For the past two years Laurie and I have been talking about our desire to explore a few small towns in central México. These towns are Ajijic, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende. The Mexican government has a PR campaign to promote tourism in which they call these towns Pueblos Mágicos and indeed they are! We spent six weeks in México exploring these three Pueblos Mágicos with the addition of a forth, Loreto, in Baja California Sur.
We spent our last few days in México exploring San Miguel de Allende. While shopping to buy some decorations for a future airbnb we intend to open in México I spotted these lovely young ladies dressed in traditional native costumes as well as several others lining up to purchase some local foods for their lunch.
Upon inquiry I learned that we were in San Miguel de Allende in time for the Festival of Our Lord of the Conquest. After taking a short siesta, our airbnb host encouraged us to walk to the central plaza as to not miss the festivities. Almost immediately we could hear the drums banging in the distance. It was a twenty minute walk to the central plaza and we arrived just in time to catch the end of the parade.
San Miguel’s most famous sight is its parish church, characterized by its pink ‘wedding cake’ towers that soar above the town. These strange pinnacles were designed by indigenous stonemason Zeferino Gutiérrez in the late 19th century. He reputedly based the design on a postcard of a Belgian church and instructed builders by scratching plans in the sand with a stick. The rest of the church dates from the late 17th century.
The faithful come to this parish, the “Parroquia”, to recite 33 prayers, one for every year of Jesus’ life on earth. Indian Conchero dancers dance in front of the Parroquia on this day, arriving shortly after dawn and dancing till dusk. They dance in honor of “Christ of the Conquest,” one of the most revered statues in San Miguel’s Parroquia church. Fashioned of cornstalks and orchid bulbs, the statue was brought from Pátzcuaro and represents the acceptance of Christ by Mexico’s indigenous people. The concheros wear elaborately plumed headdresses and costumes festooned with bright colors and metallic fabrics, and move to the deep, steady beat of large drums. This is the most colorful of all the March events in San Miguel de Allende, and one of the best of the entire year.
It was such a beautiful evening. The sights and sounds of which we will not soon forget. However, it left me with conflicted emotions. It seemed bittersweet. These true native Americans celebrate the reception of the faith that was forced upon them in costumes that celebrate the faith that they were forced to relinquish. If you ever have the chance to be in San Miguel de Allende for Festival of Our Lord of the Conquest go, it is an amazing experience and highly recommended!