Constitution Day

February 5 is the anniversary of the signing of the Mexican constitution of 1917.  The holiday is observed the first Monday in February. Most banks, schools and government offices are closed. The sale of alcohol is prohibited in tourist areas from February 2 to February 5.

This document is properly known by the weighty name La Constitución política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos que reforma la del 5 de febrero de 1857. The constitution signed in 1917 replaced the constitution of 1857 which had replaced the constitution of 1824 which had replaced the constitution of Apatzingán of 1814. As of 2017, the newest Mexican constitution has been revised 699 times. You can find a chronological list of these reforms here. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until 2011 that the constitution included a section on human rights.

In some areas, this day is commemorated with parades and other civic events.  Not much happens where we live though.

día-de-la-constitución

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Do you want to learn more about Mexican holidays and traditions?

Then check out A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays in Mexico!

 

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The price of a piece of cake

On January 7, El Dia de los Reyes Magos, we had a little get-together at our place to partake the Rosca de Reyes (King’s cake). Both my son and I were “fortunate” to find El Niño Dios (the plastic baby Jesus) in our sections. This meant we would be honorary godparents for the presentation of Jesus at the temple on February 2, el Dia de la Candelaria. This is the day that everyone takes their baby Jesus figurine from the nativity scene to be blessed at church.

As godparents, we would be in charge of the mandatory tamales and atole.

Well, there was nothing to it, but get to it.

The same people that gathered for the Rosca were again invited to our home for the tamales. Thus ends the Christmas season in Mexico, finally. Time to start gearing up for cuaresma (Lent) which begins on March 6 this year.

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Do you want to learn more about Mexican holidays and traditions?

Then check out A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays in Mexico!

 

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Book Review–Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison by Mary Ellen Sanger

 

blackbirds

I read Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison by Mary Ellen Sanger last year and was profoundly moved by it. I thought I’d reread it again this year and had the same reaction. The author was able to capture Mexico as I see her, all her hardship, corruption, and exquisite beauty. I would be remiss not to share this story with you.

mexicans

Mary Ellen left behind the corporate jungle to read in the shade of the steps of a pyramid in Mexico. She began her new life in tourism but eventually found her way to a sheltered patio in Oaxaca as a caretaker to an elderly widower.

Until, one night she was bustled from her residence to the Ixcotel State Prison, one of the most overcrowded and unhygienic facilities in Oaxaca. There she was held for 33 days on fabricated charges. However, her story is just the prelude to the stories of the women she met inside.

Concha, arrested for armed robbery, who found love at last inside the stone walls. Berta, whose husband had tended sorghum interspersed with marijuana for a wealthy landowner. Susa, heroin addict earning drug money with a shoeshine service for visitors. Natalia, arrested so that the wife of her lover could take her child. Ana, human rights lawyer jailed because of her work on behalf of rural farmers. Citlali, a curandera who spoke only Chinantec and her infant daughter Xochitl. Lucia and her infant son Sebastian, whose 5-year-old daughter was in a group home allowed to visit once a month. Soraya, imprisoned for refusing the advances of the mayor. Flor, dying of a tumor from the bullet in the back of her head.

over mexico

Mary Ellen was not the same women upon her release and neither will you be after you read these haunting stories from the women at Ixcotel State Prison.

Read more about Mary Ellen Sanger here.

 

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The Internet Saga Part 3

That comment the satellite installation guy made about an antenna for the BlueComm modem put a bee in my bonnet. I checked the modem we had and most models came with those rabbit ear antennas–ours didn’t. They weren’t expensive, less than $20, so I thought I’d order some from Amazon.

Well, the company that sold them didn’t ship to Mexico. Ok, I’d have them shipped to my friend in the US and she could send them to us. It would be a small package, no big deal. Boy was I wrong!

She tried Fedex. She had added a few things to my care package, including makeup and a cloth quiver for my son’s arrows. She was told that anything manufactured in China cannot be sent to Mexico. Both the quiver and the antenna were manufactured in China. Then that personal items like makeup also could not be sent. She said she felt like I was in jail and unable to receive items. Sure enough, cosmetics are prohibited items along with Garbage Pail Kids Cards, you know those awful cards from the 80s with ugly drawings of children like Pikey Nose Marge. I was unable to find anything specific about imports from China being restricted although technically the antennas would fall under the electronic equipment category I expect.

My friend then tried the DHL office. This time she tried to send just the quiver and antenna, no other “personal effects.” Sure, they’d send it but it would cost $140 USD. Holy crap! (See DHL import guidelines)

The offical USPS site doesn’t list cosmetics or things made in China as prohibited, so that was her next attempt.  Success! The package with the antennas and quiver would cost $22 USD and be here in 4-6 weeks.  Well, of course, that doesn’t figure the gas shortage in large portions of Mexico. So I expect it will take longer. 

In the meantime, I’ve had to cancel my online classes. The unseasonable rains have affected both internet modems. I’m trying not to dwell on that lost income.

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Filed under Economics, Mail Service and Shipping in Mexico, Teaching