Welcome back! Did you practice? Are you getting faster saying it? Try it again… better yet, record yourself and send it to us (Contact Us) and we PROMISE we won’t post the embarrassing results for our amusement (pay no attention to Teri crossing her fingers while I type).
Steeped in tradition, the fiesta begins first with a visit to the chapel. The short walk is usually a time for quiet contemplation but today, the dirt road is alive with chatter and laughter, the evidence of the shared joy in the village. The Quinceañera, her entourage and family carefully make their way in their elegant attire. It is no mean feat for the women, more accustomed to bare feet or sandals to navigate the road in the highest of heels, truly the height of fashion. What a privilege for me then to be able to escort the Aunt of the Quinceañera on her way to the chapel. There were a couple of tense moments as we went from deep sand to jagged rocks but with my arm to hold and Teri backing us up we made it to the steps of the church and the ceremony just underway.
Pardon my editorial commentary for a moment but as much as I love a beautiful ornate chapel, sometimes I find them out of place in a rural setting. While a chapel can be a place of solace and meditation for the entire community regardless of their attitude toward the religious significance, it should not be comprised of material beyond the net worth of the entire region. *End rant* The chapel in Corrales however, is the perfect compliment to the village
Four brick walls and a palapa constructed within them for shelter from the elements when needed, it has a charm and warmth beyond what can be created by physical properties. The weathered iron bell peals loud and clear for each event and announces to the village the commencement of the service for our Quinceañera.
It is an engaging service for those who filled the chapel and a delightful treat for those of us who waited on the steps as we watched the children playing. Voices raise in a common hymn to bring the service to a close and the procession back to the centre of town begins. This time it is the lifelong fishermen whose shoes present a challenge. Our Quinceañera’s father even stops to take a moment to remove his new shoes with an editorial comment of his own about shoes in general that we won’t quote here. Suffice to say that we were able to surmise that the maximum amount time a fisherman in Corrales can wear dress shoes is approximately one hour and 56 minutes before removal. Walking the beach earlier and feeling the soft cushion of the sand under my own footwear, I completely understand.
As the cool breeze wafts down the lane from the ocean and the sun slips behind the mountains, it is as though the entire village has joined hearts to surround our Quinceañera with love and support. No one is indoors. As we take our seats at the party we are inundated with greetings and introductions and the assurance that we are welcome and expected to enjoy the fiesta to the full. Breaking into the chatter, the sound of a large diesel truck (it MUST have taken a different road!) announces the arrival of the sound and lighting system and everyone turns to see the ‘show’ as they setup.
Children playing, people talking and laughing as the music begins to play; everything is for a moment, without care. Long afternoon shadows give way to the first stars of the night and then the lights of the dance floor pulsating and flashing to the beat. Our Quinceañera and her entourage treat us to choreographed dances showing their youthful energy and favourite music.
It is a true Mexican Fiesta with all the trimmings in a tiny fishing village at the end of a mountain path. Well done Corrales. You have ushered your lovely young girl into the next phase of growth as a young woman well. Taking it all in and even sitting with the town patriarch to hear the story of how the town was founded (read about it at our blog: My Mexican Neighbourhood) I am overwhelmed by how Teri and I have quickly become family. Language, race, colour of skin, name what you like of the things we foolishly use to separate us as people travelling together through this lifetime and I can confirm that none of them made a difference to anyone we met this night. Adopted fully into the family, we celebrated with verve and zeal the affection and spirit of the people of Corrales. Could it get any better I wondered?
The height of the formal fiesta is the Quinceañera’s dance with her father. Not a dry eye could be found as he took his daughter in his arms, feet clad in much more tolerable sneakers now with his suit, and waltzed his ‘little girl’ for the last time. The family celebration continues as uncles, brothers other family and friends have a moment to show their support and pledge their care by sharing in the waltz. It is a magic moment reserved for those close to the family whom they know and trust. What an overwhelming honour to bestow on Teri and I then to have my name called and be asked to take my turn to waltz as a trusted friend of the family. I wish I could say that I passed on a nugget of wisdom in the ear of our Quinceañera as we danced, but all I could do was smile and repeat, “Gracias. Estoy muy honrado.” (Thank you. I am so honoured.)
Some would say this town is poor. Some have tried to buy its inhabitants with promises of large sums of money so that they can build a hotel where our Quinceañera danced. What we found here was priceless. An example of human love and kindness that reminds us of what is truly important in life. You are rich beyond measure Corrales. Thank you for sharing it with us.