Getting ready for Sahuayo, part 3….How they’re getting ready in Sahuayo

While I’m here in Jocotepec making my list of things to bring for our three days in Sahuayo, the folks there are beginning their last week scramble to get things ready for the big day [Monday, 25 July].  When we return from Sahuayo, I will have a lot more pictures, of course, but thought you might enjoy some from last year which were taken on the day before or the morning of the big parade.

You’ve seen some pictures of the huge headdresses, but, you know, somebody has got to construct these things and put all the decorations on them.  The frames are used from year to year as long as possible, but the themes and colors of the pieces change each year, so they get stripped down to the bare bones after every fiesta and built up again from scratch. 

As we drove around Sahuayo last year, we stopped by a couple of places where folks were putting the finishing touches on their groups’ headdresses. 

This young man was wielding a glue gun with amazing dexterity: 

A few streets over, we came across a young man named Jesus who was doing the same for the group from his barrio.  By the way, Jesus is not a short fellow [I’m gonna guess about six feet tall], so perhaps you can get some idea of how large these headdresses are: 


See the cords and tassels on the finished headpiece immediately below? 

They’re not just for decoration, although they are certainly decorative.  As you can imagine, when somebody plops a headdress this big on your noggin, you need some way of keeping it straight up and down….not wiggling from side to side or back to front.  That’s what the cords are for.   

And even that takes some getting used to.  A few streets over from Jesus’ workshop, we came across this guy taking his headdress out for a spin.  Note that he’s brought a “spotter’ along with him:


From the pictures, you might be thinking that most of the participants in the Tlahualiles are young men….and, as far as those who actually dance/march in the procession, you’d be mostly right.  The parade route is long and not only are the dancers wearing the headpieces, they’re also wearing color coordinated clothing decorated with silver or gold bells or bars, which make a great noise when the Tlahualiles dance, so you need people with a lot of stamina. 

But there are definitely young women who march in the parade, and they, like their male counterparts, don’t just get thrown in when they become teenagers.  They start them pretty young here.  Here are some of the younger kids getting ready:

Here’s the same boy with his headdress on and pretty much ready to go!

Here you can see the size of this little guy’s headpiece [in the front] compared to those the adults in his group will wear:

 And, as I mentioned, it’s not all boys:

 This little one is ready to go……..

…….as soon as Dad puts the headdress on her!

So….are you getting excited and/or eating your heart out that you won’t be in Sahuayo with us this year???   


About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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7 Responses to Getting ready for Sahuayo, part 3….How they’re getting ready in Sahuayo

  1. me says:

    I am definitely getting excited to go..gotta go check the camera. I love the “jingle” bells.
    Cant wait….

  2. Mike Osborn says:

    Great pics! I had no idea that Sahuayo had such an elaborate festival. Of course I’m not let out much. BTW, the kids were so cute!! Just can’t imagine some of those munchkins in a long parade with those headdresses? Looking forward to this years photos.
    Living vicariously,

    • Barbara says:

      ah, mike, the dancing tlahualilies are apparently “internationally recognized”….and i quote wikipedia….’cause, you know, they never lie or exaggerate! it truly is a sight to behold.

      and to put your mind at ease, the little ones don’t really do the whole route. in fact, neither do the older and middle aged folks. because they are wearing masks on their faces and costume clothing, they can trade off with somebody else about their size as need be. let’s more people be part of the parade and nobody drops dead!

      sometimes the parents of the kids take them out, take them home for food and a nap, and then bring them back. i mean, this parade starts at, say, 11am and goes on and on until about 10pm at night! i just watched and i can’t last that long!

      at last year’s festival, the three of us gringas were about the only gringos at the parade. that amazed me, considering how close Sahuayo is to Lake Chapala. i mean, we’re talking maybe an hour and a half….and that’s with stops for other things. the locals seemed shocked and pleased to see a very small group of old white women there! at least as shocked as we were to run into Mexican folks from Oregon, Illinois, New York, Georgia, and all the other states from which they had returned home!

      my camera conked out about halfway through last year. i’m hoping that it won’t this year. taking the battery charger with me!

  3. Jonnie says:

    I can’t believe I am missing this and instead will be in 100° heat in the U.S. BooHoo! I wanna go! This is absolutely the best festival I have ever been to in Mexico. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures of the “funky” hotel. That will probably be a blog posting all by itself.

    Tener un viaje seguro

    • Barbara says:

      jojo, you bet your sweet patootie the hotel margaritas is gonna be a blog posting all by itself! oh, people, you gotta see this place! and you will! really looking forward to meeting our host, gilberto, with whom i have been corresponding for, like, four months!

      anybody who wants to take a sneak peek, here’s the link:

  4. gayle says:

    ok yes cheezelawheeze … I am GREEN with envy. Like maybe I’ll craft a feather headdress this coming weekend – in the Portland rain, since there’s NO sunshine nor warmth of sun because the whole rest of the US is in a heat wave & won’t let the NW frigid weather pass through…. Ah well, it’s only MID JULY and we’ve already had THREE WHOLE DAYS of 80 degree weather. Hell, that’s summer, for us! Anyway, gotta go & check out the hotel link now. GOD am I jealous you’re having such a great adventure! Gayle.

  5. Gigi says:

    I’d like to hear you shout TLAHUALILIES! Love the pix of the kid’s size next to the adults’!

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