Monday, October 01, 2007

You Just Needed to Be There!

I've delayed writing this all day because I don't know how to describe the San Miguel Festival this weekend except to say it was the best ever in spite of the rain. On Thursday night we went to the plaza in front of the Parroquia to hear a violin concert by the Brothers Aguascalientes. But before the concert started, lots and lots of taxis all decorated with balloons and flowers arrived to park in front of the Parroquia to be blessed by the priest. As soon as they cleared out some seats were set up in front of the stage. It was the 30th anniversary for the Brothers Aguascalientes to play for the Festival and the concert was marvelous. We stood for almost two hours while we were thoroughly entertained by their music. You really should have been there!

At 4:00 AM on Saturday morning was the Alborada in front of the Parroquia. Two and a half tons of gun powder was escorted into San Miguel for this epic battle. From the courtyard of the Parroquia "San Miguel Arcangel" fires rockets at the devil on the other side of the Jardin but of course the devil is putting up a good fight and he is firing back at San Miguel. While this is going on for ONE hour, the bells in the Parroquia are ringing, and lots of the young people who have stayed up all night in the bars waiting for this battle are standing under the falling fireworks. Most of those who haven't been drinking all night try to stay out of the fallout zone. It is just one of those things that you just have to be there to understand.

We had semi-planned to go but it was raining and we decided to stay in bed a little longer but not too long because we had asked friends to come for breakfast after the battle was over. After the sun was up, we headed into town. There was something going on constantly around the Jardin. A huge procession of Mexican riders on horseback (2 or 3 gringos were sprinkled in) came into town to be blessed in front of the Parroquia. There were beautifully costumed dancers on every side of the Jardin. The performance of the Voladores who climb a very tall pole and then slowly descend head down while circling the pole with a foot tied to a rope that has been carefully wrapped around the pole. Everywhere you looked there was a feast for the senses. You should have been there.

In the afternoon rain clouds gathered but that didn't stop the huge procession, nor did it stop all the Mexicans from staking out a place to watch. Besides the dancers, the bands, and the Mojigangas, the xuchiles are brought to the church to be put in place. The xuchiles are decorated structures made of at least two telephone poles and they are carried for about a 1/2 mile and put in place in the courtyard of the church. They are beautifully decorated and it is an engineering feat to get them to the Parroquia and tied in upright positions. Later that night they had fireworks and castillos. It is definitely one of those things you need to see. You have to wonder how it could be that the next morning all the people who had been in the procession have the energy to be in a parade....this one much longer and then they dance all day long. But they do and they seem to be having great fun. The fireworks and castillos on Sunday night were just spectacular. You just need to be there!

Now here is the interesting thing. Many of the ex-pats never go to these wonderful Mexican celebrations. I think if they ever participated fully, maybe they wouldn't complain so much about the church bells and fireworks. And the other interesting thing is that there are lots of people who say and write about San Miguel being overly influenced and outnumbered by the gringos................well, you should have been there with us in that congregation of Mexicans with babies on their shoulders, helping grandparents get around, and thoroughly enjoying their traditions.


Brenda said...

Sounds like a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a fun time! Glad you are back on the scene - and us too!


Babs said...

I agree Billie that so few gringoes go to these fabulous events. I would say that the ex-pats were less then 1 % of the spectators at the fabulous events from Thursday til late Sunday night! It never ceases to amaze me.

Ellen Fields said...

wow! I wish I HAD been there... the photos are great. Sounds like a lot of fun and a good time to visit, if I ever do...thanks, Billie!