Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fiesta Wear

The cohetes (skyrockets) began shooting upward and exploding at about 4:30 a.m. It's the Día de La Virgen de Gudalupe, celebrating México's Patron Saint.

The Mole Circuit* has started up again with the beginning of December, and we're riding it, but somewhat reluctantly. Fiestas are fun but they also wear us out. There have been so many fiestas (many of them celebrating weddings), that I've decided to just make a digest of those we attended. I'll give more detail about the first one, then compact the others.

*Really, it should be called the Barbacoa Circuit, becuase the local variant of barbacoa is the most popular main dish for serving a crowd. Here, it's a huge stew of calf meat cooked in a light chile gravy.

It's not that we don't enjoy a festive occasion, with merry families and friends gathering to toast the happy couple. A more important reason is that full participation requires steadily drinking Tequila, brandy and an occasional cerveza for relief. It's true, there is Fresca or Coca, but those are mere vehicles for the hard stuff. All that booze often results in declarations of undying friendship, seasoned with jovial, manly insults. It's machismo at work, supported by an alcohol-induced fog.

Our first boda of December was on the 5th, a civil ceremony wedding at Tzintzuntzan, followed by a merry, tipsy feast at Ucazanastacua.

The drinking and toasting began early, on the steps of La Presidencia (county courthouse) in Tzintzuntzan immediately after all the extensive papeleo (paperwork) was completed. The ceremony was conducted by a young, lady judge. I noted that she mentioned in her advisory remarks to the couple the importance of family planning.

After an hour or two, we headed out of the town for the drive along the winding lake shore cornice road to Ucazanastacua. The name comes from the Purhépecha language, and means something like "tiny place with a gorgeous view."

We hombres were separated from the mujeres, and we entered the lower level patio first, and
were seated at long, trestle tables. The customary shower of confetti was dusted over our heads and shoulders by pretty muchachas. (At least, they looked pretty to my fogged brain.)

There were a limited number of chairs, so many of us hard case types sat on long beams, covered with newspapers, and supported by stone and brick cairns.

We were well supplied with bottles of Tequila and Fresca or Kas (a tart, grapefruit soda which I do like) were brought out, and the drinking and toasting started anew. It would have been rude not to join in, ¿no es verdad? Fortunately, it wasn't too long before the food arrived.

I'll skip over the food details, but this meal did include mole de pollo, corundas, a thin caldo de pollo and the inevitable rice and tortillas.

The appearance of long-necked bottles of Cerveza Victoria (a favorite) falsely signalled a withdrawal from the hard stuff, so I accepted a bottle. I'd scarcely had a few sips, when a bottle of Tequila Sauza appeared. My new amigo told me that I should taste it for its superior qualities, but I passed. Then came a bottle of brandy to mix with Cokes. I passed on that also. I held my plastic cup of Fresca in a tight grip.

Doña Cuevas and I were ready to leave, but our amiga, María, said that we needed to stay until "la fruta" was brought out. Before long, men and women, bearing large platters of half pollos con mole y arroz, and baskets and even crates of fruits, waggle-danced in a line around the tables.
Yes! It was the long awaited Chicken Dance, plus fruit. This time I was there to capture it on video of sorts. See below. It was pretty cool.

The air was also getting pretty cool as the sun dipped toward the mountains on the opposite shore. We gathered up our riders and started back toward the van, 100 yards up the road. One of María's sisters was the big winner of a large, uncovered platter heaped with mole con pollo (in this instance, more like pollo with mole). I was dreading having it along in our vehicle. But then she covered it with a plastic bag. Even better, a colectivo combi van pulled up, and she and her children got on.
(That photo of a combi is, of course, not what they really look like here. But I used it because it's colorful.)

We gathered our few passengers for the drive home in the dark.
The trip was slow, as we had to watch for ladies standing chatting in the road, topes and road paving machines, still working away.

We dropped off our riders at their house. After we left,we decided to limit our participation in these events to a select few, only within walking distance of home.

As we drove up our street, we saw young Sra. Irma pushing her daughter Vanessa in a stroller up the roughly paved street. She hailed us, and handed us an envelope, and verbally invited us to her wedding on January 3, at the La Capilla de Las Cuevas. We expressed regrets that we couldn't attend, as we'd be away. ¡Lástima!

Coming up next, El Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe, on December 14th.
You've seen the photos from 2006. The ones from 2008 are similar. (I noted some minor differences in serving trays.) I didn't even drink a beer!

Next, we accepted an invitation to the Wedding of the Year, Sra Lupe, Sra Chucha's sister; and Sr Fernando's daughter, Montserrat will get married to Javier on the 20th of December. It was easy, right down the street from us. It was also well organized, with a seamless transition from the church to the outdoor dining area. Of course, they are only about 200 feet apart.
My score: 1 cerveza, 1 shot of Tequila.

More: Magdalena's quinceañera (15 year old girl's coming out ceremony and party), just down the road, on December 25. Just keep clicking the forward arrow for more pics.
I went to that yesterday, while la Sra. C. stayed home to nurse a cold. The Mass ran late, but the music and singers were especially good.
My score: 1 cerveza.
(Food note: the barbacoa was chopped instead of served in chunks, which made it much easier to eat. It's usually quite a challenge to cut pieces of meat off the bone with a plastic soup spoon in one hand and a rolled tortilla in the other.)
(I want to make special mention of the papas fritas and paletas vendors, who not only sell outside the church, but also in the forecourt, and mingle with the guests, hawking their delicacies.)
There's another wedding, I think on the 28th, of Srta. Amparo and her young man from Las Vegas. But we won't be here.

Then the Irma and Ramón wedding on January 3.
These fiestas have been fun, but tiring, and I'm looking forward to Lent, some 40 days of relative self-denial.

A few days ago, I discovered an envelope on the porch that held an invitation to another wedding the next day, in Coenembo, across the ridges to the northeast of us. We stayed home and rested.

(I haven't mentioned the bailes, held in the evenings, after the comidas.
Another day, another post. These highly amplified extravaganzas shatter the nighttime tranquility. I think it will be quieter in a Mexico City hotel.)

¡Próspero Año Nuevo!