This week the city of Oaxaca celebrates her 485 birthday. Yes, we know she is older… However, we are talking the colonial city, here. And, despite her age, this birthday girl began the festivities by inviting the best cocineras from the eight regions of the state to cook for her citizens and visitors — from 1 PM until 9 PM — under the shade of a giant tent covering the Plaza de la Danza. (Not free, but quite reasonable.)
The food was riquísima (beyond delicious) and, while we were there, the guys from Santiago Juxtlahuaca in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, performed the Danza de los Rubios.
I returned home satisfied and sleepy, but the day wasn’t over. There was a calenda (parade) scheduled for 5 PM and a procession of “Gigantes” at 7 PM — route for the latter was unclear. I was hot, tired, and torn. To go, or not to go? That was the question. Thunder began rumbling and I figured my answer was to stay in for the evening. However, at 7:30 PM, when a the sounds of a procession came practically to my doorstep and not a drop of rain had fallen, I had to run out to join it.
The “Gigantes” were supposed to represent the giants of all time that Oaxaca has given to the world. Most were a mystery to me, though I think I saw Benito Juárez and maybe Porfirio Díaz (both Oaxaqueños) and I’m guessing the bunny is a nod to the alebrije wood carving and decorating tradition. In any case, it was great fun!
Just as the calenda reached the Plaza de la Danza, it began raining on this parade and everyone made a beeline for the cover of the Cocineras tent. I’m sure they will eat well! And the rain? It was probably the best birthday gift Mother Nature could bestow on Oaxaca’s parched earth and dusty sidewalks.
This was just day one of the anniversary festivities. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Oaxaca’s actual birthday and the church bells will begin chiming at 6:45 AM. So I’d better get to bed! By the way, the Encuentro de Cocineras Tradicionales de Oaxaca opens again at 1 PM tomorrow and lasts until 8 PM or whenever the food runs out. For a complete schedule of events, click HERE.