Monday, July 30, 2012

The Corn Goddess of the Americas

Just got back from the Guelaguetza festival in Oaxaca City. If you like indigenous dancing (as I do) or if you like something hot and hard pressing into your bum for as long as you can stand it (as Ricky Martin finally admits he does), then this event is for you. The folkloric costumes from all over Oaxaca are authentic and the concrete benches have a genuine precolumbian feel.

Imagine native couples swaying seductively with bundles of amaranth over their shoulders, or prepubescent village boys playing fearful matador while earlier-developing girls head-butt them to the ground. Whether you call it sexual harassment or the biggest folkloric festival in the Americas, it just doesn't get any better than this.

The ticket costs 400 pesos, but it includes a straw hat to wave and the performers constantly throw gifts into the crowd. A beautiful vision of a simpler, happier world: flashing smiles, stomping boots and swirling undergarments. Wish those damn Europeans had never shown up—except the one who invented seat cushions.

The highlight of the event is a presentation of the young woman chosen to be this year's corn goddess. I would just like to say that she really helped bring the ancient myths to life. No doubt many readers would like to put their cob into her grinder—I mean reenact time-honored seed-planting rituals that the land may once again bring forth her bounty of corn. Never forget: in Mexico, it's all about the corn. (Even my machismo jokes are proud to be corny.)

What set Evelin Acosta Lopez apart from the other contestants to become the 2012 corn goddess? Was it the kind of natural beauty men will follow like zombies walking off a cliff? Was it her knowledge of indigenous history and tradition? Her melodic jarocha guitar playing or graceful dancing with a pineapple balanced on her shoulder? It was all these things. Yet mostly, it was the communication class she just completed with professor Lyn Fuchs at Papaloapan University. You're welcome, Evelin!

The Guelaguetza festival lasts all day, climaxing after dark with The Legend of Donaji. And I do mean climaxing. In theory, this is a theatrical presentation of a historical myth from the wars between the Zapotecs and Mixtecs just before the Spanish conquest. In reality, this is athletic young men, wearing nothing but loin cloths, ankle bells and feathers, blowing conch shells, waving torches and leaping around. Plus, radiant indigenous virgins, draped in strikingly-colored fertility-symbol florals, dancing their nubial asses off.

All of this takes place to a soundtrack of primal drum beat and animal cries. If you and your partner are considering viagra, try this first. Just make an effort to avoid licking your lips when you tell friends of your fascinating and meaningful cultural experience in Oaxaca. Call me a pervert if you like, but only after I see your ticket stub.

This post is an excerpt from the book Fresh Wind & Strange Fire: One Man's Adventures In Primal Mexico, coming soon to bookstores and online outlets.


  1. I've never heard of this. Thanks for posting about it, Lyn!

    1. she's beautiful and inteligent
      by: armando zavala