Sunday, December 17, 2006

La Fiesta Marcha

El Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe...continued.

Just before noon, we went to the little chapel down the street. Susan was dressed in her almost full rig (less braids and ribbons) as a guarecita. The church is a modern building, not of the old, Spanish Colonial churches which to many of us represent México. But this church was as "Real México" as could be. It is a church of and for the people of Las Cuevas in which to worship.
It is a building of simple, block construction, painted in blue and white, with the forecourt decorated by garlands of pine needles and colorful banners. Inside it is tranquil, plain, and beautiful.
The congregation was called in by Doña Chucha ringing the church bell from just outside the door.

We were seated inside toward the back. There were not enough seats for all the congregants, so we squeezed in to our bench to allow more to sit.
Little girls, dressed in white, wedding-dress style outfits whirled about in their hooped skirts while the little boys clustered in suits and ties. There would be a first Communion for them this day.
The priest arrived, the perfect picture of a genial and somewhat plump Mexican padre. He heard the confession of first the primeras comunicantes, then of anyone else who wished to confess.

Soon, the service began. I could follow much but not all of it. I did enjoy listening to the sermon. Before it was over, María beckoned us to come outside. She wanted to let us know that our friends, Luis, Lety and their two sons had arrived. As we sat chatting, there was a rapid fusillade of ear splitting explosions not 12 feet from where we sat. We were pelted by shell casings and ceramic plugs from the string of cohetes that had just been ignited. These blockbuster firecrackers are fused together in a string for maximum effect. Fortunately, no lasting damage resulted.

Soon, the services were over, and we waited briefly to take seats at long tables. Before long, our hosts and hostesses were ladling up generous platefuls of copper kettle simmered beef in red chile sauce; rice, and beans. (I think that the "recipe" called for 1 medium sized yearling calf, cut into 2-3 inch chunks, a whole lot of water, enough chiles, soaked,pureed and strained; a gunny sack of onions, cut up; sufficient garlic for a year, salt, vinegar, and possibly, freshly squeezed orange juice.) It was tasty and tender, to my taste needing a litle more salt and "picante", yet very good. I didn't complain!

Thick, homemade-looking tortillas arrived, stacked high in towel wrapped baskets. We had Pepsi to drink, until the Padre turned around from the adjacent table and offered me una cerveza. Excellent fellow! Soon he was opening and passing beers to whoever wanted one. After we got the supply line going from another source, the older fellow at our table would open the bottles by prying the caps off with another bottle. We lacked for nothing.

After comida, there was a break, allowing people to go rest a bit, the cooks ladling out the large quantity of stew into the plastic pails some señoras had brought.

After the break, during which the hired band "Olas Altas de Tzintzúntzan" toodled, noodled and drank a few beers, we sipped a little Presidente Brandy offered around by María. Then it was time for the procession. The Padre got everyone lined up according to a plan, and the band struck up a merry tune, while Rosa carried the statue of the Virgen down the street and out onto the road, towards Sanabria. We got to the house of Doña Lidia's daughter at the edge of the pueblo, where we stopped for the "First Mystery". I think it represented the Annunciation to Mary of her forthcoming carrying of Jesus.

Becuase of traffic, we turned around and went back up the street, toward the house of Doña Chucha and Don Mateo. There we found another Misterio, representing Mary's visit to her cousin, Elizabeth. (Isabel).
More cohetes were ignited, close to our fence. This time, we faced away from a distance of 20 feet. The procession returned down the street, but we took leave and went into the house to recover from the events of this wonderful day.

Later, in the night, there was a baile on the school grounds, about 150 yards away. We could hear the music, but it wasn't too loud nor lasting, and we slept as well as usual.

More photos click here


Michael Dickson said...

Nice report.

Michael Warshauer said...

Gracias, Miguelito.

Michael Dickson said...

Alas, Mike, I think you will find that these new "friends" in Las Cuevas may not turn out to be what you expect. Before long, you will be getting invitations to be the padrino or madrina (in Susan´s case) of the tequila, the wedding dress, the salon de fiesta, the whatever, as they celebrate weddings, birthdays (especially the girls´15th), First Communions, you name it. This is how the locals manage to suck in money to finance the huge parties that are so popular, parties that most really cannot afford. They get around this by "honoring" their relatives and "friends" by naming them the padrino of this or madrina of that, all of which carries significant financial obligations. It is coming at you. I would bet on it.

Michael Warshauer said...

I have heard of this, Miguelito, but I think we can say, "Gracias por el honor, pero no podemos."