Beyond Hanal Pixan, fall is dotted with village fiestas and fairs of all sorts. Izamal is notorious for having some kind of festivity from mid-October straight on through December. When we passed through, it was the season for gremios, which pilgrimages to the church, made by each trade syndicate, such as engineers, taxi drivers, etc. Each syndicate dresses up in all their Mayan finery, parades to the churchyard, does some dances, and then parades off to some block party somewhere. If you follow the parade, by all reports, you’ll wind up at a pretty serious throwdown.
The whole parade-and-dancing part of it takes quite a while, as there’s lots of stops, and someone setting off fireworks the whole time. (I guess this lets you know where the parade is at any given time? Bottle rockets as GPS pings?) I was pretty impressed with just how much dancing was involved once I laid eyes on a guy with a big platter on his head. Damn! He had to hold onto that platter with one raised arm through all the dances! My muscles started seizing up in sympathy.
But the guy looked so cheerful. His white teeth were gleaming, under his nicely trimmed little mustache, and his eyes were all atwinkle. Once I got up close to him, I saw why he was so delighted.
He had a pig head on his own head!
OK, this kind of thing is exactly what I love about the Yucatan. Everything’s pretty mellow, and I basically know what’s going on. It’s not like you’re in an obviously trippy place–people aren’t dressed up in crazy masks and taking peyote. So just when I think everything’s kind of familiar and pretty…some dude starts dancing with a roasted pig’s head!
The previous post was another example of this same blindsiding-with-bizarre. It turns out it’s worth spending so much time in visiting a place not so you actually get to know it, but so you think you’ve gotten to know it–and then are even more boggled by the oddities.
These, on the other hand, are totally normal party elements in Izamal: