people do on the ranchos here. Cabalgatas are another wonderful cultural opportunity we can avail ourselves of here in Mazatlán. I do, however, recommend you ride rather than just observe. Looks a whole lot more fun!

Desfile de Semana de la Moto 2014

It was wonderful to have our friends over for the motorcycle parade this afternoon, the culmination of Moto Week 2014. Here are a few highlights.

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Governor Malova led the parade on his bike, as usual, and Mayor Felton and First Lady Sylvia accompanied him. They all looked like they were having a great time. Short clip below.

Unfortunately at the very end of the parade there was a crash: two bikes crashed, and one jumped the curb up to the malecón. The rider flew off, and Greg was collateral damage. He’s ok but very bruised, swollen and sore. One other young woman—who had been walking by—was bleeding, and she and the poor man who flew off the bike left in ambulances.

It could have been much worse; our prayers are with all the riders. For the record, all those affected were immediately and very kindly attended to by Cruz Roja, Protección Civíl, Tránsito, and bilingual officials from MotoWeek.

Life is a Parade! (¡Especially on the Malecón!)

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Since we’ve moved here, I find myself frequently telling people, “Oh, it’s another parade,” as I rush out to the terrace to enjoy the festivities.

In the spring, during the festival season in the city’s schools, we can get three or four parades pass by in a day. You might think that after five years of living here, the enthusiasm diminishes, but who can NOT smile when you see colorful balloons, hear oompah bands, and usually get to see young people with smiling faces, crowns and sashes? Everyone shouts and hoots, beeps their horns, waves a flag or banner, and there is always a police escort with lights flashing and siren blaring.

No, the malecón is not the place you live for peace and quiet. It’s a pulsating artery of the city, and we enjoy that completely. Several times a week we also have terrific fireworks to watch, and there is always a rush in the house to discover whether the fireworks are out front over the bay, or out back over the stadium at the city. Ah, life’s challenges.

I took a bit of video of today’s parade. I think it’ll bring a smile to your face…. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do! Simple but sweet. Video is below.

For those of you who wanted to view the video but couldn’t, because I’d used a clip from a song, I’ve now deleted that clip and the revised video is above. You should be able to see it no problem now.