Postcard from... Mexico City

 

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A Mexican party isn’t complete without a piñata, and Melesio Vicente Flores and Cecilia Albarran Gonzalez have spent the last 25 years making high-end versions of the papier-mâché figures to later be stuffed with sweets and broken open with a stick or club.

As they practise the centuries-old tradition of piñata-making, the couple caters to a smaller market of consumers demanding “artistic” figures. Competition is tight as more run-of-the mill piñata-makers sell their creations more cheaply. At their four-storey house built into a hillside on the east side of Mexico’s capital, the Vicente-Albarran family fashions cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse for children’s birthdays or caricatures of despised politicians for protests.

After drying in the sun, the piñatas are brought inside to be painted. Colourful paper and tape create eyes, hair styles and costume details. “It’s hard work and there are lots of things to do, so there is no chance of getting bored. Time flies,” Ms Albarran says. Perennial favourites among the different figures include Spider-Man and Buzz Lightyear.

More elaborate piñatas sell wholesale for around 180 pesos or about £8. “We are not here to make ourselves rich,” says Ms Albarran. “We like our job.”

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