Monday, September 14, 2009

Ajijic's Annual Charro Parade

Charros originated in Jalisco State. Every year, during the 9-days of the Fiestas de Independencia, charros from Ajijic and throughout Jalisco State and elsewhere in Mexico participate in an event in Ajijic that is beyond colorful. It begins with a special Mass for charros at the Parrochia church near the Plaza. Scores of beautifully groomed and saddled charro horses fill the Parrochia courtyard, waiting for their masters. After the service, the charros mount up and parade through the streets of Ajijic, ending at the Lienzo, or charro ring, for rodeo-style events. The whole event has the feeling of the 19th or even the 18th Century

Making ready, a pretty girl requires a little help with her outfit. Following the service, there was a flurry of activity as final adjustments were made in costumes, saddles and equipment were checked and re-checked, and photographers like myself scurried about trying to capture as much as possible.

Proud charro sits easily on his mount, waiting for the parade to start. Some of the charro outfits were exquisite, like the one on this rider. Horse, saddle, and clothing can add up to quite an expense. Being a charro is a way of life, an identity. The term charro comes from Spain, meaning a native of the province of Salamanca. Probably the first charros came from there and settled in the Jalisco area. Jalisco also originated mariachi music and tequila.

Beautifully braided main. The young girl on this horse told us that she and her mother worked hard on this special effect for the parade.

Young senorita waits patiently on her colt. Young children participate in the activities in a variety of ways. Kids learn to ride at a very young age. This senorita looks very serious here, but just wait!

The charro has become a symbol of Mexico known around the world. Charro events tend to be very patriotic, and Mexican flags were at the parade in abundance. Independencia, the 199th anniversary of the beginning of the War for Independence from Spain, is celebrated on September 15-16, only a couple of days after the Charro Parade.

Two pretty members of the Escaramuza Charra. For a long time, male charros objected to the idea of women participating in charro events. However, women finally broke through with teams of female riders doing highly skilled choreographic routines. All this is done while riding side-saddle. The two women above are part of a team that won the National Championship for Escaramuza Charra. Even though the women I saw were quite young and slender, they were without a doubt true athletes. And they have beautiful, winning smiles.

What would a Mexican parade be without the local brass band? These guys were proud to be in the parade, and what they may have lacked in skill, they made up for in volume.

The senorita in purple again, but this time with a smile! Once the parade started, the little girl beamed in every direction. I thought she might strain her neck as she mugged for the cameras.

A suicidal canine. I spotted this small dog trotting around between the legs of the assembled horses. Some of the horses were moving, and some even dancing to the band music. I couldn't believe the dog could survive all those hooves clashing against the cobblestones. But he ducked and weaved, and appeared to be having a great time with his game.

Escaramuza Charras lead off the parade. As National Champions, the Charras took the position of honor in the lead. The parade wound from the Parrochia down Hidalgo street, past my old house, to Seis Esquinas and back along Ocampo street to the Lienzo.

Asociacion de Charros de Ajijic was not far behind the Charras. This is the local organization of charros. The charro banner is made of rawhide, painted with the emblem of Ajijic's charros.

This fellow had a great time at the parade. Here he gives a ride on his burro to a little girl, possibly a relative. At other times I saw him giving rides to Fiesta Princesses and other pretty girls. The burro was apparently a real asset (pun intended). The burro looked bored by the whole thing, but then it's pretty hard to impress a burro (unless you have a piece of celery).

And the band played on... The band kept up a steady beat, led by these two beefy drummers. Band members seemed to be having a good time. Many of the charros have taught their mounts to dance to the music, quite a sight to see.

The real thing. I was impressed by this trio, who seemed to have just ridden in from a 19th Century hacienda. They were older than most of the charros in the parade and looked very commanding in posture and dress and manner of riding.

A lucky young charro. Each of the three Princesas Fiestas Patrias rode on the lap of a handsome young charro. The charro maintained a serious mien, but I suspected he was enjoying every minute of it.

A cold cerveza, just the thing for a hot day. This pair stopped off at a tienda along the way to buy a couple of ice-cold cervezas. In typical fashion of cowboys everywhere, they never bothered to dismount, but did their business from the saddle and rejoined the parade. The one on the right seemed to be especially jolly.

The Lienzo, scene of charro exploits to come. A lienzo is a rodeo ring shaped like an old-fashioned keyhole--a round hole with a rectangular slot below. The events generally begin at the bottom of the slot and proceed to the ring. The bulls or horses brought out for the events exit through the red doors near the entrance to the ring. Just to the left of the red doors is a narrow walk-way that extends around the inside of the ring. Charros and spectators line the barrier wall separating the ring from the walk way. Occasionally a bull or horse will jump the barrier and run the length of the walkway, much to the delight of the spectators in the stands above. Occupants of the walkway come popping out of the slot like popcorn out of a popper as the angry beast thunders by. For a look at what happens at the Lienzo during a Charreada, click here.

This completes my posting on the Annual Charro Parade. I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to pass on the link to this blog to friends and family. If you'd like to leave a comment, either do it in the comments section below, or directly by email. If you use the comments section to ask a question, be sure to leave your email address so I can reply.

Hasta luego! Jim


  1. Nice! I love the little girl especially.

  2. Hooray for the mariachis and the tequila.

  3. Another worderful posting! Jean & I can't wait for our extended stay in Ajijic, starting in January.

  4. Absolutely beautiful! Love the pictures, but, also, your beauty with words in the description! Coming from a Hispanic heritage, but not looking it (blond and blue eyes), and being born and raised in the US all my life, I treasure those Hispanic traditions, and the vacations my father and I make to Mexico. Thanks for sharing such a special, wonderful place, again, with your beautiful photos and descriptions!

  5. Wonderful photos. I felt as if I were there. I live in the Ajijic area, but was out of town. Thank you!


If your comment involves a question, please leave your email address so I can answer you. Thanks, Jim