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Snapshot of Mexico – Spanish is the official language of Mexico. Mexico is an ethnically diverse country, with many people being descendents from both indigenous groups and European immigrants, though the southern part of the country has significantly higher levels of indigenous peoples than other areas. These southern and central regions are also home to several indigenous languages, such as Nahuatl and Yukatek Maya. Over 80% of Mexico’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic church, with attendance rates at about 47%. Many Mexican towns and cities have their own patron saints, which are celebrated with yearly feasts. Both Spanish and indigenous influences can be seen in art, architecture, and music. Mariachi performing groups (bands using singers, guitars, trumpets, and other instruments) regularly perform at festivals and restaurants, and many folk dances and traditional music are still practiced. Rock, pop, and other music styles such as norteña and ranchera are popular today. Soccer is the most popular sport in Mexico, though baseball is also popular. Lucha libre wrestling and bullfighting are also popular events. Mexican cuisine is based on the staples of corn, beans, and chili peppers, often used with meat, cheese, and other herbs and spices. Traditionally, the main meal is eaten during the afternoon. A soup is served first, followed by a meat dish with sauce and salsa, along with tortillas and beans. Street vendors are also quite popular, selling tacos, quesadillas, tortas, roasted chicken, and other dishes. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs are another popular street vendor food. Cuisine varies in different regions, with flour tortillas, burritos, cheese, and beef being more popular in the north, while tropical fruits and tamales are more commonly used in southern cooking. Seafood, morisqueta (a sausage and rice meal), and carnitas (deep-fried pork) are more commonly eaten in western Mexico.
The city of Puebla has a strong LDS community. The Mexico Puebla North mission contains 7 stakes to which a missionary could potentially be assigned. There are no temples in the mission boundaries. The nearest temple is the Mexico City, Mexico Temple, with the Vera Cruz, Mexico and Oaxaca, Mexico Temples being close by as well. Expect lots of opportunities to teach and serve the people in the communities where you are assigned.
Puebla is famous for its Mole Poblano. Made from a combination of over 20 spices including chocolate, the most famous variety of mole, mole poblano, is a dark sauce that can be served over turkey, chicken, or pork. Puebla is also known for its “cemita” (similar to the Mexican torta). You can also expect to eat all of the well known Mexican foods such as tacos and enchiladas and expect to eat tortillas, beans, and rice with almost every meal. Mexican food is often spicy, so be prepared. The city also has many American fast food chains.
Expect lots of walking and use of public transportation such as taxis and buses in the cities. The city of Puebla recently launched a campaign of “pink taxis” driven exclusively by women and for use by women only. Sorry Elders!
Puebla is a large and busy city. In any city in size comparable to that of Puebla, one should always be on alert for muggings or petty thefts. However, it should be noted that the State of Puebla ranks fourth in Mexico in specialized law enforcement training. It is also known as one of the safer states in Mexico, having a rate of serious crimes of just 342 for every 100,000 inhabitants (in 2003). It should also be noted that the volcanoes of Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl are located in Puebla, the latter being an active volcano. It can often be seen spewing ash and smoke and causing occasional evacuations of nearby villages. Because of the ever present threat of an eruption, Puebla has an extensive plan put into place to protect its citizens in the case of an eruption or any other natural disaster, such as an earthquake.
For more info, please visit: http://www.sipuebla.com/safety_in_Puebla.htm
Every year on May 5 (el cinco de mayo), Puebla celebrates the defeat of invading French troops that occurred in 1862. Celebrations include days of concerts, lectures, and cultural activities. On the 5th itself, a large parade including armed forces and floats from local schools is followed by a reenactment of the battle.
Another local custom is the “china poblana.” Legend has it that a girl named Mirrha, later renamed Catarina de San Jaun, was kidnapped and traded as a slave throughout Spanish ports in Asia. After years of living throughout the countries of Asia, she arrived in Mexico, bringing with her the fashions of China and India. Her dress style now known as China Poblana, a white blouse and colorful embroidered red and green shirt, has evolved to include the national symbols of Mexico – an eagle clutching a snake, and prickly pair cactus. A woman who wears the dress usually braids her hair on two sides, tied with red, white and green ribbons. The image has become a prominent custom and staple of the local culture.
Also expect large celebrations for “mes patrio,” the month of September in which Mexican Independence is celebrated. Parties and parades honoring war heroes, important figures in Mexican history, Mexican culture and heritage, and the Independence itself on the sixteenth are held throughout the month.
Christmas and New Years are also widely celebrated with parades, parties, and fireworks.
“La Posada,” a celebration beginning on December 16th, celebrates the buildup to Christmas Eve. It commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Each night of the “Posada,” after nightfall, a procession begins led by two children. The children carry a small pine-decorated platform bearing replicas of Joseph and Mary riding a burro. They go house to house asking for loging for Mary.
Now it’s time of the “Pinata,” refreshments and dancing. The “Pinata” is a pottery (or paper) container, brightly decorated and filled with candy and toys. It is hung from he ceiling or a tree. One by one, the children are blindfolded, turned around and instructed to strike the Pinata with a stick. Usually several attempts are made before the container is broken. Everyone knows the excitement of chasing after the goodies that explode from the pinata.
On Christmas Eve at midnight the birth of Christ is announced with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles. Devout worshipers surge into churches to attend the famous “Misa de Gallo” or “Mass of the Rooster.” Following Mass, families return home for a tremendous dinner of traditional Mexican foods. The dishes vary with the different regions. However, a meal “tamales” is often served.
Christmas Day has no special celebration though many have adopted the American style Christmas with a Christmas tree and Santa Claus.
Puebla is also home to five major indigenous groups: Nahuas, the Totonacas, the Mixtecas, the Popolocas, and the Otomi, all of which can be found in more rural parts of the state, and which contribute to the overall culture of the region with certain customs and beliefs.
órale- used as an exclamation of pleasant surprise as in hearing good news. It can also be used as an affirmation especially when speaking on the phone.
me cayó el viente- to suddenly realize
chamba/chambear- chamba is a noun meaning work and therefore chambear is a verb meaning to work
There are a few ways one can ship something to Mexico. The most logical options are sending letters and packages through either USPS or a private courier such as DHL or Fedex. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. The USPS is much cheaper than a private courier would be, and is often reliable for getting letters to Mexico. It takes at least two weeks for a letter to arrive to Mexico from the United States, but the process almost always take longer. Letters sent through the USPS and then through the Mexican mail service are known to occasionally get lost. Packages sent through the USPS, however, are often lost, tampered with, or damaged due mostly to the Mexico side of things and also take about 2 weeks to arrive. A private courier such as DHL or Fedex will almost always charge a large sum of money to send a package to Mexico, however there is a much greater probability that it will firstly arrive, and secondly that it will be intact without damage. Using a private courier can also get your package to Mexico quicker with travel time taking from just a few days to a couple of weeks. Whichever service you choose to use, it is highly recommended that you insure your package because there is never a guarantee that it will arrive damage-free. Occasionally one can find a group on the internet where people who frequently travel to Mexico from the United States offer to take packages with them. Once in Mexico they make contact with the recipient and the package is delievered. However it would be difficult for a missionary to get into contact with someone that might be carrying their package.
Calle 25 Sur N° 907
Col. La Paz
Straight from the Mexico Puebla North Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Starburst, Skittle, Root Beer”
*What did you eat the most of?
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
*What was most surprising about the culture?
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Mexico Puebla North Mission?
“Don’t carry that much luggage”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Time is nothing”
**Did you serve in the Mexico Puebla North Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**