It’s a warm, sunny day here in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. Temps are in the mid-70’s Fahrenheit and there’s a breeze. It will get down to 52 degrees tonight. A perfect day to welcome Baby Jesus to the world here in the southern part of North America.
There’s a band playing at the December 23-24 posada house and I can hear it across the village. At unpredictable moments, a firecracker will go skyward to boom in a blast that sounds like one shot has been fired. Tonight is La Ultima Posada, the last posada for 2017.
This morning I went to the market early, at 8:30 a.m. Ojala! It was a miracle, since I usually never get out of the house much before 10:00 a.m. Parking was scarce and I could hear a band on the street between the market and the church. It called to me. I hurried. Whenever a band plays here, you know there is something going on.
Baby Jesus had just been taken from his resting place in the church, an antique carved and gilded wooden figure. He was on a pillow held by a young woman who walked under a portable tent held upright by four stanchions and strong men to hold the posts.
The procession formed to pass through the major streets of Teotitlan del Valle on the way to place Baby Jesus in his birthplace at La Ultima Posada.
The street was perfumed by copal incense, giving off smoke and a sweet aroma of burning sap, so essential to ancient Zapotec ceremonial tradition.
As the procession descended down Avenida Constitucion from the Zocalo along a steep cobblestone incline, I said to myself that I wish I had worn sturdier shoes. Nevertheless, I was able to keep up to get these photos to share with you.
Then, I went back uphill to the market to do my holiday food shopping. Tonight, I’m invited to the home of Hugo and Malena. I’m holding weekly English conversation meetings with their teenage son and daughter. They asked me to join them for Christmas Eve dinner, which usually doesn’t start here until around midnight. Not sure I can stay up that late. It’s pretty quiet around here on Christmas Day.
Enjoy this time of peace, reflection, calm and tranquility. The winter solstice brings us darkness, where we want to hover close with family and friends, take stock of our year and think about longer, warmer days ahead. I think of this as a metaphor for all the possibilities that life can bring us.
Blessings to all.
Norma Schafer, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, December 24, 2017