Celebrating Holy Week in Saltillo

Holy Week is pretty much one of the biggest, fattest deals anywhere in Mexico.

For those of us who aren’t fighting the crowds at the beach–well, even for those at the beach–what does one do to celebrate Holy Week in Mexico?

Note:  all these options are open to the general public.  You do not need to be Catholic (or even any kind of Christian) to attend.  However, do use good judgement when attending.  These events are solemn, so keep quiet and be discreet while taking photos.  Particularly on Thursday, if the Eucharist is out on display, please refrain from taking pictures of the host on display.  Or people praying.

But, other than that, join right in!

Seven Churches Pilgrimage

There is a lovely tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday.  At first, I thought this was just a Mexican cultural quirk.  Then my parish distributed a pamphlet last year, letting me know this is a tradition with serious, Biblical roots.  THEN I did some crowd-sourcing this year and found out that it’s not just a Mexican tradition, but something that’s done in any Catholic community throughout the world!

(Well, any community that has seven churches close enough to walk to within a reasonable amount of time, of course.)

On the night Jesus was arrested, he got dragged around to a lot of places.  So each stop on this pilgrimage commemorates each place Jesus visited that night.  The first reminds us of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46).  On the second stop, we read about Jesus being bound and send to Annas (John 18:19-22).  Then Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest (Matthew 26:63-65).  After that, he was sent to go on trial before Pilate, the Roman governor (John 18:35-37).  Pilate then sent him to see Herod (Luke 23:8-11), and Herod sent him back to Pilate (Matthew 27:22-26).  Finally, Jesus is led to his crucifixion (Matthew 27:27-31).

Which Churches to Visit?

If you’re in the city of Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, I’ve got a great route to follow in the center of town.  Granted, anyone doing this is free to visit any churches in any order.  But, for convenience’s sake, this one starts at the top of the hill (Ojo de Agua), winds through downtown, and finally stops at the Church of Guadalupe.  It’s all walkable, but it is a hike.

To avoid climbing up that steep hill after hiking your way across downtown, do this with a friend.  One parks at Guadalupe, then carpool to Ojo de Agua, so when you’re all done, the one with the car at Guadalupe can drive you back to Ojo de Agua.

Unless you’re going for extra “pilgrimage points” for hiking all the way back uphill when you’re all done.  You know–if such a thing as “pilgrimage points” exists, of course!

Ojo de Agua


Right on the site of the spring where Saltillo was founded, Ojo de Agua offers a

That dark hole is the natural spring where Saltillo was founded!

spectacular view of the city.  While there, check out the spring (halfway down the front steps), and one of my favorite pictures of San Juan Diego (near the altar on the left side).  On your way there or back, it’s worth stopping by the Lookout over Saltillo.  And if you’re hiking down, you might as well wander through the Oro de Aguila neighborhood, and enjoy all the murals that cover the houses there.

But while at the church, take some time to reflect on Jesus praying for himself and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46).

San Juan Nepomucenooutside of San Juan Nepomuceno

A bit of a downhill hike from Ojo de Agua is San Juan Nepomuceno, on the corner of Hidalgo and Escobedo.  Take some time to check out murals while you’re there–those murals are what makes San Juan Nepomuceno worth a visit!

While there, reflect on Jesus’s arrest, and being sent to Annas.  (John 18:19-22)

main mural Sn. Juan Nepomuceno Saltillo
Mural at San Juan Nepomuceno

San FranciscoIglesia Sn. Fco and PIB

Keep heading down the hill from San Juan Nepomuceno.  Take a right on De la Fuente, and walk for two blocks.  On the corner of De la Fuente and General Cepeda, you’ll be on the southwest corner of Plaza Ateno.  On the opposite corner sits the San Francisco Church.  Try to get there while the sun is San Francisco and the wolfstill up–the stained glass windows in this church are probably the best in Saltillo!

While there, reflect on Jesus being tried before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest (Matthew 26:63-65).

Looking for a slightly shorter pilgrimage?  If the First Baptist Church (right next door) happens to be open, stop on in!  Make it an ecumenical evening, as we’re all commemorating the same events this weekend.


From San Francisco, it’s easy to see the domes of the cathedral.  Head down Calle Juarez and–BOOM–you’re there.



While there, reflect on Jesus’s first visit to Pilate (John 18:35-37).

Capilla de Santo Cristo

The doors to the left of the Cathedral go to the Holy Christ Chapel.  Head on in, take in all the milagros on display on the walls by the altar area, and reflect on Jesus’s visit to Herod (Luke 23:8-11).

Capilla de Sto. Cristo Saltillo

San Esteban

From the Cathedral, walk past the Government Palace.  Behind it, almost on the corner of Guadalupe Victoria and Allende (OK–it’s not even half a block from Allende) is San Esteban, one of the oldest churches in Saltillo.  (The oldest church in Saltillo?)


While there, reflect on Jesus’s final trial before Pilate (Matthew 27:22-26).

Our Lady of Guadalupe SanctuarySanctuario de Guadalupe Saltillo

From San Esteban, walk down Guadalupe Victoria to the Alameda, turn left and walk along the north side of the Alameda (by the Normal School on Aldama), carefully cross Emilio Carranza (there’s a lot of traffic here–pay close attention to the traffic lights and only cross when it’s safe), then turn right, walk a block to Perez Trevino, and turn right and continue on Perez Trevino to the Sanctuario de Guadalupe.

While walking all that distance, reflect on Jesus carrying his cross to his crucifixion (Matthew 27:27-31).  If Jesus carrying his cross seems like a superhuman feat to reflect on, feel free to reflect on Mary accompanying Jesus on that road, giving us a great blueprint to follow, not only as Jesus’s mother, but as one of his disciples, too.

Want to do a little more reading about this tradition?  Click on the link here for more information!

Stations of the Cross

On Friday (often at 11, but this varies from parish to parish), churches will gather and pray over the stations of the cross–particular moments in Jesus’s walk to his crucifixion, either in the church or through the neighborhoods.

There’s more information about this practice here (for the traditional version) and here for the scriptural version.

Procession of Silence

Many, many towns have a Procession of Silence.  If you really want to jump into Mexican Catholic culture (or just get a bird’s-eye view of it), respectfully attend a Procession of Silence.  However–be warned!–they’re not for everyone.  I’m Catholic myself, and they still kind of creep me out.  Most of the procession is just like a funeral procession for Jesus.  I’m totally OK with that.

Procesión del silencio - SLP (13)

But in many cities, people dress up with hoods.  Given my background as a gringa, Klan-style hoods hit a little too close to home.  Granted, the tradition of these hoods goes waaaay back before the Klan (or even Christianity in America).  But even thinking about that, those hoods then remind me of the Spanish Inquisition, which is another period I’d rather not dwell on.


The Procession of Silence is something that can draw big crowds in a lot of cities.  (If you go to San Luis Potosi for Holy Week, make sure you have have hotel reservations well in advance!)  However, it’s not for everyone.

Including me.

If you’re into that, go for it!  It’s worth witnessing once.  But if you’d rather not, don’t worry–Holy Week isn’t over yet!


Easter Vigil

My first few Easters in Mexico, I was hugely disappointed by Easter celebrations here.  After all, Good Friday is widely observed and a big, fat, hairy deal.  So wouldn’t Easter Sunday be an even bigger deal?

Yes and no.

Yes, Jesus’s resurrection is every bit a big, fat hairy deal as his death.  (They really go hand-in-hand.)  But, like most spectacular celebrations in Mexico, Mexicans love to jump the gun and celebrate at midnight.

OK, maybe that’s not a just Mexican thing, but a Catholic thing.  Or sometimes it’s hard to separate the two!toa-heftiba-362196-unsplash

Easter is celebrated on Saturday night (usually around 9pm) with the Easter Vigil.  It starts with a bonfire, y’all.  I can’t really stress the importance that this bonfire had in me becoming Catholic.  (Seriously not kidding.)  Every church should celebrate Easter with a bonfire.

(OK, I’d also say that absolutely everything should be celebrated with a bonfire, so maybe I’m just easy to please.)

After the bonfire–which is loaded with symbolism–everyone files into the church (or joins everyone else already sitting there and saving spaces) and we lauch into roughly a bazillion readings, starting with–literally–the dawn of time.  Now that my Spanish can keep up with these, they are powerful, beautiful readings and reflections.

However, at my first Easter Vigil, I was just lost.  Oh, and the church is all dark during this time, so I was honestly lost in the darkness.

But then they get to the Gospel readings and the lights come on, and it’s just breathtaking–even when one’s Spanish can’t keep up!


So that is why Easter Sunday seems a bit anti-climatic in Mexico.  We already celebrated on Saturday night!

If you’re interested in joining in, check with your local parish (many have offices with mostly regular office hours) and they’ll be happy to let you know when things are happening this weekend!

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Photo of palms courtesy of Valentin Salja on Unsplash.

Photo of bonfire courtesy of Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.

Procession of Silence photos courtesy of David Tottto on WikiCommons.

White Lily photo courtesy of Matt on Unsplash.




10 Things to Love About Saltillo

When we first thought of moving to Saltillo, my husband and I both turned up our noses a bit, hoping this would be a short assignment.  After all, Saltillo is just a small, industrial outpost in Mexico’s northeast, right?




Well, OK–small and industrial is a correct description of Saltillo in many ways.  For Mexican cities, Saltillo–with a population of about a million people–is pretty small.  It is very industrial.  It is rather remote, like any city in northern Mexico.


But fortunately, that’s not all that can be said about it.  There are some very solid reasons to fall in love with Saltillo, as my husband and I did our very first week here.  Now that we’ve been here over 10 years, here are 10 reasons why I love Saltillo:


1.  Downtown


Hanging out on the edges of town, where chain restaurants and stores abound, Saltillo could be Anycity, Anywhere.


But head downtown, and experience Saltillo.  Downtown is what makes Saltillo Saltillo.  Let’s face it–50 years ago, there wasn’t much outside of the downtown area anyway.  Even 20 years ago, there wasn’t any city beyond the periferico!


Walking the streets downtown, there’s a real sense of history.  Colonial architecture is noticable, but buildings that are about 100 years old are more predominant.  There’s a certain style to northeastern Mexican architecture, and Saltillo has plenty of those.




There’s also a plethora of small, free museums that dot downtown, which are worth taking advantage of, in order to get to know Saltillo better.  Start with the Sarape Museum (on Allende), and then wind your way through the Government Palace Museum, the Mexican Revolution Museum, Museum of Graphic Arts, the museum dedicated to the Battle of the Angostura, and the Museum of Coahuilan Presidents.




sunset over Saltillo


2.  Mountains


Saltillo is nestled in a valley in the Eastern Sierra Madre mountains.  It doesn’t matter which direction you turn here, it’s always possible to see mountains!  To enjoy them up close, head to the rural areas of Arteaga, or join a tour of the Zapaliname with Saltillo’s board of tourism.




Sanbox at the Gran Bosque Urbano (Ejercito Mexicano).


3.  Parks and Playgrounds


I’ve lived in other cities in Mexico, but none of them do parks a well as Saltillo does!  The parks are regularly maintained (closed on Mondays for maintenance), have working play equipment.  The Gran Bosque Urbano has a lovely, gated playground with a shaded picnic area, lots of trees and bike\walking paths, and an additional, separate dog park.


The Chapulin has hundreds of pecan trees, making it one of the cooler places on Saltillo on a hot day–there’s almost always a breeze!  They’ve got a series of playgrounds, an ampitheater, a cactus garden, and a few vegetable gardens.


Playground at the Alameda


The Alameda is open everyday.  There’s a big, concrete slide in the playground area, which my 80-year-old neighbor said she played on as a kid!  (Other equipment has been updated, of course.)  The Alameda also boasts a talavera-covered fountain.  When it’s on, copper frogs shoot water into it.  There are two libraries in the Alameda, and a small lake.  On warm days, DIF rents paddle boats on the Alameda’s lake for $30 ($50 at night).  Plus, hanging out that the playground end in the afternoons is doubly-enjoyable, as the city’s Center for Musical Studies is right on the corner of Purcell and Aldama.


Frog Fountain at the Alameda


Huge, concrete slides at the Parque Deportivo.






The Deportivo (by the Sarapero’s stadium) has been recently renovated.  They’ve kept their impressive collection of tall, concrete slides.  There are tennis courts, basketball courts, and small soccer fields to use, tables and grills for picnics, and a small lake with a small train that goes around the lake.


The Biblioparque Norte also has soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, a baseball field and sand volleyball.  They don’t have much play equipment for small children, but it is a great place to run around.  The facility used to be a factory, so there’s an empty water-treatment area sunk into the entrance.  It’s a great place for bikes or rollerblading.


4.  Locally-Owned


Like many cities anywhere in the 21st century, we’re beginning to revalue locally-owned businesses.  These are what give any city a lot of its character, and Saltillo is no exception to that rule.


So, if you want to get an authentic taste of Saltillo, you’ll find a higher concentration of locally-owned stores and restaurants downtown.  Wander around, try places, and find a few favorites!


Orquesta Filharmonica del Desierto de Coahuila


5.  The Arts Scene


Thamar Villarreal and Evanivaldo Correa in Il Tabarro from Puccini.


Art isn’t the first thing people think of when they think of Saltillo.  In fact, it probably doesn’t even register for most people.  But there’s getting to be more of a focus on locally-produced art.  From the foundation of the Orchestra of the Desert of Coahuila, to small theaters like Casa la Besana and Sala Prisma.  The Teatro de la Ciudad Fernando Soler has something going on just about every weekend.  In March, they have a festival to celebrate their anniversary, with a variety of concerts, plays, and dance groups nearly every day for at least two weeks in March.


Walk down Calle Juarez downtown, between the Cathedral and San Francisco, and there are a few art galleries, the Ruben Herrera Museum, and a block down from the front of the Cathedral is Casa Purcell, which has rotating exhibits.


fisherman mural on Calle Bolivar in  Saltillo


Don’t forget about the amazing murals that dot Calle Bolivar, about 5 blocks east of the Museo de las Aves!


Every July, Rancho El Morillo, on the southwest corner of Saltillo is taken over by Artescenica, a month-long, intensive, internationally-recognized opera workshop.  At the beginning and the end of the month, they have big concerts in the Teatro de la Ciudad Fernando Soler and the Plaza de Armas.  But, just about every evening in the month of July, there are also free recitals at the Rancho El Morillo.  Participants come from all over Mexico, and teachers come from all over the world.  The talent represented is astounding, so don’t miss out on this year’s Encuentro Internacional de Opera this summer!


Most people don’t think about art when they think about Saltillo, but there’s plenty here!


mural tejedor de sarapes


6.  The Saraperos


Mexico is known as the land of soccer, but that’s not necessarily true for Saltillo.  Most saltillenses  seem to prefer baseball and American football to soccer.  (Soccer is still big here–but it doesn’t seem to be the favorite sport of most.)


Estadio Fransisco I. Madero, P16-08-10 20.37


Last year, sitting in the general section at a Sarapero game, I began to understand a fascination with sports and following your team.  Even thought you may not know anyone else sitting with you in the stadium, you’re immediately part of a group.  There’s a community spirit at a sport stadium, and it’s rather contagious!


In need of some Saltillo spirit?  Check out a Sarapero’s game.  The season starts in April this year.  Sit in the general section (instead of the numbered seats below) and you’ll have a much louder, enthusiastic experience!


And, as half the team is made up of foreigners, half the team rightfully belongs to SaltilloExpats, too!  (We do love the Mexican half of the team every bit as much as the foreign half.)  Go, Saraperos!


Dinosaur hall Museo del Desierto


7.  The Desert Museum


People often ask me what to do in Saltillo.  If you haven’t been to the Desert Museum (Museo del Desierto) yet, you haven’t seen Saltillo yet!


If you want a whirlwind tour of Coahuila’s southeast corner–geologically, natural history, human history, and locally-sourced zoo, the Desert Museum provides all that!


For a longer review of the Desert Museum, click here.


8.  Catón


Don Armando Fuentes Aguirre–or Catón–as he is better known, is Saltillo’s most famous citizen.


To be honest, simply being famous is no great recommendation in my book.


However, in my 10 years here, it has become clear that this man has a lot to do with what Saltillo is today.  Whether he embodies Saltillo’s character or whether he’s founded so many institutions that make Saltillo Saltillo, I really can’t say.


Don Catón is a man of many talents, but he’s best known for his syndicated columns that appear daily in newspapers nationally.  My husband and his cousin will sit and read the paper, laughing out loud at whatever Catón wrote that day.  I’ll read the same thing, rather lost.  Even though I may understand every word, jokes in Spanish are still sometimes lost on me.


However, I’ve heard Don Armando speak in public, and yes–he is really funny.  Besides trying to make everyone laugh on a daily basis (he also makes some prominent points or social commentary along with his jokes . . . he’s got a wry sense of humor), he’s also the Cronista de la Ciudad, which is an official position in any city, keeping record of Saltillo’s past and present.  He’s been a teacher, studied to be a lawyer, founded the newspaper Vanguardia, been rector of the Autonomous University of Coahuila, and started Radio Concierto–among other things.


Caton's books


But the best thing about Don Armando is that he doesn’t think of himself as a big shot.  My cousin worked for the Coahuila Book Fair, and, of course, dozens and dozens of authors were invited to present their work.  Catón was invited and came.  My cousin was rather appalled by the self-importance and diva-ness of so many of the authors.  But Don Armando, who is more famous and prolific than most of these other authors, was always pleasant to talk with and was visibly happy for the opportunity to share his work appear at this fair.


Now, basic decency shouldn’t make one an exemplary person, but in this day and age, it does!


Don Catón continues to give back to Saltillo in a number or different ways, and modern Saltillo wouldn’t be the same without him!


(Fun fact:  he also studied journalism at Indiana University, so he and I were possibly the only two Hoosiers in Saltillo for awhile!)


These last two points are rather particular for my experience, but have had the most impact on why I love Saltillo.


9.  Coro Vox Amoris and the AFA Opera Workshop


Three years ago, I came across a facebook announcement for an open audition for a choral section to accompany the Orchestra of the Desert whenever they might be in need of a vocal section.  Intrigued, I went.  Much to my amazement, I was accepted!


Coro Vox Amoris


Participating in this choir has been one of the highlights of my time in Saltillo.  Not only have I grown as a musician, but this choir has been my escape and a great source of community.  We’re an eclectic group:  there’s about 40 of us, ranging in age from 18-60+.  Despite our age differences, (among many other differences) we all to admire and appreciate each other, so it’s a great group to be a part of.


Sour Angelica


Thichoir accompanies the AFA Opera Workshop of Coahuila, and this fall we presented Pucchini’s Trittico of three one-act operas (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi).  We’ve got more opera projects in the works!  Stay tuned in June!


Gianni Schicchi


I never thought I’d ever be comfortable talking about opera, much less singing it, but participating in Coro Vox Amoris has been an unexpected–yet very gratifying–part of my education!


10.  Bible study group


My oldest child was born two months after we moved to Saltillo.  If moving isn’t isolating, moving when about to have one’s first baby really is!  After about a year of living here, (and only knowing about three neighbors well enough to visit), I was so desparate for friends that I randomly messaged people on facebook.


Fortunately, I stumbled on one woman who had been in the same boat as me.  (Not only recently moved to Saltillo, first child, but also a gringa married to a Mexican!)  She knew of a regular meetup of women at a coffee shop and a nondenominational Bible study that included free babysitting.


She had me at free babysitting.


But, given the whole “Faith Life” section of this blog, I am pretty into Bible study, too.  And thank goodness, I am, because this group has been my family over my 10 years here.  The members of the group have come and gone, but there’s a certain continuity to it that keeps it the same, despite the change in faces.


So, thank you English Women’s Bible study group at SALT church!  Saltillo would have been a much lonelier experience for all of us, had this group not existed!




And, for those facing a move, I can’t recommend highly enough how useful churches (particularly small groups) are for making friends.  For those who’d rather not hang out at church, that’s why I started SaltilloExpats!


Now, for a Catholic woman fluent in Spanish, it does seem a little strange that I felt it necessary to head all the way to the other side of town to hang out in a nondenominational church to find some fellowship.  While mass in Spanish is marvelous, and it’s hard to go more than three blocks without finding a Catholic church, most Catholic churches aren’t great at cultivating community.  (And let me tell you, the Diocese of Saltillo encourages community much better than other communities I’ve lived in!)  It’s just that Mexican community revolves around family.  So for those of us without family here . . . it’s really kind of difficult.


And for those who don’t speak Spanish–it’s even more difficult!


So take advantage of community where you can find it!  I’m glad I did!

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Why Is There No Gas?

Recently, there has been a gas shortage in Mexico City and Guadalajara, and it’s possible that this shortage may be making its way to Saltillo.

Pemex gas station.jpg
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link




Up until late 2017, the only gasoline that was sold in Mexico was Pemex.  All the gas stations were Pemex.  (It was only within the last few years that they began displaying prices, because . . . well, what was the point?)

Over the last few years, Mexico’s Energy Reform has been incrementally implemented, which paved the way to other gasoline providers, as we see today.  (Posting prices, following market prices for gas, the legal ability to sell gas that isn’t Pemex.)

For far too long, there has also been an enormous problem of people robbing gasoline.  Like, straight out of the pipes, en route to distribution centers and whatnot.

This shortage is the result of trying to get to the root of that problem.  From my understanding, they’re trying to figure out exactly where the gas is being robbed from and who is buying it.

How Does This Affect Me?

Because Pemex’s deliveries are being cut off, that’s putting too much strain on other gas companies’ supplies, so they’re running out, too.   According to the Economista, “the Secretary of Energy is doing everything possible to increment distribution up to 20% in the affected states.”


20%  That’s a problem.

Coahuila isn’t one of the affected states.  Yet.

But we’re already getting rumors of shortages at some gas stations.


So What Do I Do?

Fill up when you can, and limit your travel as much as possible.

Want to be a superhero?  Use public transportation.  Not sure where Saltillo’s buses go?  I’ve got most routes posted here.

In the short term, this is awful for everyone.

But long term?

This is a small sacrifice to fix a HUGE problem, a problem whose solution will benefit everybody.  So keep your cool, keep a healthy perspective.  We’re all in the same boat–this affects everyone.

So have patience.

Don’t panic.  If your kids can’t get to school, because there’s no gas to drive them there, chances are huge that most other families can’t get their kids to school, either.  The same theory applies to jobs.

Hopefully, this will blow over fairly quickly.





Gas station photo courtesy of Magister Mathematicae on Wikicommons

Gas pump photo courtesy of SkitterPhoto on Pexels.com

Christmas Markets in Saltillo

For any holiday in Mexico, street corner vendors take over, hawking flags for Independence Day, Guadalupe statues for Guadalupe Day, fake mustaches for Revolution Day, and team jerseys for the football finals–because that’s as big a holiday as any in Mexico!

Christmas in Mexico is no exception.  But instead of merely just the street vendors hawking Christmas trinkets, entire plazas get taken over and turned into a veritable Christmas market.


What will you find at a Mexican Christmas market?

Nativity Scenes

Throughout Mexico, the national obsession from mid-December to the 2ed of February  is arranging enormous nativity scenes.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m convinced that there’s an unofficial competition among all the Mexican grandmas as to who has the most elaborate Nativity Scene.  These things literally take over the large part of most living rooms!

(If anyone has a photo of a spectacular one, please share it in the comments section.)

Where to all these abuelitas get the figurines for their Nativity scenes?  At the Christmas market, of course!  There are rows and rows of baby Jesuses, Wise Men, Angles, cows, shepherds, Marys and Josephs . . . plus ladies making tortillas, old men roasting goats, and Satan.


Because every Nativity scene needs a Satan, right?  (Well, they do in Mexico!)


They also need stables to house Mary and Joseph, and moss for them to rest on.


Christmas TreesIMG_8057

Christmas trees are popular in Mexico, too.  Mexico is quite mountainous, so one doesn’t have to go far in order to find a decent pine forest.  But most trees are imported, so check with the seller if you’re dead-set on finding a locally-sourced one.

Unless you live on the coast.  Then you’re out of luck, and they’re all likely imported.  But those probably all come from Christmas tree farms, so that’s a good thing, too.  (Here’s hoping that domestic trees come from tree farms.  On the books, cutting down trees is well-regulated in Mexico.  But like with most laws here, it’s questionable how well those laws are enforced.)


And there are plenty of people at the Christmas market selling lights to put on that tree!  Good luck finding a strand that doesn’t play annoying music.


Ponche and Champurrado

A quality Mexican Christmas market will have stands selling ponche and champurrado–and if there’s champurrado, there’s likely tamales, too!

What is ponche and champurrado?

Selling ponche in huge quantities–as it was meant to be!

Ponche is a hot, fruit punch, made from apples, guavas, tejocotes, sugar cane, cinnamon, and piloncillo.  It’s just marvelous, and very seasonal.  Part of the ponche magic is eating the fruit along with the drink, so ponche should be served with a spoon or fork.

Champurrado is basically hot chocolate, fortified with tortilla dough.  It may sound weird, but it tastes amazing.  That extra thickness from the dough makes it even thicker, so it’s more of a stick-to-your-ribs kind of drink than normal hot chocolate.Ponche de frutas navideño - 3

Unfortunately, my market in Saltillo didn’t feature any hot drinks sellers.  But if you’re exploring in Saltillo, you don’t have to go far for a decent champurrado.  Head up toward the San Francisco church, and take a left at the corner of Juarez.  Compadre’s restaurant has a good café de olla, but if you’re in the market for champurrado, head a few doors farther down Juarez to the Cafeteria y Hotel Doña Ofelia–well, it’s Doña Somebody-or-Other, but Ofelia sounds about right.  Anyway, their champurrado is excellent.  (The tamales are just OK.)

Or there are plenty of other hot drink/tamal/gordita options right behind the cathedral, on the corner of Calle Bravo and Juarez, and around the Plaza San Francisco.

Where’s the Christmas market in Saltillo?


Joseph with a Zapata-style mustache!

It’s in the Plaza Francisco I. Madero, on the corner of General Cepeda and Emilio Castelar, just a block behind the cathedral.  (And about half a block to the left of the cathedral, if you’re facing it.  Or, north of the cathedral, for those who can process cardinal directions.)

Don’t get Plaza Francisco I. Madero confused with Plaza San Francisco.  That’s just a block up the road.  Or, if you get to Plaza San Francisco, walk down the street (literally, down–this is Saltillo, and the city was built on a hill) and you’ll find it sooner than later!

If you’re elsewhere in Mexico, poke around any historic city center, and there is bound to be a Christmas market somewhere.

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Photo of Woman Making Ponche by JEDIKNIGHT1970 from wikicommons

Photo of Mug of Ponche by ProtoplasmaKid from wikicommons

The Trittico of Puccini

On Friday, the 23rd of November, The Trittico of Puccini will be presented at the Teatro de la Ciudad Fernando Soler by the Coahuila Opera Studio (AFA) and the Orchestra of the Desert.

What is Puccini’s Trittico?

It’s a collection of three, one-act operas.  Puccini debuted them on December 18, 1918.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of their debut, and the Coahuila Opera Studio’s director, Alejandro Reyes Valdez wanted to commemorate the anniversary by presenting them on their 100th birthday.

The closest he could get was the 23rd, so we’re rolling with that!

The three operas that comprise the entire trittico thematically represent heaven, purgatory, and hell.  (Puccini was a good Italian, invoking Dante and all.)  😉  The conflict of all three of them revolves around “the consealment of a death“.

Gianni Schicchi

Last year, the Opera Studio presented Gianni Schicchi at the Besana Theater, downtown.  It’s quick moving, very physical, and awfully funny–even if you’re not keeping up with the traslation on the screen.  Gianni Schicchi is the vehicle to explore heaven.  (Or it simply has a happy ending.)

Suor Angelica

Two years ago, the Coahuila Opera Studio presented Suor Angelica, with a cast of fifteen women, led by Alejandra López Fuentes.  It’s the story of Suor Angelica, exiled to a convent and is the story of her resignation, despair, and redemption.  This is the purgatory of the trittico.



Il Tabarro

This year the Opera Studio has spent most of the year getting ready for the third installment, Il Tabarro.  Representing hell, it has its darker moments, but the music still remains light in places.  Not having seen it yet, it’s still a bit of a mystery.  (But I don’t recommend taking kids to that one!)

But given the success of the first two installments, it’s going to be a treat to see them all together!

Head out to the Teatro de la Ciudad Fernando Soler to catch all three of the operas the comprise Puccini’s Trittico on November 23, 2018 in Saltillo, Coahuila!


Video credit:  Alejandro Flores

Video Tour of Monterrey

The Tripps got out again–this time they went to Monterrey!

Let’s vicariously travel with them and explore the Macroplaza and Barrio Antiguo!


If you liked that, subscribe to their youtube channel by clicking on the link here!

The Fair Is In Town!

The annual Fair of Saltillo is in full swing!  It runs through August 5th, so if you’re in town, head out to the fairgrounds!  (On the road to Arteaga.)

Last year, the Tripps documented their experience at the fair.  Click on the video below to see the fair through their eyes.


If you liked that, subscribe to their youtube channel here!

Curious about the concerts?  Here’s the official poster!


Bus Routes Explained!

I stumbled upon maps of many of Saltillo’s bus routes!

This HAS to be shared!

For those looking to hop on a bus for the first time, it costs $11 a ride (July 2018).  So yes, if you have more than 2 people, getting a taxi is more economical.  There are discounts for prepaid cards, students with prepaid cards, seniors with prepaid cards, and handicapped people with prepaid cards.

For full disclosure, I found the maps at transparencia.saltillo.gob.mx

Can’t find the route that runs by your house?  Maybe transparencia.saltillo.gob.mx will have it!  (We can hope.)

Or, hop on a bus and see where it takes you!



ruta 8 morelos directaruta 13Aruta 13BRuta 14Ruta 18 ColoniasRuta ArteagaRuta Los Valdez

Mural Tour on Calle Bolivar

Last May, Colectivo Tomate took to the streets–well, one street in particular–and, quite literally, painted the town.  (OK, they painted the street.)  The effect is impressive, and one that Saltillo can enjoy for years to come.

Murals are one of Mexico’s more notable art forms.  The Mexican mural tradition dates back to prehispanic times, but had a notable resurgence in the 1930s, thanks to artists like Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siquieros.

Weaving Dinosaur
The ultimate Saltillo mural–a dinosaur making sarapes!

The Tomato Colective has been drawing attention to neighborhoods, making murals throughout the country, notably in Puebla, Mexico City, Querétaro, Monterrey, La Paz, and San Luis Potosí.  “It is a project based on the active participation of the community through the creation of murals that will be in their neighborhoods and, above all, on their houses.  This will create a connection between people:  it will tell the story of the neighborhood and, doing so, will result in a healthier society,” explained Liz Raschel, chief of public relations for the Tomato Colective to Zocalo reporter, Christian Garcia.


The Tomato Colective‘s artists planned and painted (with help from the community) 50 different murals, painted by 25 different artists.  Some artists are from Saltillo, some from other parts of Mexico, and some came from other countries.  (Scroll down for a list of the participating artists.)


“The impact of the Tomato Colective‘s work is that all the neighborhood comes together and all the neighbors collaborate.  It’s not just having 50 random pieces of art.  These 50 murals reflect the history of these houses,” commented Mabel Garza, director of the Municipal Institute of Culture last year.  [Quote also from the Zocalo, May 2017.]

Not only do these murals reflect the history of the houses they’re painted on, but the artists worked closely with the families who donated the exteriors of their houses to this project, making sure that the finished products would be a source of pride for the families, the Águila de Oro neighborhood, and the larger community of Saltillo.




Where to find the Águila de Oro Murals?

It’s on Calle Bolivar downtown.  Calle Bolivar dead ends at the parking lot for the Museo de los Aves.  It is often easiest to park on Calle Bravo (the next street parallel to Hidalgo), and then walk the four blocks to where the murals really start.  (There is one on a building near the Bird Museum.)

Towards the end of the Parade of Murals, some streets that cross Bolivar end in a set of stairs that will lead to the Mirador.  It’s a pretty intense hike, but if you’ve made it that far (and are in pretty good health), it’s worth finishing off the mural tour with the best view of Saltillo.

Still not sure how to get there?  Contact Jill Douglas at jilldouglas01@hotmail.com, and we can arrange a guided tour.


Participating Artists:


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Saltillo's downtownmuraltour

Real de Catorce–on video!

The Tripps keep documenting their Mexican adventures–this time, they take us along (through to the magic of YouTube) to Real de Catorce, a breathtaking Pueblo Mágico 4 hours from Saltillo.

If you haven’t been to Real de Catorce, what are you waiting for?

Or, if you’re not convinced yet, let’s go with Hannah and Doren!