Llegando a la Vela
Comenzó la música y un grupo de jóvenes tomaron por escenario la pista para realizar distintos bailables, quemaron un ‘torito’ (con pirotecnia) y posteriormente hizo su recorrido por el salón Naxhielly con su respectivo estandarte y varias tehuanas que la acompañaban.
Muchas gracias Michell, mi gran anfitrión.
Para conocer más de esto que viví, no dejes de ver el siguiente video que resume brevemente mi fin de semana.
I was very little the first time I went to the Tehuantepec’s region in Oaxaca, I remember it was too hot, I don’t think I can recall anything else so I think I can call this my new first experience there.
Many had told me about the Velas (traditional celebrations at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec) but never been in one before, now that I have this friend from Santo Domingo Tehuantepec I got a few months ago an invitation from him. That day came and it took me 4 hours and a half to get there, I think I barely slept on the road, I was excited watching the landscape. Once I got there I realized it was not as hot as I expected, we had 27°C at 5 pm with some humidity.
I crossed the street where my hotel was so I could leave my luggage and walk around the city with Michell. He showed me the city hall, different churches and parks, during that walk I saw several women at the dry clean picking up their dress for that night celebration, some other ones were with a seamstress with last-minute fixes, also we saw some at the beauty salons, then we went to Dxi Laani (‘day of party’) a place well know for renting dresses but it was closed, I noticed through the window that there were still people inside, I had a chance to take a photo from the outside when someone came out, he invited us to come in and take more photos, that was a great opportunity to talk with Gilberto, the owner and learn more about the ‘Velas’, there was also Naxhielly getting ready, she was the queen of Vela Sandunga, the largest Vela in Tehuantepec and that night she was the guest of honor at Vela Tehuantepec.
After that moment of much learning and taking photos, we considered it was moment to go have dinner, he took me to a place were he normally goes with his family, we ordered some ‘garnachas’ a traditional dish that is made with small fried tortillas with grounded meat, onion, dry cheese, hot sauce and pickled cabbage, those were delicious. By the time we finished we were on time to head back to get dressed for the vela, there’s a code to follow, men should wear ‘guayabera’ (men’s shirt typically distinguished by two vertical rows of closely sewn pleats that run the length of the front and back of the shirt and is typically worn untucked), black pants and shoes, women must wear the traditional ‘tehuana’ dress with hard frills.
At 10 O’clock my friend and I were at a huge venue, it was all decorated with a lot of paper flags on the ceiling, colorful tablecloth and chair sashes, the big stage was divided into two for both bands that played live that night each one with color lights to make perfect harmony with everything there. We sat with some relatives of my friend, they were waiting for us, they had already some traditional appetizers on the table because at the velas you are supposed to bring your own food in case you would like to eat, drinks are for sale there, I got a mezcal (distilled alcoholic beverage made from the agave plant) to start getting into the mood. Everyone was so kind, they were explaining to me what was going on, I was the foreigner that night.
Once the music started, many stood up to head the dance floor, the band played mainly a large variety of local rhythms, most of those had a choreography that I had to follow by looking at everyone else’s dance steps, it took me a while to learn but I did. We had a great time there, time flew, it was 5 am and we had to go, there were still maybe 10 more couples left dancing by the time we left that place. The next day I woke up late, had a shower and breakfast before I meet my friend again to visit some important sights in town, the heat was not helping, we reached 32°C and the humidity made the walk all the time under the shade. That was a weekend filled with things that I did for the first time, I left with a huge smile, after all, I did that short time. I had this satisfaction that makes you think and wish to come back soon.
Even before I left, I had already an invitation to return and attend the Vela Sandunga at the end of May, but they already warned me: It’s going to be hotter. I’m glad I have some month ahead to learn how to do their dances so I can do it better next time.
In order to see how that Vela was, check the video above.
I would like to thank Michell, my great host.
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