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Posts Tagged ‘comparsa’

Looking back, in black and white…

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Magna Comparsa Oaxaca through the streets of the city on October 28, 2017.

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Last night, throughout the streets of the city, the living began welcoming the dead.

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Like the Guelaguetza desfile of delegations, Oaxaqueños and tourists (foreign and domestic) crowded the sidewalks along the Magna Comparsa Oaxaca 2017 route — from the Cruz de Piedra, down García Vigil, left on Allende, right on Macedonio Alcalá, right on Independencia, and into the Alameda.

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With bands leading the way, catrinas in regional dress and dancers in traditional muerteada attire whirled and twirled, high-stepped and jumped, and moved and grooved their way through the streets.

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With earthquakes and hurricanes and now the resumption of the zócalo plantón (occupation) and bloqueos (blocades) of roads into and out of the city by Sección XXII of the teachers’ union and their allies, Oaxaca and Oaxaqueños needed to party-down in joyous abandon — and they did!

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Día de Muertos observances are different in the indigenous villages — the mood is more formal and each village has customs and rituals that tradition dictates must be followed.  But the bottom line in ciudad and pueblo is to provide a welcome worthy of both the living and the dead.  The celebrations have only just begun…

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If it’s November 2nd, it must be morning muerteada madness in San Agustín Etla .  A few faces in the crowd from the Barrio San José contingent…

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These guys had been dancing through the streets all night.  Cervesa seemed to be the beverage of choice this morning, though, bottles of clear liquid was also being passed around — and I’m sure it wasn’t  water!

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Had to snap this guy — not only was his makeup gory and great, he topped it off with a San Francisco 49er cap.

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And, then there was this boy…  As with all the traditions here, children observe, learn, and participate at a very young age.

 

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The souls  have departed.   And, following 33 hours of travel, my BFF (along with her alebrijes by Alberto Perez and the Xuana family, a traditional black and white rebozo, bottle of Del Maguey mezcal from Chichicapa, several bags of Conchita chocolate, and a fabulous mohair rug woven by Antonio Ruíz Gonzalez), has returned home to the frigid climes of Alaska.  However, gal pal, souls, and the mortals with whom we shared the past, have left warm and lasting memories.  They have also left an exhausted gringa, whose brain feels like one of those overloaded small trucks one (more than occasionally) sees on the roads here.  With every nook and cranny filled, they move at a snail’s pace, be it along a pot-holed dirt road or the carretera, balancing their top-heavy loads.

Our week began on October 29, when the sounds of a band Pied Piper-ed us down the street and around a corner to a comparsa of high school students, who were taking part in a competition of using recycled products for their costumes and floats.  Alas, the rains came and eventually chased us home.

On October 30, delectable dining (lunch at La Biznaga and dinner at Los Danzantes) nourished multiple museum visits and allowed us to join the standing-room-only crowd at the Oaxaca Lending Library (without rumbling stomachs) to watch the wonderful new documentary, La Festividad de los Muertos, chronicling Day of the Dead in Teotitlán del Valle.

Then there was Thursday, the 31st….  A shopping expedition for flowers, sugar skulls, bread (pan de muertos), and two 10-foot long stalks of sugar cane to form the arch over my altar.  I carried them the 10-blocks home on my shoulder (sheesh, they are heavy) and carefully navigating the busy sidewalks.  According to BFF, I provided pedestrians and passengers in buses,cars, and taxis much entertainment.  I didn’t see a thing — I was just trying not to trip, fall, or whack anyone in front, behind, or to the sides of me!

Once the candles, photos, bread, chocolate, beverages (cervesa, mezcal, and water), and meaningful objects to our departed were in place; flowers arranged and cempasuchitl (marigold) petals scattered; and the arching sugar cane affixed to the wall surrounding our ofrenda, we made our way down to the beginning of the CEDART comparsa.

Later in the evening, we drove up to the panteón in Santa María Atzompa.  Passing the bright lights and crush of food, flower, pottery, and other vendors that line the entrance and finally emerging from under the arched gateway, the candlelit ethereal beauty of the cemetery on this night never ceases to take my breath away.  Of course, it wasn’t all exquisite and unearthly enchantment.  This is Mexico and so there was also a (very loud) band and the cervesa and mezcal flowed freely.  I’m sure the difuntos (deceased) enjoyed themselves and partied hardy with the living until the sun rose.  And then all slept.

On the other hand, we left at a reasonable hour, as we were only at the mid-point of our Día de los Muertos marathon.  More to come…

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It’s been a magnificent Muertos filled with memorable moments and special people, along with a feast for ALL the senses.  An initial pass through the photos has weeded them down to 450.  Yikes!  Lots more weeding and processing to do.  In the meantime, here is a snapshot from the past 5 days.

And the magic continues today, when we return to San Antonino Castillo Velasco.

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Cempasuchitl, catrinas, and comparsas.  El día de los muertos is coming…

Mural at the corner of Aldama and Hidalgo in Barrio de Jalatlaco.

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You might well ask, “What is a muerteada?”  It is a comparsa (parade) that is part of traditional Día de los Muertos celebrations particular to the state of Oaxaca.  According to the book, Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca, the muerteada allows the dead “to ‘occupy’ a living body, either a muerteada participant or an audience member, for a time, and therefore enjoy the entertainment directly rather than vicariously.”

Like Commedia dell’Arte, there are stock characters — in this case, the happy widow, the dying or dead husband, the father of the widow, a doctor, a priest, a shaman, people dressed like death, devils, and las lloronas (weeping women).  However, unlike Commedia dell’Arte, in the muerteada men play all the roles.

Last year we joined the Vista Hermosa, Etla murteado.  However, this year blogger buddy Chris decided I was ready for the big time — the “battle of the bands” when the muerteadas of San Agustín Etla and Barrio San José meet — Banda Tromba Sinaloense for San Agustín and MonteVerde Banda for San José.  FYI:  This is after participants and their bands have danced their way up and down the hills of their respective neighborhoods all night long, stopping at designated houses for food and drink — mezcal and cervesas seemed to be the beverage of choice, especially among the men!

So, early on the Nov. 2, we went in search of the San Agustín contingent, we found them, joined in the merriment, were offered food and drink along the way, and eventually came to the crossroad where mania turned to mayhem, albeit organized mayhem — courtesy of the white-shirted security for San Agustín and red-shirted security for San José.  They kept the dancers and supporters from each side apart, leaving the face-off to the two bands.  It was wild!!!  After 20+ minutes of battling bands, it was over and we and the San Agustín contingent trudged back up the hill.

You may have spotted a tall silver-haired gringo right in the middle of the action in one or two of the photos, that would be Chris.  Be sure to check out the video he put together of all the madness.

According to Organizing Committee President, Alfredo Erick Pérez, the muerteada in San Agustín Etla dates back to the 1800s, possibly to the days of Mexican President Porfirio Díaz.

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A little craziness from the November 2, 2011 comparsa in Vista Hermosa…

Muchisimas gracias to all my readers.  Thank you for stopping by, your perceptive comments, and your encouragement.  Peace and joy in 2012, if not in the world, at least in your heart!

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And then there were the impossibly cute kids taking part in the comparsa…

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… to the fabulously fabulous and ridiculous; a traditional comparsa on the morning of November 2, 2011.  After hiking up to the top of the hill in Vista Hermosa (beautiful view), Etla, following the sound of music, a surreal sight unfolded…

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We tagged along with the band, dancers, and their friends and neighbors, up and down the hills, navigating steep dirt paths, as they played, danced, drank mezcal, and stopped in front yards for much-needed rest and refreshments of caldo de pollo (chicken soup), pan de muerto (Days of the Dead bread), and mezcal… of course!

By the way, did I mention, these guys and (one) gal, had been playing and dancing all night long?!!

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