Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cultural Overdose

Fernando de la Mora and the
Philharmonic Orchestra of Queretaro

Contrary to what I have previously believed, it is actually possible to overdose on too much culture. An evening stroll through the central plaza in San Miguel, commonly known as the Jardin (pronounced hardeen) will usually reward you with such treats as Mariachi bands playing to lovers and families, balloon vendors and other colorful characters, and perhaps a special performance or unexpected parade celebrating everything from saints to taxi drivers.

But last night the Jardin was packed with activity, like a television playing all of its stations at once. As part of the "Festival San Miguel Cantador" an enormous stage had been erected outside the parroquia, where the philharmonic orchestra from Queretero played to a packed audience clapping and bravo-ing from their folded chairs while it accompanied famous tenor Fernando de la Mora himself.
An entire news crew was there to film the event, and newscasters reporting live before the illuminated backdrop of the Parroquia among boom cameras and video monitors. 

I weave through the crowds towards the gazebo, where a circle of young boys, oblivious to the spectacular event that surrounds them, are break dancing to the accompaniment of the pounding rhythms of a scratchy boom box, spinning in circles on their heads, balancing their wiry bodies on one hand.

Meanwhile, led by a police siren and a small contingent of snare drums, a decorated truck featuring several children in costume representing the Virgin of Guadalupe, Juan Diego and others bumped slowly around the perimeter of the plaza, followed by a few hundred ninos in peasant costumes, complete with brightly ribboned braids and carefully painted mustaches. The day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is on December 12th, but why wait until then to celebrate? The parade culminated at the Parroquia and filtered into the courtyard, where photographers awaited with painted backdrops bedecked with Christmas lights and cardboard cactuses. Parents propped their squirming children in front of paintings of the rising Virgin while the cameras clicked and flashed.
Inside the church a smattering of people sang hymns and tourists meandered through the aisles. Church bells clanged away as I watched an old woman in rags bent over two hand carved sticks as she struggled down the steps glancing up for a moment towards Fernando de la Mora, glistening in his tuxedo under the spotlights, his passionate voice piercing the night in a powerful crescendo.
Finally I navigate my way home in a state of complete overwhelm, to rest until tomorrow, secretly hoping that tomorrow will be a quiet, peaceful day with no events, knowing that it will be anything but.

-posted by Susan

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