Lacquered handcrafts from Olinalá

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Mother’s Day in México is celebrated on May 10th, and for this year, I wanted to give my mom a unique present.  I found beautiful lacquered boxes at the local handcraft stores, and I immediately knew that this would be the perfect present.  From the artist I found out that these boxes come from a small town Olinalá, located miles up in the Guerrero Mountains.

This remote town Olinalá is famous for its beautiful lacquered boxes, made from “Linaloe”, the traditional fragrant wood, which grows in the area.  The boxes are usually decorated with the animals of the region of Olinalá: deers, armadillos, rabbits, coyotes, ‘tlacuaches’, iguanas, doves, ‘zopilotes’, snakes, scorpions, lizards, etc.  Besides the boxes, the artisans also produce other beautiful handcrafts like fruit bowls, masks, jewelry boxes, folding screens, trunks, and more.

The artisans have been passing the techniques for lacquer production from generation to generation since pre-Hispanic times.  These artisans, who are predominately made up of indigenous locals, still speak ‘nahuatl’, the ancient language of Aztecs.

When you visit Capella Ixtapa, it won’t be necessary to go all the way to the remote location of Olinalá to get some of these famed lacquered boxes and other wood handcrafts.  You can find these and other beautiful and delicate handcrafts in the Zihuatanejo market.

I have now the perfect gift for my Mom, it is beautiful and I love supporting local producers.  On your next visit, our Personal Assistant will be glad to organize the market tour for you, so you can see and/or buy beautiful local handcrafts for your loved ones as well!  And for those of you feeling extra adventures our PAs can even plan a visit to this secluded village!

 

Tradiciones de Pascua en Capella Pedregal

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Pascua es una de las fechas más esperadas en Capella Pedregal. Con la llegada de la primavera, el clima es hermoso y el desierto comienza a florecer. Hay muchos eventos agendados desde la búsqueda de Huevos de Pascua hasta un gran banquete en Don Manuel’s. Pero mi favorito es decorar nuestro árbol torote.

En el resort, como en otras fechas festivas, los empleados decoran nuestro torote con adornos. Esta Pascua cada uno de mis colegas y yo creamos nuestro propio Conejo de Pascua para adornar las ramas del árbol. Me encanta como cada conejo es único y como al final el árbol se ve como conjunto.

¿Y tu como celebraste la Pascua? Puedes dejarnos tus comentarios abajo o compartirnos una foto en nuestra página de Facebook.

Magníficas Ballenas de la Baja

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Cada invierno en Baja California Sur somos testigos de un fenómeno natural sorprendente, el cual esperamos con gran entusiasmo y expectación – el arribo de las ballenas. Cada año virtualmente la población completa de Ballenas Grises hace una migración de más de 8,000 kilómetros desde las frías aguas del mar de Bering en Alaska a las cálidas aguas en las lagunas de la Península de Baja California. Ballenas Grises, normalmente acompañadas de ballenas Azules y Jorobadas, llegan a las aguas de la Baja, donde, de mediados de Diciembre a Mediados de Marzo dan a luz, alimentan, enseñan y juegan con sus ballenatos.

Las ballenas Grises y Jorobadas disfrutan el lucirse frente al publico al tirar sus chorros de agua así como haciendo saltos saliendo casi completamente del agua. ¡Es un placer ver como las madres enseñan a sus crías a brincar y jugar! El invierno pasado una ballena se acercó bastante a la playa de Capella Pedregal, y junto con los invitados, estaba maravillada de ver como brincaba y jugaba en frente de nosotros.

Incluso desde la playa los huéspedes pueden ver como las ballenas se levantan y salen a la superficie, pero la mejor experiencia es definitivamente tomar un tour de avistamiento de ballenas (asegúrate que el operador de tu tour está certificado para hacerlo, y respeta siempre la reglamentación). Mientras que es posible que hagas el tour en Cabo San Lucas, yo te recomendaría que lo hicieras en Magdalena Bay o en el Puerto San Carlos, donde la ballena gris encuentra las condiciones óptimas para dar a luz (si tu estancia es en Capella Pedregal deja que tu asistente personal en Capella lo organice para ti). Estas lagunas son parques marinos protegidos por el gobierno, y el acceso para avistamiento de ballenas solo está permitido con previo permiso.

De todas las experiencias naturales en este mundo, estoy segura que nunca olvidarás un encuentro cercano con una dócil ballena de 30 toneladas! Y quién sabe, tal vez tengas suerte e incluso tengas oportunidad de tocarla!

The 15 Days of Chinese New Year

The must have Yu Sheng.

While the calendar may have moved from 2011 to 2012, here in Singapore and many other parts of Asia, the celebrations do not stop. Next up, Chinese New Year.  The Chinese New Year celebrations are rich in traditions.  Here at Capella Singapore, we’re already deep in the midst of preparing for all the festivities, from designing special menus, red packets, and special events to welcome the Chinese New Year.

Before the festivities begin, families spend the days leading up to the first day of Chinese New Year cleaning up the house.  This act symbolises getting rid of the old and bad fortune of the preceding year and making way for the good fortune of the coming year.  The eve of Chinese New Year is when the celebrations begin with a large family dinner.  The must-have dish is “yu sheng” (鱼生), which is a raw fish salad.  Every member at the table will “toss” it as high as possible to symbolise growth and prosperity.  “Yu sheng” is as a homophone for another Chinese word meaning an increase in abundance.  Therefore, it is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.

The must have Yu Sheng.

These days with everyone’s busy schedules, Singaporeans hardly have time to observe all 15 days of Chinese New Year, saving the celebrations to the more important days.  The first day is probably the most important day of Chinese New Year, as it is a time to honor one’s elders.  Families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families and those family members who are married give red packets containing money to the junior family members.

On day two, known as “kai nian” (开年, beginning of the year), married daughters visit their parents, relatives and close friends.  The seventh day is “everyone’s birthday” and is considered the day when everyone grows a year older.  Once again people gather in restaurants to celebrate this day and “yu sheng” is tossed.

The 15th and final day is known in the Hokkien dialect as “chap goh mei” (十五暝, the fifteenth night).  It is not only the last day of Chinese New Year festivities, but is also the Chinese “Valentine’s Day.”  According to traditions, single women throw mandarin oranges into the river and single men wait by the river to pick up the oranges.  The sweetness of the orange represents the indication of possible compatibility.

Chinese New Year 2012 begins on the 23rd of January so; if you’re looking for a new experience, join us in Singapore for all the festivities!

For a full taste of Chinese New Year in Singapore, check out this video:

New Year Celebrations in Mexico

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New Year’s is upon us! The New Year celebrations in Mexico vary depending on the region, but in general, dinner with the family is the most common New Year’s Eve event.

This year we will celebrate at my home. We will start the evening by a late-night dinner. I am preparing traditional Mexican dishes including Bacalao (dried salted codfish), and Romeritos (patties of dried shrimp, sprigs of a wild plant known as ‘Romerito’ that resembles rosemary and potatoes served in a mole sauce).  We normally toast with apple cider (not Champagne as elsewhere), and my mother-in-law will prepare the fruit punch for the occasion.

At midnight we all shout “Feliz año nuevo!”  Followed by the grape tradition.  What is the “grape tradition?” During the tolling of the 12 bells announcing the hour, a grape is eaten at each of the 12 bell tolls.  The grapes represent a wish for the abundance for each month of the coming year. After this we embrace each other and say wishes for the upcoming year.

But that is just a sampling of our New Year’s traditions!  Two popular ones include:

  • If you want to have luck in love in the coming year, you need to wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve.
  • If you are looking for luck with money, make sure your underwear is yellow.

Not all of the traditions require you to wear special undergarments.  One of my favorite says, that if you want to travel during the new-year then you must take your luggage for a walk around the block!

After New Year’s Eve, we usually relax on January 1st and have lunch with other friends and relatives.

I would love to hear how you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

 

(En Español)

Carnival in Düsseldorf

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Carnival is one of the most dominant traditions in the Rhine area.  It has its roots in Catholicism and coordinates with the time leading up to lent.  The Jecken (those who celebrate carnival) celebrate from November 11 at 11:11am through Ash Wednesday.

The real celebration begins after the 1st of the year, when speeches and costume balls and other events take place.  The highlights of the season are Altweiberfastnacht (the Thursday before the season’s end), Carnival Sunday (the following Sunday) and Rosenmontag.

Altweiberfastnacht is truly a day of mischief.  One tradition involves women cutting off the ties of as many men as possible.  But don’t feel too bad for the men—they receive a kiss on the cheek for their troubles.

On Carnival Sunday, hundreds and thousands of people meet at the Old Town and the Königsalle to celebrate the Carnival season together.  They dress in costume, sing and dance for a day of general merriment.

The big finale is the amazing parade that takes on Rosenmontag.  The parade is made up of more than 60 floats that are built over months by the individual carnival clubs (often with the support of many voluntary helpers). The intention of the parade wagons is to caricature and pick up current events in society or other heavily discussed topics.  Children especially look forward to the “Kamelle” candies that are thrown to the crowd as the floats pass by.

It is almost impossible to explain how amazing the Carnival traditions of the Rhine area are– especially Carnival in Düsseldorf.  This is one trip that you have to make for yourself!

(Auf Deutsch)