Four years in New Orleans meant many nights parading around the humid town with a face full of glitter and homemade toile skirts. Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Second Line parades, Halloween- there was always an opportunity to let loose, to enjoy and celebrate life within the unique New Orleans culture. Friends or strangers, it never mattered. Everyone was happy and dancing while complimenting one another’s homemade costumes. This was one of my favorite things about life in NOLA, the self-proclaimed right to dance in the streets and sport purple and green hair, if only for the night.
After Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations this past weekend, I know I have found myself in another place with people that know how to appreciate and savor this life. Thursday night, with a tip from staff at the Peace Corps, I walked over to El Templo de Santa Cruz with some other Peace Corps volunteers. In celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, hundreds of people gather in this square in Querétaro in order to dance the Concheros for two full days, non-stop. A dance with indigenous roots, it has been performed since the Spanish Colonial times blending Catholic symbolism and ancient ritual.
When I arrived to the Plaza, I was in the middle of a sea of feathers. People surrounded me with costumes of all colors, dazzling spectators with costumes made of sequins, beads, gold, and silver. Feather headdresses adorned the dancers’ heads, extending a meter in each direction. Organized in a group, dancers rattled the instruments on their ankles, dancing for hours at a time. They filled the air with music coming from conch shells, drums, and string instruments. All the while, I stood there awestruck, attempting to drink in all the sites and process all that I was seeing. With incense smoke, floating into the air, I couldn’t help but float away myself. Wow, I thought. I live here now. ¡Qué suerte! ¡Viva México!
El GRITO (The Cry for Independence)
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!