Posts Tagged ‘Chilacayota’

You know Semana Santa is on the horizon when tables, large and small, elaborately or minimally decorated, miraculously appear in doorways, street corners, and the Alcalá.  The common denominator is smiling people offering Agua de Jamaica, Horchata, Chilacayota, and even nieves to all passers-by.  Día de la Samaritana (Good Samaritan Day) is an only-in-Oaxaca, 4th Friday of Lent, event.

This year, besides experiencing the joyous mob scene on the Alcalá and the small sidewalk stands on side streets, on a tip from a friend, I made the “taking your life in your hands” crossing of Calzado de la República to the picturesque cobblestoned neighborhood of Jalatlaco.  Tables of aguas and nieves lined the plaza in front of the Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco and pastor Víctor Hernández was recounting the Biblical story, found in the Book of John, of the woman at the well who offered water to Jesus — the inspiration for Día de la Samaritana.  He concluded the story and blessing with the word “¡ataque!” and the masses did, indeed, attack the tables!  By the way, pastor Hernández gets around — he was the same priest who performs the yearly blessing of the animals across town at the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced.

It was a hot day and having already had two aguas, as I made my way over to Jalatlaco, I was jonesing for a nieve but, alas, by the time I figured out which table was serving it, the line was too long.  So, giving up on the nieve, I accepted another agua and headed towards home.  However, in the true spirit of the day, as I was melting in the heat, an older gentleman standing on the sidewalk asked if I would like a nieve and gestured toward a woman standing in the doorway behind a small table.  “Sí” I replied and a styrofoam coffee cup filled with Leche Quemada (my favorite) was thrust into my hand.  Another sublime day in Oaxaca…

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…and, Agua de Jamaica, Horchata, and Chilacayota to drink!  Yesterday, the 4th Friday of Lent, was Día de la Samaritana (Good Samaritan Day), an only in Oaxaca tradition.

Palm fronds hanging above; purple and multicolored garlands.

Inspired by the Biblical story, in the Book of John, of the woman at the well who offered water to Jesus, long tables and small stands laden with massive containers and plastic cups are set up on sidewalks throughout the city by schools, churches, and businesses.

Clay pots and palm fronds on top of purple tablecloth

These “water stations” are decorated in purple, the color of Lent, symbolizing penance and royalty.

Women serving aguas from clay pots

Crowds rapidly gather and wait to be served the agua of their choice and, despite hours of standing, ladling, and replenishing, all are served with a gracious smile and genuine joy.

Women in long huipil standing next to her table of aguas.

By early afternoon the Alcalá was a sea of people.

Crowd of heads and cups

This is definitely NOT a made for the tourist event.

Woman in indigenous dress serving an agua, man in foreground holding cup

This is Oaxaqueños practicing the sharing and hospitality that informs much of their culture.

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