On Sunday, we went to Petra’s house in San Juan Chamula, and dressed up in local regalia, went around town being the center of photos and adoration, and had a really good time. I tried to take as many photos as possible, and I’m still working on selecting them. June 22 is summer solstice, an important day in the Mesoamerican calendar, and so fireworks and flowers were all over the place. Just organizing and posting up the photos is going to keep me occupied all week.

Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Today, June 24, is el Día de San Juan, the most celebrated day of the year, even more important than Christmas. We’re all going to eat, drink, sing and be merry. In the nearby municipal of Chamula, all the locals were just getting drunk on pox, a Mayan ceremonial liquor, and chicha, a drink made of fermented maize which is actually from the Andean regions in Peru and spread up Central America. Chicha morada was one of my favorite beverage discoveries of South America, in addition to guaraná.

I happen to have the same birthday as the patron saint Saint John, and this morning I awoke to a guitar serenade outside my door, my favorite visitors, and hot chocolate boiling on the stove. (How Mexican is that?!) You know what I secretly wished for…now I’m just waiting for my piñata, a mariachi band, and some Mexican jumping beans, and I’m set!

I was given surprises, flowers, gifts and felicitations from everyone who matters to me, little oriental papers and postcards from a beautiful installation by Tamana, my Japanese artist friend who lives in Oaxaca. Pete mailed me a package of Indian chai tea and origami papers (rare treasures in these parts of Mexico) which everyone loved. Followed by an 8-person breakfast of tortilla española and cinnamon-raisin cake with lit candles. The we all piled in the blue truck and I spent the day with Petra’s family. We had a lunch of mole and estofado.

And I’m not sure if boys in Mexico are always so adoring to girls, or what, but I received such beautiful flowers from some guys in the market place who didn’t know me and didn’t know today was special to me.

Admirador

The tradition of the cargo system is one of community service: noble, sacred work, a sacrifice of time and money for the saints, the gods and goddesses. During a time, usually a year, the cargoholder carries the weight of the universe for her community. The Martomas who keep the saints burn incense before the images and carry them on their pilgrimages. They must learn to recite many hours of ritual couplets as part of the fiesta. The stage for this extravaganza, once the pyramid and the ball court, is now the town square and the street. Those who produce the sacred dramas and play the main roles can earn great prestige in the eyes of the community. They also go into debt for the rest of their lives paying for the music, fireworks, candles, flowers, incense, liquor, tamales and even bulls for sacrifice. In this way, the wealth of the few, ideally, is shared with the community.” –Page 55, Incantations.

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