Posts Tagged ‘fireworks’

I returned to Teotitlán del Valle late Friday afternoon to view the convite of of unmarried women of the village and Grupo de la Danza de la Pluma 2019-2021 danzantes (dancers) process through town — an invitation to further festivities honoring La Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Though that wasn’t the only activity on my agenda; I would be spending the weekend with my amiga K, who was house-sitting for another amiga N. It would be a weekend in the countryside for this city gal!

I arrived late afternoon on Friday…

Canastas (baskets) lined up in front awaiting the procession under the gaze of the sacred mountain, El Picacho.

Grupo de Promesa de la Danza de Pluma 2019-21 arriving in front of the church, waiting to process.

Guys who launch the cohetes (all bang, no bling rockets) announcing the procession.

The convite begins — unmarried women of Teotitlán del Valle carrying the aforementioned canastas (baskets).

After the convite, an early evening encounter with a burro as mi amiga K and I walked to Restaurante y Galería Tierra Antigua .


Early morning view of the campo in Teotitlán del Valle.

Breakfast gathering of cocineras (cooks) and friends in the cocina de humo at Restaurante y Galería Tierra Antigua.

Encounter with a bull while walking back to the house.

Returning to the church to watch the late afternoon performance of the Danza de la Pluma.

Following the Danza de la Pluma, late night watching the toritos, castillo, and fireworks in front of the church.


During mass, shopping baskets parked in the church atrium.

Off to market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros. The upside down St. Peter encountered in the Señor de Tlacolula chapel.

Taekwondo competition in front of the municipal buildings in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Returning to Teotitlán del Valle, still life in front of the sacred mountain, El Picacho, seen while walking back to the church in the afternoon.

Final Danza de la Pluma performance in the church atrium at the 2019 Fiesta de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.

It was a lively, delicious, and exhausting weekend. Did I mention, I walked an average of 4.5 miles per day?  Wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Muchisimas gracias to all who made it an unforgettable weekend!

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Today is the culmination of the ten days of festivities celebrating El Señor del Rayo — an only-in-Oaxaca observance.  Early Saturday evening, on my way to an event at the Museo Textil, I ran into a calenda (parade) of his.  I was going in the opposite direction and felt like I was swimming upstream.  What to do?  Stop, take a few photos, and enjoy the music and dancing until it passed by, of course!

El Señor del Rayo is a wood-carved Christ on the Cross figure that was brought from Spain in the 16th century, a gift to Oaxaca from Charles V.  The image was placed in the temple of San Juan de Dios, a church with adobe walls and a straw (or possibly wood) roof.  According to religious lore, lightning struck the church and everything was destroyed, save for this figurine.  A miracle!  The statue became known as El Señor del Rayo (the Lord of Lightning), was given his own chapel (the furthest capilla from the main entrance on the left) in the newly built Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, and has been much venerated ever since.

El Señor has a body double as the original, given it’s importance and value, remains behind glass in his chapel (first photo above).  Today, the line of faithful waiting to worship him stretched into the aisle leading to his chapel.  Restoration work was done on his replica earlier this year, but it is back on the main altar and available to travel through the streets during this afternoon’s procession, along with the estandartes (religious banners) currently leaning up against the inner walls of the Cathedral.

Tonight, like all good Oaxaca celebrations, be they religious or secular, there will be pirotécnicos — fireworks and all things pyrotechnic, including a castillo.  For the uninitiated, a castillo is a multi-story erector set like structure with moving parts that is wired with colorful explosive charges.  Another noisy night in Oaxaca!

By the way, in previous years, the inside of the Cathedral was festooned from bottom to top with lilies — greeting all who enter with Divine beauty and fragrance.  However, this year there are many fewer floral decorations and no lilies.  I’m wondering if the lily-growing region was affected by the hurricanes and/or earthquakes….

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Festival fireworks in Oaxaca are usually 3-part affairs, consisting of toritos (little bulls) and/or canastas (baskets) wired with fireworks and worn on top of the head by daring-do guys (toritos) and gals (canastas).  This is followed by a castillo (castle) and then the more familiar rockets-exploding-in-the-sky fireworks most of us have craned our necks and oooh-ed and ahhh-ed over since childhood.  Sometimes the order of the latter two is reversed.

The subject of today’s blog post is the castillo that was constructed and executed this past Saturday by “los maestros pirotécnicos los C. Rigoberto y Dagoberto Morales” for the festival in honor of the  Santisima Virgen del Rosario (Sainted Virgin of the Rosary) in Teotitlán del Valle.  They and their crew went about the business of constructing and wiring this “Erector Set” type castillo out of wood and carrizo in the church courtyard.

I couldn’t resist playing with the saturation on this photo.  In my mind’s eye, this is the way it looked.IMG_9957satAnd, de-saturating this one against the backdrop of El Picacho, the sacred mountain that watches over the village.IMG_9994b&wThe result of the work by these maestros and their crew?  A spectacular castillo, accompanied by the band, Herencia Musical.  It was quite a show!!!

And, if you want to see some inside action from a torito, check out the video Chris made, Torito Danza – Dancing with Fireworks.  He actually attached a POV (Point of View) camera to the torito!!!

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If you want an up close and personal fireworks experience, come to Oaxaca.  Of course, there are no guarantees you won’t find yourself in the line of fire.  No barricades, no yellow caution tape, no police!  I’ve seen hair singed, had a friend get pinhole burns on the inside of his glasses, and last night a projectile came careening toward us and had me ducking for cover.  However, as the saying goes, “no harm, no foul” and the spectacle was espectacular!

P1100852 cropIt began with 45+ minutes of the quema de toritos and angelitos.

They were followed by a spectacular castillo, a “firefall,” and traditional fireworks exploding against a clear black sky.

P1100930Late Tuesday night during this week’s fiesta honoring la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.  It was a fabulous — well worth spending the night in Teotitlán and staying up way past my bedtime!

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As promised, the fireworks on Sunday night at Templo del Carmen Alto celebrating Señor de Esquipulas were, indeed, espectacular!  But, you may be asking, “Who is he and why does he deserve such celebration and veneration?”

Esquipulas refers to a town in Guatemala where, prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the peoples of Mesoamerica worshiped the god Ek Chua.  After the Conquest, in 1594, Quirio Cataño was commissioned to carve a sculpture of Jesus on the cross for Esquipulas.  Legend has it that Cataño used dark wood so that it looked more like the indigenous residents of the area.  Another version of the story has the sculpture turning dark overnight to “please the children from the village of Esquipulas.”  However, during a recent restoration of the image it was determined that it was centuries of smoke from candles and being touched by the faithful that turned the original light wood, dark.

Señor de Esquipulas during the Procession of Silence, Good Friday 2013

Señor de Esquipulas from Templo Carmen Alto, Oaxaca — Procession of Silence, Good Friday 2013

Various miracles have been attributed to Señor de Esquipulas and pilgrims descend on the small Guatemalan village from Central America and Mexico to venerate the Black Christ.  He has a long reach and replicas have been commissioned in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, and even as far away as Venezuela for the faithful to worship.

I’m not sure how Carmen Alto in Oaxaca came to house a Señor de Esquipulas, but it does and they go all out celebrating.  Processions and special masses have been held during the week.  However, the big festival day is January 19 and it began with early morning rockets at 6 AM — Alegres mañanitas in honor of the Señor de Esquipulas.   The eucharist was celebrated at 7 AM, 8 AM, and 12 PM — the latter “For the peace of the world and for all the infirmed.”  Cultural events were held during the day and there was another eucharist at 7 PM.  Following the evening eucharist, Señor de Esquipulas was carried through the streets of the parish, accompanied by a band, monos, and believers.

Once they returned to Carmen Alto’s courtyard, it was “torito” time.  The little bull holding up part of the castillo-under-construction in my last blog post, was ready to take center stage.  Encircled by a brave crowd, for twenty to thirty minutes he danced and ran around the plaza spewing sparks at those in the line of fire.

Next up was two castillos, multi-story structures wired for a major sensory experience — light, sound, and much welcome heat, on a chilly night.  Peace seemed to be a theme this year, with wheel appendages spelling out, “Violence no more” and “All united for peace.”  This year there was even a prerecorded soundtrack.  A young couple, on a cycling trip from Vancouver to Argentina, recognized it as music from a movie that I hadn’t heard of — however, they seemed quite surprised and delighted.

The flaming tops of each castillo eventually spun off into the night, as a fabulous fireworks display lit up the sky.

The show put on for Señor de Esquipulas was spectacular!

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Beware, anyone in the vicinity of Carmen Alto church tonight…

There’s going to be some major fireworks!!!

Oaxaca is celebrating the Black Christ, Señor de Esquipulas.

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And so, Guelaguetza 2013 ended last night in an explosion of fireworks from Cerro del Fortín…

Not a bad view from Casita Colibrí!

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Today, Oaxaca’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, is having her day.  Well, that’s not quite accurate, as she has been enjoying ten days of celebrations.  However, December 18 is THE Día de la Festividad.  So, no surprise, last night around 10:30, from the plaza of the Basílica de la Soledad, the booms and bangs of fireworks and crackles and hisses of a castillo, sounded to herald the upcoming day.

Only a block (as the crow flies) from the action, how lucky am I to have a ringside seat??!!!

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Tonight, instead of candles…

Fireworks blossom

Fuegos artificiales exploded from the Alameda de León…

Fireworks blossom

As Oaxaca celebrated her 480th birthday!


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It’s been a week since the end of Semana Santa and I’m still sorting through photos and videos and reflecting on impressions and feelings.  However, I’m finding that, with too much thinking, the experience slips through the fingers and the magic vanishes.

Thus, I give you the night of Pascuas (Easter) at Carmen Alto…

And then, the hisses, bangs, and brilliant explosions of a castillo…

Flaming castillo

brought Semana Santa to a spectacular close.

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As I mentioned a few days ago, El Grito and Mexican Independence Day are coming and, besides flags and green, white and red decorations, it also means parades and fuegos artificiales (fireworks).   The latter will, no doubt be grand and, if last year is any indication, the rooftop with have a ringside view.

In anticipation, I thought I’d share a video from the rooftop of the nightly fireworks during July’s Sinfonía de Luz y Sonido throughout this year’s Guelaguetza.

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Saturday night’s full moon wasn’t the only activity in the night sky.

Major celebrating had been going on in the Plaza de la Danza since early morning… flinchers (all boom, no sparkle), bells of Templo de San José clanging every hour, and live music.

At 9 PM, I heard the unmistakable hisses and pops from a castillo.  Turning my attention from looking east at the moon, I turned west and saw…

Castillo at Plaza de la Danza

Debris began raining down on Casita Colibrí and I retreated under the tin roof.  Sunday morning’s evidence on the terrace told the story…

Debris from castillo

… and sheesh, it was plastic!!!

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