We leave San Miguel today for the last dash to the border. It was another great winter here.
News flash! —- We have adopted a little dog – I hope this is as wise as I want it to be. A mestizo, to be sure, and we have named her Frida. The only druthers I have is the ultimate introduction of her to Belle, our cat. But Dale feels this should be possible. She is one of a litter we met last year here in San Miguel who belongs to the family (actually Maria) who owns the RV park where we always stay. I can only say that we noticed “Barbie”, her former given name, (you can appreciate why we decided to christen her otherwise) and have yinned and yanged over the whole dog owning dilemma. Suffice it to say we have an appointment with the vet at 9:00 this morning to get the papers which allow us to cross the borders. She is cute, full grown, small and muy tranquila – as Maria says. They are very responsible dog owners and I only hope I can live up to their standards.
Back to the travelogue. We managed to make SMA in time for La Fiesta del Señor de la Conquista – as loud, colourful, and high energy as ever. It is a dancefest like no other. Celebrated on the first Friday of March, it is something to behold. Put it on your “to do” list if you are ever in the vicinity. Here is a blurb I copied from the internet.
The small town of San Miguel de Allende seems at the first glance not to have any Indian traditions left, it seems totally mixed and also strongly influenced by all the foreigners who live there.
But there are actually still many feasts and ceremonies with an Indian origin and character left in the calendar of festivities. There are also several families and groups that carefully conserve them and who with pride claim an Indian extraction. It does also seem that many, under the strong pressure from foreign cultures, increasingly protect their own cultural heritage. Unfortunately, the Indian language that was earlier spoken in the area, otomi, was lost during the second half of the twentieth century.
One of these festivities is El Señor de la Conquista that is celebrated the first Friday in March. The feast has its origin in an event that took place in 1575. Two Spanish priests who were transporting a figure of Christ to San Miguel were attacked and killed by Chichimec Indians south of the village. The figure was later fetched by the villagers and has since been worshipped especially by the Indians in the area.
The feast is first observed, as is common in Indian societies, with a vigil on Thursday evening. This is carried out in the Indian homes where an offering is installed with images of Saints, crosses, flowers, incense and food. During the night ceremonies are performed with incense and bell ringing. Almost all night an orchestra plays on conchas (an Indian string instrument inspired by the guitars of the Spaniards, made out of the shell of an armadillo) and religious hymns, that also refer to the Indian origin, are sung. At the same time other participants manufacture bastones de mando (out of a certain cactus, cucharilla) and decorations for crosses that are used during the Conchero-dances the following day.
During the Thursday also other groups in the town prepare large stretcher-like wooden structures,parandes, up to some 2 x 8 meters in size that are decorated with embroidered cloths and flowers. Later large breads are fixed on el parande.
On Friday morning Concheros (a deeply religious dance company that only dances in and outside of churches, to the music of conchas) dance at one of the smaller churches in town and thereafter a mass is held. At night there is a procession by other dance companies (often called Aztecas) and with parandes to the main square, where the parandes are put up against the walls in one corner of the square.
The dance companies continue to dance on the main square during the Saturday (except the Concheros, they only dance in direct relation to a mass and then just outside of, or if the priests so permit, inside the church). As a symbol that the Indians are christened, los bastones de mando are placed at a cross outside the church at the main square.
Soooooooooooo “Todas las cosas buenas deben llegar a su fin.” Sad but true. However, the fall will come soon enough and Frida will be able to visit her relatives too. 🙂
Adios a todos.