So without realizing how much excitement we would encounter later in the evening, we set out to have dinner at a restaurant recommended by our hotel, La Posidita, just a few blocks from the hotel and right outside the main square, Jardin (pronounced Har-deen’). This is a charming rooftop restaurant within sight of the big parish church, actually more like a cathedral.
I had a dish that was not only beautifully presented but delicious. It is called Chili Nogada and it is only made in the month around San Michel’s feast day. It is three colors—red, green, and white—the colors of the Mexican flag, and is made from green chili peppers stuffed with meats and dried fruit, then topped with a white cheese sauce with ground almonds, and sprinkled with red pomegranate seeds. So we sat on the rooftop savoring every delicious morsel, in sight of the cathedral which lit up as the sun went down. The peso is very cheap compared to the dollar, so our dinner cost 360 pesos, about $20.
Later that evening, the jardin and main square came alive with cheering crowds watching a charming parade that wound its way through the narrow streets surrounding the square. There were three small and rather disorganized bands which marched out of step and played out of tune. But their spirit was great.
Between the bands were lines of identical shamrock green and white taxicabs with sprays of flowers that looked a lot like funeral arrangements decorating the hoods and trunks. The drivers and passengers of these taxis proudly wound their way around the square and ended up parked in a line in front of the cathedral.
At the gate to the cathedral stood the parish priest in his long robes and two nuns in white habits, all swaying to the beat of the music. And this is only Thursday night; there is the whole weekend ahead which will be filled with more festivities that we will be sure to attend….
As we were eating dinner that night, we heard a commotion out in the street outside the restaurant. We quickly paid our bill and went outside to join in the fun. It was a wedding—the bride and groom and all their guests were being led by a pair of ten foot tall puppets who also were dressed like a bride and groom. The guests had little cups on strings hanging around their necks, and they were drinking tequila from them.
Someone gave me a cup on a string. I put it around my neck and it was immediately filled with tequila. We joined the parade and drank their tequila. At the tail end of the parade was a donkey who was marching along to the beat of the music; he was carrying several bottles of tequila which I am sure kept the guests happy for many hours.
At that point we decided to go into the square in front of the cathedral and watch other activities and dancers, again in celebration of San Miguel. Everyone is dressed to the nines, and dance in the street. This is now the second night we have been lucky to join in the festivities.
When we got back to our hotel room about 10:00, there were two sets of earplugs on our nightstand. When the fireworks started later that night, we needed them.
Extracted from Traveling with Elizabeth – EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES AROUND THE WORLD. Now available from Amazon.