Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Crazy Day in Pátzcuaro

Every place celebrates Fat Tuesday in its own way. Today we learned how Pátzcuaro does it, though other towns around the lake have completely different traditions.

This morning, on the way to the studio, I encountered a parade of children from various schools with their own version of a torito, or "little bull." Mexican children are totally adorable, and when they're marching in a  parade they're especially cute. Each school had its own miniature bull accompanied by students in costume.

Moms and kids with their torito

The adult celebration involves elaborate costumes and masks--all men in drag--and a much larger torito, which is a paper mache bull's head with real horns, a red paper tongue hanging out, and a paper mache body. The man underneath spins and bucks and dances to the music of a small band. These are made in outlying colonias (neighborhoods) and there's a lot of drinking that goes on throughout the day. The torito dancer changes over time based on fatigue and alcohol consumption.

Doesn't the guy on the left look familiar?
As we were in town this evening we saw large unruly groups of semi-sober celebrants coming down the hills toward the plaza with their toritos. When 2 groups are in the same place there's a mock confrontation between the bulls, with a lot of yelling and cheering and loud music, and a cohete  (rocket) or 2 as punctuation. Men circulate to collect money from the crowd, and I guess that as the night goes on and the amount of booze increases there are fights among the groups.

Here's a link to a short YouTube video of the "bullfight."

The confrontation of two toritos

The crowd really gets into it
Eggshells and confetti on the plaza
All last week we kept seeing what looked like colored eggs being sold in the market and on the street. Today we learned what they are--dyed eggshells filled with confetti,that are meant to be cracked on the heads of your friends and fellow celebrants. I watched little kids mash the eggshells over their parents' heads and giggle as the confetti spilled down. Everyone in the plaza this morning had confetti in their hair and the ground was peppered with broken eggshells and colorful dots. We bought some to bring home, so watch out--someday you could have confetti in your hair too!

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and everyone will be somber (and maybe sober), but tonight the party goes on.

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