On Friday, February 2, we walked over to the church of the Virgen de la Salud, to check out the annual Feria. The street in front of the church was closed off and filled with a street carnival. Vendors had lots of food of various descriptions, especially tacos and churros. There were also pancakes, which were good (I had a couple, with strawberry jam). We watched the bands and dancers, and strolled through the fair. There was a big bingo game going in one booth. There were also activities in the church itself, where the virgin was displayed on the high altar. Very respectable, although of course not of the quality and scale of the Virgin la Macarena that we saw in Seville last November. We also watched the vendors frying up the churros -- coils of dough making a flat spiral an inch thick and 24 inches in diameter. The hot oil was in big pots shaped like woks, with charcoal fires under them. They drop the coil in the fat, then turn it and remove it with tongs, letting the oil drip back into the pan. Then when it cools a little, they chop it into lengths to sell. We didn't stay for the fireworks.

One major festival in Colima is the Fiesta Charrotaurina of the Villa de Alvarez, which takes place in February every year -- this year it is February 9 to 23. It features daily parades ("cabalgatas") from the center of Colima (Jardin Nuñez) out to the suburb of Villa de Alvarez. These parades are traditionally made up of hundreds of horses and riders, along with bands playing, princesses, and assorted extras. A special feature is the "Mohigangos", twice life-size puppets made of bamboo frames wearing funny costumes. A person gets inside the frame, and dances along in the parade, twisting and swinging the puppet. The effect is of silly giants dancing in the parade. Lois counted over 600 horses, some with 2 riders the first evening the parade was held. At the end of the route is the fairground, complete with bullring. The extra special feature there is that the bullring is made entirely of wood -- poles and planks -- and rope and rush mats (petates -- hence the name La Petatera). Everyone will proudly mention the ancient origin of this structure, and point out that it is completely disassembled after the fair, and rebuilt next year again. And there is not a single nail or other piece of metal in it. For the two weeks of the fair, there are bullfights, with some local but mostly itinerant matadors. There are also entertainment activities there, with dances and bands. We watched the opening night parade, which is of course special, from the balcony at the home of Tomás and Catalina Rivera (Tomás is the brother of our good friend Pablo Rivera of Cuernavaca). We were also joined by the Rivera's daughter-in-law Marisela and Pablo and Tomás's sister Bertha. After the parade, we enjoyed a delicious snack and atole at the Rivera's dining table. The following day, Saturday, we were downtown to watch the first daytime cabalgata, which was smaller than the Friday night event. But in the daylight, the video of the horses and the Mohigangos was much clearer. I was so busy taking video that I didn't get any still photos -- I hope to add some frame captures from the video when I get a chance.

A couple of weeks earlier, when we had a car for a day or two, we drove out to Villa de Alvarez and got to see La Petatera under construction, and nearing completion. Included in those photos is one of a couple of lads working on the grand entrance gate to the fairgrounds.

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