Saturday, October 01, 2005

Dia de San Miguel Arcangel

September 29th was actually the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel but this town celebrates St. Michael's birthday for most of the week. The big events are held on the weekend closest to his birthday. In the jardin, there are big posters listing "all" of the events for the month but we have found that they don't necessarily cover everything. Ned also goes around to each of the churches to see if they have posted anything about additional events related to their church.

Still there are wonderful organized events that happen that we never see advertised or posted anywhere. Last Thursday is a good example. I walked across town about 4:30 in the afternoon to see Jose Marin, my very talented hairdresser. We knew that the Conchero dancers would be in front of the Parroquia and that a violin concert was also scheduled for about 8:00 PM. So Ned said he would meet me in front of the Parroquia after my appointment.

I got there a little early and saw that a small procession was coming to the church. During these religious festivals the santos from the various churches and sometimes from the homes are taken to visit other churches and to be blessed. This group was carrying two shrines holding San Miguels. Following behind were women and children carrying bouquets of flowers. After them was a mariachi band in white mariachi suits and that was followed by the men in jeans and carrying their straw hats. Two priests in white robes came to the door of the Parroquia to welcome them into the church. The Mariachis entered the church with a flourish of music. I sat there for a while as everyone settled down on the benches, the mariachi music was over and the religious service began then I slipped out the door to meet Ned.

By this time outside the church the Conchero's had two drummers setting the rhythm and in full costume and elaborate feathered headdress they were starting to dance. On the stage beside the drummers, the sound system was being tested by some of the violinists who would be playing later. I have no idea how they could tell if it was working properly over the noise of the big drums.

I photographed the dancers for a few minutes then Ned and I went over to the bar at the San Francisco hotel and sat where we could see what was happening in the jardin through the door. There were fireworks and sirens....not unusual in San Miguel but the bartender and a couple of the waiters were standing at the door looking up the street so we knew that some procession would be along soon.

It was a procession of taxis decorated with bouquets of flowers and red and white balloons. In one of the Mixta taxi's....Mixta taxis are pickup trucks that carry passengers and or cargo. We have used them to deliver pieces of furniture to our house. Anyway in one of the Mixtas was the fireworks man. He put the rockets in a metal tube sitting on a base and then lit them to soar into the sky and explode. These were substantial exploding rockets. The Mixta was about the third vehicle in the parade and the rockets along with the sirens of the police escort announced the arrival of the taxi's.

The procession must have included more than 1/2 of the taxis in San Miguel and there are a considerable number of taxis here. There were also a couple of drum and bugle corp groups in the procession. Even when the taxis started around the jardin, I could still see them all the way up the hill of Calle San Francisco to Salida a Queretaro.

The drummers and conchero dancers are still occupying one side of the square. The violinist are still testing the sound system. A mass is going on in the Parroquia which faces the jardin and now we have rockets, drum and bugle corp, sirens, AND all of the taxi's are blowing their horns or letting their car alarms go at full blast. Some people in the jardin are watching one or the other of the spectacles but many of them are sitting on the benches eating ice cream and chatting, children are playing chase across the gazebo, men are getting shoeshines, completely oblivious to the commotion around them.

The taxis circled the jardin and in a very orderly fashion lined up in front of the Parroquia to be blessed. How do you find out about these events. We have been coming here for years and we don't have a clue. But you can almost count on something happening at the jardin.

We didn't stay to see the blessing but headed back toward our house. We had a late comida so we stopped at Hecho en Mexico and bought an order of guacamole "para levar" to go. We took wine and the guacamole to the new terrace and it was a beautiful twilight. The sky was just turning to deep blue. The Parroquia's lights we on and there were lights twinkling across the town. Although we are about 3/4ths of a mile from the jardin, we could hear the music of the violin concert. We nibbled on the guacamole, drank wine, listened to the music and talked. And people ask us what we do in San Miguel. I don't think reading or hearing about this can convey the pleasure we find here.

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