Friday, December 14, 2007

celebrating san andrés apostal

it was a lovely fiestas this year. i know i posted about the fiestas last year, but this year i was around for some of the things that i missed last year. i also learned a bit more about the traditions surrounding the celebration of san andrés de apostal (the patron saint of apaneca).

a couple weeks before the fiestas actually start, on november 11th, apaneca has what is called the "desfile de correos" (desfile means "parade"). there are actually two of these - one is put on by the mayor's office and the other is put on by the catholic church (everything that the catholic church does is way bigger than whatever the mayor's office does). the desfile de correos is where apaneca rounds up all the cantones, caseríos and barrios that have candidates for king/queen of their respective town for the fiestas that year. the catholic church's parade begins with the entrance of these two enormous male and female figures made out of sticks and dressed with material, called "marcelino and marcelina." then what follows is mayhem. it's called the "casimiento de los viejos." all these men and women dressed up in costumes, with some in wedding attire, and all wearing these crazy halloween masks, follow marcelino and marcelina. most of the participants in the casimiento de los viejos are men, and they seem to love dressing up like women. they dance with the crowd and with each other. it's so hilarious. i don't know why they call them "viejos" which means old people. this is somehow related to the same viejos ceremony that i saw in molineros last year. anyway, in the desfile de correos they have bands and the viejos and then all the candidates sitting atop their pickups throwing candy out into the waiting crowd.

marcelino and marcelina

the start of the bands and the viejos

san pedro

starting on november 12th, the day following the desfile de correos, each cantón or caserío surrounding apaneca begins the start of the month of fiestas by bringing san andrés from apaneca to the prospective cantón or caserío. the day that the cantón or caserío has san andrés is also the day they celebrate their own individual fiesta de patronales. for example, san jorge's day for doing this is always november 22nd. that is the day they have san andrés and the day for the fiesta de patronales in san jorge. there is a similar type of parade, with the viejos again, and the candidates for queen (and king, if there is one) of the fiestas.

when a town has responsibility for san andrés, people from the town get up at 4:30 a.m. and start the journey on foot to apaneca to go pick up the statue of san andrés from the catholic church, carry him through apaneca and back to the town. each town has it's own way of doing this as well. some let off a ton of fireworks. some yell and shout. some carry guitars and play tunes and sing. when the fiestas in the individual cantón or caserío are finished for the day, the people bring san andrés back to apaneca so that he's ready for the next day, when another cantón or caserío gets to host san andrés in their town.

two girls from my school, with their dad, waiting for the desfile in san jorge for the fiestas there

san jorge's own casimiento de los viejos

one of the candidates for queen of san jorge's fiestas

people from san jorge following the parade up the main road

after all the cantones and caseríos have done this it's then time for each barrio of apaneca to do the same. this happens the actual week that the fiestas start....the 25th of november. on the day that each barrio is responsible for san andrés, that barrio has a fiesta of it's own in one of the streets in the pueblo. for example, my barrio - barrio san josé - has it's day with san andrés and it's fiesta on november 26th. the following day, barrio santiago has it's fiesta. the 25th belongs to barrio san pedro, etc., etc. last year i posted pictures of the procesión de santiago, which is when they reunite santiago with san andrés, and the day barrio santiago has it's fiesta. (i already posted last year about roles of santiago and san pedro in our fiestas, so i'll skip that part.)

after the desfile de correos and all the cantones and caseríos have had their fiestas and their time with san andrés, the fiestas in apaneca actually start on november 25th. this begins with the fiestas of the various individual barrios in apaneca, as i mentioned well as the procesiones of santiago and san pedro. the 29th is the day when everyone parties, or has bailes (dances). i know i've mentioned this before, about that group that has taken form in apaneca that is against everything the mayor does. well, they did the same thing they did last year - had a free dance at the same time that the mayor had the los hermanos flores baile, which cost $5.00. last year i told you that not many people went to the mayor's dance, but this year a ton more people went because it was los hermanos flores. anyway, before the dance there was the mayor's fireworks display which was pretty, even if it was dangerous as all hell. then we went on to the cumbia baile with los hermanos. i didn't care about paying $5.00 because i wanted to see los hermanos. it was soooo fun! everyone danced the whole time and it was just a really fun time. we hung out with maria laura and her husband and saw just about everyone else i know in the pueblo.

los hermanos flores

the dancing begins!

the following day, the 30th, was the last day of the fiestas. there was one final parade with all the king/queen winners, as well as the statutes of san andrés, santiago and san pedro.

one of the "chicago" ferris wheels in apaneca

the guy on the left is eating what's called "elote loco." it's an ear of corn on a stick, covered with mayonnaise, ketchup and hot sauce. salvadorans LOVE elote loco.

the final is san andrés. check out the one of the padres with a machete. haha. only in el salvador. (he was cutting down the lines above the streets where they had hung decorations for the fiestas in the barrios, so that the huge san andrés statue wouldn't get caught.)

san pedro


just like the year before, there was a huge and dangerous fireworks display in front of the catholic church. it was even more dangerous this year though. there is this traditional dance here called "el torito pinto" - where a guy holds this wooden structure above his head in kind of the shape of a bull. he dances around a bunch of other guys and girls dressed in traditional clothing and they fend him off. anyway, so during the fireworks, there was a guy holding one of these wooden "bulls" above his head, only it was loaded with fireworks instead of having guy/girl dancers that he danced around, he ran into the crowd and these fireworks were all going shooting off into the crowd. everyone started screaming every time he came close. it was sooooo crazy! then they had the castillo, same as last year, with the spinning wheels of fire - only there was a different message this year...."san andrés apostal, protege a apaneca."

i know you can hardly see it, but that's "el torito pinto" threatening to take all our heads off with it's shooting fireworks

the final castillo

so, all in all, it was a GREAT fiestas this year! i had so much fun and while i'm sad they're overwith, it was kind of nice to NOT hear cohetes at 4:30 a.m.! after the fiestas ended i started preparing for my trip home, which, as always, involves mindless packing and trying to figure out what to bring home. this time it was more difficult as i was going to courtney's pueblo before my trip home. her pueblo has it's fiestas the week after apaneca's, and courtney and i were traveling together to the states (as far as houston), so we figured i'd come to her site for her last days of her fiestas and then we'd share on taxicab fare to the airport from san salvador.

so next post, i'll tell you all how we had a fantastic time at her fiestas and how we ended up dancing the cumbia ONSTAGE with orquesta san vicente (the OTHER famous and fabulous cumbia band from el salvador) in front of her whole pueblo...yeah, i know. whaaaat???