It’s fiesta time again in Jocotepec! We’re in the middle of our patronal festival honoring Senor del Monte, the Lord of the Mountain.
I just love these days in Joco. There’s a parade every day, complete with marching bands, floats, and dancers. Each day of the festival is sponsored by a different group of folks in Joco. The length and elaborateness of the parade depends on the wealth of the group. The parade on 11 January 2012, sponsored by the local fishermen, was small, but times are hard here in Joco this year.
The local folks who used to go north to the US to earn money to send home haven’t been able to go. The rainy season wasn’t very rainy last year and so Lake Chapala is low and the fishermen are having a hard time of it. The real estate market and, thus, new construction, has bottomed out. 2011 was tough for everybody.
But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still thankful to Senor del Monte. So the parades and processions continue, albeit on a reduced scale. And they all have the same general layout, which I’ll lay out below.
Leading every parade are members of the local constabulary. In the case of today’s parade, two traffic enforcement officers:
Immediately behind them, announcing that the parade is on its way, is the cohete guy and his assistant:
Cohetes are sky rockets on a stick. They supposedly ward off evil spirits, but they also announce to the local folks that the parade is coming their way so they can leave their homes to watch.
A band immediately follows. In this case, one composed of local school children:
One of the things that fascinates me about these bands is that the drums [and the bands are LOADED with drums] are always played by girls:
and the bugles are always played by boys:
Although by the time they reach their teens, there are almost never girls in the band at all.
And no parade would be complete without a few floats. Tonight’s parade only had four. The first celebrated the miracle of the fish:
[I have a particular fondness for this one because Jesus bears a startling resemblance to my son’s late father!]
There are never a large number of floats in a Joco parade. The difference is that the more prosperous groups have more elaborate floats. The ones in this evening’s procession were very nicely done, but obviously done on a budget.
Plastic flowers, reuseable backdrops, and, in a fabulous example of Mexican ability to reuse and repurpose, a Christmas tree to symbolize a forest!
And I have to admit that the next float made me laugh to myself. In an area where sheep and goats are raised by many folks, this creature adorned the third float:
Ja ja ja ja ja! I love it!
Between or among the floats, there are always dancers. In this case, the Aztec dancers from San Juan Cosala, another small pueblo in Jocotepec municipality.
Where the fellow above got his hands on a conch shell is beyond my knowledge!
And more dancers:
And there’s usually a strolling mariachi band:
You know the parade is winding up when the bomberos [firemen] come through. In this case, only this guy:
In between the policia who lead the parade and the bombero who closes it, there are also members of the sponsoring group who march in the procession and then right into the local iglesia [church] to pray for a good year to come and be blessed by the priest.
So, yeah, we may not have anything as large or elaborate as the Rose Bowl parade or even the smallest of the Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, but we still enjoy them. The mixture of old beliefs and customs, combined with motorbikes always gives me a little thrill.
For some additional photos and a video of the parade, check out our local website. And while you’re watching, be sure to play “Where’s barb?”. It’s like “Where’s Waldo?” except you’re looking for la gringa…..and I don’t think you’ll have a hard time picking her out! http://www.jocotepec.com/2012/01/12/miercoles-12-de-enero-fiesta-senor-del-monte-en-joco/