It’s been on my “go-to” list for more than thirty years, and what do you know, I finally made it. And during the annual music festival, no less!
My friend Cinda and I arrived late Tuesday and though she went to an evening performance, I just settled in.
Then in the morning, we were both up early, dined on bean burritos, and headed out the door just after dawn. Distant roosters and one burro called up the sun. Policemen, and women, clustered around small fires in an attempt to keep the chill away.
Cobblestone streets, sun glancing off the church tower, bougainvillea spilling over fourteen-foot adobe walls. Houses of tan, buff, and screaming pink. We peeked around corners, into shattered windows of empty buildings, and through fences. Every sight was a potential photograph. I felt memories of Antigua, Guatemala, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. All three places are old colonial cities. Houses share side walls. There are no front yards. Beautiful doorway abound.
The oldest houses have wide double doors, large enough for carriages and horse-drawn wagons to enter. In some of the wide doors there are smaller entry doors. Doors within doors, leading to courtyards of fountains, flowers, and benches under ancient trees. All the old (or restored) doors are wood, often carved, while newer ones are wrought iron. It seems no two are the same.
Near the end of our long walk, we passed by a little orange juice stand. For fifteen pesos, a little over a dollar, I god a good sized glass of freshly squeezed juice.
We got back to the house we were staying in, sat down to relax, and found it was time to head to a cafe to meet friends for coffee. And of course the cafe was across town.
Delicious coffee, muffins, baguette. Good conversation. Beautiful setting. Teresita’s is a fairly new cafe with outdoor seating clustered around a small pond and water spilling over a rock wall. Then it was time to walk to a different area of town, wander some shops, and learn about birding walks. By this time, the streets we filled with residents, visitors, and musicians. Tubas and accordions. Drums and flutes. Guitars and trumpets. Mexican hippies in dreadlocks. Music spilling across the plaza and down alleyways. We wormed our way back to the house.
After a rest, it was time to hit the streets again and head to a cafe for dinner. We left for the house after dinner but were immediately sidetracked by the beginning of a small parade heading toward a crowd of young children. Time for the kids’ program.
Musicians in costumes were led by three people on stilts and a young man on a unicycle. Juggling, singing, and dancing. One of the people on stilts actually skipped across the road, and remember, it’s a cobblestone road! The musicians wandered on down the road after a bit, trailed by a crowd of children and parents. We headed back to the house for a rest.
I again skipped the evening concert but headed out a little after nine for some of the evening festivities. Four men were gathered around a little donkey who had been nicely groomed with trimmed hair except for little furry tufts around his knees. He carried two crates. Originally, years ago, I suppose he would have carried handwoven baskets, but this night he carried plastic storage boxes. Each box held several gallons of wine.
The street near the Palacio where the evening concert was being held was swarming with people. Most were musicians, men. They were dressed in black, with short pants gathered just below the knee and tall white socks. They all wore either a cape or jacket, the backs of which were decorated with ribbons of all colors, some with writing on them. I believe the ribbons represent music festivals, competitions, and other performances along with ribbons for prizes won at different events.
When the doors of the concert hall finally opened, the street burst into song. The musicians started and soon the crowd joined in. The men with the donkey began passing out little cups of wine.
After a few numbers, the musicians wandered down the street followed by the donkey, the wine, and a crowd of revelers.
I followed a short while then cut over to another street to watch a program called Tango en Mexico. A good tenor and a couple dancing a variety of tangos. Wow!! They could glide and she could kick! I was envious.
Back home around 11:00. Now, those who know me well must be amazed. I’m the one who hates crowds and settles in early, refusing to leave the house after dark. And there I was, swarming with the masses, following musicians and a little donkey, and staying out hours past my bedtime.
It was delightful.
Muffins and baguettes in Alamos? O dear … it is, indeed, more like San Miguel de Allende than my visit a few years back. Hopefully it will return to the sleepy little village after the music fest, where lonely cowboys ride dawn streets. What a tango scene! What fun! Reminds me of Guanajuato.
The group of musicians is called a Estudiantina, and the walking around town singing with a crowd following is called Callejoneada. It is typical of these cultural festivals in colonial towns. You are great at describing! I can almost see everything through your words. There’s more coming I hope!
Yes, Emilie: More! More! Especially for those of us still teaching, but already dreaming of retirement travels!
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