To say ferias are a big deal here in Guatemala would be a gross understatement. They are big, they are bright, they are loud. I thought I saw a good deal of revelry for Independence Day, but the greasy pole and popcorn don’t hold a candle to a true feria.
Basically every community has an annual feria for their patron saint. Municipalities plan all year for the big event and take great pride in spending large sums of money on it. I won’t get to experience feria in my own pueblo until May, but about an hour away is Nueva Santa Rosa and about two weeks ago the volunteer there sent out an open invitation to volunteers looking to enjoy a night of dancing. Clearly, I was in.
I took the two camionetas to her bustling (TWO supermarkets – can you believe the luxury?!) town and prepared myself for an adventure. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting – but I definitely was not disappointed. Why? Allow me to present…
The Nueva Santa Rosa Feria Top 7
7. Gringa Love from the Bolos
Two other volunteers from Jalapa joined us in Nueva and, they being of the tall, pale, light haired persuasion, attracted a great deal of attention. This was new for me as I, with my morena appearance, am an undetectable gringa as long as I don’t talk too much. I found it fascinating how the drunk men of the feria would call out to them in whatever English they knew (a lot of “Hello!”s, “Good evening!”s and even a few “Beautiful!”s). Expecting what kind of reaction? I have no idea. One was even so forward (and tanked) to try and touch them. Probably not much fun for them, but fairly amusing for me.
6. Shopping Stalls
They had the usuals like candy, pizza and balloons. But they also boasted pirated dvd stands, all manner of toy weapons and even shoes.
5. The Dance
First of all, no riff-raff in this dance as the tickets cost 60Q (little over $6). Thankfully, we were comped by the muni thanks to the volunteer and were allowed to enjoy the, not one, but TWO stages for free. Why two stages? One for the DJ and another for the live acts, of course! I should also mention the professional lighting, four projection screens and pyrotechnics. When I visited this volunteer during training I wondered why the offices constantly had pigeon poop raining down from the shoddy ceiling. And now I realize it’s probably because they were saving up for this particular showcase of municipal might.
4. Back-Up Dancers
The first live act was mediocre (the most exciting part probably being their long hair and affinity for headbanging) but the second act was far more worthwhile. Though, it was not the artist I was watching. I much preferred marveling at their two back up dancers – their two MIME back up dancers.
3. Harry Potter Trailer
For some reason during an intermission between live act and DJ, while the crowd shuffled between stages, they decided to play one of the HP7 trailers on the giant screens. In English.
2. Ferris Wheel of Death
Probably the most reckless thing I’ve done in country. Pretty sure the thing is a US Carnival castoff from the 70s or earlier. They cranked it up to death-defying speeds while screaming “RAPIDO! RAPIDO! RAPIDO!” over the loudspeaker. Like I needed a reminder as I was shooting towards the ground in the rickety basket that we were going fast.
1. Finally, this photo: