Fourth of July: Ah, to be able to celebrate citywide again

These images of fireworks are not remarkable in any way, except… they mark such a welcome dramatic change from the isolation of a year ago. Plus, H-E-B and the Austin Symphony were kind enough to bring the celebration within easy walking distance of our home in Austin.

Continue reading “Fourth of July: Ah, to be able to celebrate citywide again”

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 Guanajuato, Mexico: Festival of the Virgin of Loreto

Dancers pranced to beats of drums and high-pitched flutes all day yesterday in a street below the house where we are staying. We’re not sure it is an official holy day, but the neighborhood participants treat it as such.

Flowers adorned the altar in the Capilla Santa Casa de Loreto, dedicated to the Annunciation in the home the Virgin inhabited when the angel Gabriel revealed her impending delivery of El Nino. While Candelaria in January is regarded as the holy day when the faithful bring their small Nino statues dressed in new finery to churches for blessing, in Guanajuato the ceremony is replicated in front of the altar during this festive event marking the anniversary of the consecration of the chapel in 1854. Although some let me peek inside their baskets, we didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone for permission to photograph the lacily attired Ninos they cradled so proudly.

And, of course, music, food and firecrackers warmed up the crowd in advance of the major pyrotechnical displays at 9 o’clock. The experts toiled to assemble a monumental castillo of fireworks throughout the afternoon.

We were viewing the altar when the shrill sounds of the whirling wheels of light first began. Along with many of those heeding the call to exit the church, we watched from the steps. The Mister began filming with the camera.

First lesson learned: Do not hold the camera vertically when shooting because we do not have the software downloaded to rotate it 90 degrees. For this reason, the images of the fireworks were snatched from frames of the video and turned for viewing.

Second lesson: When a lone bombero appears beside you in fireproof clothing, lowers his visor and nervously glances upward, MOVE. Even if relocating means you must stop filming just as the swirling halo of the announcing angel perched atop the castillo rockets upward into the dark night sky.

Cascades of sparkling fireworks showered down upon us from the rooftop of Capilla Santa de Loreto. This display was followed by the finale of explosions of light set off above. The video captures some of the first sparkling showers.