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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.