Those familiar with the traditions of mariachi bands in Mexico know that they usually consist exclusively of male musicians. Yet, Flor de Toloache, an all-women mariachi band based in New York City, is changing the face of mariachi in many ways.
Art and Culture
In the late 1960s, as the Latin American Boom masters exported magic realist narratives to the international literary market, young Mexican Onda writers imported the international counterculture into their writing in an attempt to question paradigms of self, representation, and language. Among the signifiers that codified the 1960s counterculture, the drug experience, along with rock music, opened possibilities for social and literary experimentation.
Sweet sounds of a wooden instrument ringing throughout the airport caught my attention as I got off my flight in Guatemala City in the summer of 2016. As I turned the corner, I saw the source of this joyful music that breathed happiness being played on a large wooden xylophone-looking instrument, which I later learned was called a marimba, by a group of Guatemalan men underneath a large sign that said, “Bienvenidos a Guatemala” (Welcome to Guatemala).
Walking down the cracked sidewalks of a hot, palm frond-shaded street in Vedado, Havana’s western upper-middle class neighborhood, you pass two women. One of them, younger and taller, is dressed entirely in white—from her white umbrella and white hair wrap down to her white high-heeled shoes. When she notices you staring at her trailing white dress, she smiles and looks down. Her older companion speaks loudly and emphatically to her as they pass you by.
Favelas have long been known as the impoverished neighborhoods surrounding the cities of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city, is home to one of the oldest favelas, Providência, founded in 18971. The original favelas normally consisted of informal housing like shacks, usually made from scrap metal, woods, or other materials. They originated due to a lack of affordable housing, thus pushing poorer citizens to the outskirts of the cities.
Upon meeting Maurice Tomlinson, one would never guess all that he has been through in his life. His smiling face lights up the room and his laughter is immediately contagious. Nothing about the LGBTI rights advocate’s demeanor reveals that he was forced out of his home country of Jamaica after threats to his life.