Acerca del amor y la muerte

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 29th, 2010

En la literatura abundan las mujeres dolientes que matan a sus propios hijos. La griega Medea asesina a los que tuvo con Jason, vengándose así porque él la dejó abandonada y se fue con otra mujer.

En toda América Latina existe la leyenda de La Llorona quien mató a sus hijos para irse con su amante. Para La Llorona todo sale mal: su amante la abandona por otra mujer y ella, vuelta loca de dolor y celos, se suicida ahogándose en el río igual que la Ofelia de Shakespeare.

La Llorona es castigada por sus pecados y termina convertida en un espíritu errante, condenada a vagar por toda la eternidad. La leyenda dice que por las noches, cerca de los ríos, aparece una mujer vestida de blanco, llorando a gritos por sus hijos muertos. El mito de la mujer que llora sin parar y aparece anunciando la muerte es, por otro lado, bastante similar al mito gaelico de las Banshees.

Las letras de la famosa canción tradicional mexicana  “La Llorona” están inspiradas por esta historia llena de resonancias. Sin embargo, por siniestra que sea la historia, La Llorona es una canción de amor. Un hombre le canta quizá a La Llorona o quizá a un amor perdido:

El que no sabe de amores, Llorona

No sabe lo que es martirio

Muchos famosos cantantes han interpretado esta canción melancólica y triste a la vez que hermosa. Una de mis versiones favoritas es la de Lila Down.

Lila Downs es una cantante mexicana-americana que ha grabado muchas canciones tradicionales. Canta en inglés y en español pero también en lenguas indígenas. Una canción como esta puede tener un efecto curativo en el alma: tal vez si uno sufre lo suficiente, el sufrimiento puede agotarse por completo.


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 Narco Style

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 10th, 2010

Narco Style is what in popular imagination identifies drug
traffickers in northern Mexico. Is a mixture of many elements, some
of those are part of folklore or tradition of Mexico’s northern regions,
others come from global influences (big brands like Versace, for example) and
other from popular culture.

The mixture then is peculiar, but not necessarily reflects the current reality of
the drug traffickers nowadays. I mean, when drug cartels leaders have been caught, the news showed images of well-dressed young men as
students of expensive private schools.

Interestingly enough, the greatest exponents of what we call narco style are people who do not necessarily have any relation with drug trafficking. I’m talking about
musical groups, such as the very popular Tigres del norte.

However, if in Mexico you say “narcos”, people will automatically think of a flamboyant and brutal aesthetic, closer to what Versace used to propose in the
mid-90’s, mixed with typically northern items, like cowboy boots made of ostrich
leather, “piteado” belts (piteado refers to a traditional embroidery work done on
skin with natural fiber), hats and big jewelry.

That ostentatious aesthetic really exists. The Mexican army
has a museum dedicated inter alia to the weapons seized from drug trafficking.
In this collection there are guns coated with gold and diamonds or cell phones
embedded with precious stones.
Drug-related culture has its own codes, its own epic collected in the so-called
narcocorridos and even their own holy protectors. The two most important
are the Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde, a mythical and protective saint with
his own chapels and prayers.

Malverde Chapel

The universe of the narcos is a world of danger and wealth, an adventure in
risking life where you can have everything, or you can lose your life. Or at least
that’s what Los Tigres del Norte sing in their corridos.



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by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 6th, 2010

Back in the past, Mexico valley wasn’t a valley but a lake. Now in Mexico valley
there’s Mexico City and the streets, tall buildings, and everything that is normal
to find in a city. Of the ancient lake there is nothing or almost nothing, but what remains
is colorful and picturesque, is Xochimilco.

Xochimilco is famous worldwide thanks to its canals, has been the natural set of
countless Mexican movies and is a major tourist destination in the city. It is also a
place to go on weekends, entire families come up to eat local foods or buy plants
and flowers.

The emblematic image of Xochimilco are its trajineras. Large rafts decorated
with colorful bows (sometimes the bows are made of flowers) and with space
enough to carry a large family or a group of friends.

Xochimilco is one of the places in Mexico City where young people go when they
escape from the school. Because the students skip classes since the days of
Rabelais and still do it now and will do it forever. In Mexico, deliberately skip classes
to go wandering is called going “de pinta”.

Xochimilco is one of the classic places for ditching school. Students going in
group, gather the money they bring, and with that money they buy beer and pay the
carriers. A party over water! Bye, teachers.



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 University. A time, a space, a living

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 3rd, 2010

The Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) is the main institution of higher
education in my country. It is also the leading generator of scientific research
and the second largest producer of public theater. In 2007 UNESCO declared
Ciudad Universitaria (such is the name of the UNAM
main campus) a World Heritage Site. In 2009 the UNAM won
the Prince of Asturias Prize for Communications and Humanities.

The Main Library

But beyond the big things (and I’m also speaking of open spaces and large
buildings) the Universidad is for me and for many students an accumulation of
little things. I’m pretty sure that any student can say the same about his own
university or college.

Rectorate building

One of my favorite places in Ciudad Universitaria is the sculptural space, a place where theater students go to do vocal training practices because the acoustics of the site is very peculiar. The sculptural space is also a place to go at sunset when the temperature drops, you
can sit there with your friends and drink beer or play the guitar.

Espacio escultorico

Very near the rectorate building and the main library (know as Biblioteca Central)
is the green area called “the islands” which is always alive. In the islands there
are football games, people walking their dogs, medical students in white coats
going on bike and on weekends families go for a walk or skate.

And nearby there is the stadium, home of the Pumas, my favorite soccer team. In
the Olympic stadium had occurred some of the competitions of the l968
Olympics and from then it has hosted major sport events (and millions of
little personal moments).

Olimpic stadium

When you spend most of your time at school, suddenly you discover
the best places to eat quesadillas (in the psychology department) or where to
find the most abundant and cheap salads (in architecture). Soon you know you
can fill the idle hours between classes in a dance performance, cinema
projection, learning Swedish or Korean at language center or even taking salsa

As stated in the Pumas supporters song: ¡Cómo no te voy a querer! (how could I not love you?).



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 Tequila, Mariachi and Electroshock

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 1st, 2010

Sometimes it happens: cities that are major tourist destinations have essential
places for foreigners who come visiting.
Sometimes people living in those cities
do not go much to these sites. In other cases, foreigners and locals mix with
each other, each having its good reason to be there. When that happens it is
usually because the place is both interesting and real.

Plaza Garibaldi is one of the most traditional places in Mexico City. It is the
base of operations for the mariachis. If you need a mariachi band to sing Las
(typical birthday song) to your mother, you go to Garibaldi. If you
don’t have enough money to pay a mariachi at home, you take your mom to the

Oh, excuse me. Anybody knows what a mariachi is? Mariachi is a musical
group with many members (round about 10) which play all sorts of traditional and
regional mexican music. Their clothing is based on the charros (horsemen of the
farms) and is adorned with silver. They have this huge hat, which is associated
with the image of mexicans, even if no ordinary mexican use it unless… works as a mariachi.

The Plaza Garibaldi is surrounded by cantinas (mexican word for “bar”). One of
them is almost a mythical place: El Salon Tenampa. In that place there is a lot
of tequila and of course a lot of mariachis. On the walls there are murals like this
one where the quintessential charros are Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete.

A tradition of the cantinas are the boxes for toques, meaning for electrical
shocks. Personally I’ve never understood that tradition. It’s about men called
Toqueros. They bring with them a small wooden box with six batteries of one
volt and a half, a pair of wires and two copper cylinders. All this stuff acts as a
generator and conductor of energy.

The game consists of the following: a player holds the cylinders in his hands, then the toquero turn on the appliance, so the batteries release discharges up to 70 volts. All friends of a group go in shifts. The one who holds the more volts win. What do you win? The honor of being named the most “macho” at the table.

Absurd, right? Well, everybody at the cantinas seem to have a lot of fun with that. Reset yourself for less than one euro.
If someday you go through Mexico City you have to live a wild night at Garibaldi,
where the party doesn’t end until sunrise. To get there only catch the subway and get
off at Garibaldi Station in the historic city center. And good luck, you macho man!



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 El Centro de la Ciudad de México: laberinto de pasiones.

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Abril 14th, 2010

Amo el centro de la Ciudad de México…

Lo amo con sus millones de sonidos por segundo, sus millones de colores por metro cuadrado, sus millones de ocurrencias y bromas por cuadra. La Ciudad de México aturde tus sentidos.

Hay edificios antiguos con fantasmas y apariciones de monjas (como Casa Talavera en Republica del Salvador y Talavera, cerca del Museo de la Ciudad) rodeados de calles atestadas de gente que anda de compras.

De entre todo un universo de posibilidades, en el centro uno puede encontrar miles de copias piratas del CD del momento a cinco pesos. Caminando, de pronto estás en una calle llena de tiendas de bicicletas y prostitutas gordas afuera de esas tiendas (si eso pasa, es que estás en San Pablo, donde también hay buenos lugares de comida libanesa).

Regadas por todo el centro hay una buena cantidad de tiendas de telas, llenas hasta el techo con su mercadería en grandes rollos y letreros que anuncian hilo por kilo.
Si no quieres comprar tela y en cambio te aperece una cerveza fria, lo mejor es ir a la calle 5 de Mayo Street y meterte en La Opera, uno de los bares más famosos del centro y de la ciudad.

Y si saliendo se te antoja un dulce, sólo tienes que cruzar la calle y entrar en la Dulcería de Celaya para comprar dulces tradicionales.

Cuando yo voy al centro a veces camino sin dirección y me voy deteniendo en los puestos para comprar tres plumas de gel por cinco pesos, para escuchar músicos callejeros o para comerme un helado de Santa Clara en la calle de Madero.

Los domingos, esas mismas calles normalmente bulliciosas están vacías y las tiendas permanecen cerradas.

El Centro lo tiene todo. Y si es primavera, incluso tiene jacarandas en flor.



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