Mexico City costumes

Here’s some running commentary as I go through photos I’ve taken on my trip to Mexico City. These are photos I took on on our way downtown to see the Templo Mayor (the old Aztec ruins) on Saturday (? -the days seem to merge). We passed by a meeting of Boy Scout troop leaders in the park. This gentleman below says the participants are in training to lead their own packs.

I’m glad to see scouting alive and well in the world. I was very active in scouting when I lived in Germany. I’ll bet it surprises those of you who’ve never left the US to know that scouting is a world wide activity. Eric was also a boy scout. Supposedly, it prepares you for leadership. Many prominent people were once girl or boy scouts.


Leaving the park, I saw this rundown building with an arresting sign on it. The building stood out because abandoned and unkempt properties are rare (or were rare in this district; we stayed at the Hotel Milan which I heartily recommend).

My translation of the sign is “This estate this being expropriated by the Institute of Housing with the support of the Popular Revolutionary Union (UPREZ) of Emiliano Zapata“. I’m not sure of this group’s activities. If you know anything about Mexican politics (Do Not. Ever. Discuss Mexican Politics in Mexico. Ever), you tend to view the word “revolutionary” with a jaundiced eye. For all intents and purposes (although this is changing), the country only has one political party, so named the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and it is quite conservative, serving the interests of the powers that be. In spite of its name, it bears little resemblance to a party looking out for the interests of the common man. Boy, I hope I don’t have trouble getting a visa next time I go… Anyway, I was surprised to see this sign on the building. I guess it’s kosher because political dissension is summarily dispensed with.

Below is a photo of the entrance to the huge subway terminal. That’s Sandy in the foreground. She’s one of the artists from New York.

We saw the craziest thing in the subway terminal. “Art”. There was lots of not quite professional (models anyway) cheesecake protected by glass along the walkways. ‘Nuff said.

After we got off the subway, this is the view of the Metropolitan Cathedral, an immense baroque building dating from the sixteenth century. Much of the material used to build it came from the nearby Aztec ruins of the temples of Tenochtitlán.

Here’s a picture of our tour group. Starting in back is Bobb (Albuquerque), Sabine (Bremen), Stacy (NYC), Sandy (NYC) and Eric.

Here is where I get sidetracked. Finally, some fashion for aficionados. In the plaza outside of the Cathedral, Mexica Indians were doing “limpias” or cleansings. For ten pesos, a curandero will envelop you in aromatic herbal smoke with companionate dancing and drumming to rid you of bad spirits and bad luck. Their costumes were quite striking.



Here’s a blow up of this chest piece. By the way, this is all insets, sewn and trimmed away. In vinyl.

Here’s a head dress (below).

And a close up of the same. Check out that beading below.

Here’s another head dress (side view) which also covers the face in part, again, all vinyl.

And another closeup (below).

I loved the drum. More recycling at work. It’s a 22 gallon steel drum with rawhide affixed to the top.

They wore some kind of seed pods attached to ankle bracelets. The seeds made a soft bouncy brown sound, hitting the sides of the pods while the men danced. It was a wonderful noise, quite pleasant.

Here’s the back of another costume. I apologize for the rear view but it’s not as though they were going to pose for me. That rear panel is snake skin with beading near the waist.

Okay, since I’m about it already, here’s another rear view of my favorite costume from above.

In case you wonder, I did leave a donation, paying a gratuity for the photos. I’m sure not many people do that but not doing it felt exploitive.

I think that’s enough for today. I’ve come down with a cold (I think, Eric has one) and I’m feeling aches, the sort you get with a pending fever. I’d go home but I have too much to catch up on. Hope your holiday weekend was lovely too.

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7 comments

  1. diane carter says:

    thanks for sharing the photos of your trip. the costumes are amazing. hey, isn’t eric wearing the vest he made. impressive.

  2. In New Zealand Girl Scouts are called Girl Guides (after the British System) and we had to wear skirts which kind of defeats the whole outdoorsy thing. I got so many badges that my sash was filled front and back (tightly spaced) but I dropped out as I couldn’t go through the upper levels (silver/gold) without getting my religon badge which wasn’t gonna happen (see I cant even spell the word right)

  3. Jasmin says:

    Ah, I was actually a (girl) boy scout, one of the first in NZ, when they trialled the concept of girls being allowed to join in in the early eighties. It was fantastic, loads of camping/tramping/knots etc and I found it very beneficial :-) I refused to join guides, I wasn’t willing to do the uniform and home-y stuff!
    Eric’s vest is looking good – did he get any comments??

  4. Erin says:

    I was wondering if the poltical group you mentioned were related to the Zapatistas (EZLN), who the Mexican govenment have not been able to dispense with, even though they would surely like to. Subcomandante Marcos even published a children’s book, though it lost the support of the NEA.
    Here’s what I found about UPREZ:

    RICARDO HERNÁNDEZ is founder of the “Emiliano Zapata Popular Revolutionary Organization” (UPREZ), a community-based group in low-income neighborhoods in Mexico City. As director of the Mexico-U.S. Border Program for American Friends Service Committee, he is instrumental in supporting the self-empowerment of maquiladora workers.

    http://www.westernstatescenter.org/programs/leadership/csti/2006/trainers.html (see site to see his cute intellectual photo)

    I couldn’t get uprez.com to work, though.

    So they’re Quakers? or maybe they just hang with them. I have a soft spot for Quakers, myself. I’ve spoken of politics in Mexico City and have live to tell the tale, however I was a foolhearty young thing.

    Thank you for the trip diary, Kathleen. Enjoyed it.

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