Suitcase and World: Colores de México.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Colores de México.

Clockwise from upper left:  Puebla, Oaxaca, Campeche, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Campeche, Campeche

One of the things that I will remember the most about this trip is just how colorful Mexico is and by color, I mean just that.  If a surface can be painted or somehow adorned with color, it is.  Start with the buildings, especially those in the Spanish Colonial towns like Puebla and Oaxaca. Pretty much every building is painted and sometimes in the most unusual of color combinations.  There is nothing drab or blah here.  No gray cinder block or brick or cement buildings.  No glass buildings.  A minimalist would not like it here.

Colorful Buildings. From one building to the next, the color combination is completely different.  It's a wild palette of colors - sometimes the colors on a building complement each other, sometimes they don't, sometimes adjoining buildings completely clash but somehow it all seems to work!  Every now again, a natural color stucco building punctuates the kaleidoscope of colors.

Mexico was the crown jewel of Spanish conquests, it has a wealth of towns filled with Spanish Colonial architecture so if these are places that interest you, Mexico is the country to go to.  In fact, it has the most of any country in all of the Americas and it has the largest number of Spanish Colonial towns designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

The colorful buildings helped to brighten up the city landscape on a dreary, rainy day.   I remember when we arrived into Campeche.  It was late afternoon.  Rain was falling gently and the skies were gray.  Francisco asked if we wanted to walk around anyways and after a whole day of being cooped up in the van, we all eagerly hit the pavement.  The moment I laid my eyes on the colorful buildings of the city, I perked up.  They made me smile and all I wanted to do was take one picture after another.  In no time, I had completely forgotten about the rain.  I could have walked on til it got dark!

But if you think that you only find colorful buildings in the Spanish Colonial towns, you'd be wrong.  So wrong.  Nearby San Cristóbal de las Casas lies the village of San Juan Chamula which is inhabited by the indigenous Tzotzil Maya people.  The town's main church is painted in white with bright green and blue designs with dabs of ochre.  So pretty.

Colorful Textiles. The Mexican love of vibrant color extends to textiles as well.  The costumes and textiles of native indigenous Mexicans reflect their love for colorful things.

On this trip, we had the chance to visit the village of San Lorenzo Zinacantán which also lies on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de las Casas.  The first thing we did was go to a place where local women sell textiles that they weave.  Here, as in many countries, the strap loom is the loom of choice.

As we entered the compound, a woman was sitting on the floor, skillfully weaving a brightly colored piece of cloth.  Although what she was making was beautiful, I thought her shirt was even more beautiful - colorful,  flowers embroidered against a bright purple background.

As the women showed us their handicraft, Ayşe fell in love with a purple/blue colored piece that was embroidered with sunflowers (her favorite flower) and calla lilies.

We all decided it will bring a nice splash of color to her apartment which is pretty bare at the moment.

While Ayşe was negotiating to buy her piece, I had caught sight of a bright green textil that I so wanted to get.  But, I had already sworn to myself that I would not buy anything else after my brief buying spree in Puebla that landed me a mask and a Talavera pottery lamp.  I am proud to say that I do have willpower and so I left empty handed  Took a lot to walk away because I love, love, love textiles.

In Mexico, the indigenous women still wear brightly colored costumes that identify the culture they're from.  Aside from where we came across these women, I cannot identify their culture beyond that they are Mayan.

On the left is family we passed on our way to the church in San Lorenzo Zinacantán and the two girls on the right are from Mérida.

Balloons!  Then, there were my favorite expressions of color.  I didn't know what to refer to them as so I simply called them "The Balloons of Puebla".  We came across balloon vendors are everywhere in Puebla, Oaxaca and San Cristóbal de las Casas and they don't just sell a handful or two of balloons.  Oh no, each vendor has enough balloons to sail a small house into the sky.  I kid you not.  Check out the pictures below. 

Anywhere there was a balloon vendor, there was an explosion of color, patterns and shapes!  Not to mention happy children.  Put a bunch of vendors together and you have a dizzying sight.  And even more happy children.

Colors make me smile and feel happy.  Could be one reason why I don't have any white walls in my house!