Yesterday I witnessed one of the most amusing, mind-boggling, and probably politically incorrect events I’ve seen in Mexico so far. I traveled about an hour south of the city to the gorgeous town of Tepoztlan at the urging of a contact from the Posada del Tepozteco. Here’s what she said in order to grab my attention:
“Legend has it that San Sebastian was being persecuted so he disguised himself by painting his face black. People in town use soot for this: there is traditional chinelo music and the “brinco” (a typical dance) around the zocalo, which also takes place for five days to celebrate Mardi Gras (Carnaval), this year from Feb 21-25 2009.”
Woo Mardi Gras! What my friend failed to mention was that the local children delight in running up and smacking their friends, family members and unsuspecting tourists with handfuls of soot. The result is a bunch of grown-ups running around looking like they just came up from a mine.
At around sundown a group of “tiznados” from nearby San Sebastian pueblo march into the Tepoztlan Zocalo accompanied by a raucus band and people shooting off fireworks. They gather up the awaiting crowd and everyone marches out along the main drag dancing/shuffling, and teenagers fight over who gets to hold the town flags and vigorously twirl them in the air. Everyone gets drunk.