Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Trip – Part Six, The Fiesta

The big day is here. I awaken to what sounds like a live band outside our bedroom. I take a peek. Holy cow! It is a live band outside our bedroom! Or not far away. They’ve come from the path that leads from the road and they’re headed to the big tent on the other side of the house.

We have breakfast at about 8:30. Or they do. I don’t. Breakfast consists of more of the bread and a soup – a soup with meat. I drink a cup of hot chocolate made from freshly ground chocolate beans.

At about 11:00, mom and I walk to the church. We get there just before the Mass starts. People are standing at the doorway but we had no intention of attending. We’ve fallen deep into the abyss of the irretrievable Catholics. Or at least I have. I won’t speak for her. I’m just there to shoot video and photos.

While the service goes on we wait in a shady spot across the street. When the service ends, I shoot video of the musicians and our retreat back to the ranch.  In the video below, note the palm crowns fringing the doorway of the church.

Of all the songs the band played that day, the one in the video below is my favorite.  It's downright dour but creates an atmosphere that is both circus-like and funereal at the same time - not the most exciting video in the world, but atmospheric.  You don't have to watch the whole thing.  I have to take that tutorial on editing: 

The video below may be only of interest to my family.  No one else should feel obligated to watch.  But you do get a sense of walking through that territory.   And when I ask my mom if she wants a crown, I am referring to the stack of plastic tiaras that are for sale at the little stand.  Except, for some reason, I don't bother to focus the camera on the stack of tiaras.  This whole video thing is new to me . . .

Once we've returned to the ranch, we settle in at one of the long tables in the shade of the old Ash tree. Mom is greeted by cousin after cousin and a series of old friends from her past, none of whom she recognizes. This happens every time we visit but especially today.

The musicians, who have returned from the church, settle into their seats. I shoot more video.

We are brought a meal of quesadillas – made just for us. They are delicious and my first meal of the day. That’s at about 1:00. I take pictures of the many cousins.

At 2:15 Jorge offers tequila to the musicians. It seems they all decline. Musicians here must be different than the ones I know. I am the first seated behind the band. When Jorge comes my way, I happily accept the tequila. I don’t see anyone else drinking it. That’s ok. I drink it straight with lime and salt.

I wait for it to kick in but it never really does. Or maybe it does, but just a tiny bit.

 Jorge, offering a bottle of Corona this time, not tequila

At 3:30 the Mezcal comes around. Maybe this will hit.

That morning, I’m once again looking for a trash can to dispose of a paper napkin. I can’t find one and everyone is busy. I go into the kitchen where there’s always been a wastebasket under the sink. The room is dark, but I see them on the table – the chickens – headless and denuded, lying on their backs. I immediately leave, still clutching the napkin.

I see no chickens in the yard, only in the soup. So this is why the long car trip yesterday. It was a distraction from the slaughter of the chickens.

I appreciate their being sensitive to my sensibility. Who knows how I appear to them. Probably as too delicate. Probably as silly. Always reading something. Always writing something. Finicky. Afraid of spiders. Very afraid of spiders. They must think we’re a weak lot here in Los Estados Unidos.

I don’t judge them for eating chickens. I have less tolerance for those here who should know better. I have less tolerance for those who know the conditions of factory farming and still eat them. At least these chickens had some room to scratch around in. At least these chickens got to keep their beaks.

Years ago I was seated next to a woman who was with Doctors Without Borders. When my vegetarian meal was delivered she mentioned that it was a great luxury to choose to be a vegetarian. She said that most of the world didn’t have the choice of not eating meat – that they ate whatever they could.

I should have answered that it was a great luxury to choose to eat meat. I didn’t but I should have. I doubt most of the world has the choice and it seems to me that the choice to grow food animals uses up a lot resources that might otherwise have been spent creating plant foods that would have fed a lot more people with less environmental damage. I should have said that but I didn’t.

A side observation

In Mexico dogs are treated like animals. Where I live, dogs are treated like favored children. I once saw a woman in a store with a sling on her chest, maybe a Bjorn thing. As she approached, I wondered what breed of tiny dog she carried. I was shocked to see a baby in the sling, an actual human baby. It was only a second after that I realized how ridiculous, how perverse my shock was – but I just don’t see that many babies. My relatives here would be shocked to see the tiny dresses and jeweled collars sold for our dog children. If I had a dog, I’d be tempted to dress her (against K’s wishes).  I love that my cat once returned from the groomer wearing a pink bandana around her neck and a bow on her head.

I think my Mexican relatives regard it was a sin to elevate animals to human level. Maybe it’s a sin to degrade animals by dressing them in sailor suits and princess dresses. I can’t believe it’s a sin to love them as children.

I go for a walk

I can't take any more music.  I decide to walk back to where the vendors were.  My aunt wants picures of the winner of the jaripeo.  I don't really know if that's the word.  I've never seen it, never heard of it before today.  But it's a rodeo-like event where men ride on these poor bulls that don't want to be ridden. 

When I get there, I see that my cousin Hector is already shooting video:

Good, if I stay much longer, PETA will revoke my membership:

I can't take it here anymore.  I leave.  I go back to face the music.

Sunday still – and then we danced

The band that arrived at 8:30 in the morning was still there at 8:30 at night. And at 9:30. I’d gone off to my room a little after 10 when I’d received word that my aunt wanted me to takes pictures of the dancing. The band played on.

I danced with Hector and also with a man I was told was El Presidente. I don’t really know what he was the Presidente of, but he seemed like a nice man. He asked me to dance a second time but I had to decline. The songs are too long and I found the dancing tiring. Plus I didn’t get it. Not my thing. I actually received a few more invitations but declined all the rest. Who knew how popular I would be here? Must be the thrill of the exotic.

I saw my cousin Raquel watching from the kitchen. I went in to keep her company. We talked but I don’t remember what about.  With my spare Spanish skills, I'm sure it was nothing in depth.

Finally, the band packs up and leaves. It seems that I hear what is threatened to be the last song for about 5 songs in a row. It’s been a long night. I go to bed. My mother goes to bed. The rest of them stay up and do whatever it is that still needs to be done.

Next – We say our good-byes


Beatnheart said...

Thank you for your visit and kind comment. I am sorry but I have not been following your story...I read today’s post and really enjoyed it, so I will go back and read the rest. The music basically sounds dour because the truth is they are not very good so the tempo is all over the joint, but it was interesting none the less. Thanks again for coming by. cynthia

NV said...

Wow! I am loving your stories from this trip. You need to make them into a documentary.

Thanks for the reminder of how different the American culture is. I am always amazed at how surprised I am when I hear someone from somewhere else point it out. It is definitely a mix of both good and bad. (Views on diet, animals -- both domestic and otherwise).

I love the "abyss of irretrievable Catholics!" I think I've been there for the last 20+years.

And it's so cool that you are making this adventure with your mom. :-)

Why S? said...

Cynthia - thank you for visiting The Hill. No, the musicians are not good at all. Is it the tempo or that everything seems a bit flat? I don't know, but I did like the drunken clown sound of that one piece. It suggested funny and tragic at the same time. The rest of the music, not so much. Actually, by mid-afternoon, I wanted to pull my hair out.

NV - thanks. I have a friend here who thinks it should be a TV series. A lot of things in my life should be a TV series but I don't think this is one of them.

brismod said...

Your trip is so interesting. You realise how very different cultures are when you are immersed like you were with your family's day-to-day life. But I guess you don't have to like everything about that culture either...