Posts Tagged ‘Valle de Etla’

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…


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!


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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Yesterday, I opted for the smaller and more intimate Guelaguetza in the Villa de Etla, about 12 miles northwest of Oaxaca city.  As far as I could tell, seven of the eight regions of the state of Oaxaca were present; only the Sierra Sur was missing.  FYI:  In the photos below, I purposefully left out the Plume dancers, who represented the Valles Centrales, as you will find plenty of photos of the Danza de la Pluma in my postings from the Fiesta de Preciosa Sangre de Cristo in Teotitlán del Valle.  By the way, Chris at Oaxaca-The Year After posted a terrific Guelaguetza Guide to assist in identifying the regions of Oaxaca.  It’s in Spanish, but even a non-Spanish speaker can learn quite a bit.

On a more serious note… I was reminded today by a Oaxaqueña friend, Guelaguetza in the city of Oaxaca is controversial.  Tickets (available through TicketMaster, I might add) for reserved seating to the official performances on Cerro Fortín at the (newly renovated and hotly disputed) Guelaguetza Auditorium are beyond the reach of most Oaxaqueños, some events are sponsored by Coca Cola, hundreds of thousands of pesos of tax payer monies have been spent on the sound and light show (spectacular, as it is), nightly fireworks, bringing in celebrities, and slick, though often inaccurate, publicity.  All is geared (well, not the inaccuracies) toward tourists; a boon to the restaurants and hotels around the zócalo.  But…

Unfortunately, what is lost is that the Guelaguetza is supposed to be a celebration that brings together the extremely diverse indigenous communities, from the various regions of the state to share their crafts, food, dance.  It wasn’t supposed to be crass commercialism that caters to tourists and well-heeled locals, at the expense of peoples who originated the tradition.  And, my friend asked, along with admiring their costumes and colorful dances, wouldn’t a portion of the pesos be better spent attending to the real and extremely pressing needs of the poverty stricken indigenous communities, especially with regard to infrastructure and education?

However, yesterday in Etla, I caught, perhaps, a glimpse of the original meaning of Guelaguetza.  Admission was free and open to one and all.  Free tamales and beverages (alcoholic and non) were offered to the standing-room only crowd, along with the sombreros, baskets, fans, whisk brooms, tlayudas, and fruit that each of the delegations of dancers tossed to the audience at the end of their performances.  After it was over, fellow blogger Chris and I looked around and realized, we were probably the only gringo and gringa in attendance.  What an honor and privilege!

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