This is possibly our favorite day every year in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. That is, except for February 22 when I give Melinda a big birthday party attended by friends from three countries. Since about 8:00 this morning, the Jardin, the main plaza, has been filled with between 250 and 300 Aztec dancers from towns as far as four hours away. They dance all day long in honor of thirty-three (Catholic) saints and each troup has a time to go into the Parroquia (cathedral) to be blessed by the priests. The rest of the time they dance and whirl to drums the size of 55 gallon steel drums–which some of them indeed are.
The drumming from six or seven troups on four sides of the Jardin is so intense that the whole Centro throbs. I took a book out of my pack because I could feel the vibrations clearly as I held it. It’s all very thrilling.
The costumes for the dancers–three year olds to viejos–are much more than forests of yard long feathers. There is incredible embroidery, jaguar skins and skulls, mounted hawks and crockodiles on headdresses, snarling foxes, toucan bills, and even human skulls. Everything is more elaborate than immaginable. The blessed cloud of burning copal wafts across the plaza.
This year, as last, the number of tourists is a fraction of what it was a few years ago. Most of the spectators are Mexicans of all shapes and sizes, kids chase each other under the trimmed plane trees and people greet each other. Any one of the plazas in this beautiful colonial city is a good place to watch the community. There are three big plazas and numerous smaller ones throughout the colonias (neighborhoods).
At home people ask, “aren’t you afraid to be in Mexico?” We, the other visitors and all of the ex-pat community feel very safe. In fact, we are safer in San Miguel than we are in Santa Fe. Most people believe that the US government and media demonize Mexico and sensationalize the violence of the drug dealers (which doesn’t affect anyone else) in an attempt to keep Americans from taking their money and retiring here. I fully believe that, having been here for a month every one of the last six years.
Tomorrow will be especially exciting because Ernesto Zepeda and his family from Mexico City will arrive for a visit. You remember Ernesto. He’s the Dali collector and fan who has developed himself into a first rate researcher and expert on the Master’s work. He has also been one of my champions throughout the Google Bombs and attacks from the pitiful, litle people who feel threatened by me because I know the crooked games they play.
Well, as I finish polishing Artful Dodgers: Fraud and Foolishness in the Art Market and continue making progress on Persistence of Enigma: The Unbelievable Salvador Dali Market, I know that my reputation will rebound and thousands of people will be astounded by what they learn about the workings of the art market.