2014-11-19 Fiesta de San Andres 018

Ticket booth, Calla Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

The Jesuits who arrived on the heels of the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500’s assigned a Catholic patron saint to each Mexican village.

In many towns, the name of the patron saint has been tacked onto the native city name.

In the village of Ajijic along the shores of Mexico’s Lake Chapala, the saint is San Andrés (St. Andrew) the patron of fishermen.

Amusement rides lined up on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Amusement rides lined up on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

The historic name of this village is San Andrés de Axixic, but most everyone here knows it simply as Ajijic.

This year, the ten-day fiesta patronal – the patron saint festival – begins on Friday, November 21.

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco.

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco.

It arrives on the heels of the Dia de la Revolucion holiday, and anticipates holiday observances that begin two weeks after the fiesta with the Christmas posadas, and do not end until early in February with the Fiesta de la Candelaria (Candlemas).

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

As I walk to the village plaza to see how the preparations are proceeding, only forty-eight hours remain until the start of the fiesta.

Metal sculptures of water fowl that adorn the plaza gazebo railing seem also to be looking  out over the preparations.

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

The run-up to this year’s event is marked by no small amount of suspense, because street renovations around the fiesta site, begun only weeks ago at the rainy season’s end, are still incomplete.

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

The road construction crew is working at a frenetic pace rarely seen in this part of the world.

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

The workers setting up for the fiesta seem undeterred by the chaos.

Plaza canopy raising, Ajijic, Jalisco

Plaza canopy raising, Ajijic, Jalisco

Around the plaza men are setting up canopies for booths that will sell food, beverages, and souvenirs.

Video game parlor is the first amusement up and running

Video game parlor is the first amusement up and running

 

 

Under one of the canopies, a group of boys is already putting just-powered-up video games to the test.

 

The electronic games sit side by side with an air hockey game and a foosball table!

 

 

 

 

Kiddie ride on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Kiddie ride on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

 

 

The carnival ride operators have just begun to arrive, but one ride has already been set up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferris wheel assemble, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Ferris wheel assemble, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

 

 

 

Nearby, a crew labors to erect the scaffolding of a Ferris wheel.

 

Occupational safety is left to the workers, who seem to be largely unconcerned about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducky seats awaiting assembly, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Ducky seats awaiting assembly, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

 

 

 

Other rides in various states of assembly now fill the Calle Colón adjacent to the Plaza.

 

Seats decorated as fancifully painted animals are strewn around waiting to be dropped into place.

 

 

 

 

Newly arrived ride, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Newly arrived ride, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

The ‘carneys’ hit the fiesta circuit at the rainy season’s end with their wives and  children, often sleeping in the vehicles with which they haul their amusements from event to event.

During the fiesta, it’s not unusual to see them keep their equipment secure by sleeping in the seats of their rides.

Power grid, Fiesta de San Andres, Ajijic, Jalisco

Power grid, Fiesta de San Andres, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

The ride operators, as always, tap directly into power lines, and a tangle of wires has already begun to form on the cobblestones.  There’s not a electric meter in sight.

Any fire marshal would close this party down in a heartbeat, but here the set-up has gone unchallenged year in and year out.

The fiesta may be a work in progress as I walk the site, but atmosphere already feels like a nostalgic throwback to days long gone north of the border.

Bumper car parking lot,  Ajijic Plaza, Jalisco

Bumper car parking lot, Ajijic Plaza, Jalisco

There is no exotic, high-tech equipment here, and most of these rides would look completely at home in a 1940’s amusement park.

This event, though, is far less about the carnival amusements, and much more about an opportunity for the people of the village to reaffirm their sense of community.

In forty-eight hours, as dusk fades, the rides will crank up and fluorescent lights in dayglo colors will begin spinning.

Children, their parents, and their grandparents will make their way to the Plaza to  mark the passage of another year.

Elaborately costumed bands will pump out ear-splitting tunes until the wee hours of the morning, street vendors will hawk roasted ears of corn and other delectable curbside noshes, and ice cream sales will be brisk.

If you’re unable to experience this event in person, drop by these pages in the next few days for more on the festivities.

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