Hacienda happenings and pilgrims too

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Some pilgrims travel this way.

HOLA, AMIGOS. It’s a lovely day at the Hacienda, and here’s what’s happening.

I am alone today, abandoned by my child bride who, with her sister and the nephew formerly known as The Little Vaquero, has gone on a pilgrimage. The trio is walking to a town about 12 miles distant.

They left at 10 a.m.

This is an annual event, and hundreds of folks hereabouts do it. But not me. I have no desire to go on pilgrimages. It’s a religious event — Catholic, of course — but that’s not why my trio does it. They just like the walk, which takes about three hours.

They switched to this pilgrimage two years ago. They previously went on a far longer one to a town called Caracuaro to visit the “Black Jesus.”

I once went on that pilgrimage, years back, out of curiosity. The traditional way is to walk, but I drove because I am a lazy pilgrim.

I walked through throngs of other pilgrims in the streets of Caracuaro, some on their knees. I ate tacos and beans, and I came home. It was my only visit. The Black Jesus will have to get along without me in the future.

I said I was alone today, but that’s not quite true. There are workmen here. January and February are when we do renovations at the Hacienda. It doesn’t rain in January and February normally, so it’s a good time for renovations.

We’re having work done on some windows, and there’s painting too. I’ll have a full post on that in a few days because I know you’re curious.

Meanwhile, here I sit, alone, while my pilgrims stroll in the sunshine.

The black Jesus

ONE OF THE reasons I subscribe to no religion is that you often must do odd stuff. The believers do not consider it odd, of course, and since I support organized religion for the societal glue that it is, I say to them: Go for it.

This weekend brings a strange Catholic event to our corner of Mexico. It is the pilgrimage to Carácuaro, a small town in our state’s “Tierra Caliente.” Carácuaro’s draw is a huge statue of a black Jesus. Mexican Catholicism has more variations of Jesus and Mary than you can shake a sceptre at.

Every year about this time thousands of Mexican faithful set off to Carácuaro on foot, on bicycle, in cars, on motorbikes, on knees, you name it. Often they tote statues and crosses of varying sizes. The walkers usually start from some town that can be near or far, depending on one’s devotion and physical stamina.

My wife, her sister, and our young nephew (the young vaquero) are fond of this trek even though neither of the adults profess to be Catholic. My father-in-law, the long deceased doctor, was extremely anti-Catholic, so they were not raised in the Catholic church. Or any church.

They only do it half-assed, which is to say they drive most of the distance and then, nearing Carácuaro, they get out and walk the last few miles. They hire a chauffeur from here to accompany them.

Once, however, my wife did it full-tilt boogie. In 2002, just before we married, she and her sister-in-law’s now-deceased husband, the fellow I used to call The Eggman, set off from a distant town and walked for two days, spending the night on the ground somewhere. They trekked down country roads and through woods over mountaintops and rural fields. About 70 miles, to hear them tell it.

Her sister made that trip in a car and brought them back the afternoon of the second day. They were laughable, grimy, limping, groaning and somehow my future wife had chipped a front tooth, since repaired.

Now they do it in a more sensible manner.

One year I accompanied them as driver. Yes, I have been to Carácuaro. I have seen the black Jesus. The only walking I did was from the parking lot in a field on the outskirts of town to the downtown church which was surrounded by throngs of faithful folks in states of exhaustion. We went and returned the same day.

Tomorrow morning, they will set off around dawn. I will spend the day here at the Hacienda, relaxing.