Send As SMS

We are beginning a new life in a very rural, mountainous, and little known area of Veracruz, Mexico. We are the only Norte Americanos in our beautiful little adopted town of Teocelo...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

ARCO DE FLORES

So many churches, even the most tiny chapel or shrine, have beautiful decorative structures often taller than the church itself. You saw one in the last picture on the blog right before this. Finally we learned their proper name, Acro de Flores or simply Arco. They are made of pine logs, bamboo, palm fronds, boughs from pine, juniper, and hemlock trees, "Desert Spoon" Yucca (sotol) spines, and many colorful flowers. This requires journeying to a coniferous forest region for the pine, juniper, and hemlock and far to the north of Veracruz to a desert region where the Desert Spoon Yucca is plentiful.

We wondered about more of the story behind them, and not too long ago Mindy found out while taking a back street shortcut to one of her favorite shops in another part of town. In front of a tiny Chapel, a small army was at work on a new Arco. The chapel was all of 12 feet wide and only six feet deep, just enough room for an altar, the priest, and some huge loudspeakers in the corners which broadcast the service out into the street where everyone sits on small portable metal chairs!



The Arco was being made in honor of
San Ysidro Labrador
, the patron saint of the little Chapel, whose birthday was the Monday coming up. Also known as Saint Isidore the Farmer, St. Labrador is most often associated with concerns affecting livestock, agriculture, and good weather. The Chapel was called Chapilla de San Ysidro.



Mindy stayed to admire the incredible workmanship that could be seen in the partially completed Arco and to talk to the craftsmen (arqueros).





- click to enlarge -



Here is a picture of the head of the big crew (the maestro). He was obviously very experienced and had probably built many an Arco in his life.




- click to enlarge -


The Maestro invited Mindy to come to the festivities on Monday, and she said she would be honored to attend. He also made her a small rosette from yucca spines (in particular, the silvery onion-like base of the spines) to demonstrate what are used to form many of the decorations and lettering on the Arco.




- click to enlarge -




- click to enlarge -


On Monday mid-morning after an hour long full Mass outside the Chapel in the brilliant sun on the street, the priest blessed the Arco.




- click to enlarge -


The Arco then began a two hour long journey through the streets of Teocelo before being brought back to the Chapel to be put in place. There was a brief stop at the main Cathedral on the plaza in Teocelo for a further blessing. The Acro must have weighed a great deal as it required a small army of men around the outside and many smaller boys underneath to bear it through the steep streets. Note the hefty
logs which form the outside frame of the Arco...




- click to enlarge -


Mindy said the guys were really getting tired hefting the Arco up and down street after street. At about mid way in their long journey, the guys set the Arco down in the street and went across the intersection to have a beer at a local bar! Viva la Mexico.


Accompanying the Arco was a huge crowd, a six piece band (three trumpets and three saxophones), and three clowns who pranced and leaped about from one side of the street to the other.




- click to enlarge -





- click to enlarge -


At long last, the procession reached home again, and it was time to erect the Arco in front of the Chapel. This took many hands, a lot of rope, many poles pushing from underneath, and a fair bit of shouting to accomplish.




- click to enlarge -


Miraculously when the Arco was finally in place, a pickup truck loaded boxes and boxes and boxes of sandwiches arrived. There was also several five gallon jugs of zarza parilla (a local form of sasaparilla made from black berries) to drink. It was
a hungry, thirsty crowd!


It was impossible to photograph the Arco in it's full glory and size with so many people milling about on the small narrow street out in front of the Chapel, so the next day we returned and took this picture.


WOW!




- click to enlarge -


- jim and mindy

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home