Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is the party over yet? Please??!!

It is party time in La Penita! Fireworks! Every night about midnight, every morning at 4:30 a.m. on the dot (yes, that is A.M., as in 0 dark thirty), and all times in between. Tonight we were once again at Xaltemba just off the plaza, and the thundering booms and gunshot cracks made it hard to have a dinner conversation. Do our neighbors across the estero know how to party or what?

There's a reason for these fireworks and concerts. Oh yes. There are concerts. At the bull ring, the bull ring which has never seen a bullfight, but has seen lots of enthusiastic banda groups. Banda is a particularly dissonant type of music which relies mostly on drums and trumpets and great big electric amplifiers. The groups usually start around ten o'clock or so and really get rocking about midnight. As I write this in our bedroom about a half hour past midnight, ceiling fans spinning madly and air conditioner humming along, I can hear the music loud and clear. But as I was saying....

The reason for these celebrations is that little straw virgin back in the mountains. Nuestra Virgen del Rosario de Talpa. Turns out SHE is the official virgin of La Penita, and they celebrate her festival NOW, following the big holiday week that kicked off the month of May: Children's Day, Labor Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day. That was the first ten days of the month. Now we've had eight full days of Virgin festivities.
During this week there has been a huge banner across the front of the church off the central plaza welcoming her and her bishop to town. She's installed over the altar, and dear Guadalupe has been relegated to the sidelines. She's over there off to the left in the photo above, halfway hiding behind the large pink banner. The church in La Penita has to be one of the ugliest unfinished buildings in all of Mexico, but it is exuberantly adorned for these feast days, which are exuberantly celebrated. Twice this weekend we've found ourselves in the middle of all the exuberance. It was fun, but a little overwhelming.

Friday we went to dinner at Xaltemba with friends from the States. We got there just in time for a parade, up close and personal. Kids from the neighborhood dressed in these strange costumes that I'd like to know more about. They are much like the ones I saw in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, last March.

Later that night -- after obligatory fireworks -- there was a big dance on the plaza and a cockfight. (No, I didn't watch, so don't look for photos.) This amongst the vendors, tilt-a-whirl, ferris wheel and merry-go-round that have been installed there all week. And there's more of the same tonight -- which I THINK is the last hurrah. Hey it's Sunday. Someone's got to go to work sometime, right?

And someone -- namely me -- has got to go to bed. The music's stopped!!! I'm headed to the island tomorrow morning. First time to explore that big half a hairy coconut chunk of land about a mile or so off shore. Tell you all about it .....later.

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