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Behind the Scenes: What Wirikuta Fest fans bought with their tickets April 5, 2014

Posted by Tracy in : Indigenous culture, Mexico, Mexico City , 3comments

“Wirikuta is not for sale!” Wixarika leaders and activists take the stage at Wirikuta Fest to the chants of 60,000 fans.

Story and photos by Tracy L. Barnett

It was a long time coming – but it was worth the wait.

Nearly two years ago, more than a dozen of Mexico’s biggest performing artists came together in a mega-event aimed at saving Wirikuta, one of the country’s most sacred sites, from devastation at the hands of Canadian gold and silver mining operations.

It was a triumphant moment for the indigenous Wixarika people and for indigenous movements in general when, as the daylong festival came to a close, they were invited to come up on stage. A massive screen flashed images of traditional Wixarika beadwork behind them as 60,000 fans chanted, in unison, “Wirikuta no se vende! Wirikuta se defende!” (Wirikuta is not for sale! Wirikuta will be defended!)

Leaders of the indigenous Wixarika people and the Wirikuta Defense Front, the civil society coalition that is supporting them, came forward in a Mexico City press conference recently to give an accounting of how the money was spent – an example of innovation in the face of daunting challenges.

Giving Thanks, Making Peace November 25, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Colombia, El Salvador, Esperanza Project, Guatemala, Mexico, Mexico City, Travel wisdom , 5comments


MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Thanksgiving day – I awoke this morning far from home and family but filled with a profound sense of gratitude.

Grateful for the sun that was just beginning to brighten the sky outside my window; grateful for the dear friends who have given me a home in this city of cities. Grateful for the health and the support of my family, who continue to love me faithfully despite my wandering ways.

Most of all on this day, I’m grateful for the path I’ve been given this year, a path that has led me from inspiration to inspiration as I traveled from Mexico to Argentina, seeking to learn from those who are each changing our world in their own way.

Evo Morales, the plurinational president February 26, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Bolivia, Indigenous culture, Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City , add a comment


Forget Barak Obama – he’s so 2009. Evo Morales is the new rock star president, as I learned in Coyoacan this weekend. A sea of enthusiastic people of every ethnicity waited for hours in the hot sun to hear his plea for a more just society, one that provides a dignified life for all and respects the rights of the Pachamama, Mother Earth. His rousing speech was preceded with performances by indigenous dancers and musicians and a Four Directions ceremony.

Here are a few scenes from the rally on Sunday.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

At home with the Subcoyote February 21, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Ecovillages, Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City, Sustainability, Tepoztlan , add a comment

Alberto home

Outside in the darkness, up in the hills not far from here, a chorus of coyotes is greeting the coming of the dawn. How appropriate, I think with a smile. Here in Huehuecoyotl, place of the old, old coyote, I’ve just bid farewell to the greatest coyote of all, Subcoyote Alberto Ruz Buenfil, who is letting me use his home as a base for a few days. Now it’s his time to head into Mexico City, where he is taking the lessons of the Rainbow Caravan for Peace into the barrios of that other place of coyotes, Coyoacán.

Coyoacan: The Coyote Capital January 15, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City , 4comments


Coyoacan has always been one of my favorite parts of Mexico City – indeed, it’s the favorite of millions, being a top tourist destination and the home of Frida and Diego, Leon Trotsky and Hernán Cortés. The zone has long been a hotbed of cultural and political innovation, and today it’s one of the most culturally rich and scenic parts of the city, with structures dating to its sixteenth century inception.

On Wednesday I went down for a visit with Subcoyote Alberto Ruz, and after two and a half hours of video, had only enough battery power left for a few shots, sadly. Note to self: NEVER leave home without a spare battery.

This doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive or even complete tour of this beautiful area, just a meander down Francisco Sosa street to the Plaza Central. “Coyoacan,” I learned from the Subcoyote, means “Place of the Coyote” in ancient Nahuatl, and indeed the Coyote seems to be quite present in modern-day Coyoacan, in spirit if not in the flesh.

I also had the pleasure of stumbling upon the place where, supposedly, the famous Tacos al Pastor were invented: El Tizoncito. Sadly, the battery ran out just as the tacos arrived. I can only tell you, they were as beautiful as they were delicious.

In the meantime, enjoy! I know I did.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Jogging on the Hippodrome January 10, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City, Uncategorized , add a comment

The sun peeked out from the clouds for awhile today, and as my afternoon appointment had been canceled, I took it as a cue. I shed the sweater and switched to jogging gear, grabbed my iPod and hit the street.

I’m not a natural-born runner; my body resists it in every way. But I took up the hobby last year, realizing that if I were going to stay fit on the road, I’d need to rely on means that don’t include going to a gym. Besides, running doubles as an aerobic form of sightseeing – albeit without the camera, the only thing I regretted about today’s run.

(From Friday’s walk: One of several fountains on Amsterdam Street)

I headed straight for Calle Amsterdam, a verdant loop through the heart of La Condesa with a tree-lined path in the center. Formerly called Calle Hipódromo, the loop is what remains of the old Condesa racetrack. Now laced with fountains and gardens and lined with colorful cafés and boutiques among the classic art-deco architecture, it bears no semblance to a racetrack – except for the presence of the other joggers.

The high point was Parque México, an enormous stretch of greenery filled with children learning to rollerblade, boys kicking a soccer ball, tiny dogs in colorful sweaters and their attentive owners, elders perusing newspapers, youngsters listening to MP3 players and families pedaling a four-seated bicycle contraption for rent in the plaza.

Smells of roasting corn, savory pork tacos and fresh flowers filled the rain-washed air. A gentleman sat in front of a booth surrounded by small tables and filled with wooden objects and painting supplies; for $3 you could buy a small animal or for $6 a little wooden jewelry box, and you could paint it however you liked.

Further along I found Mejor en Bici (Better on a Bike), a nonprofit group that provides free bicycles for “rent” in several parks around the city. All you have to do is leave your ID and a 200-peso note, and you can take the bike for a spin.

I don’t know whether it was because of the altitude (Mexico City is about a mile and a half higher than Houston!) or that I’m out of shape after three weeks of huddling in the cold, or simply because there was so much to see, but it was a run-walk type of run. At any rate, it felt great to unclench my huddled shoulders and feel the sun on my skin again.

From Mexico to Palestine: Carbon offsets January 10, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City, Sustainability , 5comments

treeMuch has been written about the pros and cons of http://www.immobild.de/wp-content/custom-paper-writing-service.html carbon offsets. The idea, if you haven’t been following, is that you pay money to a nonprofit organization to plant trees or invest in renewables or otherwise reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere in an attempt to offset the carbon you’ve generated.

There are many calculators online that help you to figure out how much carbon you’ve generated and where you should donate it. Carbon Footprint is a nice flexible one that lets you calculate individual aspects of your life as opposed to doing a whole audit – both can be good, but since I’m on the road, my lifestyle doesn’t easily fit into many of these calculators. Since my main impact is travel, I figured my mileage and multiplied the air travel by 1.9 to account for the increased impact airplane emissions have (the amount used by Carbon Footprint). It then lets you select from a variety of worthy projects from Kenya to Central America.

Critics compare this system with the Catholic Church’s system of indulgences in Medieval times – a system that allowed people to “buy” forgiveness for their sins by making donations to the Church. They argue that there’s a wide variance among carbon offsetting groups, none of them are regulated and there’s no way to know for sure that the trees you’re paying to plant wouldn’t be planted anyway.

La Condesa blooms through the chill January 8, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City , 17comments

IMG_0049 My first 24 hours in Mexico City couldn’t have been more colorful. A cold front has settled in here, as well, with temperatures dipping into the mid-40s, and since there are no heaters, people are huddling over soups and hot coffees in the open-air cafes. Except for a few golden hours yesterday morning, a drizzly grey pall grips the city. Still, the flowers are blooming and a general air of cheerfulness has made headway against the gloom – especially on Wednesday, Dia de los Reyes, a Mexican holiday celebrating the arrival of the Magi to visit the baby Jesus.