Monday, December 17, 2012

Tortugas, NM: Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Part 2

Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico

In Part 1, Carol and I attended the Fiesta Mass, and I introduced you to historical resources about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the fiesta in Tortugas. (By the way, tortugas means turtles in Spanish.) 

With an intermission for la comida, the community-offered lunch to all dancers, supporters, and visitors, Carol and I watched worshipful dancing all day.

It was good to be there.


The above group are matachine (or danzante) dancers. I talked about them here, when I saw such dancers the first time. Here is an excellent collection of scholarly essays on what the matachine dance is about. Notice the little girl wearing First Communion clothing? From one of the essays: "In the village of Tortugas
she is the spirit of purity and she often wears attributes belonging to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

In the collection of essays, if you scroll down about halfway, you'll get to this essay about the Tortugas matachines in particular: For Her: The Tortugas Danza and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

In the matachine dance in Las Cruces, there was no such little girl. There was a child in scary face makeup and dress, and my understanding is he represented the Spanish conquistadors.

At noon, Carol and I went to stand in a very, very, very, very, very long line to get into la comida - the communal lunch. Carol decided to take a pass on the standing-in-line and went to read a good book in the car.

Waiting for la comida. Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico.

As a long-time festival lover, I get the ebb and flow, the pain/gain of festival activities. This was an ebbing sort of time, with some 100 people just standing and waiting to get in the door. (In fact, the dancers were eating first, which was right.) I chatted with the family in front of me, who'd moved to Tortugas from Chihuahua state in Mexico some 50 years ago. The 92 year-old matriarch was present, as were several of her daughters, granddaughters, and great-great-grandchildren. 

I asked one of the matriarch's daughters - Maria - how old the church was. Her daughter looked it up on her smart phone - built in 1914. A little point of connection: Both Maria's daughter and I are currently reading Bless Me, Ultima, by New Mexican author Rudolfo Anayo. She had the book tucked in her arm while we stood in line.

Waiting for la comida. Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico.

After about an hour in line, we made it to the front. I'd been expecting a buffet line, but it was so much better: long lines of dining tables set up, places set, bowls of food in the middle of the tables, community members serving hot chocolate and cold water. On the tables were albondigas (small meatballs - the documentary I pointed you to in Part 1 has a good story on these), some mac and cheese, bread, and a really good beef stew with nice heat to it. As people finished their meals, we were able to collect dessert, among which were traditional (New Mexican), homemade bizcochitos (cookies). This family-style community-wide meal - the spirit, the conviviality of it - made the long wait worthwhile.     

Matachine headdresses on car while dancers eating lunch. Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, New Mexico.

I took the bizcochitos to Carol in the car.  

The dancing had recommenced for the afternoon. At 4:00 would be the closing procession, when La Virgen is carried from the church back to her "home" chapel. 

To be continued ...


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