Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dancing with the Mojigangas

The Mojigangas of San Miguel

So you may be wallowing in the blues because your lover just left you for another, or your cat just died, or you are just having a menopausal day and feeling fat and old and worthless, hanging your head in the Jardin in under the laurel trees feeling sorry for yourself. It happens to us all. But when the mojigangas come waltzing around the corner of the church with their giant heads bobbing, swinging their arms and flashing their brightly painted smiles, you can’t help but laugh out loud.

Bouncy music sputters from the loudspeakers as the giant puppets twirl into the plaza, braids of yarn and colorful ribbons flying around their bodies that tower above the children that come to greet them. They sway and spin as if to say alegre! alegre! and before you know it you are up and clapping your hands as a fifteen foot high lady puppet comes wagging her way towards you and pulls you into the circle to dance, practically scooping you up in her enormous paper mache bosom that swells out of her ruffled hot pink dress.

It is impossible to stay depressed in this town. It won’t let you mope around for long before fireworks punch your eardrums or church bells slap you awake or music shakes your bones as if to say Hey! come on out and play! The laughing painted eyes of the mojigangas tease and flirt with you as if to show you that life is a playground, a party, a fiesta after all, and there is precious little time to be sad or angry at the world. So you bump your hips from side to side, awkwardly at first, shy and self conscious before this enormous creature, then poco a poco you find a rhythm, feel a loosening in your spine, and you begin to dip and turn, stomping your feet on the worn stone streets.

The feet of the mojiganga wear a pair of old sneakers with holes in the toes. The frayed edges of blue jeans peek beneath her skirts, where a teenage boy watches you out of the folds of lace and fabric. He sees a white middle aged gringa, her silver bracelets jangling as she raises her arms over her head, and something like a crazed grin creeping across her face as she sways from one side to another, as if she didn’t have a care in the world. As if she has been dancing this way her whole life.


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