Saturday, October 16, 2010


Greetings from Oconahua!

I was so busy with my mom’s visit that I didn’t get a chance to post anything last week. We spent the first week of her visit living and working in Oconahua, then went to Guadalajara for the last few days. There were all sorts of interesting things going on in Guadalajara when we were there, and we took advantage of our time there to visit various attractions that one or both of us hadn’t been to before.

One of the interesting things that took place during our stay in Guadalajara was the Virgin of Zapopan’s holy day. This particular Virgin is a small idol that is said to have come from Spain and be made of corn husks. Her home is in the town of Zapopan, which is now a part of the city of Guadalajara. She spends much of the year out visiting other churches in the area, ending up at the Cathedral in downtown Guadalajara. Mom and I went to see her there on Monday, which was the day before her trip back home. The cathedral was full of people wanting to visit her before she made the trip. Most people just walked in and waited in the line to get up to the front to see her, but while we were there one woman was making the trip by walking on her knees. I’d seen that for pilgrimages to see the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City, but never in Guadalajara before. I’ve heard that sometimes people will travel their entire journey on their knees, but I’ve only seen people making the trip across the church yard or up the aisle that way.

On Tuesday morning, there was a big parade to move the Virgin to Zapopan. It is a big deal in Guadalajara—there were estimates that perhaps 2 million people would be lined up along the parade route. She begins her journey at sunrise, so by about 6am the festivities had started with church bells ringing, drums beating, and fire works being shot off. Mom and I didn’t make the trip to see the parade since Mom had to leave for the airport at 7. We did watch part of the parade on TV, though, as we were waiting for a cab to be able to make it through the traffic and closed streets to pick her up.

We did get to see a big parade on Saturday, though. My photos this week are from that parade. It was a parade to kick off the big annual October Festival that takes place in Guadalajara. This isn’t a German-inspired Octoberfest, but a celebration of the culture of Mexico and Jalisco (the state that Guadalajara is in). One photo is of some girls who I guess must represent country girls from the time of the Revolution? They are wearing some typical country costumes and dancing with prop rifles. I can’t imagine going an entire parade dancing in those boots, but there were some folks in the parade in even more improbable footware! The other photo is of some people dressed up in traditional Indian costumes. That’s not to say that it’s how the pre-Hispanic folks actually dressed, but it’s how they are traditionally depicted in modern times. You’ll find dancers dressed like this at in many parades, at touristy locations like the Zocalo in Mexico City, and at archaeological sites on the first day of spring (a traditional day to visit archaeological sites to pick up the good vibrations). Some of the costumes are very beautiful, and it’s fun to listen to the rattles around their ankles as the participants dance.

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