Last day! some said with a sigh of relief, and we’ll have our town back. But put aside the commercialism of the carnival sideshows and rides, the additional rubbish, thefts, disruptions and noise, and instead focus on the mix of ocean and agriculture, the fishermen and the farmers, which combine to give us, Bucerias, an almost unique flavour of Mexico.
Here we have, especially on the final day, a tradition handed down over the years, peppered with the supposition of the prehispanic dancers – resplendent in their feathers and leather garnishings, showing a not inconsiderable amount of worldly flesh – yet all benignly welcomed at the Church. Colourful, vibrant and memorable, this final day increasingly attracts more visitors every year and hopefully this spike of tourism will help our local businesses to put aside some pesos to survive the long low season summers.
Undeniably nobody is going to miss the early morning cannons – especially our pets.
The pre-Hispanic dancing at the Church was amazing. Scheduled to start at 11.00 it was not just prompt but early, at 10.40 and continued for an hour, dancing non-stop, in full sunshine, with heavy head dresses, the athletic genuflections wistfully admired by the older spectators.
This youngster seemed to be equally amazed looking at the crowds as they were at looking at him.
And then gradually the fishing fleet came into view…and even more people crowded onto the beach in front of the plaza!
The relay team of torch swimmers were loudly applauded – although only a few of them had actually done this appreciable distance, they were joined by others in the waiting offshore boats, and this would have been a good enough swim for most people. Try swimming one handed with the torch in the air ! That team kept the torch above water and it stayed lit all the way until ironically the final swimmer walking out of the water held it aloft and an errant gust of wind extinguished it! The very calm sea this year meant the empty pangas could turn around without any fear or dramatics. The torch was re-lit in time for the procession to the blessing at the church, which included Bahia President Sr Jose who had come over from La Cruz in a panga, believed to be a fiesta first, and our town mayor Sr Tony. President Jose was greeted enthusiastically by everyone. Apart from all he has achieved so far in his first few months of office, he has proved to be a really accessible person, and with kids of his own gave a present to our town kids: 2 hours of fairground rides free, for 5 nights ! At the church, amazingly those pre Hispanic dancers had started all over again – and been going for quite some time!
And then on to the charro to see the Escaramuzas, meaning skirmishers. The promised 4 pm start which we assumed would more likely be 5pm did NOT happen. Hey it’s Mexico and all that. Did any of us actually have a train or a plane to catch? No. And it wasn’t raining or cold. However … it wasn’t until 5.30 that the ice arrived and the beer – which was warm! Typical local snacks for sale, with generous squirts of hot chilli sauce were followed an hour later by delicious cone ice creams with lashings of chocolate. Various updates from one of our Escaramuzas in English included reference to 6pm but we weren’t too sure if that was when the beers would be iced down enough or the show would start!
Time passed during which we saw displays by the younger ladies wearing jeans – they were training. And some of the ladies in red trotted around. A boy twirled a rope; a couple of the men who’d been in the morning’s parade, beers in hand, turned their horses in ever decreasing circles – still with beers in hand.
The band arrived at 6.30 and shortly afterwards the ladies who hd been training came back on wearing their layered petticoat dresses and gave a great display. And then we sat and waited for our ladies in red.
It seemed like the guys had taken over the event with their dancing horses, rope twirling and bullriding, when most of us – and we had a good non Mexican turn out – were there wanting to see the ladies. The bulls were really only calves, except for one which was much larger, and pretty aggressive, horns and all. He had the rider jammed against the wall before the rider was able get back enough control in order to dismount ungainly but safely.
By the time our team in red came on , it was 7.20 and dark and most of the Mexican and non Mexican audience had left!
It was great but unfortunately this was not the Escaramuzas display of last year which entailed several teams from around the Bay. And the exceptionally long wait to see them in action was very trying. However there is a huge competition happening in the Vallarta dedicated ring from 29 Jan, but best to go on the final day, Sunday 01 Feb for the most enjoyment.
And if you managed to make it to the plaza, President Jose had another surprise in store …normally there is just one castillo, the metal firework bearing structure, but for this final night there were five ! An amazing pyrotechnic display not seen before in Bucerias. Yes, it was very smokey and yes, burning embers rained down on the crowd and yes, visitors from other countries were alarmed at the lack of safety – though totally enthralled by it all. This IS Mexico! And this was the Bucerias fiesta 2015. Bravo!