Culture

21 Reasons To Appreciate Fluffy And Cool Alpacas On Their Special Day

Alpacas have to be the defining animal of the hipster movement (don’t worry if you can’t tell alpacas and llamas apart, you are not alone and no one will blame you!). You have seen them in accessories, t-shirts, purses, pot-related memes and even as pets

Well, because there is a day for everything, we are celebrating the one and only World Alpaca Day!

1. They are as Latin American as it gets.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Alpacas, known scientifically as vicugna pacos, as  are a synonym of Andean culture and are endemic to the mountain ranges of the South American countries of Peru, Bolivia and Chile, although they can also be seen in Ecuador. They have been bred and raised for their fibrous and furry coat for thousands of years by the indigenous people of the region. They still represent a good source of income.

2. Their furry cousins, llamas, are unas chingonas as well.

Credit: Giphy. @anonymous

OK, let’s get something straight. Llamas and Alpacas are not the same. Alpacas are way smaller, for starters, weighting only up to 200 pounds compared to the 500 or 600 that llamas can reach. Llamas are also used as transport and as carriers. 

3. Because alpacacorns.

Credit: Instagram. @strudel_alpaca

Move over bunnycorns and unicorns! The alpacacorn is the ultimate cuteness symbol. Also, if the unicorn has been a symbol of European royalty for decades, we can have our own Latino myth, right?

4. They are just the best meme-ready beasts in the animal kingdom.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

Really, cats on the Internet are so 2005. Alpacas and their cousins llamas are the most expressive beasts on the planet, and millions of digital natives know it. 

5. When life looks down on you alpacas make you go chin up, chest out, be proud.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

Alpacas are like natural serotonin: just looking at them makes us feel all soft inside. Alpacas hold their heads up high and are dignified, like we all want to be!

6. Their folk have travelled the five continents.

Credit: Instagram. @alfie_the_alpaca_in_adelaide

Just look at this mate, Alfie, just chilling in the Australian seaside. Alpacas have been bred in farms far away from their homeland. In Australia and New Zealand, for example, you can stay in farms full of these furry cute little things and have a refreshing holiday. 

7. They have inspired the coziest plush toys ever.

Credit: Instagram. @inkari.alpaca

Can we just drop dead there and sleep for like two days straight?

8. They are game for a road trip.

Credit: Instagram. @matcha.maiden

Alpacas are now being cared for as pets the world over. Just look at this handsome dude just taking it all in, the breeze, the landscape.

9. Because they are amazing muses.

Credit: Instagram. @mifsudvisions

You can’t go wrong painting an alpaca… if you have at least basic artistic skills, of course. 

10. Crochet anyone?

Credit: Instagram. @cutiemestore

We are sure that llamas and alpacas must be the best sold animals on Etsy! There are pins, jewelery, pots and basically all you can imagine. Can’t find it? Make it yourself!

11. They are beautiful beings… so we have to protect them in the wild.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

The Andes have been savaged by decades of industrial distress and mining. Alpacas need to thrive in their own environment so let’s protect it, shall we?

12. Because baby + alpacas = oh my heart!

Credit: Instagram. @ahjoomahan

Ay, Dios mío! Show this to all your tías and they will go “ay mis vidos!”. 

13. Because we can’t thing of a cuter way to keep our hands warm.

Credit: Instagram. @ranbowmountaintravels

That’s one lucky woman!

14. No better way to get your handicraft juices flowing.

Credit: Instagram. @siwooinparis

One of the best ways to destress is to get busy with your hands (not like that, mal pensados!). Draw some inspo from this travel companion and make your own!

15. Because alpacas smooching are the definition of wild love.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Seriously, they have better love lives than many of us!

16. Because alpaca coffee mugs: seriously, even el pinche lunes would be better waking up to this face everyday.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Take all our money now!

17. Because nothing spells PRIDE like a rainbow alpacacorn.

Credit: Instagram. @kiwiiregalos

Can every Latino Pride Parade make this their official mascot, porfavorcito?

18. Seriously, can we imagine a better wedding photo companion?

Credit: Instagram. @alpakamomente

This photo was taken all the way in Germany, by the way, chavos. 

19. Because they just fit in with furry perritos falderos.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.of.ig

In a way, these Andean big-eyed cutties are just like big, fluffy companion canines. 

20. They are the best tour guides.

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Look at this cool Peruvian dude taking all those fresh dollars off gringo tourists. Good on him!

21. And did we mention they look awesome in sunglasses?

Credit: Instagram. @alpaca.posts

Yes, we did, but we just can’t get enough of them!

Here’s The Woman Behind The Stunning Marigold Bridges In ‘Coco’ And Her Ofrenda Art

Culture

Here’s The Woman Behind The Stunning Marigold Bridges In ‘Coco’ And Her Ofrenda Art

Javier Rojas / mitú

This weekend is sure to be a special time at the Hollywood Bowl as Disney and Pixar’s Coco will be screening a live-to-film concert experience like no other. Stars like Miguel, Eva Longoria, and Benjamin Bratt made appearances at both screenings and the iconic film was accompanied by a full, live orchestra.

However, there was one other star making her presence felt this weekend. While she might not be taking the stage or even be known to some, she is a legend in the world of Día De Los Muertos. Meet Ofelia Esparza, who for the last 40 years she has been behind hundreds of ofrendas, or alters, honoring loved ones who have past.

Her work has been featured in some of most famous museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Japanese American National Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art, internationally at the first Day of the Dead exhibit in Glasgow, Scotland. Just last week, Esparza and her daughter, Rosanna Esparza Ahrens, had an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.

This weekend, Esparza and Ahrens showcased a three-level ofrenda right outside of the Hollywood Bowl venue. The ofrenda greeted guests attending the showings of “Coco.”

Credit: Javier Rojas

Esparza, 86, who was born and still lives in East L.A, has devoted most of her life to creating alters. She learned many of her craft skills from her mother in Mexico and in return has passed on these traditions to her nine children. For Esparza, alter making is more than just a form of expression but an obligation that has made its way through multiple generations to honor loved ones who are now gone.

While Esparza has never met her great-great-grandmother, she knows of her through years of alter-making. Without this craft being passed down through multiple generations, she says she might have never known much about her and credits this tradition for intimately connecting her.

“My mother passed this on to me at a very young age and it always stuck with me that I have to carry on these traditions because if we don’t then who will,” Esparza said.

Using an array of photos, candles and vibrant carnations, Esparza’s alters stand out for their use of giant multilevel structures. The alters range from personal, political and even spiritual. Her work has garnered her many awards including just last year when she was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as a 2018 National Heritage Fellow.

“I’m touched that people look at my work and want to learn more about this. It goes beyond just Día De Los Muertos but celebrating and honoring those who have past,” Esparza said. “To me that’s the biggest honor, being able to teach people about what alter making is really about.”

Esparza has followed through with many of the traditions her mother taught her at a young age and continues to pass this on. In her 40s, she became a school teacher where she included Mexican culture into her curriculum, including Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. This has included speaking at schools, museums, community centers, prisons, and parks throughout LA county and across the country.

Her expertise and passion for alters led Esparza to be a cultural consultant for “Coco.” Many of the scenes, including the famous flower bridge, were ideas that came from her.

Credit: Javier Rojas

Esparza was approached by Disney and Pixar to be a cultural consultant for the Oscar-winning film. She says that many details and scenes seen throughout the movie came from some of her feedback including the famous marigold bridge scene where ancestors cross over into the land of the living on the Day of the Dead.

“I gave them a lot of feedback on certain things including what the bridge that connects the two worlds of the living and the dead represents,” Esparza said. “It was incredible to see that come to life and for people to resonate with that message of crossing over into two worlds.”

When asked about the popularity of the film and what it means for new generations to learn about Día de Los Muertos, she says it makes her happy and only asks of one thing.

“I want people to know that Día de Los Muertos is more than just putting on some skull paint but a true honoring of those who are no longer with us.”

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In Mexico, Feminist Activists Honored Victims of Femicide by Marching During What they Called “Día de Muertas”

Culture

In Mexico, Feminist Activists Honored Victims of Femicide by Marching During What they Called “Día de Muertas”

@France24_es / Instagram

On November 3rd, while many Mexicans were winding down from their Dia de Muertos celebrations, a group of activists in the city center were just getting started. Faces painted up as Calavera Catrinas, donning purple crosses and hand-painted signs, this group of people took to the Mexico City streets with one goal in mind: to raise awareness about the scourge of femicide that is sweeping their country, and Latin America in general.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, femicide is defined as “the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender”. In 58% of cases, women are murdered by a romantic partner or a family member. Most of the time, the relationship has been a physically abusive one. In Mexico, gender-based murders have become so common and so consistently under-prosecuted that the families and friends of murdered women no longer feel that they can stand by in silence.

Credit: @PublimetroMX/Twitter

The Dia de Muertas march was coordinated by the organization Voices of Absence, which was founded in order to bring awareness to the plague of femicide in Latin America, and especially Mexico. 

During the march, people gathered holding signs of their murdered daughters, friends, sisters, and loved ones. They chanted the phrase “not one more”, referring to the hope that they would prevent more deaths caused by gender-based violence. According to the office of Mexico’s Attorney General, 2019 is on track to become the second-most lethal year for women in Mexico since 1990, with 2,735 women being killed via homicide. This statistic is more than double the number of deaths recorded a decade ago.

Although Mexico has visibly taken steps to fixing the epidemic of gender-based murders that has taken over the nation ( like by signing the Spotlight Initiative, an EU- and U.N.-sponsored mission to eliminate gender-based violence on women and girls), the protesters also believe that more action needs to be taken. “[These women] did not die of old age or from illness,” said activist and journalist Frida Guerrera, a self-described “chronicler of femicide” throughout Mexico. “They were snatched away, they were ripped from their families, and we want them to be seen”.

Credit: @Lubruixa/Twitter

The protesters were hoping that the demonstration might spur the government into ending impunity for this pervasive crime in Mexico.

Unfortunately, in Latin America, most men don’t face punishment for the murder of women, with a shocking 98% of these gender-based killings reportedly going unprosecuted. According to the United Nations Office of Human Rights, the failure to investigate these murders is due to “underlying societal beliefs about the inferiority of women” in Latin America, which have “created a culture of discrimination within law enforcement and judicial institutions” that result in “negligent investigations”. 

In other words, the structural culture of machismo in Latin America is causing authorities to be apathetic towards the epidemic that is femicide. In order to reduce the rates of femicidie in Mexico, activists are calling for a complete overhaul of Mexico’s legal system, which protects men who kill women. 

Credit: @Lubruixa/Twitter

“The authorities don’t do anything to find these killers and the killers realize that they are taking so long that they have a chance to get away,” said Claudia Correa to Reuters, whose 21-year-old daughter was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in October. “And they are going to continue doing so if we allow them to”.

As for social media users, they are just as fed up with the machismo culture that allows so many murderers to go free without facing justice.

It is a culture of misogyny fueled by machsimo that makes the authorities and the government so apathetic to the murder of thousands of women.

This Latina knows that the fight for equality is futile if justice is not served for these women.

Because of the government’s inaction, women in Mexico are constantly living in fear for their lives. 

As this Twitter user points out, it isn’t just Mexico that’s the problem, but Latin America in general:

This statistic simply proves that the problem isn’t just a Mexican one–but one that is plaguing all of Latin America.

This Latina paid tribute to the women that have fallen to the plague of gender-based murder:

Statistics like this make it hard to ignore the public health crisis on Latin America’s hands. 

This Latina has a theory as to how the problem of femicide has risen to such shocking proportions in Latin America:

Whatever the cause of the crisis is, there’s no time to waste in addressing it. The deaths of thousands of women should be incentive enough to stop these tragedies from happening with such frequency.