Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15TH, 1999 -- OAXACA & MITLA RUINS (CONT.)

That evening, Amy and I walk around. We hear on the radio "the little drummer boy". There's a "calenda", a procession -- especially popular on Xmas eve. A "posada" is the Mary & Joseph parade thing where they ask if they can sleep at various houses. Dec 23rd is last posada. They break pinatas on the first or last posada, and give tamales and chocolates and fruits to the kids.

Kids in the back of a pickup truck dressed as angels. "Wise men", little boys on ponies, wear false beards and mustaches. very cute! Everyone is smiling and carrying candles with red cellophane around them. There's a paper mache doll with a kid's face sticking out of the middle through a rectangular hole. The trailing end of the parade is just a bunch of kids and parents holding the candles on the end of sticks with the red cellophane in a flower shape.

The religious nature of the procession is at odds with the beating rock music that comes from the Zocalo square. Squeaky techno voices and a driving rock beat that makes the ground vibrate. Some kids are gleeful, and some kids are too young to know what's happening. There's a kid in a shepherd beard -- so cute! One kid wears "black face" since one of the three wise men was a moor.

The parade of kids is pointing, hopping, raising the stick-candles. One kid drags his candle unlit behind him, bored, his Mom dragging him by one arm. A girl with white dress and "angel wings" of real bird feathers. Meanwhile, across the square, there's the dancing polar bears and the rock music, right next to the 16th century church. The techno music -- this is the Coca-Cola sponsored event. I don't see any animosity, but the clash of old and new is severe here.

In front of a huge Xmas tree there's a Santa with a line for kids in front of a Coca-Cola house. There are numerous vendors in the town square, selling cotton candy and blowing bubbles to "advertise" their wares. There's a kid (12 years) on the Coca-Cola stage with a microphone, doing some kind of Karaoke? She's next to a Walrus costume guy in a grey suit, and the polar bear with the red Coca-Cola scarf.

A mob stands around the stage separated by a white metal crowd separators... like jail bars but squat. There's a huge speaker system and an MC. A kid hops up on stage and shakes the hand of the Walrus. He gets a big hug! There's another kid, 3 years old, riding on the shoulders of his father. There's one bright light over the stage. There's a kid wearing a fake halo made from wire and tinsel. One kid has a painted-on mustache.

A woman in charge comes out, wearing a Coca-Cola banner in the style of Miss Universe. A youngish woman, hair very severely back, in a brown work suit. She walks on stage and talks with the walrus privately.

The Xmas tree casts a shadow on the church from an opposing bright spotlight. The "Santa house" is brown & orange with Coca-Cola all over it. Wreaths and windows. It's only 15'x15' with fake snow on the roof.

Inside the church, the only lighting is very long fluorescent bare bulbs, placed vertically against the ancient columns by the speakers. Huge "sun" rays surround Jesus on the main wall. Red velvet chair for the priest. A row of candled burn in printed glassware of varying designs: usually Virgin Mary, etc. Off to the one side of the church, a mini-chapel where a mass is ongoing (it's 7pm now). There are many other mini-offshoots of the church, little rooms which may have a statue or a big painting dominating a few pews.

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