Unlike the Galapogos Islands there
is little observable evidence that evolution has ever
touched San Felipe during the week known as Semana
Santa (Holy Week). This is a time of madness, when
excesses have no quota and often the holidays' goal seems
to be the execution of the perfect action --one completely
devoid of reason and common sense. Unfortunately the one
who achieves this perfect act often doesn't survive to
enjoy the applause.
Santa attracts vacationers from Mexicali and mainland
Mexico, as it is a tradition for revelers to stream lemming-like
to the nearest beach during this holiday. Often Spring
Break overlaps the time frame, so there can be a real
glut of personnel coverging on San Felipe, all seeking
the penultimate diversion. The town carefully prepares
for this mayhem every year. In fact it looks forward to
it because this is the magic week the local vendors and
merchants use as a fulcrum to lever their business into
the black. Prices pole-vault
into the clouds. Queues
of people at liquor stores pass bottles and six-packs
down their line like volunteer firemen at an MGM hotel
This year (2005) the town provided
music on the Malecón, an English rap medley
of such pornographic proportions that local business people,
certain the Delegado had no knowledge of the booming
lyrics, were determined to enlighten him.
In many towns on the mainland, Semana Santa
observes a Good Friday passion of Christ reenactment.
A man, often in a tattered robe and sometimes voluntarily
submitting himself to a crown of thorns, files through
the streets of his town pulling a large wooden cross.
Here in San Felipe, on a smaller scale, it remains a tradition.
Last Friday a small group of people trailed a young man
who turned up Chetumal with his burden. But by far the
bulk of the visitors to the town had other plans, which
were considerably more festive-minded. A drink of vinegar
was the furthest thing from their minds.
And it is
doubtful that at the end of their celebrating, the young
man dragging his icon up Chetumal would have been able
to shoulder the full weight of their sins.
In contrast to the silent procession,
everything else happening in town happened at full volume.
Cars with rolled-down windows boomed and throbbed like
cardiacs down the main streets. ATV's, dune buggies and
rails seemed to shed their mufflers and howl like werewolves.
Street-corner sound systems thumped the air with rug-beating
percussions. People broke out in song like sailors on
a binge. Police and ambulance sirens sounded like car
alarms on steroids. And at night pyrotechnics seemed more
satisfactorily heard than seen. Decibels upon decibels.
Yesterday the morning crowds, blowsy
and muddled from excessive celebration, committed to the
northward exodus and the safety and security of their
regular lives. A sea of garbage parted for them and the
tight rosary of their vehicles inched away from the arches
in an endless novena of bumper-to-bumper penance, the
price they had to pay for their pecularly modern observance
of Holy Week.
When the last trailer crammed with
jet skis and ATV's finally rolled out of town, some local
merchants said goodbye to their extra labor and tried
to determine if it was all worth it while others simply
returned to town after a four day absence and unlocked
Despite the "Mantengamos Limpio"
below is the aftermath of a Holy Week 2005 evening.
Click on any thumbnail to enlarge.