Today was one of my most favorite days in Oaxaca thus far. We woke up pretty early this morning and went to finish our puppet for the parade. In Mexico, Three Kings Day is the Christmas celebration – it is the day when the children get most of their holiday presents.
We finished our puppets, which are actually giant life-size figures people wear on their shoulders, and made special candleholders to carry in the parade. Two of the guys in our group practiced walking around and were ready for the parade.
We had the afternoon off to pack up to move to the mountains tomorrow but went to lunch as a group. We ate lunch at a natural health food restaurant, which was the favorite place thus far for most of us!!!
At 6 we met in a park for what we expected to be a little parade through the town. Little did we know, our professor and local guides had spent endless hours planning quite the procession through the town.
Not long after we arrived, a radio station showed up to do a live remote from our set-up. They said all were welcome to come and enjoy our event. Our professor and two students dressed as the three wise men, which all the kids were really excited to see. Little children would come up to kiss the kings and hold their hands. The rest of us were given traditional dress to participate in the celebration as dancers.
Other locals came to join us, a band played music, and fireworks announced our arrival. American students studying at language schools were also invited to participate. We were even accompanied by a police detail and many news reporters and cameras.
The parade was quite an experience, one of my favorite in Oaxaca thus far. We were received well by many, people in stores would come to watch and clap. When we arrived in the Zocalo, an impromptu dance party broke out and I danced with a sweet little 2-year-old girl. The four of us, dressed in traditional attire, were interviewed for the evening news in a mix of Spanish and English. We then gave out toys to all of the children who were in the area.
As we posed for a picture, we truly felt like we were celebrities – all of the locals had their cameras out. The Wise Men were a big deal! We were a little hesitant we would not be well-received, but the evening was incredible.
We leave for the mountains tomorrow and have been told to expect an entirely new experience.