So a friend of ours had a great idea for Steve. She suggested we skip the trips to Chapala, Ajijic, and Tlaquepaque and schedule a Tequila Tour instead. Our guides were very flexible, and most likely this would not have been a problem except… I really wanted to visit these three places. And I suppose, Steve feared I would join the shopping frenzy if he did not come along. With the promise of a visit to a tequila store later in the day, Steve boarded the van with the rest of us early in the morning.
Chapala is about 30 minutes south of Guadalajara. Playwright, Tennessee Williams, lived there while writing A Streetcar Named Desire. Apparently, he found Chapala to be a quiet place with good swimming. That is still true today, as Chapala is home to the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala. It is an ideal weekend getaway spot for the city dwellers.
We meandered up and down the malecón enjoying incredible views. On our way back to the van, we noticed a Palo Volador along the lakeshore. It was not long before the Voladores themselves appeared and prepared to perform their ancient prayer ritual, La Danza de los Voladores. As I mentioned earlier, we were blessed with incredibly easy going guides. They were more than happy to turn our group around and spend a little bit of extra time in Chapala so we would not miss the ceremony.
I had come across La Danza de los Voladores while researching Mexico for my classes several years ago. I was intrigued, mesmerized, filled with a longing to just go. (I think this is what made my job so difficult for me at times. I found the four walls confining, particularly when I was discovering so much that was new to me.) I never incorporated La Danza into my lessons, most likely because parents would have frowned upon their children dangling from ropes attached to a 30 foot pole. But I did not forget what I had seen on the YouTube video, and what I had read. I was overcome with emotion that I would be in the front row to witness this special dance.
Five Voladores participate in the ritual at a time. One man plays the flute and drum simultaneously while the group dances in a circle around the pole. One by one, the Voladores climb 30 feet in the air and attach themselves to ropes that have been tied and wound around the pole. The flutist/drummer sits at the top of the pole continuing to play music and leads the group of men in prayer. In a demonstration of strength and faith at the prayer’s end, four of the Voladares lean back, drop from their seats, and soar, upside down, around the pole- -tethered by the rope. Words cannot describe what it was like to be a part of this that morning. I still get goosebumps when I think about it.
Okay, so afterwards, there was, of course, a little display of items for sale. And one of the items was a two foot replica of the pole and the Voladores. Without even thinking about how I would get it home without snapping it in two or what in the heck I would do with it once there, I bought one! Steve was not at all surprised to see me get in line, pesos in hand. He was surprised that I chose a green one. Particularly because it was the same color of green I told him to please never wear again.
Sometimes I buy things I see like I still have a classroom to put them in. Right now my Palo Volador is just sitting in my living room (making me smile whenever I look at it). But I have been doing a lot of thinking on this purchase and have a fabulous idea for a dining room table centerpiece! Which is going to require the purchase of a few more items that would look great in a classroom!