La Virgin Guadalupe: Patroness of the Americas

Patroness of the Americas

Patroness of the Americas

I first visited the shrine to La Virgin at Guadalupe on the fringes of Mexico City during the sweaty summer of 1976 with my parents. In 2006, I visited with my niece, the photographer sjlzocklein.
In 2011, I started reading books on the Virgin of Guadalupe in the collection at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.   Online resources include:  the Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Here are some notes from my study of La Virgin of Guadalupe.

Examination of photos of the eyes in the original image transferred magically or painted onto Juan Diego‘s tilma (cloak) has revealed through photos taken of the Virgin’s pupils and subsequently enlarged,  that there are miniature scenes depicted in the eyes, as described in the revelation report.

Paul Badde, the author, travels to Jerusalem, Greece, Medjugorje in Herzegovina, other well known pilgrimage sites. He also travels to Mexico in a pilgrimage to find out more about the Virgin of Guadaloupe and her place in Mexican culture.

“At the time of the Spanish conquest, Tlatelolco was a suburb of Tenochtitlan and the largest commercial center of Mexico. All the references to places in the Nican Mopohua can still be found o the Mexico City map and in the network of Metro stations.” p. 142

Source: Badde, Paul. (2008). Maria of Guadalupe. Shaper of History, Shaper of Hearts. Translated by Carol Cowgill. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.


On the night between the 11th and 12th December, Tepeyac is literally packed with people, thousands of salesmen selling fake jewellery, musical tapes, feathers, clothes caged birds, etc. People approach the basilica walking on their knees, weeping and chanting. Lights are lit in the basilica, soft singing echoes … people file solemnly under the image of the Virgin. Perhaps the scene in and around the basilica can be interpreted as an example of what liberation theologians call eclesiogenesis: the church is unceasingly created by the marginalized, peasants, farmers and beggars, who to this day can act like subjects in their own history. (interpretation from Monsivais, C. 1993, Los espacios de las masas, pp 267-308 in: Mexico a fines de siglo.)

Source: Andersson Daniel. (2001). The Virgin of Guadalupe and the Day of the Dead in the Construction of Mexican Identities. Goteborgs: Skrifter utgivna vid Institutionen for Religionsvetenskap Goteborgs Universitet.


In the area of Mexico City, veneration is focused at Tepeyac where an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on the cloak of a country peasant man seeking medical help for a relation who saw the apparition on a hillside.  The beauty of the image as perceived by evaluators led them to rule it was not made by human hand. p. 43.  The Virgin of Guadeloupe appeared in 1531 on Dec 9, to the peasant who was named Juan Diego.  He dictated his experiences to clerks in the bishop’s office and a transcription of the vision as reported was made soon after, but not published until more than a century later.  The Nican Mopohua was written in Nahuatl in 1544 by Antonio Valeriano and published in Spanish in 1649 by Luis Laso de la Vega.

In 1656, at Tulantongo, on the edge of the Valley of Mexico, there is a chapel where the peasant beggar Antonio de Gandia, who was also blind, received a proclamation from the Virgin promising restoration of his sight if he built a chapel by the well in the yard.  … Nearby Franciscans complained their flock were migrating to the Tulantongo chapel. Eventually the Franciscans pushed de Gandia out and refined his legend to suit their own purposes as the centuries passed. p.15

At the town of Calpulalpan in mountains approximately 50 miles east of District Federale (Mexico City) there was a victory of royalist soldiers who defeated rebels from Calpulalpan in 1812. The royalist soldiers took the village statue of St. Anthony of Padua. The townspeople appealed for its return. p. 16-17

Source: Taylor, William B. (2010). Shrines and Miraculous Images. Religious Life in Mexico Before the Reforma. Albuquerque: Univ of New Mexico Press.


Brujeria (accent on the ia) is a collection of religious and folk magic practices that blends Roman Catholicism and the Aztec goddess faith. It has been influenced by other traditions, such as spiritism, Santeria, Voodoo, Wicca, and ceremonial magic. It is common throughout Mexico and among Chicano (sic) populations in the United States.

Recipe for love potion from Monsieur Diaz an antique book dealer who had a gallery in the Palais Royale, Paris during the 1980s.

Por Mi Amante

2 lbs fresh strawberries, sliced

juice of 1 lemon (or lime, even better)

1 bottle great quality tequila

1 tbsp piloncillo – Mexican dark sugar, or regular sugar,  or omit, depending on taste.

Mix in large bottle. Let rest in darkness for at least a month. Filter and drink very cold.

It is liquid ruby with very intense alcohol.

p. 44-45

Source:  Hanut, Eryk.(2001  The Road to Guadalupe, A Modern Pilgrimage to the Goddess of the Americas. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.


This book contains many images of the Virgin of Guadeloupe — naive, modern, antique, fancy, fanciful, charming.

Source: Corcuera, Marie-Pierre Colle. (2005).Guadeloupe: Body and Soul. New York: Vendome Press, New York

Locations of sacred sites where the Virgin has appeared in Mexico:

Our Lady of Zapopan, in an Indian village close to Guadalajara.

Our Lady of San Juan de Lagos, in a sanctuary in Jalostitlan, close to the road to Zacatecas.

Our Lady of Ocotlan, majestic sanctuary outside Tlaxcala.

Source: Brading, D.A. (2001). Mexican Phoenix. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition Across Five Centuries. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.p. 141.


Other major spiritual shrines in Mexico include:

Zapotlan del Rey, Jalisco – Madonna and child known as Neustra Senora del Socorro.

Shrine of San Miguel del Milagro, Tlaxcala with original story from early 17th c. There is a great wooden cross planted there, crucifixes radiating a great light.

Sacred journeys for Otomi people of San Pedro Cholula are to Ocoyoacac, Estado de Mexico.

At Tlatelolco, the shrine of Neustra Senora de los Angeles.

At Huatulco on the coast of Oaxaca state, there is a miraculous image of a cross that could not be destroyed by English Protestant pirates. p. 27

The Huaquechula cross was discovered in August 1806 painted on a boulder in the river on edge of town. The Indios who found it sought permission to create a shrine. Prints of the refined cross circulated. By 1809 pilgrims came from both coasts to celebrate the Day of the Holy Cross on May 3. Their unsanctioned and effective local marketing effort was nipped by Bishop Manuel Ignacio Gonzalez del Campillo in 1810 when he ordered the stone pulverized and all images destroyed. p. 49

Pachuca – In 1648 the soul in limbo of Juan Mexia, a recently deceased miner, had appeared to a young Spaniard named Juan Gonzalez. Mexia’s shade appeared three times during Holy Week.

Zumpahuacan – shamans claimed to have met Christ and angels during a series of drugged visions here. p. 28

Other sites:  Ocotlan, Tlaxcala; Juquila, Oaxaca;  Soledad, Oaxaca; and Izamal, Yucatan.

Source: Taylor, William B. (2010). Shrines and Miraculous Images. Religious Life in Mexico Before the Reforma. Albuquerque: Univ of New Mexico Press.

Posted in Culture, Education, History, Hot Climates, Pilgrimage, Spiritual Shrines, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thumbs Up = What?

Know what you're saying with hand gestures….

Know what you’re saying with hand gestures….

Hey Bud, what are you thinking? Do you know what thumbs up means in Iraq or Sardinia, Thailand or Turkmenistan?

Do you know this guy? I don’t. If you’re smart, you won’t travel with him!

Thumbs up could be offensive in many cultures. Keep gestures under control.

Here’s what Wikipedia says:  “Thumbs up” traditionally translates as the foulest of gesticular insults in some Middle Eastern countries. The most straightforward interpretation is ‘Up yours, pal!’    The sign has a similarly pejorative meaning in parts of West AfricaSouth AmericaIran,  Iraq, and Sardinia, according to Roger E. Axtell’s book Gestures: The Do’s and Taboos of Body Language Around the World.”  In BangladeshIran, and  Thailand it is traditionally an obscene gesture, equivalent to the use of the middle finger in the Western hemisphere.


Rude hand gestures.

Rude hand gestures.

Posted in Budget Travel, Culture, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

In which Nellie Visits the Mount Lavinia Hotel

In which Nellie Visits the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

via In which Nellie Visits the Mount Lavinia Hotel.

Posted in Budget Travel, Culture, Hot Climates, Spiritual Shrines | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In Buenos Aires: Argentine Flag Imagery

In Buenos Aires I met a bookseller at La Calesita book store on Avenida de Mayo.  Take a tour by video. 
Sr. Costanzo used to supply writer Jose Luis Borges with his books for 40 years.  Arranged regular deliveries to Borges’ apartment.
We explored diverse conversational topics as Señor Costanzo pulled out crumbling old books about the history of the region.  I was trying to track down the symbolism in the Argentine shield or coat of arms which in the earliest version displays brown mounds under the joined hands under the French Revolution-era cap set under a sun-face (see image of the coat of arms below).
A couple of weeks earlier                    
at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, I’d seen the hand sewn banner displayed at the mausoleum of Gen. San Martin the liberator of Argentina and Peru.  But the brown mounds disappear in post-1820 versions.
The bookseller and I decided the lumps must represent the Andes Mountains. Indeed, it turns out that the flag displayed in the cathedral is the banner of the Army of the Andes.
army of andes
Modern version of the shield of Argentina omits the brown lumps.
Posted in Books, Culture, History, Publications, Travel, Vexillology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mexico City: Frida and Diego’s Houses

Frida and Diego’s Houses in Mexico City

Casa Azul is a strangely moving museum — I really felt Frida’s presence, her spirit aura, ghost or something spectral.  Her white cotton embroidered dress with slight sweat stains around the neck hung on a display mannequin.

How could a visitor not feel her presence in the house built by her father, under the trees she planted and enjoyed in the courtyard, walking the same tiles and stones she trod or limped across.  Today the house is a meeting point for artists and writers from around the world who come in pilgrimage to the free spirits –  a lovely setting in a fine old neighborhood.

  1. Visit Casa Azul:  Av. Londres 247,  Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100 Mexico City
    +52 55 5554 5999
Courtyard of Mexico City house with blue walls where Frida Khalo lived.

Courtyard at Casa Azul   ©



Architecturally more significant is Frida and Diego’s modern double house and studio closer to the University (UNAM) and near the San Angel Inn, which was designed by their friend Juan O’Gorman, featuring a ‘bridge’ for the two artists to visit each other.  Each remained private within a shared house.

Visit the Studio-House:   Av. Diego Rivera 2, at the corner of Altavista. Colonia San Ángel Inn. Álvaro Obregón, Mexico City

Frida & Diego house-studio designed by Juan O'Gorman.

Studio-House designed by Juan O’Gorman ©


DF Resources

Mexico City Subway Map.  Prints on one page  – Neighborhood –

Green Corner – whole foods and local produce in Mexico City –

Posted in Art, Culture, Education, History, Hot Climates, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walking as Transportation

Books about Walking

Statue of Mahatma Ghandi in walking mode installed adjacent to Embassy Row -  Massachusetts Ave. NW near Dupont Circle.

Statue of Mahatma Ghandi in walking mode installed adjacent to Embassy Row – Massachusetts Ave. NW near Dupont Circle.

The Complete Guide to Walking, Mark Fenton.  Written by an editor at Walking magazine, this comprehensive how to guide, takes you from inertia to regular walking.  Exceptionally useful book aimed at the beginning walker or occasional exerciser.

A Walk Across France, Miles Morland.  An out of shape British advertising executive and his French wife hoist rucksacks and walk from Gruissan-Plage near Narbonne to Capbreton north of Bayonne, a distance of 553 km.  Their route takes them mostly along country roads through farm villages.  It’s hot and dusty; they slake their thirst with lots of wine.

Marching Spain, V. S. Pritchett.  Engaging account of a foot trek in rural Spain originally published in 1928. An adept prose stylist, the young Pritchett isn’t above accepting a lift now and then in his progress from Badajoz to Leon.  He’s poor, but richer than the people he bunks down and eats with in remote areas where the folks are suspicious of outsiders.

The Long Walk. Slavomir Rawicz. Shivering and staggering, this group of escapees from a Siberian gulag make their way across Mongolia and China, south through Nepal and across the Himalayas to India.  The journey takes years and the hardships defy comprehension.  An inspiring read for anyone who thinks you need high-tech gear to walk long distances.

An Inland Voyage and Travels with a Donkey, Robert Louis Stevenson (Orig pub 1879). The voyage is a paddling excursion along the Sambre and Oise Rivers in Belgium and Northern France.  The travels are about walking with a donkey through central and southern France. His fragility and easy going voice make RLS an endearing companion.

The Man Who Walked Through Time, Colin Fletcher.  Published in 1967, this account of a camping trek through the length of the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River involves prodigious logistics for food and water drops.  Animals and Fletcher’s imagination are the only companions on this hike through geologic time.

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Robert Macfarlane. The author uses his fine observations skill and knowledge of natural history, cartography, geology, and literature to tell about his long walk on the ancient routes that crisscross the British Isles.

Pyrenees Pilgrimage: Walking Across France, L. Peat O’Neil. Author leaves the Washington Post to walk alone on the Camino de Santiago de Compestella from west to east along the extended Camino paths in France.

Rucksack Man, Sebastian Snow.  He’s a masochist, but a funny one, British adventurer Snow walked from the tip of South America through the continent northwards to cross the Panama Canal, his line of demarcation.  Never accepting a ride, marching at a furious pace burdened by heavy gear, broken shoes, and always low on water, Snow was lucky to survive.  His mighty will drove him on.

Long Walks in France,  Adam Nicholson.  Harmony House.  British traveler sets off to tour various regions of France on foot.  He’s interested in people, customs and history and tells unusual lore in a cheerful voice.  Most of the walks are suitable for long weekends.

Walking the Trail: One Man’s Journey along the Cherokee Trail of Tears, Jerry Ellis. The author donned a backpack and began a lonely walk on the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the nine hundred miles his ancestors had walked in 1838 when forced to leave their settled homelands by the U.S. government that routinely ignored treaties.

Walking Tour in Southern France,  Ezra Pound, edited and introduced by Richard Sieburth.  During 1912, the infamous American modernist poet Ezra Pound toured France on foot in search of traces of the medieval Troubadour poets.

Wandering Home,  Bill McKibben.  Join a beloved author on a long walk from his home in Vermont to his former home in the Adirondacks through a rural landscape of hope.

Wild,  Cheryl Strayed.  A woman’s solo long distance trek on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Learn how to travel like a travel writer:  Travel Writing: See the World, Sell the Story





Posted in Books, Budget Travel, Education, Geography, History, Nature, Outdoors Life, Planning, Publications, Travel, Walking, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nellie Bly’s Round the World Journey — 125th Anniversary

In an earlier post, I wrote about Nellie Bly, the pioneering American journalist who broke all records for Victorian era around-the-world travel with her 72-day global trek by land and sea.

In 1889 Nellie Bly circuited the world in 72 days by sea and land, a record breaking trek.

In 1889 Nellie Bly circuited the world in 72 days by sea and land, a record breaking trek.

Now, the Royal Geographic Society has registered an expedition by a British-American writer who is following Nellie’s route to honor the 125th anniversary of the fastest-yet global circuit in 1889.

Journalist Rosemary Brown is circuiting the globe in 21st century style by air and blogging along Nellie Bly’s route with slight changes due to current conflicts and border problems. Too bad there aren’t more trans-oceanic ships that accept passengers! Check out:  Nellie Bly in the Sky.



Posted in Geography, History, Travel | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

10 Travel Writing and Photography Contest Opportunities

1.  Read the entry rules for the Saga Travel Writing Competition carefully.  Writers must be age 50 and older.

Deadline: August 15, 2014.

2.  Stone Canoe Literary Essay competition.

Deadline: July 31, 2014. Author must have connection to upstate New York.

3.  Enter the second annual I Must Be Off! Travel Essay competition. There’s no entry fee.

Deadline June 30, 2014.  Bookmark for next year.

4. We Said Go Travel offers a writing contest:

Deadline: July 18, 2014.

5. Washington Post Travel Photo Contest:


Deadline July 25, 2014.

6. Their contest is closed for 2014, but is looking for writers interested in contributing blog posts.

Deadline: Variable.

7. The Ninth Annual  Solas Best Travel Writing Competition is open for entries.

Deadline: September 21, 2014.

8. Transitions Abroad is a foundation pillar in the alternative, educational and independent travel experience. Founded in 1977, it continues to be relevant and active online in 2014.

Deadline: Variable.

9. Nowhere seeks strong literary writing. Considering the writers published within, this publication is probably not for raw beginners.  Know your craft.

Deadline: None.

10. Just Back, the weekly travel writing competition for the Telegraph, UK offers these guidelines.

Deadline: Weekly



Posted in Awards, Contests, Publications, Travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long Distance Walking and Upset Tummies

Competitor overcome when glycogen stored in body is used up.

Competitor overcome when glycogen stored in body is exhausted.

Medical research studies suggest that an upset tummy (gastrointestinal disorders) can arise because of intense physical activity such as many hours of hiking and walking.   Over-exercise can make you feel sick.   This is not news to most humans who move around and play hard.

During my long march across France through the Pyrenees and other mountain walks on La Gomera,  in Kamchatka, and  Central Asia, I’ve felt that gut-seizing signal that twists knickers and sweats the brow.  Sometimes, it’s been caused by a too-tight pack support band and too much food.  Other times, the weak-in-the-knees reaction occurred after eating dense starchy food such as potato soup, gnocchi, pasta and energy bars.  At least once, I drank contaminated water and suffered full blown gastroenteritis. Better hope there are rehydration salts in your first aid kit.  Usually, it’s just a case of eating the wrong fuel.  So take care of yourself, rest as long as it takes, and carry on, resolving to avoid carb-loaded food that’s hard to digest while the rest of the body is working hard.

Connections between intense exercise for extended periods of time and gastrointestinal symptoms are well known.  Marathoners and IronMan competitors do collapse or vomit at the finish line — we’ve seen the photos.   However, research also indicates that upset stomachs and symptoms in the lower GI tract may occur even with lower intensity exercise such as long-distance walking.

Eating and drinking  before, during and after sustained exercise, should be planned  carefully by the person doing the physical activity or a sports nutrition expert.  Those involved in competitive events know their body’s response after months of training.

All outdoors trekkers and travelers need to factor circadian rhythms and whether jet-lag fatigue still applies while setting off on a long-distance trek.  Altitude adds yet another stress variable.  Shifting weather — rain, wind, sleet, intense hot or cold temperatures — always affects people exercising outdoors. Planning for long distance walks involves lots of complicated details.

High intensity competitors aren’t the only ones who suffer GI issues  related to exercise.  Even moderate exercisers embarking on a long distance walk or multi-day trek or hundred mile cycling trip may experience upset stomach response.  It may be caused by undigested food as the body is busy supplying blood to toiling muscles.  It may arise from ingesting too much water or not enough. Could be caused by insufficient glucose when muscles are starving for simple sugars rather than complex carbs that the body has to work to break down into fuel.

Some people simply react adversely to certain foods during sustained exercise.  For example, if you don’t usually consume  dense high-carb “fitness” snacks, energy boosting drinks and electrolyte replacement beverages, perhaps there will be an unwelcome physical reaction.

Know your body and don’t inflict sustenance surprises when your body is working hard. If you plan to use energy boosting beverages and snacks, try them out gradually in small amounts, depending on your body size and type.  Plan ahead to have fast-delivery glucose nutrients that your gut can process rapidly.

No correlation of symptoms were linked to a subject’s gender, physical fitness, age
or walking speed.


Brouns, F. (1991) Etiology of gastrointestinal disturbances during endurance events. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 1: 66–77. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.1991.tb00274.x .  Wiley Online Library

Peters, Harry P.F.,  et al. (1999) Gastrointestinal symptoms during long-distance walking. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, June 1999 v31 i6 p. 767(7).

Shi, Xiaocai, et al. (2004) Gastrointestinal discomfort during intermittent high-intensity exercise: effect of carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 14.6 : 673-83.

Ironman Nutrition: Pro Secrets.

Is Vomiting a good sign after a race or hard effort? The Running Institute, San Diego.

Posted in Hot Climates, Outdoors Life, Planning, Travel, Walking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Motivation to Dream (and Act) as a Travel Writer

©L. Peat O'Neil 2012

©L. Peat O’Neil 2012

Personal desire is the best motivator for exploring and writing about a place.  After all, if you want to be there — if you’re truly interested and engaged — you’ve a better chance of communicating  your experiences.  Care about the places you choose to write about. Cultivate passion for the places and the people.  Learn and appreciate various cultures.

Travel Writing: See the World Sell the Story by L Peat O'Neil, Writer's Digest Books.

Travel Writing: See the World Sell the Story by L Peat O’Neil, Writer’s Digest Books.

The Bucket List, as some call it, might include far away wonders of nature or the world’s famous cities.  See the Pyramids, the ruins of Rome, magnificent Angkor Wat, the Andes and Alaska.  Follow elephants in the wild before they’re gone.  Just where do you want to go and do before you ‘kick it?  I say: why base your dreams on one lifetime? There are universes out there!

What the Sphinx sees.

What the Sphinx sees.


Get started by taking a few minutes to jot down ten destinations or longer journeys that you truly want to experience within the next three to seven years.  Don’t think about the cost, child-care arrangements, your day job or financial commitments. Set your imagination free and scan a world map for your special trips.  Write a sentence  about why you want to visit these places, what influenced you to select them. Your motivation and desire.

Perhaps you’ve read a book or seen a video online that inspired you.  Remember that

©L. Peat O'Neil 2012

©L. Peat O’Neil 2012

hero or heroine from history, literature or the arts?  Regions where your ancestors lived may draw ties of personal significance.  Search your memory back to childhood for places that have dear personal meaning.  Motivation and action follow interest.

This list is your dream sheet.  It helps focus your travel plans, research and marketing.  You can always add to it, but don’t erase places you dream of seeing.  So what if there’s a war on now — things change; life goes on.  You’ll get there in a while.

The trip list is a reminder for the travel writer in you: it represents your potential and your opportunity.  Focus on your goal, put action behind it and stay confident!


Posted in Culture, Geography, History, Motivation, Philosophy, Planning, Travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment