Archive for the ‘Sounds of Mexico’ Category

I won’t say that wonderful events don’t happen downtown, because they do. But when things happen out in the neighborhoods they have a character all their own, an organic feel to them – like everyone just chipped in whatever they had that day and said let’s throw a party.
And they do.

It was the birthday of San Felipe this weekend – the WHOLE weekend, from Friday afternoon until 11pm tonight and they didn’t miss a trick. Carnival rides with six different kinds of loud music going all at once. Sirens go non-stop from about noon until it closes.

There’s loco music, bandas, religious processions and masses. Half of the homes in the neighborhood sell some kind of food, sweet, bread, tacos, and ice cream.

Little boys and old men set up tables of games and charge you to play. Mixed in with all it all are tables with people  selling groceries, fruit, toilet paper, chips and plastic containers.

People come from all over to play games, ride the rides, eat, dance, pray, carry the saints around the neighborhood singing.  They are outside all day and night talking to each other and sometimes you’ll find the tired ones  against a wall on the street sleeping.

The neighborhood locos get dressed up and dance all day.

2011 Fiesta, Locos in the Colonia San Felipe from Suzanne da Rosa on Vimeo.

How can one resist buying one of these?
Works of art for only 40 pesos, the size of a pizza.

Or taking the neighborhood kids for a ride on one of these?
Here’s a little movie for the kids – sounds and all –
loco dance music and a banda in the background,
each ride has it’s own music and they are all going at once.
No one seems to mind. (video to come)

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Two sunday’s before Easter, Sr. de la Columna, the Virgin of Dolores and San Juan are removed from their places in the santuario,
wrapped in silk scarves, covered, then carried in an all night pilgrimage to San Miguel for the upcoming Semana Santa celebrations and processions.

Last Saturday night, my friend Elvia, her son and daughter Roberto and Karen and I
accompanied the statues from the church courtyard to San Miguel along with about 20,000 other pilgrims.

2011 Pilgrimage from Atotonilco to San Miguel de Allende from Suzanne da Rosa on Vimeo.

Beto and Elvia

We arrived in the plaza at about 11:30 and waited for the ‘Imagenes’ to appear. At midnight, the bells rang, banners and luminarias were brought forth and the three Imagenes, carried on litters, came out of the church.

Atotonilco, the saints lowered while mass is said

A short mass was projected over a loud speaker and the procession began following the route through el Cotijo, to the capilla on the  highway for a 3am mass, proceeding to a small pueblo whose people had decorated the entry with a carpet of flowers and sawdust images with arches of palm and large paper flowers.

The participants were varied – elderly men and women, very very old people being held up between two family members, babies carried in arms and strollers, teenagers, adults, groups of men in white hats leading song, women who walked the entire route, 8 hours, all night, in bare feet.

Midnight in the plaza at Atotonilco

Karen and Gisela, 3 am across from the chapel

After the rosay the procession wound it’s way, accompanied by singing to the top of Avenida Independencia where we were greeted with fireworks, and a mile of decorated street. People poured in from everywhere to watch the unveiling and procession to the San Juan de Dios Church at dawn.

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Today is the Virgin of Guadalupe’s day.
December 12th.
Last night, two streets down, our neighbors held the last novena for the Guadalupe and sang songs to her from 7PM until… well, they are still singing.  I awoke several times during the night to the songs La Guadalupana, Paloma Blanca and las Mananitas.  At six the rockets and fireworks took over and from the terraza you could see sparks of light and smoke.

Today’s post is yet to be completed, but here’s what’s been happening the last few weeks.

Altars around town have been being cleaned, repainted and decorated.  This year, neighbors down the hill built a new altar which sat unfinished for many months, most likely waiting for the funds to complete it for this day.  (photos to come)

Further down, there’s a Virgin painted on a wall.  Wednesday she looked like this, and later I’ll have a photo os what she looks like today.

Throughout the week there have been live enactments by children in centro.
In our own neighborhood, two blocks down, there have been novenas and singing every night.

Yesterday, most of the altars were still undecorated except for a few red pointsettas, candles and pots of flowers.

and the flower stalls are geared up for the major altar building that will be completed today.

Every public and private altar will be decorated, every mariachi and singer in town will be visiting the altars to pay homage.

If you want a feel for what it’s like, look at the link at the top of this post

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Back on the subject of street musicians,
The city of Guanajuato has a wonderful minstrels
Who pass the day serenading those in outdoor cafes,
Singing while you sit in the shade having a cool drink.
He’s my favorite – maybe it’s the blue guitar,
Or the way he dresses to match his instrument,
But we never turn down a song from him.

2010 Street Musician in Guanajuato, Mexico from Suzanne da Rosa on Vimeo.

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They call them Mega Bombas
And there’s a bunch on this video –
Along with the firing of the canons,
The men battling,
Exploding sledgehammers, and a few photos.

For the complete story,
Go to the Sledgehammer Fireworks post

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You hear the din of battle next to the church, the sound of rockets booming and you feel the ground shaking from five blocks away. Each Carnaval, in the tiny town of San Juan de la Vega Mexico, there is a re-enactment of a 400+ year old battle in honor of a local farmer named Juan aquino de la Vega – on the side of the people – a Robin Hood type person who robbed from the rich to give to the poor against the Viceroy and his men.

From the surrounding ranchos, hundreds of men and boys arrive on horseback carrying banners and flags, tipping and waving their cowboy hats. They are part of the procession which is held in honor of San Juan Bautista, the town’s patron saint and are here to participate in a blessing and prayer for the ensuing battle.

The parishoners follow, clasping photos of the saint to their chests entering the battlefield which lies adjacent to the church, immersing themselves in the minefield of boys and young men who are dressed as devils, jesters, clowns, cowyboys, campesinos, soldiers, revolutionaries, cross dressers, gang members or sporting t-shirts with full body images of the Virgin of Guadalupe. They are taping explosive packets by the thousands to the ends of sledgehammers and detonating them on rocks and metal plates.

At noon, after prayers to San Juan, the crowd is pushed into a large circle. At each end a small canon is rolled into place. Men with toy guns, swords and plastic coke bottles for weapons, assemble to fight the battle and circle around, crouched low, raising up and down, awaiting the first canon blast. The canon goes off with a loud boom and swoosh. A big wad of rolled up burning paper lands in the middle of the circle next to a discarded plastic coke bottle and the fight begins. It’s an enactment though, and as you watch, you see that these men, however menacing they may seem, are doing a dance.

Ron discussing the amount of power in one blow of a sledgehammer. CLICK ON THE PHOTO for a video of Ron’s sledgehammer experience —-CLIQUE AQUI

Back on the sledgehammer field, a train passes slowly by, whistle blowing the entire time as packets of fireworks explode under it’s wheels. We meet a group of young men who are dressed like gang members. They befriend us and ham it up for pictures.  As they load charges onto their sledgehammers, Ron asks them what the largest charge they use looks like. They pile the packets on in a big show of bravado, then hand him the sledgehammer and begin dressing him for battle – loaning him sunglasses, a hat and neck scarf for his face.  He refuses the extra packets of ammunition but says ok to the normal charge then grabs the sledgehammer and heads out to the field.  Click on the photo above to see the video of parts of the day and Ron’s rite of passage and his thoughts afterward.

There is one more video in the works.  It will be done in a day or two, showing the battlefield, the re-enactment of the battle, the procession, the pueblo of San Juan de la Vega, and local stories told by women of the community about this historic celebration.

I guess I should mention that the celebration for us is our ninth wedding anniversary.  We really don’t like those typical out to dinner for lack of anything better to do celebrations, so this was perfect for us and an anniversary we will always remember. We had to go on the internet to figure out which anniversary the ninth is.  It’s something like pottery or china.  Not liking formal table settings, we took the bull in the china shop approach. We changed it to FIREWORKS because that’s what works for us!

If you missed the photo and video links, here they are:

“Sledgehammer Fireworks!”

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New Years Eve Pinatas and Fireworks Video -- CLICK ON THE PHOTO FOR THE SHORT MOVIE

Last week we found a luchador wrestler pinata and bought it thinking we would have one  for the kids on our street at new years. Yesterday, we went next door and got 10 year old Ariel to come fill the pinata.  When he was done there was still a half bag of candy left and lots of oranges so we walked down to the market to find a second pinata, locating the pink sister to go with our blue one.  That not being quite enough, we wandered further down the street and found a drippy gooey cake with a jelly covered fruit top, (which turned out to be delicious in spite of how it looked,) and a couple of roasted chickens for dinner and headed home.

Ariel and Aron came over for dinner
We set up a stand to hold the rocket fireworks we bought last month and took Ariel all over the neighborhood to invite all the kids he knew for the pinata breaking at 7:30. (more…)

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