We met these Fariseos on our way to the Agiobampa estuary in Navopatia. I believe they were coming from the small village of Los Aguilas.
Throughout the forty days prior to Easter, the Fariseos are sent by Mayo tribal elders to make their way from town to town, on foot and in silence. There are many groups of three to five Fariseos who can be seen walking, some barefoot, throughout the state of Sonora. We saw a lot of Fariseo groups on our trip across Mexico Highway Two on our way to San Diego. In fact it may be one of the reasons we got lost so much. It is a photo opportunity each time I see them.
They represent the negative forces within their village and while dancing to a drumbeat, they gesture for money. If you give money, you are cleansing yourself of your sins.
On Good Friday, the Fariseos return to their villages, with their collected money, and their masks and clothing are burned in celebration of a final cleansing.
When I saw the Fariseos, I yelled at Senor to stop the car. Picture moment for sure. They are not supposed to remove their masks and are to abstain from talking, drinking, sex and are to not wash their clothing. They were obviously as surprised to see us as we were to see them.
Bailar............i asked................you can't ask them to dance, said senor...............of course, i can, i said..........bailar......i asked again................bailar........said the one without his mask....si, i said..............and he put on his mask and they danced.
The Mayo culture is fascinating and I have always loved watching the Fariseos and studying their clothing and masks and dance. In the photos you can see that some of the leggings are made of the silkworm cocoons while others are hammered tecate cans. Some of the belts are wood and others are empty plastic shotgun shells.
I think it is possible they were not following the elder's rules yet because they were out in the middle of nowhere and they were not expecting company. I was thrilled to watch them dance and surprised they did not gesture for money. But I was eager to give them twenty pesos and when I held it out, the Raven masked Fariseo gestured to the tecate can. So I pushed the note down through the opening. They tilted their heads to us and walked on down the dusty road.
So now we are listening as our young neighbor in new old Jesus's casa begins his Semana Santa celebration with a little ranchero music and I can smell carne asada on the miner's grill. The little red train is whistling its way up Calle Allende, its riders whooping and singing and far off in the distance, maybe up the Chalaton, I can hear a metal bat whack a baseball. The church bell is ringing in case we forget what the celebration is really about and the mama quail is calling her babies while the white winged dove eat the cracked corn in the feeders.
I love Mexican celebrations and it does not bother me one bit that this one may last till Sunday morning at 4am when the tuba player shows up.
I hope your Semana Santa brings you good food, good music and friends, and perhaps even a welcomed unexpected meeting on a long dusty road.
Feliz noche! Linda Lou