So, only a few hours following the Alborada (see previous blog post), it's time to get up. There are a whole host of festivities about to erupt on this day celebrating our town's patron saint, San Miguel Arcangel. So with about 4 hours of sleep, Janan managed to get me and the kids piled onto the moto, and we all sped down to the Jardin (the central plaza) to take in a full day of sights and sounds...
|Heading down the hill to the festivities...|
After an hour or more of this, then come the "Para Chicos". These are dancers dressed in costumes that appear oddly Byzantine, yet I've been told these costumes originated during colonial times and were designed to subtly (or not so subtly) make fun of the aristocratic Spanish-blooded elites. If you look closely, you can see that the elaborate costumes are embroidered with scenes celebrating the resistance of the natives against the Spanish invaders. And yet while the trappings may lean toward the serious and somber, the dancing and music are the quintessential opposite. I love how the Mexicans continually seem to transcend tragedy with joy...
|You can see the indigenous motifs & symbols here...|
|... and of eagles & tropical birds...|
|...and frogs, the name-sake creature of our home state...|
|...while here you have Cuauhtemoc clobbering a Spaniard...|
|...with all the seriousness drowned out by music and dancing!|
|It's amazing what you can do with twine...|
|Here's a close up. Yep, those are sticks....|
|I wonder what OSHA would say about this.|
While they continue working, the next spectacle arrives right on time. Well, it actually takes a while to get this one started, as you'd expect. It's time for the "Blessing of the Caballeros". This involves somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 horseback riders, many with women and/or kids sharing the ride, who all manage to line up right in front of the Parroquia (parish cathedral) with an impressive amount of order. Nearly all of them have come from villages in the surrounding countryside and it's clear many have been riding for quite some time before getting here. Soon (well, it actually took about 30 minutes or more for that many riders to make it through San Miguel's narrow streets), they are all ordered in rows in front of a makeshift altar at the main gate to the Parroquia, and then Mass begins. Yes, a full-blown hour long Mass. I'd done enough of those in my 12 years of Catholic Schools, but this was a first.
|In they come. I love the grandpa with the two toddlers on his horse...|
|...and they keep coming...|
|...horses, riders, banners, statues of the Archangel...|
At the conclusion of Mass, as you can see in the shot above, everyone forms a procession line and all are blessed with holy water: the men, women, children and beasts. This takes a while too, and a good three or four buckets of holy water. Not bad for being in the high desert!
So by now, it's somewhere shortly after noon. And there is a lot more to come today, including the Voladores ("flying men") and a parade of exploding puppets. But that will have to wait for another blog post. Part 3, coming soon....