Las telenovelas (The soap operas)

Las telenovelas are very popular in Mexico; it seems like everyone in Mexico watches one! People talk about it every time they have a chance. “Did you watch la novela last night?” they say. “Any idea what is going to happen tomorrow?” “Please record it for me…. Don’t tell me what happened until I watch it myself!” I’ve never seen anything like it! I was wondering why Las novelas were so important for Mexicans, and I was surprised to learn more about it.

Just to give you an idea of the importance of these shows to Mexico’s economy, let me tell you that the industry of soap operas is compared with the movie industry of Hollywood! Every year the Mexican soap opera industry can generate more than 100 million dollars.

Telenovela Studio

A lot of countries in the world import Mexico’s soap operas, and this, too, has a huge impact on the economy. Las novelas from Mexico are being seen everywhere, including Russia, Japan, China, Africa, the USA, and all over North-, Central-, and Latin America, just to name a few! They are translated to other languages and the actresses and actors are recognized everywhere after participating in just one series.

Have you heard of “Ugly Betty,” the TV series? In Mexico it was originally a very famous soap opera that lasted about a year, and it even holds a Guinness world record for being the most successful telenovela of all time.

There are soap operas for everyone: for kids, teens, and adults. Las novelas are broadcast all day long! The themes vary, and there are some related to culture, history, society, teen drama, musicals, etc.

A lot of people watch them during lunch or dinner, kids watch them after school, and the ones that are shown at night are usually the most famous. Who knows—I may start watching one while I’m here…even though someone will have to record it for me when we go off to the next country!

Some Mexican telenovelas

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El Sarape de Saltillo

Today we went to the city of Saltillo. Everyone was wearing these things called  “Sarapes.” It is not very well known where the Sarape originated, but it is definitely a fusion of indigenous and Spanish elements.

A Sarape is a rectangular cloth with or without an opening for the head. A Sarape has a variety of bright colors and it is very representative of Mexico. Some people associate Sarapes with the Mexican Revolution and icons like “The Charro” and “The Mariachi.”

I remember seeing one hanging up in my favorite Mexican restaurant back home. I thought it was just for decoration, but it turns out that people actually wear them. A regular Sarape is generally about 1.3 yards wide by 2.5 yards long, but they also come in a wide variety of sizes, from very big to very small. Usually they hang to about a person’s knees. The main motif in a Sarape design is either a diamond or a medallion shape. Often, the ends are fringed. Bayer . Sarapes look kind of like ponchos, but they are so colorful!

traditional Mexican Sarapes

During the 17th century, Sarapes went from being a simple garment used by travelers and vendors, to an original and very expensive textile. Only rich people had Sarapes. During the revolution, they became more accessible to other people, and were even often fabricated illegally in “Los telares” (looms) so they could be sold more cheaply.

The people here tell me that with tourism growing in the north of Mexico, and with Americans and Canadians passing through in their travels to the south of Mexico, the Sarape became a souvenir; a collectible article. The city of Saltillo became famous thanks to Sarapes! More and more people started to appreciate the fine and detailed work on each Sarape, which are often made by hand. I can’t wait to buy one, but I can’t seem to decide which one I like the best; they are all unique and so beautiful!

¡Hasta pronto!

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Mexican muralist

Today I was walking by a government building and saw the most beautiful mural. There were so many bright colors and the people really looked real. I was so impressed that I stopped to talk to a girl selling jewelry nearby to get the history of this beautiful art. Her name is Lola and she is from Juarez, Mexico. Juarez is on the border between the United States and Mexico. To my surprise, she spoke English and Spanish. She’s bilingual too!

Lola began telling me about the Mexican revolution. It began in 1910, and it transformed society in Mexico. An artistic movement called “Muralism” was born during the Mexican revolution and lasted until the 1960’s. my ip . The idea of Muralism was to connect all people with art. Before the revolution, only people with money were able to see and appreciate art, so the government’s idea was to make art accessible to everyone in the country. They contracted artists to paint murals on both the exterior and interior walls of public places like schools or government buildings, so that all Mexicans could appreciate art.

Diego Rivera Mural

I was completely fascinated by her knowledge of history. She started telling me about the artists of the movement. The first mural to start this movement was painted by Gerardo Murillo from Guadalajara. His work was based on the idea that Mexican Muralism should reflect Mexican life, just like in the time of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, who also painted daily scenes on their walls. I was excited to learn that I’d heard of the three most important artists in this movement, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
After about ten minutes of talking Lola’s mom came up and introduced herself. Her name is Maria Eugenia and she made all of jewelry that Lola was selling. How talented! When Lola told her mother what we were talking about, her mother was happy to tell me what she knew. She said that both José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros did work in the United States. At one point both were jailed for their open criticism against the Mexican government during the Revolution. Siqueiros even had to wait until after he was released to finish his uncompleted murals. Talk about fighting for what you believe in.
We continued talking for about an hour until I realized the sun was going down and I had to get back to the hotel. Diabelli . I thanked Lola and Maria Eugenia, took a long gaze at the wall again, and headed for the hotel. I’ll never forget my new friends or the wall that sparked our newfound friendship.

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