And we thought last year’s Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Teotitlán del Valle was exceptional! It was, but, for blogger buddy Chris and me, this year brought even more warmth, appreciation, and the intangible of being present in the richness of more layers of being in this special village.
Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz
We are patrons of two of the danzantes of the 2016-18 Grupo de Danza de Pluma Promesa in Teotitlán del Valle — and Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz is one of them. As such, we were invited to the home he shares with his parents, Mario Ruiz Bautista and Victoria Ruiz, to partake in the traditions and observe the responsibilities that accompany taking on the three year commitment to being a member of the Grupo.
Mario Ruiz Bautista (on left) overseeing the offerings
From my albeit limited understanding, as part of the commitment the dancers make during their three years of service, each of their families is tasked with taking a turn hosting one of the four yearly festivals.
Victoria Ruiz watching Edgar’s dance
The day began with a breakfast of traditional breads and hot chocolate and was followed by Mole de Castilla, a mole unique to Teotitlán and served during weddings and the most important festivals. There must have been over 100 people, including Edgar’s extended family, padrinos, danzantes and their families, and band members. They gathered and were served in the courtyard of the Ruiz home, with men seated at one long table, women on the other side of the courtyard at another, and the two gringos seated with the danzantes in the altar room opening onto the courtyard.
Breakfast breads with hot chocolate
Following the meal, chairs and tables were folded and removed, the danzantes took the floor, the band began to play, and, as the sun streamed down on the courtyard, Edgar began his dance. It was a touching moment to see this young man, whom I’ve known for almost six years, since he was a gangling teenager, and Chris has known since he was a small boy, dance with such confidence and pride.
Following dances by the whole group, with band leading the way, dancers, families, and guests processed down the steep and winding streets from the house to the church.
Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz en route to the church, accompanied by Victoria (his mother) and his nephew.
They filed into the church, where a special mass was celebrated, and then regrouped in the church courtyard to begin the seven hour (más o menos) Danza de la Pluma. Early in the afternoon, while the dance continued, the families and invited guests returned to the Ruiz home, where the families of the other dancers each made formal presentations of baskets of fruit and mezcal or cervesa to Mario and Victoria. This was followed by a comida (lunch) of caldo de pollo. After all were fed, the offerings were loaded into pickup trucks to be taken to the church plaza, to later be shared with the community. At night, after the dance ended, we all again returned to Casa Ruiz for barbecoa de res (beef) in a rich and flavorful sauce, cervesas, mezcal, and soda pop. I can’t even begin to imagine all the work that went into preparing all the food, orchestrating its serving, and then washing all the dishes — by hand in basins set up in the yard across the street.
Edgar Daniel Ruiz Ruiz
It’s been over twenty four hours since Chris and I returned from Teotitlán del Valle and, though we talked continuously on the drive back to the city and have spoken several times since, we are still unable to put into words how meaningful and how honored we were to share this special day with Edgar, his family, and his community. It was a precious gift. ¡Muchisimas gracias a todos!
For more, see Chris’s blog post, A very special Dia de Virgen de Guadalupe.
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