November 8, 2009

What a way to go

Luscious pool at the Holiday Inn Boca del Rio

We had a nice party in Veracruz attending the mining convention. Since I had seen most of the sights last time, it was a chance to relax by the pool and do a little shopping in the nearby mall with a friend.

Several of the attendees and/or their spouses were stalled out in the Denver airport due to an unseasonably strong snowstorm. In fact one of our employees, the Wyoming Miner, who was supposed to present a paper at the convention never made it to Veracruz after his flight was delayed for a day in Denver; and then delayed a second time in Houston by a tornado. Meanwhile in Veracruz we had a 5.4 Richter scale earthquake followed two days later by what they call a Northeaster’ (very strong winds and rain). Esperando was sure that if the Wyoming Miner had, in fact, made it to Veracruz we would have had yet a plethora of natural disasters.

The final night of the convention the big dinner was served at 10 pm. After that we were treated to Ninel Conde, a Mexican singer and performer. In that the music was really loud and we were seated in a corner where we could only watch her on the projector screen and see wafts of smoke rising from her staging we decided to exit, stage left when she started her performance at midnight. Those that stayed reported that she lost significant amounts of clothing as the evening progressed.

The convention fell on the first days of Dias de los Muertos (the Days of the Dead). Esperando and I watched some simple altars being constructed for the celebration in Veracruz but it was a rather tame affair, nothing like we would later encounter in Huaquechula near Puebla. In that small village it is traditional for people to construct an altar in their homes, which they do just that one time if someone in their family died during the year. The general public is invited and it has become a tourist event, mostly attended by Mexican families. One walks around the village with a guide who knows where the homes are located. The altars are designed to look like a frothy confection of satin, sort of a non-moving float, with several different levels representing earth and heaven and in between. The altars are decorated with personal items and food for the deceased, as well as a pitcher of water as the soul will have a long walk ahead. There are usually a couple of ceramic figures in the shape of crying children known as “lloroncitos”. These represent the people on earth who’ll cry for them. The second level represents heaven with angels who will guide the deceased’s way, or the figure of The Virgin Mary. The third level represents divinity and normally has the figure of Jesus on the Cross or Baby Jesus in the case of the altars made for children.

Altar for the deceased. These altars can cost as much as $3,000--quite a costly undertaking for a poor family.

No comments: