If you don’t know Lupita by now, the first thing you should know about her is that she is everywhere. That’s why I am almost certain that you have run into her somewhere already, although you might have not noticed.
It could have been when you were at the Mexican restaurant asking whether the red salsa or the green salsa would burn your mouth more. She probably saw you walking by on your way to the subway station as you tried to beat rush hour on the train. Then there was this time when you were at the dollar store getting cheap soap and seltzer. Lupita was hanging out in aisle 10 with lamps, mugs and wall decorations.
This has nothing to do with the omnipresence of la Virgen de Guadalupe—the Brown Mother of Jesus of Nazareth. But as a Mexican, and a man who looks for pleasure, beauty and truth in everything I run into, it is hard for me not to see her everywhere, even though I am not really a believer. It is just that in México you become Guadalupano even against your will. From novelas to fiestas, Lupita is everywhere.
All I am doing here is asking for your help. For the past couple of months, and with the help of a few of my best friends (yes, I happen to have a lot of friends, like three…), I started to work on a project that I had kept in a drawer for a long time. You know, I had a job. This project is ¿Dónde anda Lupita? (loosely translated as Where’s Lupita?).
I chose to use Tumblr because the platform allows for easy reblogging and cute heart-shaped likes. The whole idea is to capture images of Guadalupe wherever she is, from the markets of Bolivia to the boutiques of Tokyo, from a sidewalk in Gwinnett County, Georgia, to the town of Colonia, Uruguay. And this is where you guys come in handy.
Many of you have been wandering around Mott Haven or other areas of the city where the image of la Virgen de Guadalupe hangs from a wall or rests on an altar with candles lit to honor her. Just in the South Bronx there are at least two huge images on display outside area churches. The most notorious is the one outside St. Jerome’s Church on 138th Street and Alexander Avenue. That’s where believers will hold a party on Dec. 12 to celebrate the 484th anniversary of her appearance to the Mexican Indian Juan Diego on the top of the Tepeyac Hill.
If you happen to cover any of these celebrations or if you just run into la Virgen Morena (the Brown Virgin) somewhere, please snap a photo and send it my way with a one-line caption saying what’s happening, where you found the image, and when you took the photo. I’ll make sure to credit you and, perhaps one day, buy you some tacos and/or beers.
With the large Mexican migration into the United States of the last 25 years, she has made her way all the way up the East Coast, She was already in the West, that part of the country formerly known as México. Don’t worry, this is no history lesson (although many of you are in need of one).
But let’s just get a couple of things straight. I am not trying to convert you into anything. You believe what you want. And no, I’m not going to tell you that the United States stole land from México in the XIX Century: Don’t forget El Alamo.