Photos and story by Kim Groves
The first thing I thought when I saw the dancers in the church courtyard was ‘Elva made those pants!’ The previous week, on one of our tours to Teotitlán, we visited Elva, one of our borrowers, in her little sewing studio where she showed us the makings of the bright dance costumes she was preparing for one of the town’s biggest fiestas. Standing amongst that fiesta, I was delighted to watch the finished product swirl about the plaza. I found myself admiring Elva’s talents as a seamstress as well as a businesswoman, and also feeling respect for the whole town in the way it was coming together in such a lively and colourful way. Really, the festival this week has been a way for the people of Teotitlán to show off their many talents and celebrate a proud way of life.
The dancers were re-enacting a pivotal story in Mexico’s rich history. Young boys dressed in mock black military uniform with gold edging, carried Spanish flags and banners as they circled and theatrically challenged a group of dancing men. The men were dressed beautifully in tall feather headdresses and flowing scarves, to represent the Aztec nation. Cortes, a boy of about 14 years of age, stood before the towering figure of Montezuma, and translating between them, La Malinche, played by a very young girl of maybe 7 years, in purple dress. On and on, through the afternoon the dancing went, accompanied by a tirelessly booming brass band, and various religious and civil ceremonies.
On Wednesday, the biggest day of the party, a group of En Vía volunteers counted ourselves lucky to be offered a seat on the terrace above one of our borrowers, Eugenia’s, weaving workshop. Up there, we had a fantastic view over the church courtyard and the buzzing town. Dancers swirled, bright plastic flags flicked. Children and families were enjoying the perfect sunny afternoon amongst plentiful food, games and friends. Plates stacked with steaming pollo amarillo (yellow mole with chicken) and mole negro tamales (black mole) the traditional food for the festival arrived at our table, and we indulged in the fantastic cooking of our hosts.
How wonderful it was for us to feel welcomed in the town on such an important day. How privileged we were to count friends amongst the people there. The relationship that En Vía has with our borrowers and the community really is the most important thing for us, and it is days like these that we know that the work we are doing and the trust that is building is something worth celebrating.