Calaveritas de Mondragon para Día de Los Muertos

I recently visited the National Museum of Mexican Art, located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, on a special mission: I was hoping to buy calaveras de azúcar for my altar de muertos. But not just any calaveras—I was hoping to buy handmade and hand-decorated calaveras from the famous Mondragon family.

Sugar skulls are truly an art form and the Mondragon family from Toluca, Mexico, has been making hand-decorated sugar skulls for around 150 years, spanning five generations. They’ve been coming to the museum to make them in Chicago since 1995 as a way for people to hang on to their culture so far from home and to share Mexican tradition and culture, they told me.

Sugar skulls are often used as a decoration for an altar de muertos or given as gifts for Día de Los Muertos. It’s common to also put the names of family members on the forehead of the sugar skull. Some families only put names of the deceased, while others put names of the living on them as well.

Alejandro Mondragon Arriaga and his wife Elvira Garcia Zinzu travel with one of their daughters to Chicago to make their famous sugar skulls at the museum every year while the rest of the family stays behind in Mexico to make them there. Their family is one of less than a dozen left who are dedicated to this traditional craft, Elvira told me. At one time, she said, there were dozens and dozens of families who made them and sold them all over Mexico…. 

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Travel Tuesday: #MexicoEnTresPalabras

If you’re a resident of Twitterlandia like us, you might be interested to know that the hashtag #MexicoEnTresPalabras has been trending worldwide today!

Here are a few tweets that we’ve seen and liked so far:

Head on over to Twitter and tell the world the three words that most describe YOUR Mexico! Your words can be in English or Spanish (or any other language, really) but don’t forget the #MexicoEnTresPalabras hashtag.

  • Happy #TravelTuesday!

Discover Las Bahías de Huatulco

Looking to plan your next vacation or just need a destination to daydream about? Las Bahías de Huatulco is the place!

Last year for La Navidad, our family spent a week in Huatulco relaxing and enjoying the nature, the food and the local culture. It was one of my favorite vacations we’ve ever taken. Watch the video to get a little taste to whet your appetite.

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El mes de la patria: Few things are more Mexican than mariachi!

*Note: This post is part of a Blog Hop among the Mexico Today Ambassadors in celebration of el mes de la patria and el Día de la Independencia Mexicana. If you’ve written a tribute post for this patriotic Mexican holiday, I encourage you to leave a link in the comments on this post in addition to checking out the posts from the other ambassadors participating. The official blog hop is set to only accept entries from the ambassadors.

 

I love mariachi music like I love tacos, and if you know me well, then you know that I love tacos and mariachi music to the end of the world and back. We have a storied relationship and yes, even my iPod is full of mariachi classics.

Nothing quite stirs my soul like mariachi music. I wish I could put my finger on an exact reason, but I can’t. It’s a bit like how Mexico has always felt like home to me even though I was born in the U.S. Whenever I’m having a bad day, a little mariachi music always cheers me up. Or sometimes when I’m really missing Mexico and it’s been too long since my last visit, a few classic tunes always do the trick to make me feel better and look forward to the next visit.

Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a special dinner in Chicago hosted by the Jalisco Tourism Board. The food was fabulous, the company genuine, and the after dinner entertainment… yep, you guessed it: mariachi!

But not just any mariachi band; this group was all the way from Guadalajara! It was such a surprise and a treat and most of the people I was seated with at my table were singing along. It was the birthday of someone at my table so they even played Las Mañanitas!

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A few weeks ago, the 18th Annual International Mariachi Conference (yes, this really exists!) took place in the state of Jalisco, and one of our cousins from Mexico City shared a link with me of a BBC World News report about a new Guinness World Record set for the most traditional Mexican dancers on the floor at the same time. To be exact, there were 457 dancers and 300 mariachi musicians from all over Mexico and other countries, including the U.S.—and some came from as far away as Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina to participate and play in the record-breaking ceremony. I was amazed watching the video. Click through to the link to watch it—I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

No Mexican celebration is truly complete—especially las fiestas patrias—without mariachi music. So put on some tunes (I recommend anything by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán), wave your Mexican flag and don’t forget to watch El Grito tonight! I’m even pulling out my papel picado to decorate. I hope to see the zócalo of Mexico City on TV, filled to the brim with people like last year and the year before.

For past years’ celebrations, check out my posts on chiles en nogada (with a video of Calderón giving El Grito), and my two posts from last year’s Mexican bicentennial: guacamole y papel picado and how I celebrate Mexico every day.

¡Viva México!

  • How are you celebrating Mexican Independence Day this year?

 

Marca País – Imagen de México, is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination. This program is designed to shine a light on the Mexico that its people experience every day. Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating content for the México Today program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own.

 

Travel Tuesday: Riviera Maya book and Mexico tote bag {GIVEAWAY}

One of the best parts of attending tourism events with the Mexico Tourism Board is the goody bag they send you home with to learn more about new places in Mexico! Whenever I get a goody bag filled with new reading materials about destinations I already love or am planning to visit, I always feel like the kid who got the most candy out of the piñata.

That’s why I’m sharing the loot with you!

If you enjoyed yesterday’s post with the video footage from the César Russ photo gallery exhibit, then you’ll love today’s giveaway (items pictured here above). The beautiful soft cover book about the Riviera Maya has 250 glossy pages of stunning images from around the area with photo captions in four languages (English, Spanish, German and French) to describe the subject and the history of some of Mexico’s treasures; nature, native animals, people, places, and scenery that will all have your heart aching to visit. Also included in the giveaway is a black fabric tote bag with the Visit Mexico logo.

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Maura meets Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara!

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to a beautiful event by the Mexico Tourism Board in Chicago and there was a very special guest on hand: Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara Manzo.

Not only did Secretary Guevara talk about new tourism initiatives, but she also introduced a sneak preview to all the guests of the new documentary, “Mexico: The Royal Tour,” what looks to be an absolutely thrilling journey around Mexico with Peter Greenberg and one of the country’s most distinguished tour guides: President Felipe Calderón.

The trailer brought tears to my eyes when I recognized a few of the places I have been and made my heart ache for Mexico. Thankfully, my next trip is only one month away. The rest of the night was filled with traditional music, excellent food from Mexique and a gallery viewing of simply stunning photographs by world-renowned Spanish photojournalist, César Russ (who, coincidentally, has been living in Chicago since 2006). The photos are incredible and so vibrant, you feel as if you’re really there. The detail is just amazing—have a look for yourself: I took video as I walked through the gallery and captured some of my favorite photos up-close.

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After the video presentation, I had the chance to speak with Secretary Guevara for a few minutes about tourism efforts, how online efforts are helping boost tourism and the Mexico Today program. As the only Mexico Today ambassador located in the Midwest, I was honored to represent my colleagues far and wide and was very proud when Secretary Guevara was able to mention some specific efforts within the program and that she was very pleased with the selection of ambassadors…. 

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