This week, the town of Teotitlan is enjoying its main festival of the year, la fiesta de la Preciosa Sangre del Cristo, a weeklong town party that honours and celebrates the town church. It is a chance for the people to acknowledge the colour, life, and complex tradition and history that are unique to their culture.
The scene for this event is set at the site and plaza of the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo. Significantly, the church was built over a destroyed Zapoteco temple using much of the old stones and structure; its modern construction began in 1581, although it was not completed until 1758.
In the shadow of this sacred edifice, white cowboy hats crown the old men. Red ribbons shine in the black hair of the women. Ice-cream glints stickily on the chins of the children. All sit together with pride to watch the ritual dance; La Danza de las Plumas, or Dance of the Feathers.
Spanish conquistador Cortes, is played good-naturedly by a local teenage boy with the cheekiest smile, and his soldiers by other local boys aged 6 to 12 years, all dressed in symbolic military uniform, complete with tassels, battle banners and toy guns.
Glancing into doorways and patios from the street I could see long tables set, comal stoves smoking, and tamale pots steaming. Children seemed to run from table to table depending on which of their neighbours currently had the best spread.