As we wrote in our recently published post, Discovering the Pueblos of Eastern Iztapalapa, we have been intrigued for the past year by a group of originally indigenous pueblos we virtually stumbled across in the eastern portion of that large delegación/alacldía (mayoralty, borough). There are five in the group:
Then, this April, we hit the jackpot. We learned that three of the pueblos, Santa María Aztahuacan; San Sebastián Tecoloxtitla and Santa Martha Acatitla were joining together to hold un gran cierre, a grand closing or finale to the Carnaval season in April. We just had to attend. It was to start in Santa María Aztahuacan and march on to San Sebastián Tecoloxtitla and Santa Martha Acatitla. There was no way we could follow it that whole way, but we could witness its start. So on the appointed Sunday morning, we called a taxi and headed off along the Calzada Ermita-Iztapalapa boulevard to the far side of the delegación. Now somewhat familiar with these pueblos, we quite easily found the parade participants gathering on Avenida México in Santa María Aztahuacan.
Santa María Aztahuacan;
San Sebastián Tecoloxtitla;
Santa Martha Acatitla;
Santa Cruz Meyehualco and
In researching their history, we learned that Santa María Aztahuacan has been a village almost continuously for some 3,000 years, making it one of the oldest in the Valley of Mexico. San Sebastián Tecoloxtitla and Santa Martha Acatitla go back about 2,000 years. We made it first to Santa Martha Acatitla's Carnaval a year ago. It was so grand, colorful and full of ánimo (spirit) that it motivated us all the more to want to visit its sister pueblos. We got to San Sebastián Tecoloxtitla for its patron saint fiesta this past January and also saw a parade of charros, Spanish-style, fancy dressed cowboys.
Carnaval, in general, is famous for being a grand parade, lavish, full of people in diverse costumes, an almost over-the-top extravaganza. This one fulfilled all such expectations. When we arrive, we find huge carros alegóricos, motorized floats, decorated with all kinds of themes ready to carry elegantly dressed princesses representing the various pueblos and their comparsas (parade marching troupes).
|Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent,|
a major indigenous god.
The comparsas consist of two types. Several are composed of Spanish charro cowboys in their elegantly embroidered suits.
The others are comparsas de disfraces, people in disguises of all kinds (think Halloween).
|A carro de disfraz, Alice in Wonderland,|
with the Red Queen, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit and Alice!
And, of course, for each comparsa there is a brass banda to set the tempo and rhythm.
While all the comparsas parade in an orderly manner, each in its place in the line (while there is some beer drinking among spectators, there is no drunken revelry), the sheer number and variety are almost overwhelming to our senses. But then, that's what Carnaval is supposed to be — taking us to the limits of stimulation. We hope the photos that follow convey that.
|The "Pheasant" charros of Santa Martha Acatitla|
|The designs, embroidered in gold thread on the backs of the charro suits,|
are a virtual art gallery, here mostly of mythical themes.
From top left, clockwise: a pheasant, Hercules slaying the Nemean lion (the first of his twelve labors), a royal crest with griffins, a cobra, a fairy creature, a nymph, a geisha, two centaurs battle.
|...and its princess, Vanessa.|
|...and its princess.|
Los Morenos, the dark-skinned ones.
|We particularly like this one|
for its ingenuity of theme and execution,
and its timeliness:
The Donald carries a Mexican on his back.
A classic of Mexican political cartooning.
Yaneli ("the 1st) is the name of the princess.
with a Chinese theme.
|The Sparrow Hawks,|
another comparsa of charros
|Float with its princess|
|Charros, The Eagles|
|Matador and Bull Float|
(We think this is the most amazingly executed float, with thousands of mirrors and
the dynamically sculptured charging bull.)
|Karime is the name of the princess.|
|Disguises of the Barrio|
|A rather more gruesome group|
|An American Bald Eagle?|
The Mexican Eagle is the Golden Eagle.
What "SGM" stands for we don't know.
Our guess is,
"Señorita de la Gran Marcha"
|Even the underside of this sombrero is elaborately embroidered.|
|More dragons, a popular theme.|
(The man with the pole is there to raise overhead electrical wires that could catch on the float.)
|The float is a stunner!|
So is Princess Thayli!
Although it is a bit anomalous: a Conestoga wagon pulled by a buffalo,
with a Native North American (not an Azteca) at the rear.
|And, of course, some onlookers.|
The bib on the baby (far right, below) says,
"I am a reduced and authentic copy of papa."
So that´s Carnaval in Iztapalapa, Mexico City. Hope you enjoyed it.
|Iztapalapa is the large, medium green delegación on the mid-east side of the city.|