during la guelagetza in oaxaca, you are treated to non-stop fanfares, parades with giant costumes and heads, fireworks, fireworks lit from the giant heads and pretty much all around FIESTA. one thing i noticed though is that no one drinks in the street or is rambunctiously drunk. this is really a family thing. and so that's why you see 1 year olds running around unaccompanied in the street at 2am, chasing balloons and such.
so in the evening, you basically wander the streets and hope to cross paths with one of these pageants, either synchronized dances, little kids with giant sombreros or a 100 foot long dancing fish. a few guys had big papier mache turkeys and cows on their heads with round wheels on them. when you least expect it, someone runs up and lights a fuse and then, in the middle of an eager crowd you get those whiny fireworks and roman candles that make the wheels on the headpiece spin around and create fire spirals. (someone needs to explain to me how papier mache and fireworks are a good combination on someone's head). the guy continues to dance around and little firey ashes rain down on the crowd, it's madness. i think this is my favorite part of the guelagetza.
well, after the mezcal. the reason why no one is drunk on the street is because they're all around the corner at the mezcal festival. it's 15 pesos to get in and there is a live 20 person horn band playing to some of the dancing heads and costumed peoples who must have wandered in from a nearby parade. you make the rounds of the mezcal booths tasting everything from the bottom of the worm barrel to tasty reposado out of little plastic shot glasses. all for free. so it gets kinda rowdy. i thought i was hallucinating when i saw a guy in a tie and mexican wrestler mask dance with a dude with a giant bull head both holding up a large flag with a marijuana leaf on it that read something like "weed is the future." i danced with a goat. we were about to leave when we saw the oro de oaxaca booth which is known as a good mezcal. i bought a mini bottle which came with a free big mezcal sombrero. as if i don't stand out already. so rafa got one too. we were already content with our purchases and leaving but for some reason they rrrrreally wanted us to try all 37 varieties of flavored mezcal. non stop. in a row. one after the other. i felt like i was in a fraternity reality show but as a crowd gathered around it just seemed normal to down shot after shot after shot after shot after shot. kiwi flavored! yum! throw the shot glass on the ground. handed another. vanilla creme! yum! throw the shot glass on the ground. now try mango! this went on for a good 15 minutes when i realized my world was spinning while all these varieties were fighting themselves in my stomach and i just might vomit right now. i high fived a bunch of mexicans and zig zagged towards the exit. it took us 25 minutes to find our hotel which was only a block away as we took more of a spiral route, honed in by our instincts. the sad part was that at this time, it was only 9:45 pm. we hadn't even had dinner yet.
you can imagine how painful the consequent hangover is when there are 1/4 sticks of dynamite being set off outside your hotel room all night, and the drunk tuba and trumpet players that drank mezcal on my stoop and played a boozy version of la cucaracha until dawn. make it stop!