Monday, May 27th, 2013
JUST COULDN’T RESIST THE STORY TOO!!!
I have had one of the most overstimulating weeks of any time in Mexico—way beyond exuberance. I’m kind of vibrating as I write. And ironically it has made me feel safe and cozy and calm.
In Mexico, we live part time in one of the oldest communities of San Miguel de Allende— Valle del Maiz. Corn Valley. It’s an Indian neighborhood. Very very old. Each year there is a week long festival honoring Santa Cruz. This is our first year here to celebrate all of it and we are smack dab in the middle of it.
Everyone in the community participates and contributes by the family. And all of the families have made the same contribution for more than 150 years.
It is a combination of church potluck, Catholic church, Aztec culture and Indian rituals.
Right this minute the church bells have been going for more than an hour.
Men dressed up like Spaniard Inquisition characters and others dressed like Indians are marching to do a fake battle which culminates in the firing of an antique cannon.
I can hear a tuba pumping along, Indian drumming, a Mariachi band and that particular sour note clarinet loved here.
One family (and by that I mean 40 or so people) donates all of the candles for the church for the coming year.
Another family carries flowers for the week to adorn the church–once again huge numbers of people. Uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmothers in shawls, teenagers in Puma’s all doing their part.
One family provides three pigs for a barbecue.
One provides a small clay shot “jar” of Metzcal after an evening of music for a crowd toast.
Another family group makes “Mojigangas”–large paper mache figures that are worn/carried -12 feet tall.
Still another family team makes woven sculpture out of reeds. They are intricate and beautiful and embedded with local food– tortillas, ears of corn, avocados with a beer bottle in the middle.
These last two processes are kept secret and can’t be photographed. They have been handed down from? and when?
Every family knows exactly what its family role has been since Indian times.
They look at us like we are nuts when we ask about events and their timing.
This is deep down community and family history. It comforts me. We individualistic Americans gain something and lose something. I know I hold on tightly to my own rather puny (in comparison) family traditions, like Christmas Eve food, for a reason. They are grounding and defining and don’t have to be explained. They are in the DNA. All of my distributed adult kids know what I will be doing at any one time on Christmas Eve. But will their kids? Probably not. This Mexican festival is more than family tradition. It is the glue of this community since before the lives of anyone celebrating it now.
Did I mention that there are perpetual fire crackers for the entire week?
Not little kid fire crackers, but deep gut wrenching explosions like big screen movie bass. I rest easily while I wince. The ritual comforts me.
We have been invited to be part of the pyrotechnic family. It is an honor.