DIA de LOS CASCARONES
This month New Orleans hosted its Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro, the world’s largest Carnival celebration. In San Miguel de Allende it’s Dia de Los Cascarones, the day of the cracked egg. While SMA’s crowd can’t rival the one million revelers of their South American neighbor, this city does a smashing job observing the five days leading up to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
A black cat crossing my path has never bothered me. Stepping on a crack breaks no one’s back. If you spill salt, look to avoid any targets before tossing more over your left shoulder. I may not be superstitious but I admit to strongly believing in Luck. So, if someone wants to crack an egg over my head in the name of good fortune, let’s do it.
El Jardin (Plaza Principal) located directly across from the famed La Parroquia (church) is Ground Zero for the gaiety. The Centro Histórico is ablaze in color with mariachi bands staking out their corners. Vendors line the square, selling hand-made puppets, glitzy masks, outsized paper flowers, ice cream, churros and bags of cascarones. Mojigangas, giant costumed puppets from 6 to 18 feet tall, stroll and mingle with the crowd.
What interested me most during the festivities was the cracked egg scene. Simply put, cascarones are washed chicken eggshells, brightly painted on the exterior, filled with confetti and closed again by small tissue squares glued over the opening. These handmade mini-piñatas are manufactured by local kitchen table entrepreneurs and sold on the streets in bags of 5, 10, 20 and 40. (I went big, buying 40 for 50 pesos.)
Every child, teen and even Moms/Dads tote their own personal cache to toss or crush over an unsuspecting head, producing a confetti shower and bringing good luck to the victim. For these 5 days, SMA’s historic cobblestones are a rainbow of colored confetti.
EL CHARO del INGENIO jardin botanico
As I mentioned last week, El Charo del Ingenio, located near Casa O’Leary where I am staying, is an outstanding 217-acre botanical garden and nature preserve surrounded by an Ecological Preservation Zone. Besides hiking its many trails, last week Donna and Steve Chase and I took a morning tour to learn about its vast botanical collection of cacti and other Mexican plants many of which are rare, threatened or in danger of extinction due to development.
VALENTINE’S DAY AT CASA O’LEARY