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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Todos Santos Feria

On Sunday, Halloween, (aka the greatest holiday EVER) I traveled to the municipio of Todos Santos Cuchumatan to partake in the town’s feria (3 day fair/celebration). The town’s name means “All Saints” so the feria takes place on the days surrounding the holiday of All Saints Day. After a long two bus rides I arrived in the town. It is a fair sized municipio and by 5pm when I got off the bus the town was in full party mode. There was constant marimba music and bolos (drunken men) everywhere. One thing that stands out about Todos Santos is that unlike most municipio in Guatemala, all the men still wear their traditional dress, called “traje.” Picture this: every man in red and white striped pants with a white and pink and purple shirt dancing drunk in the street. And when I say dancing it is more of an intoxicated swaying/stumbling often colliding with the other bolos. By nightfall there are numerous (we counted 7 in about 2 blocks) men passed out on the street. Although it is mildly entertaining to watch, it also displays the sad truth about alcoholism and binge drinking in Guatemala.

Back to the fun…Halloween night was too much fun! The PCVs who live and work in Todos Santos rented a huge 4-story house for all the visiting PCVs to stay in. There were about 20-30 PCVs and then a bunch of backpackers from Australia and England and other places who all came dressed up and ready to party- American style. I went as The Pink Panther. Not everyone understood I was not a mouse and not a cat so I walked around singing the theme song a bit as a hint. Nearly everyone had a costume which was fun to see all the creativity since getting costumes together in Guatemala can be a bit challenging. There was a farmer, a piñata, Hermione Granger, a “heart attack” and many other very creative costumes! I loved it!

The next morning we all grudgingly rolled out of our cold sleeping bags (and some w/o bags! Brrrrr) to go see the horse races. Todos Santos is famous for their horse races on November 1st. There is a track that the participants run down then they all take a drink of beer and then race back. The winner is the last man still riding his horse at the end of the day. It lasts from about 8am until 4pm with a 2 hour break. This was the first year they allowed women to ride in the race and no Guatemalans did but two PCVs hopped on and showed everyone what they were made of! It was awesome to see! Luckily the PCVs did not partake in the drinking aspect of the race. By the end of the day men were barely staying on their horses and the majority had completely passed out. Gotta love Guatemala entertainment and festivals! That is how to celebrate the Saints…or is it?!?!

The rest of the time we walked around and enjoyed all the feria street food and street vendors. We also rode the Ferris wheel. Most of the Guatemalans on the wheel were teenagers looking for some privacy to make-out but I quickly ruined that as I decided to scream at the top of my lungs as long as I could. I got a few glares form the young pair ahead of us. Overall, it was just a great weekend where I got to see my buddies from training and meet a bunch of other PCVs. I am now in site for a few days where I have to finish (and by finish I mean start…hello procrastination) my Community Assessment Tool which is a huge report about my town which I will present next week when I travel back to the Peace Corps Office in Santa Lucia for a week of “Reconnect” with my training group.

Liz, Claire, me and Brittany at the "Peace Corps Party House"

Sabiha as Chocolate, Me as The Pink Panther and Claire as Catwoman

Horse races with the drunk men hanging on as best they can

An awesome PCV showing them how its done!

This one is for you Rem! This VERY drunk man was dancing in a CANADA shirt in front of the tourism office! hahaha

Wild Ferris wheel ride!

Masked dancing in the Plaza for the feria

Claire and Susie

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