Mexico #4: Howdy, Cowboy

by Zora O'Neill on January 17, 2011

In Tizimin, I was driving around the main square, and I noticed there was an awful lot of horse shit in the street. “What happened here?” I wondered out loud. “Did we just miss a parade?”

That was a little bit of a joke for my mom, who was in the passenger seat. See, she and my brother* are all nature-y, and go hiking around in the woods looking for animal dung so they can figure out what the animals have been up to. So I was being an urban tracker. I started following the horse shit, but soon I lost the trail, and I had to check the bus schedules anyway.

As we were driving out of town, we found the parade. Or we found the tail end of it–a huge mob of people on horseback, waiting for the procession to move forward. It was a good two blocks of horses, all edging and prancing and shuffling around. Moms, kids, and loads of cowboys were all saddled up and ready to ride.

Horse Parade

I’ve never seen so many horses in the Yucatan. Aside from the Pollo Vaquero logo, you just don’t see a lot of cowboy imagery in the Yucatan. That whole open-plains, rope-and-ride, oompah-music kind of scene doesn’t happen here, because there aren’t a lot of cows.

Horse ParadeExcept for around Tizimin. I’m not sure how or when the ranching industry got started here, but the forest has been cleared, and I guess cows graze around in the tall greenery somewhere–I haven’t actually seen a lot of them, but I have eaten their meat, at an excellent restaurant in Tizimin. It was heartwarming, seeing all this Western wear–plaid shirts, big hats. I grew up around that, and even if I’m a city slicker now, I do like horses. If my previous posts were about seeing odder things than expected, this afternoon was all about being surprised by a more familiar thing.

Horse Parade

And then, this guy. He looks completely Arab, and not just because he was a foot taller than everyone there. Lebanese and Syrians came to the Yucatan in the early 20th century. This guy’s family must’ve gotten into ranching at some point.

Horse Parade

You might’ve noticed a lot of beer cans in the previous photos. Yup, a beer company was sponsoring the whole shindig. These guys just skipped the horses and rode the truck.

Horse Parade

I’m a terrible reporter. I have no idea what the parade was for (though we did see a statue of the Virgin being carried down one of the streets). I just liked the pretty horses.

*Regular readers of this blog may know, but it never hurts to remind: my brother just wrote a great book for hiking around in the woods looking for other animal sign: Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species.

*Flickr set from this trip
*Mexico #1: Where the Party at?
* Mexico #2: Partying on…and on
*Mexico #3: Party Favors
* Mexico #5: Snack Break!
* Mexico #6: Back Roads

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Denis Larsen January 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

Tizimin used to mean “tapir” in Yucatec Mayan. When the Spanish came with their horses to the Yucatan, the Mayas did not have a word for “horse”; so they named it after the animal it most closely resembled… the tapir. So in contemporary Mayan Tizimin means “horse” and there are no longer any tapir around the Yucatan except maybe in zoos.

2 Sarah January 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

great you found the cow shit trail to the cowboy parade!

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