Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Start of San Rafael's Day in Chacala

I hope have the facts straight here. October 24 is St. Rafael's Day in Chacala. He is the patron Saint of Chacala. The nine day celebration begins with a Perenigration (???), a walk, which starts each day from a different part of town, and heads to the Church. Today was the first day this year, and the walk was pretty neat. I think it has upgraded since last year and has a bigger budget.

And then on the final day, there is a large Perenigration, with even more flowers, people, banners, and so on. And a Missa, with bells and fireworks, and a fish barbeque in the Churchyard, a blessing of the fishing boats out on the ocean, a giant potluck, and then, that night, (maybe) a big big dance on the basketball court. This year it's a Tuesday night, so I don't know what the plan is.

Everyone got flowers to carry yesterday, the kids wore costumes and rode in the back of a decorated truck, and there was a six, then seven, piece band, to march along with us. And there were fireworks at 5am, before the walk, during the walk, and at the arrival at the Church. Aurora, above, with some of the flowers, before the Walk. And the starting group coming down the hill in front of Concha's, below.The six piece+ band carried the tune, while Guia led the singing.This year the band had two drums, two saxes, two trumpets, and, at the last minute, an accordian. The band followed behind the walkers. The music alternated between the walkers, led by Guia, singing a lovely and monotonuous chant, and the muscians playing the same tune. It was very pleasant.
Some kids wore special costumes related to Michaelanglo the Archangel fighting off the Devil.
My understanding of the Catholic version of Christian mythology is pretty limited, so I didn't get the whole concept. But the kids looked cute riding in the back of the truck.
The group got larger and larger as we walked through town. Maybe 60 people, plus the band, ended up at the church. When we arrived at the church, the new Padre, who is replacing the one who died last month, was waiting to greet us. No one knows his name, at least no one I asked. But he presents a very commanding and welcoming presence. And has a lovely voice.He welcomed up and sprinkled us with Holy Water ( I assume that's what it was) and then everyone but a few of us went inside for the service. The Mass, the Missa.
The bell was ringing as we arrived at the church. And more fireworks went off as everyone went inside.
I stayed outside, with the group of guys who always seem to lurk outside the Church, smoking cigarettes quietly and listening respectfully. But I could see the new Padre seemed to be very confident and sort of theatrical during the first part of the ceremony, where the kids were doing something related to San Rafael or the Archangel, maybe.

During the rather lengthy Missa, I took some other photos in the neighborhood, including a couple of Gracia's lovely little pocket shade gardens right across the street from the Church.

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