Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mexico City's Original Villages-Coyoacán: San Mateo Churubusco - Identity Via Church and Market

From Market to Church

At five o´clock one morning in late September, about a month after we had moved into our apartment in Colonia Parque San Andrés, in Delegación Coyoacán, in August 2011, we were startled awake by the loud explosion of cohetes, rocket-style firecrackers. Collecting our rattled wits, we realized, from our three years of living in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, surrounded by traditional pueblos, that such cohetes going off in la madrugada, pre-dawn hours, were announcing mañanitas, morning prayers, the opening event of a parish fiesta.

From their volume, the explosions were evidently from a church very nearby but of which we were unaware. The cohetes continued to go off every few hours from dawn to dusk and into the early darkness for an entire week. Some fiesta!

We knew that two short blocks north of us was another colonia, neighborhood, with a typical Mexican indoor mercado, market, Mercado Churubusco. The real estate agent who showed us the apartment and arranged our rental had pointed it out to us as a convenient source of fresh foods. We had investigated it shortly after moving in, and it has been our neighborhood market ever since.

Mercado Churubusco, built in the mid-20th century
when the city constructed many indoor markets to bring vendors inside 

from the traditional tianguis, outdoor street markets.

"Luncheonette" counter at the mercado entrance
Mixteca is an indigenous people from Oaxaca

hence the style of food served.

"Mickey", Miguel,
with the best fresh fruits.
Note the mangos!
Blackberries year-round!
Arturo, his brother,
with the freshest vegetables.

Their father and mother 
sold fruits and vegetables in the
neighborhood's tianguis, street market.

Besides fresh fruits and vegetables, there are also individually owned puestos, stalls, where we buy fresh chicken and dried beans of several kinds. There are deli counters for ranchero cheese (good on tortas, rolls), luncheon meats, yogurt and the like. In the "household goods" section to the rear, we can buy cleaning utensils, light bulbs, flower pots and paper goods. There is also a plumber, an electrician, a key-maker and an optometrist! At the rear is a sizeable restaurant serving basic Mexican comidas (main afternoon meal). Unfortunately, there is no bakery or fish counter such as existed in the much larger Pátzcuaro mercado

Crossing a frontier in time

The mercado, with all its traditional Mexican flavors, literal and cultural, is in El Barrio San Mateo Churubusco. While San Mateo, St. Matthew, has some quite upscale private homes, similar to those in San Andrés, it is mostly a lower-middle class, working-class neighborhood. It is very small, even tiny—essentially one block wide from north to south and two or three shorts blocks long east to west, between the Calzada de Tlalpan highway and Avenida Division del Norte. If one didn't live in it, or next to it as we do, you would likely not notice it or know it exists as a distinct community.

The double name, San Mateo Churubusco—combining a saint's name with an apparently indigenous one—gives a clue that it is a pueblo originario, an original indigenous village. So when we walk to the mercado, when we cross Mártires IrlandesesIrish Martyrs? in Mexico? We'll get to that in our next post—we are crossing not just a street between neighborhoods of differing socio-economic levels, we are also crossing a frontier between modern Mexico City and the vestiges of an ancient world.

From Huitzilopochco to Churubusco

Huitzilopochco ("Wee-tzeel-lo-POCH-ko", from the náhuatl huitzitzilin, "hummingbird"; and yopochtli, "left or southern direction (based on the path of the sun)"—hence, "hummingbird from the south"), was an indigenous settlement on an island close to the southwestern shore of Lake Texcoco. It was a fishing village before the Mexicas/Aztecs of Tenochtitlan took control of the atepetls (city-states) and pueblos around the entire lake in 1430.

One codex relating the history of the Mexica migration through the Valley of Anahuac narrates that the settlement they called Huitzilopochco was a town originally called Ciavichilat, whose tutelary god was named Opochtli (evidently a Nahuatl name), a god of water and fishing. When the Mexica encountered the village, since their god, Huitzilopochtliand Opochtli, "left or southern direction "—hence, "hummingbird from the south") shared the same last part of his name with the god of Ciavictilat, the two peoples agreed they must be related. The people were obviously Nahuatl-speaking and likely under the rule of Cuhuacán, across the narrow strait. Even when the Mexica took control, they continued to have Huitzilopochco administered by the former altepetl of Culhuacán. 

Like Huitzilopochtli, Opochtli was also a warrior god. So, according to the legend, the people of the village agreed to change its name, first to Uichilat, and later to Huitzilopochco. Our hunch is that the change of name was not so cooperatively achieved as the codex relates but was likely imposed by the Mexica after they took control of the Valley and initiated building the causeway south across the bay in Lake Texcoco to the strategically located village. They would have wanted their god to be the overseer of this important southern access to their capital.

Huitzilopochco lay at the strategic point where Lake Xochimilco
emptied into Lake Texcoco.

Altepetls and other villages
 around the southwest bay of Lake Texcoco
and on its many islands.
At the height of the Mexica/Azteca rule
 in the late 15th century.

Huitzilopochco appears (at bottom, center) as a peninsula,

but evidently was originally an island,
then connected to the mainland via landfill.

When the Mexica took control of the valley, they built a causeway south from their island city to the village in order to connect with Coyoacán and other important villages in the southwest part of the Valley of Anahuac. They built a temple to Huitzilopochtli there. Footpaths from there led west to Coyoacán and south to Huipulco, Tlalpan and Xochimilco. As it was located at the crossroads between these important settlements in the southwestern part of the Valley of Anahuac and Tenochtitlan, Huitzilopochco had a major tianguis, or open-air market, where goods were exchanged. So our neighborhood Mercado Churubusco has ancient roots.

After the Spanish Conquest, in 1535, the Franciscans—as part of the Spiritual Conquest—came from nearby Coyoacán to Huitzilopochco. They tore down the temple to Huitzilopochtli that stood near the entrance to the causeway. There they built a convent and church dedicated to la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, The Assumption of Our Lady(into Heaven upon her earthly death). In 1569, they abandoned the site because of lack of sufficient friars. Nevertheless, the Franciscans remained active in the area of Coyoacán, founding chapels in Hueytetitlan (now Quadrante de San Francisco, (Tres Reyes) Quiáhuac, (Niño Jesus) Tehuitzco and (San Pablo) Tetlapan, (Holy Cross) Atoyac, to the north and (San Sebastián) Axoyla, to the west.

Meanwhile, in the 1550s, the Bishop of Mexico ordered the building of a chapel in Churubusco dedicated to la Santa Cruz, the Holy Cross. It was to be a parochial church, under the bishop's direction, served by what are called secular clergy, i.e. appointed by and reporting to the bishop, rather than by the Franciscans or another religious order independent of the bishop's control. 

As we have written elsewhere, this power struggle between bishops and the independent religious orders over the control of the churches in Mexico went on for some years until in the mid-18th century when the Pope gave the Bishop of Mexico control of all the churches formerly founded and run by the religious orders, turning them into parochial churches.

In 1591, the Order of San Diego, a branch of the Third Order of the Franciscans, whose first friars had arrived in Nueva España in 1576, took over the abandoned church of la Asunción de Nuestra Señora. The "Diegans", as they were called for short, built a larger church and convent dedicated to Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, Our Lady of the Angels, that is, the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven after her Assumption. The church Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles and its former convent still stand a few blocks north of San Mateo Churubusco, in its sister Barrio of San Diego Churubusco, which we will visit in our next post.

The name Churubusco is thought to be a Spanish corruption of the name Huitzilopochco. How they got from one to the other is anyone's guess. Our personal hypothesis, unsupported by any evidence, is that since Huitzilopochtli was the main god of the Mexica, the Spanish wanted to obliterate any reference to him, just as they obliterated his temples and idols. 

Celebrating San Mateo 

At some point, the church of Santa Cruz became dedicated to San Mateo, the apostle St. Matthew. Excavations around the church have found indigenous artifacts that possibly indicate the site was another Mexica temple. 

Chapel of San Mateo, St. Matthew
Archeologist think that a Mexica temple to Huitzilopochtli
may have stood there previously.

The Chapel of San Mateo has been renovated various times but retains its original exterior simplicity. The interior is equally simple, except for a Baroque retablo added in the 18th century.

The chapel is dressed up for the annual fiesta patronal,
Fiesta de San Mateo, the week of Sept. 21.

The enclosed, paved atrio (atrium) in front of the church also extends along the north side, where it becomes a tree-shaded space that serves as a kind of plaza for the neighborhood. 

The feast day for San Mateo, the gospel writer St. Matthew, is September 21. As we learned our first September in Coyoacán, the tiny barrio celebrates for an entire week. So late morning on September 21 (we aren't up for mañanitas en la madrugada, morning prayers in the pre-dawn hours), we walk the four blocks from our apartment to the chapel of San Mateo.

Tapete de aserrín, sawdust carpet
Depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe
surrounded by roses and colibrís, hummingbirds.

Arriving at the calleja, narrow street, in front of the chapel, we are greeted by a traditional tapete de aserrín, a carpet of colored sawdust. It displays an equally traditional Virgen de Guadalupe, the mestizo (mixed-race) Holy Mother of Mexico, who united the indigenous people and the Spanish faith. She is surrounded by roses, a symbol of the Virgin, and colibrís, hummingbirds. They are a subtle but explicit symbolic reference to the original indigenous name of the community, "Hummingbird of the South".

San Mateo as a Mexica/Azteca Eagle Warrior

Farther along the street is another tapete. This one is even more explicit and surprising in its reference to the community's indigenous orgins—portraying the Christian St. Matthew as a Mexica/Azteca Eagle Warrior. Eagle Warriors, along with Jaguar Warriors, were one of the two elite corps in the Mexica army. Talk about the fusion of traditions!

"St. Matthew, bless us."
Portada, of artificial flowers,
decorates the entrance to the atrio

Passing beneath the portada decorating the entrance to the atrio, we find that preparations for the fiesta have not quite been completed. 

Shaking sawdust
to create another tapete,
this one portraying the chapel.
Two castillos, "castles"
for evening fireworks.
A third castillo is being assembled,
as there will be fireworks for three nights.

Nevertheless, the fiesta is already in full swing. We have just missed a dance performance.

Aztec danzante tunes his lute,
another gift of the Moors to Spain,
and the "Western" world.
Mixture of indigenous 
and "Western" instruments.
Plumed Serpent on the rear drum 

is the god, Quetzalcóatl.

An Aztec danzante group has just finished. Such groups frequently appear at fiestas in Mexico City and sometimes perform in public plazas. We once saw dozens of them performing in the plaza at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, after which they entered the Basilica for a Mass said on their behalf. Each group represented a specific pueblo or barrio around the City, so each pueblo was being honored and blessed as much as each group of danzantes. (See our post: Traditional Indigenous Dancers: Concheros and Danzantes Aztecas

But we are not disappointed for long.

Chinelos, dancers in Moorish-style "disguises".
These dancers come from a pueblo on Mt. Ajusco,
several miles south, at the southern boundary of the City.

Next, there are chinelos, dancers "disguised" in Moorish-style costumes, whom we have encountered various times in our recent following of el Señor de la Misericordia, the Lord of Compassion, through the original pueblos of Coyoacán.

Caporales, cowgirls, twirl

The chinelos are followed, in turn, by a group of caporales, cowgirls and cowboys, in their Spanish-Mexican dress. So we have already experienced four cultures: Indigenous, Moorish, Spanish and their Mexican synthesis!

Tradition lives on!

And, of course, accompanied by la banda!

Enjoying the fiesta,
with chinelo puppet.
"Super papa,"
Granddad and grandson

The performances then segue into the next event:

La banda leads off into the procession.
Note the presence of yet another culture!

All-important coheteros
go several yards in front....
...announcing the approach 
of the procession

"Long live San Mateo"
and his pueblo, (people/village)

Our Lady of the Angels,
from neighboring San Diego Churubusco,
joins the procession.

From Church Back to Market

The procession moves down the narrow calleja at the side of the chapel, passing the market.

The Churubusco Mercado,
has been freshly painted by the recently elected government of Delegación Coyoacán,

The sign, upper left, reads, "Coyoacán: Tradition and Vanguard"
The City government has pledged financial support for the traditional mercados
in the face of competition from Walmart and other "supermercados".

Sacred and Secular,
Church and Mercado, the core combination of Mexican pueblo identity.

Circling that other center of community life, el mercado, the procession moves along Calle Mártirés Irlandeses, bringing us back to where we began, the corner of Calle California that is the entrance to Colonia Parque San Andrés. So here we part ways with traditional Mexico and our neighboring pueblo originario, San Mateo Churubusco, and head home to modern Mexico City.

Pues, well, fronteras (frontiers, borders) are rather porous in Mexico.
Around the corner from el mercado,
on California Street in upscale Parque San Andrés,
a family sets up business selling rolls and fresh quesadillas,
Here, they are traditional blue corn tortillas

baked on a comal (grill, originally of stone, now sheet metal,
heated by a portable tank of gas),
and filled with various veggies and cheese.
Note the Mexican ingenuity of using tires to hold up
the umbrellas of their portable enterprise.
The tianguis (ancient open-air market) lives!

Delegaciones of Mexico City
Coyoacán is the purple delegación in the center.

San Mateo Churubusco is small, green area just to the right (east) of the star.
Parque San Andrés is Mexico City Ambles' home base.

See also:
Mexico City's Original Villages: Introduction - Landmarks of the Spiritual Conquest
The Spiritual Conquest: The Franciscans - Where It All Began
Mexico City's Original Villages: Coyoacán's Many Pueblos
Coyoacán: Pueblo of Tres Santos Reyes and the Lord of Compassion
Coyoacán: The Lord of Compassion Goes Visiting
Coyoacán: The Lord of Compassion Visits Barrios San Lucas and Niño Jesús, the Child Jesus 
Coyoacán: Pueblo Candelaria Welcomes the Lord of Compassion  
Coyoacán: The Lord of Compassion Travels from San Pablo Tepetlapa to Santa Úrsula Coapa 
Coyoacán: The Lord of Compassion Returns Home to Pueblo Tres Santos Reyes 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mexico City's Original Villages-Coyoacán: The Lord of Compassion Returns Home to Pueblo Tres Santos Reyes

One Sunday morning in April, following the sound of exploding cohetes, rocket-style firecrackers, that we heard from our balcony in Colonia Parque San Andrés in Delegación Coyoacán, we had the good fortune to encounter El Señor de la Misericordia, the Lord of Compassion, in his home pueblo of Los Tres Santos Reyes, The Three Saintly Kings.

Through the further good fortune of being befriended by a resident of the pueblo, Sr. Roberto Llanos (YAH-nos), we learned of El Señor's visitas during the late spring and summer to a number of other pueblos and barrios in Coyoacán. So, since the end of May, we have been following his travels through several of those neighborhoods.

El Señor de la Misericordia
leaves Pueblo Tres Santos Reyes at the end of May,
beginning his visits to other pueblos in Coyoacán.

All these neighborhoods have their origins in pueblos originarios, original indigenous villages that existed in the Valley of Mexico when the Spanish arrived in 1519. The travels of El Señor and the fiestas celebrating his transfer from one pueblo to the next, are living manifestations of the process of Spiritual Conquest, carried out by Franciscans and other religious orders, by which indigenous faith and the culture it embodied were transformed into a "westernized" Spanish Catholic one.

Throwing the House Out the Window

So, the first weekend in September, we return to the intersection of Pacifico and Candelaria Avenues, in the center of Coyoacán, to witness and participate in the last stage of El Señor's peripatetic journey. It was here, at the end of June, that we watched his transfer from Barrio Niño Jesús to Pueblo Candelaria, where he resided for two weeks before moving on to San Pablo Tepetlapa and other pueblos in the south of the delegación. In late August, he returned to Candelaria for a second stay of two weeks.

Today, El Señor is returning home to Tres Reyes, which is next door to Candelaria. In our prior visit to the intersection, we were amazed that the saint's transfer was accompanied by a sizeable procession of other saints from a number of pueblos, each on their flower-covered palanquin. We wonder what we will encounter today.

Back in April, Sr. Llanos alerted us that El Señor's return to Tres Reyes was the biggest fiesta of the year for his pueblo—even bigger than that of its namesakes on Three Kings' Day, January 6. He shared a Mexican dicho, saying, regarding Mexican's emotional and financial investment in their fiestas, "echamos la casa por la ventana", "We throw the house out the window".

The Scene Is Set

Royal carpet laid out for El Señor
tapete de aserrín, sawdust carpet
Roses are a symbol of the Virgin Mary

Crossing Pacifico from where we exit our taxi, we see right away that today's event is on a grand scale. The largest tapete de aserrín, carpet of colored sawdust, we have ever seen, runs for at least 100 feet north, up the south-bound lanes of the Avenue. At the far end is a huge portada, gateway, covered in a design made of fresh flowers. To the south, across Avenida Candelaria, is another portada, and a small tapete.

"With offerings of your pueblo, Lord, and given that we offer them with fervor,
we receive salvation"

 Quite an escenario, stage, has been set!

Mock sword fights.
Cross of the Sacred Heart

A group of men and boys, dressed in medieval-style costumes, is enacting mock sword fights, while a banda plays. 


The all-important tuba

Waiting for The Lord

Curious about the portada at the north end, and the apparent crowd gathered there, we walk up alongside the huge tapete.

"I am the resurrection. He that believes in me, even though he may die, shall live."
El Señor de la Misericordia is depicted in the center.
He is the persecuted Christ, who dies but rises again to eternal life.

Just beyond the portada, we come upon a palanquin that is on the same scale as the tapete and the portada.

God, the Father, sits in front of a great Sun, universal symbol of His Holy Presence,
 awaiting the arrival of el 
Señor de la Misericordia.
He holds the World in His Hands (Mexico is bright yellow).
He is accompanied by two archangels
and surrounded by some of the Fruits of the Earth. 

Second Señor de la Misericordia
We recall, from our initial visit to Pueblo Tres Reyes,
that there are two, evidently identical, Señores de la Misericordia
One stays home while the other goes visiting.

At the front, a Golden Bull!

We are taken aback by the presence of a Golden Bull at the front of the palanquin. So we ask one of the bearers standing nearby about its inclusion: "Oh, bulls were pagan gods before Christianity." 

Our hunch is confirmed. Again, in Mexican Catholicism we encounter references to the replacement of pagan faith by the Christian. This time the symbol is not indigenous, but one that goes back to the Egyptian Bull God, Apsis, complete with a solar disk between his horns. As symbols of the powers of fertility and aggression, hence, life and death, bulls were sacred in the Mediterranean culture of Minoan Crete; later, they were brought by the Phoenicians to what is now Spain. We recall the presence of the playful El Torito, Little Bull, in many Mexican fiestas.

Other children are seated on the palanquin, cast in various roles in the sacred story and patiently waiting for the action to begin:

Moses, who overthrew the paganism 
of the Golden Calf with monotheism

Dubious Franciscan
It's a long wait.

Suspecting that they must have a colloquial Mexican name, we ask another attendant what the palanquins are called.
"Andas", he replies (from andar "to walk on" or "go ahead"). 
In hindsight, it's obvious!

Behind the large anda, a virtual host of saints is lined up, awaiting El Señor:

Clockwise, from upper left: 
Lord of the Column, St. Sebastian, St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary, St. Jane of the Lakes, St. Luke, 
Child Jesus, St. Jude, Child Jesus, Christ on the Cross, St. Sebastian. 

Feligreses y Asiduos, Parishioners and Regular Attendees

Meanwhile, people from Pueblo Candelaria, Tres Reyes and other neighborhoods begin to gather around the tapete in anticipation of El Señor's arrival from Candelaria and his transfer to the care of his home parishioners.

As we are savoring the building anticipation, we hear another banda arriving from the north. We look up the avenue to see a group of our favorite participants in these fiestas coming toward us.

Chinelos, Moorish-style dancers,
such as we met at San Pablo Tepetlapa and San Lorenzo Huipulco

Mask and costume are a mixture of 
spoof of the Spanish (blue eyes), 
imagined Moors 
and Mexican artistry


All of this is in accompaniment of another saint.

El Niño Jesús,
from the Barrio of that name.

The Lord Arrives

Meanwhile, there is evident action at the south end of the tapete. Working our way down the now-crowded sidelines, with many "¿Con permisos?" "With permission (to pass)?", we discover that El Señor has arrived from Pueblo Candelaria and is already on his way towards his home parishioners.

El Señor de la Misericordia
The Lord of Compassion

El Señor has been brought by Our Lady of Candelaria,
accompanied by a huge mariposa, butterfly,
and a swarm of smaller ones.
Butterflies were an indigenous symbol of rebirth.

We "con permiso" our way back north to try to get the best possible view of the entrega, the dramatic moment of the delivery of El Señor to his pueblo, his people.

The Lord of Compassion
is flanked by the Virgin of Candelaria (right).
and St. Michael, the Archangel, patron saint of Mexico.

El Señor is carried up the tapete de asarrín by feligreses of Pueblo Candelaria.
Rose petals are strewn in his path.

El Señor is placed on the anda of Tres Reyes.
God seems to be excited, but the archangels don't seem impressed.

The anda is raised by some two dozen men of the confradía, brotherhood,
of the parish of Tres Reyes and, at last, the procession begins. 

La Procesión

The large anda, now bearing both Señores de la Misericordia, along with the Heavenly Host, Moses, the Golden Bull and assorted other figures of faith, has to be lifted by the men of the confradía of Tres Reyes, and turned around in order to be born up Pacifico. It is followed by all the other saints.

A block north, we meet another surprise. In the middle of the intersection is a castillo, a "castle", actually a tower, hung with fireworks. Usually, these are built in the atrios of churches hosting a fiesta and are ignited the last night of the celebrations. As the procession arrives, this castillo is lit, accompanied by a barrage of cohetes. Its various figures shoot off more cohetes, which cause them to spin.

"Bless your pueblo, Lord"
Pavo reales, Royal turkeys,
i.e., peacocks, are favorite symbols
At the climax, a scroll drops,
displaying an image of El Señor,
and confetti is spewed

The crowd watches raptly (más o menos, more or less) and applauds.

At this point, we also run into some people we recognize from earlier processions of El Señor.

Sr. Domingo González, 
Member of the Fiesta Committee
of el Pueblo de Los Tres Santos Reyes.
We have seen him 

at many previous processions,
keeping a close eye on El Señor. 
Sr. Roberto Llanos and his wife,
of el Pueblo Los Tres Santos Reyes.
We owe to him our coming to know 

and being able to follow El Señor de la Misericordia
in his visitas through the pueblos of Coyoacán.
With muchas gracias

we dedicate our series of posts about El Señor to him.

After the castillo has expended its rockets, the procession turns into Calle Real de los Reyes, the Royal Street of the Kings! Here it enters el Pueblo itself. The threshold is marked by another large, flower-covered portada—the third one along the procession's path.

"That you may know the truth and the truth will make you free."

¡Aguantar con orgullo! Bearing with pride!

As we enter the narrow calleja, side street, characteristic of traditional barrios, we step aside from the dense flow of the procession to take a look at it as a spectator.

Yet another banda goes by, this one composed of jóvenes, youth.

Focused intensity,
and big brother keeps an eye.

We see that, in addition to the many andas that were awaiting El Señor when we arrived at the intersection of Pacifico and Candelaria, even more have now joined the procession. But besides marveling at their numerous saints and multitudinous flowers, our attention is also drawn to the effort being expended by those bearing the heavy structures.


"¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?"
"Am I not here, I who am your mother?"
The statement of the Virgin of Gudalupe to San Juan Diego.
The children are dressed as Aztecs.
The Pope, who visited Mexico last February,
is portrayed to the right rear.
The covered structure is a model of the modern
Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
in northern Mexico City.
This anda is the quintessential image of the Spiritual Conquest
we have been exploring.

The men take a brief rest from their labors.

Women, too, bear the weight of some of the andas

...with much pride.
Shoulder "lump" is cushion
to protect from the weight.

Orgullo (Or-GOO-yo), Pride in their work and in their pueblo.

and appreciation!

Adapted Tradition                        

Watching all this esfuerzo para aguantar, effort expended to bear the heavy weight of the andas and their sacred passengers—both statuesque and living—through the streets of the pueblo, we recall that the tradition of these processions of saints is another import of the Spanish friars from medieval Catholic Europe as one of their instruments of Spiritual Conquest, of religious and cultural conversion. 

Nevertheless, we are struck by the commitment and pride with which this sacred ritual is carried on, literally, by Mexican men and women of all ages. They display a true pride of ownership. They are proud of their pueblos, their identity and their personal sacrifice given to maintain both. We think back to the first flowered portada of this fiesta, at the corner of Pacifico and Candelaria, in the middle of the modern megalopolis that is Mexico City: 
"With offerings of your pueblo, Lord, and given that we offer them with fervor, we receive salvation." 
It isn't ours to know about eternal salvation and how it might be achieved, but continuity of an ancient and proud communal identity, Yes! For this, "echamos la casa por la ventana, "We throw the house out the window".

Note: A number of children, and some adults, are wearing traditional Mexican attire.
Mexican Independence Day is less than two weeks away.

El Señor Arrives Home

"The kingdom of God is among us."
A fitting statement of community as sacred.

The procession makes another turn into Calle Plazuela de los Reyes, Street of the Little Plaza of the Kings, which leads to the church of Tres Santos Reyes, the Three Saintly Kings, where the journey of El Señor—and our adventure through some of the original pueblos of Coyoacán—began more than three months ago.

Calle Plazuela de los Reyes

The narrow street and the small plaza are jammed with people, small juegos mechánicos, mechanical rides, and puestos selling "fair bread" and other food. Not to speak of numberless andas that are now unloading their saints, which are to be carried into the church along with their host, El Señor. It is nearly impossible to approach the church. 

Another anda that we did not see in the procession.
We wonder how many there were in all.

Thankfully, familar with the space from our previous visits, we are able to wend our way around the edge of the plaza, past some parked andas, to the base of a large flagpole that sits atop a zócalo, a pedestal, probably twelve feet high and four yards square, accessable by a narrow metal stairway.  Sr. Llanos reminded us, when we met him earlier, that it was a good place from which to take photos.

Muchachos y muchachas, teenage boys and girls, have pretty much claimed the space as their own, but muy amable, they make room for us near the top of the stairs.

Castillo ready for its pyrotechnic display after dark.
Ójala, God willing, the rains will continue to hold off.
It is the height of the rainy season.

El Señor de la Misericordia,
The Lord of Compassion, returns home.
It is believed that touching his garment will bring a blessing.

"Your pueblo adores you, Lord."
The three kings accompany his image.
The fifth and final portada of the fiesta.

Once El Señor has entered the sanctuary, the crowd—those who haven't entered with Him—disperse to enjoy the feria, the fair part of the festivities, with its food and rides. The fair fills not only tiny Plazuela de los Reyes, but also the two west-bound lanes of the modern-day boulevard that passes behind the church as it cuts across the middle of the old pueblo.

With that ancient act of sweepíng
that we have seen so many times,
the ritual of las visitas del Señor comes to an end.

Gracias por compartirlas
We give thanks for having been able to share in them.

Pueblo Tres Santos Reyes is starred green.
Pueblo Candelaria is yellow to its southeast.
Colonia Parque San Andrés (gold, to northeast)
is Mexico City Ambles' homebase.