San Miguel is a town always ready for a good time! Celebrations, festivals, parades, fireworks and “bombs” going off at all hours of the night and day are typical. With warm weather, plenty of places to eat outside and good friends it is hard not to be in a celebration of life mood.
May 27th was the first big parade we made it to since we moved down to San Miguel. It was close to the end of a huge indigenous celebration (Fiesta de la Santa Cruz del Valle del Maize) that went on for a week with festivities and fireworks. We have a great view from our upstairs terrace and could see all across to the Valle de Maize area where those celebrations were being held. We went to bed nightly watching their fireworks display from our bed. We would have liked to see more of the festival but somehow something always got in the way.
We are getting more settled in and will have to make sure we go into town a bit more at night and on the weekends. The weekends get really crowded in Centro with a large number of people coming in from Mexico City so we tend to avoid it a bit then. We will have to rectify that.
Back to the parade. We saw everything, the huge Mojigangas, (it seemed like all of them were out that day) people dressed up as soldiers and Chichimecas having their battles, men dressed as women, stilt walkers, and the Locos accompanied with loud festive music. The parade route was very long and hot and we were surprised at the amazing energy all the participants had even with their heavy costumes and face paint. One group was wearing a type of metal sandal that made noise and I can just imagine the blisters they had walking on the hard cobblestones and rocks. I got a terrible sun burn that took days to get rid of. Won’t do that again. Since we seem to hop in and out of the sun when we are out and about I really didn’t think of how intense it would be when just standing still for hours. But in the end, it was so worth it to see and be apart of this amazing day.
There is no end to celebrations and a fabulous Mardi Gras style parade just happened on the 17th of June. This one La Fiesta de Los Locos (or Crazy Party) was a huge crowd of merriment with 15,000 participants and over 100,000 observers lining the street. San Miguel only has about 160,000 inhabitants so that is quite a crowd that came out. The parade started when the surrounding area was full of orchards and the owners would invite their workers to come eat to enjoy the harvest. As too many spectators started to come the workers started wearing costumes and carrying dead animals to scare them away. Not wanting people to come is no longer the case. We are amazed at how so many people in San Miguel enjoy and participate in their festivals. It seems that every day or at least week there are festivities celebrating something, or sometimes any excuse that ends in a party.
The festival (Festividad de San Antonio de Padua) occurs every year in June and is in honor of St. Paschal and St. Anthony. It has gone on for more than 60 years. The parade starts with an anonymous man who is dressed up as an old woman. He has led the parade for the last 45 years and started when he was just 15 years old. Quite a feat!! What follows is music, floats, dancing and amazingly creative costumes that must take days to make and put together. Everyone in the parade (which lasts over 3 hours) threw out candy to the ones watching and at one time I had about 15 pieces thrown straight at my face which stung a bit but was all in good fun. There is a great photo of me with some of the Iliad men who pulled me out of the crowd. We were hyped up on all the good vibes being put out. Maybe that is one reason why San Miguel feels so special. Yes, there are definitely disparities with regards to incomes and the inhabitants, some quite drastic, but the festivals and free events happening throughout the the year seem to us very inclusive. Which is what it should all be about.
We were very lucky with the weather. The rains that have started for the year actually held off long enough for everyone to have a great time. A couple hours later they were torrential and lasted through the night. This is unusual for San Miguel. I remember, when Glenn lived here in 2005, the atmosphere would build during the day and then the tepid rains would come down full force for an hour or so. When done the sun would come out over the washed city and brighten the day again. We are definitely seeing the effects of global warming. The thunder and lightening storms are amazing though, we love watching them from our terrace and they are great to sleep to. However they can damper our desire to go out and we hope they aren’t like this for the entire rest of the season.
We are looking forward to the rest of the upcoming years events which include more parades, an International Film Festival, International Chamber Music Festival, Guitar festival, International Jazz and Blues Festival and so much more. We couldn’t be happier with the choice we made to make San Miguel our new home and we can’t wait to host family and friends.