Well, had the day off yesterday and while all the volunteers were headed home, I decided to take in the sights before the next round of interviews with the students. After a nice breakfast with my friends Richard and Magda, we were deciding what to do for the day. I wanted to go to the Petatera in Villa de Alvarez, but Magda’s mother had never seen the Ballet Folklorico in Colima City.
S0 – we decided to bring her mother and sister to the Ballet, and have lunch and attend the fair afterwards. The ballet was wonderful – many different ballets telling the history of Mexico, starting with people in pre-Columbian costumes and many other stories, including one about “Rosita” who loved to dance and was shot by a jealous suitor. It was held in a beautiful auditorium owned by the University of Colima. During intermission, the dancers handed out papers that advertised auditions for children to learn to dance and perform with them. I turned that over to one of the staff members in the office this afternoon, thinking she might know of someone who might want their children to audition.
After the Ballet, we went out for a very nice lunch in a nearby restaurant. One day is pretty much like another for me, so I totally forgot it was Valentine’s Day. There was an arch of red and white balloons at the entrance, so Magda had Richard take our picture…
After lunch, we went to the fair at Villa de Alvarez. I had heard the name “Petatera” and so I thought that was the name of the fair. I had been thinking giant puppets, which I had seen recently in advertisements for various fairs. Well, we arrived and there were many, many horses of all different shapes and colors, and some with extremely long manes. Long enough that one horse had it braided right between its eyes, otherwise I don’t see how it could have seen anything.
In the meantime, I found out what the Petatera was REALLY about. There is a famous bull ring there, which was built without any nails whatsoever. I don’t remember how many people it can hold or how old it is, but it has held up for a long time. A man was dressed up and riding by on one of the horses, and Magda told me he was a “picador.” Turns out bullfighting is a legal and cherished tradition in Mexico, as it is in Spain. The picador rides his horse in the ring and keeps stabbing the bull, and the bull is eventually killed.
When I heard that, I could not attend that event. Even if it had been free, I wouldn’t have gone. After the event, we saw a small crane lift the carcass onto the back of a truck – I assume it was going to be butchered. There is a bull ring right here in Cofradía, but it is more like a rodeo – no one and no animal is hurt. THAT is MY type of event.
So, we ended up walking around the fair, which was about the same as the county fairs in New York State – with animals on display and vendors selling food, clothing, trinkets and enticing people to play games for prizes. However, you know that you are not in New York by the types of food they were selling – gorditas, guayaba, and other things that I cannot remember now. Also, there were horses for sale, including one from Oklahoma! I was curious as to why someone would bring a horse from Oklahoma to halfway down the country of Mexico to sell it…..
Well, four more days of interviews ahead of me, and many more days of writing up the interviews, so I will close now and post my pictures. I know there will be many more festivals to attend and report on, so more later.
I need to cook dinner now that all the volunteers have left. Bought a fresh chicken and fresh vegetables today, and so I will make a nice, non-spicy dinner of chicken, veggies and rice. Well – not hot and spicy. If it is just hot, it is caliente. Hot and spicy is picante or enchiloso. “Brabo” is also technically hot and spicy, but is more commonly used to mean an angry animal, such as “perro brabo” to mean an angry dog.
Buying the fresh chicken made me think of my father’s memoirs of growing up in the Bronx (he was born in 1919). He would talk about the fresh-killed chicken with the eggs still inside and the butcher would offer the chicken’s feet to housewives, who would make chicken-foot soup. The woman I bought the chicken from had the parts in a bowl, including the feet, but I bypassed the chance to buy them and settled for the wings, legs and breasts. I also bought eggs – a half-kilo, which equaled 9 eggs this time (it was 8 eggs the last time I bought them – remember, you buy eggs by weight).
That’s about it for now – more later !