Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Looking for the Virgen (Virgin)

We decided to go looking for the Virgen de Guadalupe on her Feast Day starting in the morning at the San Juan de Dios Mercado. Although the San Juan Mercado is closer than the Ramirez Mercado, we seldom go there. What a surprise when we arrived. The Mercado was surrounded by Vendors of all things Christmas in Mexico....stall after stall after stall. The vendors that surprised me most were the ones who had their whole space filled with "clothes" for the baby Jesus.....many styles, all sizes and prices. I knew that on February 2, Candelaria, that the baby Jesuses that everyone brought from their homes to the church to be blessed, were in new clothes but I always thought that the garments were made by each family. No! There is a whole cottage industry of making baby Jesus clothes.
There was a small altar in the mercado for the Virgin but the larger one was just being set up. So on with our quest to find Virgins. The next stop was the San Juan de Dios church. The picture of the Virgin had been placed on the Altar and preparations were being made for Mass. We found Virgins at this church. Many people came bringing their figures or pictures of her to be taken into the Mass for blessings. While I waited for photo opportunities in front of the church, Ned patiently sat on a bench and watched. After Mass started we headed up the hill towards the Centro and the other churches. At Insurgentes and Quebrada, we found a shrine to the Virgin and a sign that said that the Virgin's procession would be at 5:00 PM. Mmmmm....Atencion, the newspaper, had said the procession would be at 5:30. Ned asked one of the ladies taking care of the shrine when the procession would start. She said that it would start at 4:30 "sharp." As always, ask the same question three times and get three different answers. We went on to the other churches talking about what time we needed to be back for the procession. Each of the other churches were crowded for Mass so on around the corner to the Ramirez Mercado. The altar for the Virgin that I had photographed earlier in the week was now full of flowers. After wandering around in the market to see if there might be any small altars to the Virgin we stopped for comida.

After refreshments, on to the Parroquia. Usually the Virgin and Juan Diego are on the wall to the right of the main altar but today was the Virgin's day and she was on the main altar. In her regular home were huge bouquets of flowers and several 3 foot wide crowns of flowers.

Back to the house for a little siesta....and so I could download the compact flash card from the camera. We were still trying to decide what time we should arrive for the procession so we decided to leave the house at 5:00 PM. After all, these things never start on time! When we reached Insurgentes and Quebrada the Virgen was gone and so was the procession. We rushed on to the Guadalupe Church. A band was set up to play and there was a boxing ring in the street with people sitting in chairs waiting for the event to begin. Two policeman were on the corner. Ned asked one of them about the Procession. He said it would be later. Then Ned asked a woman selling snacks on the street. She said the Procession had already passed the church on its way to Mexiquito. So we found a taxi to take us because Mexiquito is quite a bit further out of town.

When we got out of the taxi, we could see the end of the procession heading up the hill and we joined them. There were many, many Mexican families with their children dressed as tiny Juan Diegos or Guadalupitos. The procession wound through the church and then it was time for food, drinks, bands and fireworks. After we wandered around and watched the festivities for a while we headed down the hill and walked back to town until we found a taxi to take us back to the centro. Once there we sat at a street side table in the restaurant at the San Francisco Hotel and enjoyed the 2 for 1 cocktail hour and botanas while we watch the world go by and talked about all the Virgens we had seen on her feast day.


Anonymous said...

Hi Billie - It certainly is a tough life you lead down there in Mexico. I keep wondering when you are going to set the timer on that camera and get in front of it???
Juan Calyso

BillieS said...

And why do you think that I am the photographer.....
That way I don't have to be the photographee.
(Is that a word? Well it should be!)