Ottawa/San Miguel - reflections on Life

Trip Start Dec 04, 2012
Trip End Dec 31, 2016

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Friday, June 14, 2013

Mis Estimados Compadres,
Amigos, Amigas, Compañeros y Compañeras:

Now. Here. This . Ahora. Aquí. Esta.

I am no longer a Citizen of Canada....
I have joined the International Community and have become a Citizen of the World..

On my trip from San Miguel to Mexico City to Toronto to Ottawa
I reflected on what an amazing species human being are.....
Going through Mexico City there were millions of cars, 16 lane highways, huge gigantic clover leafs, huge aqueducts bringing water to the millions of people in Mexico City from 100's of miles away... Mexico City may be the largest city in the world - and if it is not the largest city in the world, it is one of the largest cities in the world ... Home of Carlos Slim (Solinas), richest man in the world. University of Mexico, largest University in the world (enrolment of 300,000)... Largest Bull Ring Stadium in the world, largest Spanish speaking nation in the world.. The pyramids North of Mexico City are the largest pyramids in the world (larger than the largest pyramids in Egypt), built more than 2,000 years ago.......  there are 1,000's of pyramids all over Mexico that were built 1,000's of years ago, by hand....
Human Beings are like ants - building anthills all over the world - really big anthills like Mexico City.. Human Beings are like ants - except that Human Beings are bigger and better than ants
- a lot bigger than ants and a lot better than ants..
Building millions of cars, 16 lane highways, buses, trains, aeroplanes, huge building reaching high into the sky.....
Flying from one anthill (Mexico City) to another anthill (Toronto) in a self contained bubble at 30,000 ft. at more than 500 miles per hour - human beings are an amazing species - much bigger than ants and much better than ants...
Although it is a little bit humbling to think of myself as just being another ant among many ants......

Some of the fun that I am missing out on in San Miguel.
El Dia de los Locos - The Day of the Crazies:

Two articles on El Dia de Los Locos - The Day of the Crazies
At the following two links:   .

Both articles are reprinted below after my adios's......

You only live until you die....

 Viva La Mexico
Adios Mis Compadres
y Mis Amigos, Amigas, Compañeros y Compañeras:
Senor Mexico Dave


El Dia de los Locos by Gordon Jett 

Gordon Jett and his wife Betty have lived in San Miguel for seven years. Gordon is a regular contributor to MF.  

San Miguel de Allende is said to have more fiestas and parades than anywhere else in Mexico. When there is a period on the calendar with no celebrations, they make one up. So it is with El Dia de los Locos, Day of the Crazies, held each year in mid-June.  

In the 17th and 18th centuries Catholic priests introduced San Pascual Bailon as the patron saint of field workers and kitchen workers. The newly converted Mexicans celebrated his "day" on May 17 by decorating themselves with tools and other symbols of their labor and dancing to the sounds of pagan flutes and drums.  

To keep the paraders and observers separated, some paraders were dressed as scarecrows and their characteristic movements were described as “loco,” i.e., crazy. Somewhere along the way, paraders dressed as clowns replaced the field and kitchen workers, though the music and the dances stayed the same.  

San Antonio de Padua's day was celebrated on June 13th and it had its own dances. But the dances of San Pascual Bailon were so popular that they were also used for San Antonio’s celebration. Gradually the two celebrations melded and are now celebrated as one on the first Sunday following June 13.  

Nowadays, neighborhood groups or groups of workers join together to make elaborate special costumes. Some ride on the back of trucks decorated as floats and some march the route. Almost all have bands or recorded music which competes in a glorious cacophony that is so characteristic of Mexico. Early on, the marchers handed out pears to the people along the parade route, but now each group throws candy into the crowd, causing even more noisy mayhem.  

Day of the Crazies is Mexico at its best – happy families making noise in a blend of religious and pagan celebrations. Just one of the reasons San Miguel is now in the top ten of tourist destinations worldwide!

So Loco: The Day of the Crazies in San Miguel de Allende Submitted by Tom Johnston on Fri, 2012-07-06 16:28 Fri, 2012-07-06 Pascual Baylon Yubero was born into a peasant family in 1540 and spent his youth toiling in the fields of Aragon, Spain, tending his meager flock of sheep.  Consumed by devotion to God and commitment to prayer, Pascual joined the Franciscan order as young man and dedicated his life to veneration of the eucharist and abnegated service to his Franciscan brothers as shepherd and cook.  Numerous miracles on behalf of the poor and aggrieved were attributed to him, and following his death in 1592, Pascual Baylon was beatified by Pope Paul V and canonized as a saint of the Catholic church by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690.  

It is said that San Pascual Baylon’s passion for prayer was such that he was given to ecstatic visions, most notably of the Holy Eucharist, which appears in most representations of the self-effacing saint.  In reading up on San Pascual’s legacy, we were moved to wonder if his visions had ever come to include, say, a mariachi band made up entirely of Bart Simpsons, or perhaps a bright green outerspaceling in full Santos Laguna football kit.  Sound crazy?  Oh, it’s crazy: It’s the Day of the Crazies in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico -- el Día de los Locos -- and it’s loonier than an extremely loony mountain goat.  Here’s how San Pascual got the party train rolling:

Although he was actually designated as patron saint of eucharistic congresses by Pope Leo XIII in 1897, since much earlier San Pascual had come to be known as patron of field and kitchen workers, for his lifelong labor as shepherd and cook.  Since the 17th century, pilgrims from around southeastern Spain have gathered in the village of Orito on May 17, San Pascual’s feast day, for the Romería a San Pascual, a celebration in his honor featuring music, dancing and revelry.  Over in the colonies, the relatively recent converts to Catholicism were keen to get on board, and in the central Mexican town of San Miguel the agricultural workers, known as hortelanos, initiated a tradition of dancing to their patron each year on May 17.  According to tradition, the hortelanos danced to flute and tambourine, some dressed as scarecrows, and gave away fruit and vegetables from their fields to the townspeople who gathered to see them.  One version of local lore holds that in time, members of the higher social classes, eager to beseech San Pascual for favors, began to join in the dances.  To avoid being recognized in such a vulgar pursuit, the social strivers would conceal their identities with wild disguises, thus the “locos” or crazies.

But San Pascual wasn’t the only saint in town.  He was outranked by the venerable Saint Anthony of Padua, who had been canonized in 1232, served as patron saint for a veritable grab bag of themes, and was represented in old San Miguel by the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua, located on Saint Anthony Plaza along Saint Anthony street in the Saint Anthony neighborhood.  The parishioners took their San Antonio seriously.   So when the feast day of San Antonio de Padua rolled around on June 13, up went the streamers along San Antonio street and out came the tambourines and flutes, and oh, they danced.  Such was the fervor of the Feast of San Antonio that in time it snowballed into a serious rager, joined by various cuadros, or platoons, of merrymakers from other neighborhoods.  These came to include a cuadro that danced “El Torito,” a traditional folk dance from the nearby town of Silao which featured costumes simulating ranch hands and an ill-tempered bull; the Los Locos cuadro fresh off their own feast day the previous month; and others such as Los Gallos, La Danza Grande and Los Jardineros.  By the early 20th century, the two saints’ celebrations had largely morphed into one, and as the years went by, the costumes of the revelers became ever more barmy.

Today, the once humble offering by agricultural workers in honor of their patron has come a long way.  The event now takes place each year on the first Sunday following June 13, and city government has issued guidelines for the parade to maintain order and safety.  Parade representatives work together with the departments of Public Safety, Transportation and the Municipal President’s office to closely coordinate the festivities.  The over 1,000 costumed Locos are organized into four large cuadros, named Cuadro del Parque, Cuadro Nuevo, Cuadro Antiguo and Cuadro del Tecolote, according to veteran Loco Emigdio “El Gordo” Ledesma, who has danced in the parade for over 50 years.  Mr. Ledesma told us that each cuadro is made up of 16 groups, each of which may include up to 40 or so dancers and chooses a theme for its costumes each year.  The costumes, ranging from simple to astonishingly elaborate, are made largely by the dancers themselves in the weeks prior to the event.  The dancers ride on or alongside colorfully festooned floats upon truck beds, and these days many include advertising for local businesses sponsoring the groups.  Music booms from speakers rigged precariously to the trucks, and the hortelanos’ gifts of fruit and vegetables have long since been replaced by candy, much to the delight of local children.  Throngs of locals and tourists from other parts of Mexico and around the world clog every bit of available space along the parade route, straining for a view of the eye-popping Locos.  The event reportedly drew some 80,000 spectators this year.

With some costumes channeling Sponge Bob or the Na’vi from Avatar, one might be tempted to conclude that the original traditions have been lost on younger generations.  Fortunately, this appears to be far from the case.  For every Bob Marley or Transformers-inspired costume, medieval figures and scarecrows still  abound, many adorned with hand-sized rakes, trowels and hoes in honor of the field workers of old.  Listening to the youthful dancers from the Cuadro Nuevo recite to us the story of San Pascual Baylon as we joined them for chicharrón and frijoles charros after the parade this year, we felt confident the saints and hortelanos will remain an integral part of el Día de los Locos for years to come. 


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