Love for Mexico

How Mexico City Celebrates Day of the Dead 2019 October 15 2019, 0 Comments

By Julie R Butler

Día de Muertos is an important tradition in Mexico that takes place 2 November. It also incorporates Día de los Angelitos on 1 November, when many Mexican families honor infants and children who have passed away, making it a multi-day observance rather than just a single day affair, as the name implies. But wait – it’s actually a three-day celebration that begins on 31 October, the day dedicated to creating the ofrendas that attract the spirits of the dead to visit, according to some regional traditions.

Calaveras
Photo by Valeria Almaraz on Unsplash

Then there’s Mexico City, where Day of the Dead has morphed into an entire month-long festival season that has been drawing international attention for its massive, carnival-like events. 

Here is the lineup of the biggest 2019 Día de Muertos events in Mexico City to watch out for, whether you’re able to be there live and in person or you would like to observe the spectacles from afar.

Saturday 19 October: Parade of Giant Alebrijes, Zócalo, 12 am

Having started out as the fever dreams of artisan Pedro Linares, alebrijas have come alive in Mexican culture, first as colorful, fantastical folk art and then as the giant sculptures parading through the streets of Mexico City. The annual Desfile de Alebrijes Monumentales is organized by the Museo de Arte Popular to honor Mexico’s vibrant folk art traditions. The parade is scheduled to start at the Zócalo at noon.

Alebrije Monumental “Michin Rojo”
Photo by Thelmadatter, CC BY-SA 3.0

Saturday 19 October: Marcha Zombie, Monument to the Revolution, 10 am

On the same day as the alebrije parade, the dead will come alive in the streets of Mexico City! The CDMX Zombie March begins at 10 am at the Monumento a la Revolución. Organized by Unidos Distribuimos y Transformamos, this horde of ghouls comes out each year to have fun and make food donations for distribution to those in need.

Zombie March (Toronto)
Photo by Andrevruas, CC BY-SA 3.0 

Saturday 26 October: Mega Procession of Catrinas, Paseo de la Reforma, 6 pm

Long before the rise of zombies in today’s popular culture, Mexico’s elegantly dressed skeletons, known as calavera Catrinas, were common features of Day of the Dead celebrations throughout Mexico, often imbued with a social critique. Although you’re bound to see plenty of faces with colorful Catrina designs at Muertos-themed festivities across the globe this year, there’s nothing quite like the joyful Mega Procesión de Catrinas in the heart of Mexico City.

Sunday 27 October: International Day of the Dead Parade, Zócalo, 2 pm

This year, the fourth annual Desfile Internacional de Muertos has the slogan, “A Gift of Mexican Songs and Flowers for the World,” and it has a new route. Its goal is to showcase Mexico’s vibrant and diverse culture on the world stage. Allegorical floats, giant marionettes, and over a thousand participants make it Mexico’s biggest parade.

Saturday 2 November: Grand Day of the Dead Parade, Paseo de la Reforma, 4 pm

El Gran Desfile de Día de Muertos occurs on the actual Day of the Dead, and it is the parade that was inspired by the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre. It starts later in the day, and rather than beginning at the Zócalo, like the international parade, it ends up there. Also, instead of having a grand theme or cultural tradition behind it, this parade is a giant celebration of how younger generations of Mexicans are able to take an age-old tradition and make it their own!

Now, check out Shoptezuma's Dia de Muertos collection by clicking below:
Dia de Muertos Collection
JULIE R BUTLER IS A FREELANCE WRITER AND EDITOR LIVING IN PÁTZCUARO, MICHOACÁN. SHE HAS 20-PLUS YEARS' EXPERIENCE EXPLORING MÉXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, ARGENTINA, AND URUGUAY. IN ADDITION TO WRITING ABOUT THE WONDERS OF LIVING IN MÉXICO, SHE SPECIALIZES NEW TECHNOLOGIES – PARTICULARLY, HYDROPONICS AND SMART-CITY TECH. ONLINE PORTFOLIO: HTTPS://JULIERBUTLER.CONTENTLY.COM/

Behold Mexico's Amazing Biodiversity June 04 2019, 0 Comments

By Julie R Butler

Mexico is famously rich in culture, history, gastronomy, and natural beauty. But did you know that while it only makes up 1% of the land on Earth, Mexico contains 10%-12% of all the different types of living species on the planet?

Axolotl salamander

Mexico ranks #1 in biodiversity of reptiles, #2 in the number of mammal species, and #4 in amphibians and plants, while ranking fourth in the total number of species it hosts.

A member of the exclusive club of 17 nations known as “mega-diverse countries,” Mexico is also home to a large amount of species that only exist in one particular geographic location, and the country ranks second in the number of ecosystems that exist within its boundaries.

Why Mexico is so Rich in Biodiversity

One of the main reasons Mexico enjoys such rich biodiversity is because it’s in the tropics. But also, the country is muy montañoso, which creates multiple levels of altitude as well as pockets of unique microclimates that result in a variety of soils, climates, and habitats. Mexico also has two long coastlines, where the meeting of coastal dunes, mangroves, and lagoon systems with other ecosystems encourages biodiversity, and the country’s geography ranges from the rainforests of the southeast to temperate mountain forests in the center of the country to the deserts of the north, to name just a few of Mexico’s many ecoregions.

Why is Biodiversity Important?

Biodiversity is really important because every living thing plays some part in the ecosystem where it evolved; and the more different species there are, the more productive, resilient, and sustainable the ecosystem is.

The Laguna Miramar in the Lacandon Jungle

Mexico’s Rich Biodiversity Brought Us Maize and Zapote

Mexico’s rich biodiversity has played a huge role in shaping the region’s development reaching all the way back to when Mexicans began growing maize 9,000 years ago, since it provides an assortment of “natural services” including ecological processes like the soil formation and nutrient recycling that helped make the cultivation of maize possible.

And the wealth of plant biodiversity in Mexico has continued to influence the cultural development of the region since then. Maize may be the foundation of Mexican civilization, but ¿Qué sería México sin tomates, frijoles, calabaza, o los diversos chiles – o el cacao? Or “exotic” fruits like tuna, zapote, and pitaya, or veggies like chayote and jicama?

That’s biodiversity at work for you!

Mexico’s Biodiversity Provides Recreation and Tourism

With 182 federally protected natural areas covering more than 25 million hectares of land throughout the country, Mexico has a lot to offer nature lovers, outdoor sports enthusiasts, adventure travelers, and curious tourists alike, including 42 biospheres, 67 national parks, and a bunch of other designations that set the land aside to help protect the nation’s natural heritage and promote ecotourism in Mexico. People from all over the world come to Mexico to get a peek at wildlife ranging from huge wales to prowling jungle cats to delicate monarch butterflies to Xochimilco’s endangered axolotl salamanders – and so much more that Mexico has to offer!

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
JULIE R BUTLER IS A FREELANCE WRITER AND EDITOR LIVING IN PÁTZCUARO, MICHOACÁN. SHE HAS 20-PLUS YEARS' EXPERIENCE EXPLORING MÉXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, ARGENTINA, AND URUGUAY. IN ADDITION TO WRITING ABOUT THE WONDERS OF LIVING IN MÉXICO, SHE SPECIALIZES NEW TECHNOLOGIES – PARTICULARLY, HYDROPONICS AND SMART-CITY TECH. ONLINE PORTFOLIO: HTTPS://JULIERBUTLER.CONTENTLY.COM/

Culture Shock: Coping with Cultural Transition April 16 2019, 0 Comments

By Julie R Butler 

It’s a shock to exactly nobody that Mexico and the United States have very different cultures. Yet culture shock still happens, particularly when people from the States come to Mexico for the first time and vice versa. But it’s not limited to first-time visitors, and in fact, it can even occur when you return to your home country after being away for a while. So let’s take a look at what this all means for people whose lives are intertwined with the cultures of both Mexico and the United States.

Photo by Ivan Cervantes on Unsplash

What Is Culture Shock?

Culture shock is usually defined in terms of disorientation when experiencing an environment that is unfamiliar, and it’s most commonly associated with travel or moving to another country. But if you look at culture shock as a subset of the general phenomenon of “transition shock,” I think it puts things into perspective and can help you cope with the normal human reactions to change.

Change always requires adjustment, and the process of adjusting can involve all kinds of emotional ups and downs that go along with a sense of loss of control. But in the end, it’s all part of a process of personal growth that can enhance adaptability, resiliency, empathy, and many other life skills that will make you a stronger person.

Photo by Paula May on Unsplash

Four Stages of Culture Shock

How each individual reacts to cultural change varies greatly. However, there are basically four stages of culture shock, which don’t necessarily play out for everyone or occur progressively.

  1. Honeymoon. This is the infatuation stage. You’re curious, enthusiastic about engaging with your new environment, and in love with everything about it.
  2. Frustration. This is the hard part. Your idealized view of the culture is chipped away by the reality that you can’t get a handle on how things work, you’re having trouble adjusting to the daily rhythms, communicating is a constant challenge, underlying problems are becoming visible, you’re starting to get annoyed by things that seemed quaint at first, you miss people and things from home, etc.
  3. Adjustment. Eventually, you begin to get more used to your surroundings and start feeling more comfortable.
  4. Adaptation. You’re settling in, getting familiar with the routines, maybe even feeling a sense of belonging.

Reverse Culture Shock

When you leave your comfort zone to experience a different culture, it changes you, so don’t expect that you will feel the same about your home culture when you return. At the same time, don’t expect those who remained there to identify with the new you. All this can lead to reverse culture shock, when you feel out of place and disoriented all over again.

 

JULIE R BUTLER IS A FREELANCE WRITER AND EDITOR LIVING IN PÁTZCUARO, MICHOACÁN. SHE HAS 20-PLUS YEARS' EXPERIENCE EXPLORING MÉXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, ARGENTINA, AND URUGUAY. IN ADDITION TO WRITING ABOUT THE WONDERS OF LIVING IN MÉXICO, SHE SPECIALIZES NEW TECHNOLOGIES – PARTICULARLY, HYDROPONICS AND SMART-CITY TECH. ONLINE PORTFOLIO: HTTPS://JULIERBUTLER.CONTENTLY.COM/

Popocatépetl in the Land of Fire and Passion April 08 2019, 0 Comments

By Julie R Butler 

For the 21 million people living in the shadow of Popocatépetl, having a sense of the power behind the forces that shape the natural world around us is a daily occurrence. This active stratovolcano has been rumbling and sending plumes of ash high into the sky since its birth, which was probably about 730,000 years ago. Although there was a period of quiet that began in 1947, the volcano whose name means “smoking mountain” in Nahuatl began its smoking again in 1994.

Popocatepetl

Public Domain

Now, el Popo has begun erupting forcefully, sending plumes of ash and gas several kilometers high and showering hails of fire down its slopes over the past couple of weeks. This spectacular volcanic activity has gained international attention, prompted CENAPRED to up the alert level to Yellow Phase 3, and ignited interest in this iconic, beating heart of Mexico.

A Land of Fire and Passion

Did you know that Popocatépetl is the second-highest volcano in North America, rising to some 5,452 meters above sea level? Of course, the highest one is also Mexican: Pico de Orizaba, or Citlaltépetl, as it’s known in Nahuatl, at 5,636 meters.

By David Tuggy, CC BY-SA 2.5

Both Orizaba and Popocatépetl are stratovolcanoes, which means they are made up of layers of solidified lava and volcanic ash built up by multiple eruptions. But while Orizaba is dormant, el Popo is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico, along with Volcán de Colima.

These volcanoes and many others form the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, which arcs across the continent from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. In fact, here you can see six Mexican volcanoes in the belt: from left to right, there’s Iztaccíhuatl, Popocatépetl, Matlalcueitl (Malinche), and Cofre de Perote, with Pico de Orizaba rising up in the distance and Sierra Negra visible behind it.

Popocatépetl is connected to Mexico’s third-highest volcano, Iztaccíhuatl, by a saddle known as Paso de Cortés, which is the mountain pass that conquistador Hernán Cortés crossed over to arrive at Tenochtitlán in 1519. Today, this is where you gain access to enter Parque Nacional Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl.

Iztaccíhuatl, which means “white woman” in Nahuatl, is also referred to as Mujer dormida because the contours resemble the profile of a woman lying on her back. Together, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl represent the power of Mexico’s impressive volcanic landscape to express the passion and intensity of Mexican culture.

The Legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl

While there are different versions of the legend of the star-crossed lovers who became entombed in the landscape, the Mexican writer and journalist Carlos Villa Roiz tells it basically this way:

Long ago in Tenochtitlán, there was a beautiful princess named Mixtli. The daughter of Tizoc, the emperor of the Mexicas, Mixtli was pursued by many men, but her heart belonged to the hansom warrior Popoca. To win the hand of the princess, Popoca was sent to prove his mettle on the battlefield, so he went off to combat strengthened by the knowledge that his beloved was awaiting his return. But Mixtli was tortured by visions that Popoca had been killed in battle and became so dejected that she perished.

Eventually, to everyone’s surprise, Popoca returned triumphant. Upon learning of the death of his one true love, he carried her body to the tops of the surrounding mountains, where she would become Iztaccíhuatl. And he, too, remains there, kneeling at her feet and watching over her eternal sleep, torch in hand, trembling and fuming with passion, until the end of time.

 

JULIE R BUTLER IS A FREELANCE WRITER AND EDITOR LIVING IN PÁTZCUARO, MICHOACÁN. SHE HAS 20-PLUS YEARS' EXPERIENCE EXPLORING MÉXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, ARGENTINA, AND URUGUAY. IN ADDITION TO WRITING ABOUT THE WONDERS OF LIVING IN MÉXICO, SHE SPECIALIZES NEW TECHNOLOGIES – PARTICULARLY, HYDROPONICS AND SMART-CITY TECH. ONLINE PORTFOLIO: HTTPS://JULIERBUTLER.CONTENTLY.COM/

 


Culture, Beaches, Nature, Sports - Mexico Has Something for Everyone March 20 2019, 0 Comments

By Julie R Butler 

Shoptezuma is all about how great Mexico is; and one of my favorite things about Mexico is the access to parks, beaches, and awesome natural splendor as well as vibrant urban centers, a hoppin’ sports scene, and all kinds of intriguing historical and artistic cultural treasures.

Multilayered Mexican Culture

I love that the cultural atmosphere throughout Mexico has many layers, with a contiguous human history that reaches thousands of years back in time, the colonial influence, lots of different indigenous communities that continue to honor their traditions, and the various regional customs, foods, and music – all coexisting with the vibrancy of modern-day Mexican life.

Mexico City

Photo by Obed Hernández on Unsplash

Mexico’s Rich Heritage

Consider this: The United States is almost five times larger than Mexico in terms of land area, yet Mexico has 35 UNESCO World Heritage sites, while the United States only has 23. From pre-Hispanic archaeological sites to the many colonial city centers, from the tequila-producing region of Jalisco to the tropical forests of Campeche, from monarch butterflies in Michoacán to the whale sanctuary on the Baha Peninsula – these amazing sites showcase the diverse historic and natural heritage of Mexico.

In addition to these sites, UNESCO lists 10 Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity items from Mexico, including things like charrería, mariachi music, and traditional Mexican cuisine.

Mexico Pyramid

Photo by Filip Gielda on Unsplash

Mexico’s Biological and Geographic Diversity

When it comes to biodiversity by country, Mexico ranks 5th, while the United States ranks 12th.

An astounding amount of different types of plants and animals inhabit Mexico, and it’s because of the country’s unique geography: Mexico spreads from the desert north to tropical jungles of the south; the country is very mountainous, so the different altitudes add to the variety of climates and environments; and there are hundreds of kilometers of coastline along both sides that are lined with gorgeous beaches. All of this adds up to a wide variety of different natural settings to enjoy. And wherever you are, you’re never too far from a chillaxing beach vacation.

Mexico Turtle

Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

Mexico’s Vibrant Urban Centers

As for urban centers, there is no city in the world that’s more dynamic Mexico City. But if CDMX is a bit too much city for you, there are less hectic cities such as Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Morelia, Guanajuato, Monterrey, Puebla, and León, each with its own distinctive character, and all of which are still bursting at the seams with everything from restaurants, museums, theaters, and sports venues to buzzing business districts, intriguing historical centers, beautiful parks, and plenty of bustling shopping areas and markets to lose yourself in.

 Mexico Catedral

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

Mexico Chillax

When you need to escape all the hustle and bustle of urban life, there are plenty of options, ranging from parks and gardens in the heart of the city to over sixty national parks spread across the country to the fabulous Yucatan and Pacific Coast and beaches. These are some of the standouts:

Parks:

  • Bosque de Chapultepec, CDMX
  • Sumidero Canyon National Park, Chiapas
  • Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Quintana Roo
  • Palenque National Park, Chiapas

Beaches:

  • Tulum
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Los Cabos
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Cancun

Mexico Beach

Photo by Sébastien Jermer on Unsplash

The Mexican Passionate for Sports

Another thing I really love about Mexico is the passionate for sports. Of course, Mexican fútbol fans are renowned for their enthusiasm. But that’s not the only sport that has a fervent fan base in Mexico. Other international sports such as béisbol and boxeo are huge, as are uniquely Mexican popular sports like lucha libre and frontenis. And the traditional Mexican sports of toreo and charrería are also quite alive and well.

Something for Everyone

So whether you’re a beach bum, a city slicker, a nature lover, a culture buff, or a sports enthusiast, Mexico has something for everyone!

 

Julie R Butler is a freelance writer and editor living in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. She has 20-plus years' experience exploring México, Central America, Argentina, and Uruguay. In addition to writing about the wonders of living in México, she specializes new technologies – particularly, hydroponics and smart-city tech. Online portfolio: https://julierbutler.contently.com/