Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Saints on the move

Statues of saints, or in the case above Jesus on the cross, seem always on the move in Guanajuato.

For an officially non-Catholic country the mix is an interesting one of drummers and trumpeters in military fatigues parading along with feathered dancers and faithful parishioners bearing the vacationing santo aloft on a bed of flowers.

No idea the regional religious significance of September 2, but these photos are from two distinctly separate desfiles, or parades, welcoming us on our first walk into town. One was gathering in the midst of a bustling Sunday market with a banner of San Miguel and a modest-size Franciscan saint to take on a tour of churches. The second centered around a large crucifix with a banner indicating Jesus was heading to be venerated in the Little Plaza of the Monkeys, wherever that is. Women in this procession were cradling their own personal Jesus Nino statues to be blessed by a priest.

And clustered around a planter, there were several men in drag entangled by the noontime parade assembling by the market who appeared more Saturday night leftovers than eager participants.

Postcard from Mexico City: Mega traffic jam of Catrinas

The leering clown masks at a vendor’s stand yesterday remained largely unsold, snubbed, left hanging above the crowd. As though attending a ball demanding black tie, the denizens of D.F. stuck largely to the dress code yesterday. Masks were not part of it.

In the afternoon, La Reforma was one giant makeshift makeup studio. Cosmeticians for the day set up anywhere they could perch with formality equal to itinerant shoeshine vendors. There appeared no dearth of eager clients waiting to have their faces blanketed in the eerie thick white base transforming them into Las Catrinas or their bone-men counterparts.

We strolled over to a museum in Chapultepec Park to while away a little time before the 7 o’clock start time of the Mega Procesion de Catrinas at the landmark Angel of Independence. Then we returned and perched there. Waiting. And people-watching. And waiting.

We were definitely not alone in our anticipation of the people’s parade marching by. But the desfile never actually appeared there, at what was billed as its starting point.

The closed center lane to traffic in the block ahead leading toward the Zocolo was jammed with costumed people. Crammed like sardines in a can. If they were making any forward progress at all it was at a snail’s pace.

A friend reported las Catrinas did parade by several blocks away, but hundreds, probably more than a thousand, of those stuck in the bottleneck at the beginning failed to make it out of the first block. At 8 o’clock, truckloads of police started pulling in behind them, slowly nudging the crowds of would-be marchers out of the way to reopen La Reforma to traffic.

Instead of being all dressed up with no place to go, perhaps many of las Catrinas eventually made their way to the Zocolo where the costume party could continue.