Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Where fiestas erupt all the time

(We briefly interrupt the series of postcards from Budapest with breaking news from Oaxaca.)

Out for a stroll last evening with no room for dinner after a major lunch at La Biznaga, I requested a route that would pass by the front of the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad. The Mister was not fooled. My real mission was the Plaza Socrates in front of the basilica, home to a dozen ice cream vendors.

But, before I could even begin to ponder the flavor options, music erupted on the street below. Brass bands and dancers with floral arrangements crowning their heads were gathering for one the city’s numerous exuberant processions, Las Calendas, to call out townspeople to celebrate, usually in advance of a saint’s day. This one appears to be a warm-up for the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary, El Día de la Asunción de María, on August 15.

The festive dancers, fearless as castillos showered sparks around them, gigantes or mermotas, stilt-walkers, a truckload of little angels and the woman in blue bearing extra rockets and castillos to set off every couple of blocks completely distracted me from my original mission.

I shall return to both the delayed delivery of postcards from Budapest and to Plaza Socrates another day.

That leaves me time to ponder whether I want to order rose or chocolate-chile ice cream. Those wouldn’t pair well in one dish, would they?

Postcard from Campeche, Mexico: Sunday Night Sounds

Brrrrr…. The woman playing the guiro in the Campeche State Charanga Band, a brass band, one Sunday night in January expressed her surprise at how cold it was. Campeche is normally so temperate. This particular evening the temperature had plunged down to a frigid 65 degrees.

The mild climate means the Sunday night musical concerts on Campeche’s main plaza rarely need to be cancelled. We stopped by twice, once for a marimba concert and once for the charanga music. The lit cathedral serves as a majestic backdrop, and the concerts are followed by a sound and light show projected on the government building on one side of the plaza.

The surprising thing about the concerts was, unlike in most Mexican cities we have visited, no couples were dancing. Perhaps the Campechanos were saving their energy for their upcoming wild celebration of Carnaval.