Another week in Sayulita. Another high season week that brought another sweetly surprising, utterly entertaining series of events. This being the week of the Celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, there is naturally, the usual kerfuffle, starting with the 5 o’clock in the morning ka-booming of the cannon, waking the town up so people will get to church on time, on time being 6 a.m. Mass. The rest of us, especially our visitors who don’t know about this Guadalupe business, leap out of bed in consternation, then fall back into bed when the margarita hangover kicks in. Or maybe the Catholics among us crawl off to Mass as well, to assuage the guilt of having had way too good a time the night before.
After all, how can you not have a good time in downtown Sayulita this week? Every night, there has been a parade, or a Peregrinacion, as they are called, as each of our little neighborhoods or barrios assembles its version of the vision of the Virgin, puts her up on the back of a nicely decorated truck, and drives her downtown, followed by all the people of the neighborhood carrying lit candles. There is usually a marching band as well, and a troupe of dancers following along behind the virgin, played by a solemn teenage girl standing in Guadalupe pose behind the cab of the truck, encircled by décor to suggest her radiant aura. A group of campesinos, played by small boys, kneels at her feet, and a guy operating a small generator hangs at the back of the truck powering the lights. It is a sweet little scenario.
What it represents is something more serious to practicing Catholics: this is the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Patrona of Mexico, the Queen of the Americas. The whole thing comes to a head on December 12th, when all of Mexico celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe as she miraculously appeared on Tepeyac, a hill on the north side of Mexico City, to Saint Juan Diego back in 1531. Coincidentally or not, this was also the site where the pre-Columbian tribes worshipped the mother goddess Tonantzin. Thus the young women with their Aztec-looking head garb, dancing down the Sayulita streets behind the Virgin on the truck.
This is all well and good, and serious business to those who take it seriously, but for everybody else it’s a great excuse for a nightly party in the plaza, where these little parades end up. On Friday, this plaza fiesta took a turn for the very interesting and ultra-retro-cool with a live concert put on by a jazz band—and this was not your typical jazz quartet. No. This was practically an orchestra. Four saxophones, three trumpets, three trombones, keyboards, bass, two percussionists, and a woman in a little black dress out front, swaying, occasionally doing a vocal lead, and playing the tambourine. They didn’t steamroll us with the usual overwhelmingly loud, unsophisticated banda music; no, instead they played a bunch of great arrangements of classic American and Latin jazz numbers. They could have held their own at the Tropicana Club in Havana in 1953. 14 guys in black suits, white shirts, and ties, the horns blowing tight harmonies, the outfront girl hip-swaying to the beat, the percussion and bass powering along underneath. These gentlemen were well-rehearsed, seasoned pros, reading charts off of music stands because the music they played was complex and challenging. They put on a fabulous show.
What a treat, to head into town not know what to expect, and to get to hear a band like that blowing their melodies across the Sayulita plaza!
Of course we went downtown for a reason, that reason being the very successful fund-raising party put on by Sayulitanimals, a local non-profit which has done so much to get Sayulita’s animal population healthy: fed, sheltered, and under control. The party was themed around women wearing high-heels. Good job, gals, navigating the cobblestoned streets in your sexy shoes, especially after cocktail bar, and cocktail, number 4 or 5. And thanks to the restaurant/bars for hosting the worthwhile event: Sayulita Public House, Don Chow’s, Afortunado’s, Don Pedro, and Escondido.