I’ve mentioned Ferias before (annual town fairs) and have been lucky enough to have seen two outside of my own municipio (in Nueva with Roxanne and in San Jacinto with Kristin and Felicia). But there’s just nothing like experiencing your own town’s Feria and seeing how yours stacks up against the rest.
Our official Feria day (the one we technically get off of work) is May 3rd. But the booths went up a week before and the nightly dances started the 29th and continued until the 5th. So, really, it felt like Feria lasted for over a week (in fact, some of the booths are still up, trying to make last ditch sales). And it was full of lovely things. Here is my guide of things not to miss.
Yes, I’m still ignoring the PC Medical Office advice to avoid street food (sorry Johanna!) and gambled on some papitas during the Feria (french fries). I could have gotten really crazy though. Tons of makeshift outdoor restaurants get set up and sell full meals of carne asada, tortillas de harina (burritos) or various appetizers alongside Gallo “¡bien fria!” for those who are looking for more hearty fare. And for the rest of the wandering masses, they are treated to a quite a selection. The aforementioned papitas, nachos, pizza, and corn on the cob on sticks. What’s set these selections apart, though, is the fact that all of them are covered in ketchup, mayonnaise and hot sauce. Yes, even the corn. They call this “elote loco” or crazy corn. I didn’t get a picture of the corn, but I did get a picture of something called chicharines that are also popular. No, I don’t know what it is made of. But apparently it’s delicious with the ketchup and mayo!
So, I waited around for three hours waiting for the desfile de carrozas or parade floats to come by. They were supposed to leave the outer aldea at 9 so I was at the muni around 10. Of course, they didn’t leave the outer aldea until 11. But I stuck it out, determined to see this big town parade. It consisted of a 25ish person marching band and some decorated pick-up trucks with the fair royalty riding in back throwing candy… I still think it was worth it, simply for this beauty:
This was probably the part of the Feria that people seemed most excited about. It’s basically a horse parade.
Basically people mount their horses (or rent one, according to my neighbor who participated) and ride them through the municipio. Some people come from other areas throughout the country to show off their fancy horses. Really, I just think it’s an excuse for everyone to dress up like cowboys and drink beer on horseback. Which is fine by me.
And I’m glad the event happened at all. It was almost cancelled to do a protest happening at the entrance of the municipality (the bus company wants to raise prices).
Of course there were fireworks. There are fireworks for everything here in Guatemala. Though I could have done without the 6am fireworks (to signify the beginning of another day of Feria?) and the fireworks in close proximity to the horses (who decidedly DO NOT like fireworks), I thought they added to the overall feeling of festivity. Particularly the last night. First there was this:
That is a man with a box-like structure over his head that is covered in lit fireworks. What is he doing? Chasing around the townsfolk, of course. They call this the “torito” or little bull.
And then there was this.
Clearly, my favorite was the torito. Even if I did almost get trampled when it came galloping towards me.
Los Tres Huitecos
I lied when I said the dances were every night. There was one evening when a comedy troupe performed in the municipal salon instead. I was intrigued so I paid the 30Q and sat myself down. I understood the storyline of the play, but probably only got 10% of the jokes. Which is unfortunate because while it’s already awkward being “that gringa”, it’s more awkward to be “that gringa not laughing” at a comedy show.
Lotería is Bingo. This was, hands down, my favorite part of the entire week. Even though I didn’t win.
Games of Chance!
What, you thought we’d have a big event without having a religious procession?! Never!