I arrived back in Taxco from my week in the country (in El Ocotito with Lili’s family) and the first thing I noticed after stepping off the bus was that a guy had a smudge of dirt on his forehead. As I continued home, I saw another person, and then another but this time the smudge looked like an X.
Ah, it dawned on me, it is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season for Catholics around the world. That’s why there was so much coverage of Carnival (in Rio), Mardi Gras (in New Orleans) and party celebrations in other locations on the television last night! (Not speaking Spanish I had no idea what the announcers were saying, I just recognized the partying and city captions; it didn’t even dawn on me that it was Tuesday.)
Though, in Taxco, there were likely some parades and partying, church bells and airworks (fireworks with only the boom) until midnight, then church bells and more airworks at dawn…
it was amazingly quiet in our little town.
I didn’t even see any ashes on foreheads until I came back to Taxco. And that is saying something since I traveled through Ocotito, Chilpancingo, and Iguala, in a truck, two buses, and a taxi.
Tonight the church bells are ringing and the airworks booming but when the day is done, it will be quiet at least until Friday when parades and bandas will roam the streets to remind people that it is a sacred time (see photos and read more about Fat Tuesday traditions here). This scenario will repeat itself every Friday as it all leads up to what a student of mine calls “the big show,” semana santa or holy week, when it is really crazy in Taxco.
Stay tuned. As my student says, you really do not want to miss the show.