January 30, 2017
One of the great things about being in another country is getting to experience local culture, festivals and celebrations. While we are still in La Cruz getting the boat ready to head south, we happened to be here at the right time to experience the Bucerias Patron Saint Festival celebrating Our Lady of Peace (La Virgen de la Paz) who is the patron saint of the church in Bucerias and the protector of fishermen.
Bucerias is the next town over from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, and lucky for us only a short bus ride away. The festival lasts for nine days and culminates with all of the fishermen decorating their pangas here in La Cruz and sailing over to Bucerias to make an offering at the church.
The fishermen’s pangas in La Cruz are reasonably right by the fish market. The fish market is seriously awesome. You can walk up to stalls each day and see the fresh fish being brought in right off the boats. The fish are sold whole or can be filleted for you. It is always fresh, delicious and cheap!
We walked down to the market to check out the pangas being decorated and all the fishermen and their friends and family getting ready to depart for Bucerias.
Most celebrations in Mexico, as well as about every part of life here, involve music. And, this was no different, as a band was set up between the stalls in the market to add to the joy and celebration as the fishermen set sail.
The celebration is not just a religious one as the entire town is set up with stalls with food, drinks, goods and fair games. It is a makeshift fair with tacos, hamburgers, beers and all kinds of games for kids and adults. We headed into Bucerias for the last night of the festivals to check out the parade, have some great street food, check out the games and most of all the fireworks. Everyone in town was out, young and old, to celebrate.
The games were pretty hilarious. Think homemade carnival games or something you would have seen in a small town maybe fifty years ago. Mike decided to get into the action with a game to try and win a beer. The game was set up with old beer bottles sitting on various shelves. You got three rocks for 30 pesos and three throws to try and break the beer bottles. If you broke a bottle, you got a Corona. If you broke three bottles, you got a six-pack of Corona! Mike won us a beer (but not a six-pack). It was all in good fun.
Its often difficult to put in words the sights, sounds and smells of Mexico. Some good, and some a bit overwhelming. This was definitely one of those times. Bucerias is not a big town, and there are small cobblestone streets surrounding the church and main square in town. On these streets popped up tent after tent of makeshift food stalls and stores, leaving narrow paths for crowds of people to squeeze through. Lights were strung over stalls connected with long extension cords to who knows where.
The food stalls were mom and pop operations each fighting for business. Our friend Dale on Adios was very excited to find three hotdogs for 30 pesos (about $1.50)!
And, if you wanted music, it was everywhere. Bands playing less than 50 feet from each other fought to play louder than the next band to get your attention. The cacophony of sounds was unbelievable.
But, the highlight of the night was the fireworks. This was no ordinary fireworks display. A three story high structure was erected and placed right in the middle of the street in front of the church. The structure was loaded with fireworks with long fuses hanging from it. As we waited for the show to start, I chuckled at Dale affectionately calling it Mexico’s “burning man.” It certainly looked like it!
We found a spot to watch the show across the street up on the grass as the crowds began to swell and get closer to the burning man. We couldn’t help but notice that there was no barrier around the structure, there were power lines hanging nearby as well as a few pretty tall trees. There is no way this would be permitted in the States. It would be considered a serious safety hazard.
We saw the brave (or crazy) guy in charge of lighting the fuses light the first fuse that ran up the burning man and the sparks began to fly. Then, wheels on the structure starting turning, flying more sparks around in various colors. After one set of fireworks burned out, another fuse was lit. This went on about 6 times setting off more and more fireworks. At one point a stray went flying into the crowd sending people scrambling. It didn’t look like anyone got burned, but I’m not sure how.
Seriously? How is this safe?
Then, it was time for the finale as the final fuse was lit to blow the top of the burning man. The sparks went flying again, and then, unexpectedly, a ring of fireworks was blown off the top high into the air. It was amazing. Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Maybe the sacrifice of a little safety was worth it for such an incredible show.
The top of the tower flying off into the sky…
We felt very fortunate to be able to experience this amazing event in Bucerias. As we’ve said many times on this blog, we have great love for Mexico and the Mexican people who have welcomed us with open arms to their country. There is a large community of boaters and sailors in Mexico who are primarily American and Canadian with the occasional Frenchman or Aussie thrown in. All of the foreign cruisers support the local communities, who in turn are incredibly friendly and generous to us. We have been very disappointed to see that actions taken by our government in the last week are working to erode this wonderful relationship between the US and Mexico. We urge everyone to contact their elected officials to let them know that you disagree with the proposed actions of a border wall and potential tariffs on imports, and that you support a positive relationship with our wonderful neighbor to the south.
Leaving our mark on Bucerias…