by YONA C. RIEL

Sunday, January 30, 2011

San Miguel de Allende

    A lot happened in San Miguel de Allende on January 23rd.  Most importantly it was the birthday of Senor Ignacio Allende, the man who fought for Mexican independence in 1810 and who the town is partially named after.  I went down into El Jardin only to find a huge orchestra playing classical music.  This is not what I was expecting.  It was crowded and calm, the kids playing with their shadows in the church courtyard while their parents sat in the hundreds of chairs placed before the stage listening to Beethoven, Bach and other classical composers.
   Being at least half kid myself, I laid on the ground and shot the church making it look as if it was curved rather than straight and minus the cross on top.
       Skip forward two weeks and I am back in El Jardin, only this time it is around 5pm and it's still 80 degrees outside.   Most days the sky is an expanse of blue in every direction one looks.  Today however there are wispy little "cloud-letts" momentarily covering the sun. 
    It is Saturday afternoon and most the people sitting out here in El Jardin are hispanic.  They range from toddlers to teenagers to barely living 'little old ladies'.
    The toddlers are playing with simple toys as their parents watch close by.  The teenagers stroll in groups of either all girls or boys back and forth and around the boundaries of El Jardin.  The barely living little old ladies and men crawl from place to place propped up with canes or walkers. 
    A gringa who really wanted this man to look into the face of her camera for a few pesos had me feeling sorry for the old guy.  He just looked further down into his chest as she knelt in front of him trying to get a shot of his face.  The old man doing his best to ignore Ms. Gringa continued making his way across El Jardin until she finally abandoned her task.   
    A little girl with red tights and a black and white stripped dress ran out in front of me chasing a pigeon then got distracted by a 3 legged dog sitting with the gringa beside her and her parents. 
   Suddenly a Mariachi band starts up in the pizza restaurant to the east of the church and the family sitting next to me starts singing along with them.
  Just as suddenly the church bells start ringing letting all know it's 6pm.
  The minute the sun dropped out of the sky the temperature dropped too.  By 6:30 I was getting cold so I went into Starbucks to try and write this blog.  Technical difficulties made me move to an interesting restaurant around the corner called 'Los Milagros'.  It is filled with art, both large "milagros" and the three dimensional tin box art that I love.

    I ordered my usual house salad with chicken and a glass of white wine while listening to a lovely older man serenade the customers with Mexican songs.  After an hour I went back out to El Jardin and discovered both that it was dark and that I wasn't as cold as I had been the hour previous.  There was supposed to be a light show on the church at 9:15 pm and I didn't want to miss it.
    Once I was back outside there was a cacophony of different dramas taking place.  An entire group of 20 somethings were being entertained by a Mariachi band.  Many were singing along while one young man serenading the rest of the group with hilarious theatrical antics. 

    At the same time there was a group of young men competing with each other in a form of street dancing.   There is a video on my facebook page here:  (it is the first video you see called Jesus)

http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10150266245930078&id=723755077#!/ycriel

    Also happening in the cacophony of El Jardin on this warm Saturday night was a group of actors and singers doing silly songs.  You can see that video at the same link above only scroll down the page to the second video. 
    Lastly there is one more video on that page that shows the last 3 minutes of the light show on the church.  It was a spectacular display complete with gregorian music that overtook the cacophony of El Jardin for 15 whole minutes.
     This doesn't happen every night in El Jardin but this week in a religious holiday called "Candelaria".  Apparently after the virgin gave birth she was cleansed and rose up into the heavens with her virginity intact.  The festival de la Candelaria celebrates this with a week long plant sale in Pargue Juarez, the ringing of the church bells all over town and day long dances in El Jardin complete with 15 minute light shows at 9:15 every night.
   In Mexico it seems people love to come together to sing and dance...  yona c. riel
  

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