Friday, April 8, 2016

Guadalajara 2016 - A Few Words About Mexican Churches

No matter how impressive every Mexican church I have ever visited exudes a certain humility. Many European churches, as well as North American ones, seem designed to flaunt wealth. Mexican churches, by contrast, appear to be designed not to be showcases for what a church owns but to beautiful spaces in which to worship. In one the gilded altar was juxtaposed against humble carved wooden wainscoting along it's walls. Images of saints, instead of being sculpted marble are painted wood. Exquisite examples of folk art inspired by deep belief and faith. While true that some 16th century cathedrals in the Yucatan were built using stone from Mayan structures demolished by the Spaniards, when the people of Mexico took control of their faith they created interiors that spoke of humanity and humility, not greed, fear and a lust for power. The addition of electricity in the more venerable churches is evidenced by almost ubiquitous Murano glass chandeliers, but even these are glass. not crystal. While beautiful they provide light, they do not exude it. Mexican churches, even the most grand, are monuments to a people's faith not an affront to it.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Guadalajara 2016 - The Light Fantastic

On Friday night I treated myself to the best meal of my trip. I chose a restaurant on the second floor of a building that stood on one side of the plaza in front of the Cathedral. My choice was made, for the most part, because from the menu at the entrance I discovered I could enjoy a glass of Chivas for the equivalent of $5.

The long windows of the restaurant afforded me a view of the plaza below from my table. Night had fallen as I descended the stairs after dinner. I was unprepared for the sight I experienced as I stepped outside. The fountain in the center of the plaza was flooded by spotlights which changed color, from bright red to brilliant blue to a deep orange, brilliant color after brilliant color illuminated the water. The cathedral was equally spectacular. The baroque elements of it's facade were highlighted and enhanced by bright golden lights. As I made my way back to the hotel I discovered the fountain in the plaza outside the university was lit in a similar way giving an almost carnival atmosphere to the evening.

I was determined to return the next night, phone in hand, to capture the sight. I have mentioned the hordes of people I encountered in Mexico's second largest city. On Saturday night these were multiplied several times over making the sidewalks feel like rush hour subway cars. Miraculously I managed to find enough space to shot a video of the cathedral fountain and buildings surrounding the plaza by walking in a small circle to capture a 360 degree view. A band played in an outdoor restaurant. A group of punks walked by donned in tight, torn, gaffitti covered clothing and sporting multiple piercings. I saw another wearing heavy eye makeup and a long leather trench coat waiting for his order in a Subway sandwich shop. A man was ranting into a mike about God knows what, a group of girls, wearing what appeared to be Quinceanera gowns hung out the sunroof of a hummer limo as it passed by in the street.

Just your typical Saturday night!