We have learned so much about holiday celebrations here in Mexico earlier this week. The associate dean of my school, Javier, taught us all about dia de virgen Guadalupe Day of our Lady Guadalupe (12th of December) and that 20-25 million people from all over the world celebrate this day by traveling to Tepayac Hill in Mexico City to pray. It is said that the Virgin Mary had appeared there in 1531 and asked a peasant farmer to build a chapel so that she could watch over her people. Juan Diego told the bishop this, but he didn't believe Diego. Mary performed a miracle by allowing flowers to grow where only cactus could survive. A chapel was built to honor her, and many people believe that miracles happen there.
We also learned about the piñata. The authentic piñata is nothing like what we have in the states. It's not an animal, it's not filled with an overwhelming amount of candy, and it's definitely not light even when it's empty. Rather, it is a huge clay pot made by hand. We made paste with flour and hot water, ripped up newspaper, and started to craft this masterpiece. We put paste all around this clay pot to glue the pieces of ripped newspaper to it. We then took huge sheets of colored construction paper and made them into cones--7 cones to be exact. Each cone or 'point' represented the 7 deadly sins. The cones were then pasted to the newspaper-covered pot. We set it out to dry for 24 hours and continued working on it the next evening.
Our teacher, Rebecca, gave us sheets of colored wrapping tissue to decorate the piñata. We all sat around a table and set up an assembly line. One of my classmates, Derek, called it a piñata sweatshop! :) We then took aluminum foil and covered parts of the piñata. Our teachers filled the piñatas the next day and hoisted them up on a rope on the terrace. We gathered after class to take turns hitting it yesterday. When it broke, we found sugar cane, peanuts (in the shell), lollipops, jamaica, and gold chocolate coins--YUM!
I went on an excursion to a local silver mine with some friends from school today. What I find interesting is that there are no guides in the city that speak English. It’s great because it forces us to listen very carefully to what they are saying and get a good idea of what is going on. The listening portion of being in the city hasn’t been overwhelmingly difficult, but the speaking portion still remains a struggle. I am sure that in time it will get easier. This brings me to my next point: I went to a local café today to ask for a job and was hired. I start tomorrow and really look forward to improving my speaking and listening by working there.
I will post some photos I took of the city in my next entry—I’m having quite a bit of trouble with the formatting of my entries.