Festivities

Little girl staring

January 3, 2016 | Posted in Oaxaca | By

Almost every village in Mexico has an annual festival in honor of their patron saint. With so many villages and so many saints, it was inevitable to come across one of these festivities as we tour the country. As we were climbing into the mountains just before Oaxaca a guy with a camera flagged us down to ask about our trip. After chitchatting for a bit, he told us the town was having its festivities and invited us to come check it out and get in on the free dinner. He assured us that we could camp anywhere in the village. We deliberated a bit because we wanted to get to Oaxaca the next day, but that would be unlikely if we stopped here. Someone once gave us the travel advice to “always say yes” and we have tried to let that philosophy guide a lot of our decisions.

We ducked under the edge of a huge green tent and were faced with a sea of picnic tables filled with locals. No other gringos were in sight. Our patron sat us down and then went off to continue his filming of the event.

Festival dinner tent

We were each given a massive bag of flour tortillas, which is strange because most tortillas south of Sonora are corn. They were wide, flat and a bit tough, but I liked them. We were told, with a smile, that we must take what we don’t eat with us or the Majordomo, who is throwing the party, would think we don’t like them and would be sad.

Our neighbors were a bit shy and standoffish at first and we were feeling a bit weird about being there. I finally asked what was going on and they opened up and became very friendly. Unfortunately they were already finished with their dinner and when they left new people came and ignored us. I again asked what was going on and started talking with the woman to my left. Eventually the guys to my right became really chatty and one said he was sorry, but he thought we didn’t speak Spanish.

Mole dinner

More like a garbage bag of tortillas. I don’t eat meat anymore, with an exception if someone on my travels invites me in and puts food in front of me. Chicken in a mole BBQ sauce. Mole is a traditional Oaxacan sauce made with chile and chocolate, among other things.

I was confused about this Majordomo character. My first inclination was that he might be a local narco boss trying to play the patron or some rich landowner, but then we found out that it was several old guys. I couldn’t get a clear picture of who they were though. I looked up the term and found out that the Majordomo is typically someone that runs a company or an estate for an absentee landlord, which doesn’t really clear anything up.

Dinner band

Every now and then the band would pipe in some quick tunes.

Pelota Mixteca with a view

There was a match of the ancient pelota mixteca in a stunning setting. The heavy rubber ball would put a dent in the noggin of the inattentive.

Band procession under the town arch

A band and procession came out to the highway and marched back to the arena, presumably to announce the start of the rodeo.

The rodeo, or jalipero, eventually began after seemingly endless formalities. A lot of the bulls were somewhat weaksauce though and just ran for the door and hung out over there. I’m not sure how you choose a winner in that kind of situation.

Mexican rodeo announcer with a USA flag shirt

We were bemused by the Mexican wearing the “freedom” shirt to officiate an event that has its roots in Mexico.

Guy getting tossed on his melon from the bull

The bull wins this round.

Little girl staring

This little one couldn’t keep her eyes off Brandy.

Rodeo in process

I’ll throw you, jag-off!

Bull gives up

Meh, never mind.

Bull gives up

Another bum bull

We were touched once again by the kindness and trust we received when a local family that runs a roadside tent store offered for us to sleep in the building where they store their stock.

Despite all the action going on, we managed to get to bed early and had an early start the next day. We spent most of the day winding around along a ridge on a nearly empty road with spectacular views in both directions. Then we had a glorious downhill into the central valley of Oaxaca and got onto some nice dirt roads.

Sheep running along the road

A ride is only considered a success if there is livestock in the road.

Lewis fording a creek

Double success if you get to ford a waterway!

Bright pink and white church

A cute church high in the hills

Colorful stores look like a collage

Brandy riding a dirt road with mountains in the distance

Brandy enjoying the dirt riding

Brandy on the bridge above the cuota

We had spent quite a bit of time considering if we should take the mountain route that added 25 miles and 900 feet of climbing. Not at one point on our ride did we question if we’d made the right decision. As we crossed the cuota I had a bit of a surreal vision of ourselves cycling by in the parallel universe where we took the shortcut. Maybe that blurry splotch is those ghosts.

We considered getting a hotel as it got dark, but could only find those sleazy auto hotels where you can take your mistress without fear of anyone seeing your car as it hides behind your private garage curtain. We weren’t too far out and rode the last few miles in the dark along a nasty canal with bugs pummeling our faces. We were exhausted when we got in, but scored a psychological victory with our longest day since we got back to Mexico.

Lewis & bike over a nice view

Did you really think I wasn’t going to show you any of the views?

Brandy & bike over great view

Brandy looks much better here.

Dirt road and homes on a ridge below

So many little dirt roads we’ll never explore…

Brandy rides next to a great view

It’s like this on both sides.

Lewis rides around a nice curve with a stunning view of endless mountaintops in front

And in front.

Brandy rides with a stunning view of endless mountaintops in front

Lewis riding down a big hill with great views

Coming down from the ridge

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