Audio File: LA SECRETARIA, LOS HERMANOS FLORES
Many years have passed since my dad was last in El Salvador. Yet he still holds the memories of the time he spent there very close to his heart. When asking him of his fondest memories in his home country, one memory really stood out in his interview. “Me gustaba frecuentar los ríos, los campos, la vegetación, y los bosques en mi pueblo pero mas que nada las fiestas patronales cada Noviembre y Marzo ” (I really enjoyed visiting the rivers, fields and forests in my village, but what I most enjoyed attending were the festivals that took place November and March of every year). It is a two to three day event usually held at the end of November. The festivals are to commemorate the patron saint of the town: San José. They even hold a mass in his honor before commencing the nightly activities, which are where the real excitement lies in these activities. They hold dances, parades where a reina (queen) of the pueblo is crowned. One would consider this a mini-beauty pageant amidst all the other entertainment found. In the mornings, there were torneos-tournaments of local soccer teams in the town who competed until there was only one winning soccer team. My dad participated in some games during his time home, but was not really involved because of the vested interest in attending the nighttime activities. Famous Salvadoran bands would come play including: Los Hermanos Flores, Las Nenas de Caña, Algodón, El Grupo de Marito Rivera, Aniceto Molina, etc. My dad would enjoy the dancing and the music. Until this day, he still has the cassettes with music from this time and his old radio where he still plays these songs. I grew up listening to them, so these songs have also become a source of nostalgic memories too because of the happiness they convey.
Not only was there so much good music, but the food is also a must. They have “pupusas, plátanos fritos, frijoles, arroz y enchiladas y por supuesto los tamales.” It is also the time when they have the greatest sweets. “Es el tiempo donde hay la mayor variedad de dulces y conservas (my dad’s favorites are the coconut flavored).”
There was also a multitude of games. The most famous of these festival games would have to be de toro de fuego-the bull of fire. The game consists of a metallic bull, with fireworks attached to it. When these fireworks are alighted, one person carries the bull around the town, at night, chasing people on the street. Those that are chased must dodge the bull’s attacks, in order to avoid injuries from the fireworks. Not only was the toro de fuego brought to the festivities, but also a special guest was also invited: La Gigantona. This custom consists of a person in a tall, female costume that walks around the festival attracting the attention of the attendees, who wish to take their picture with this character.
Based on all this entertainment, it is no doubt that my dad started attending these festivities, since he was twelve. Many of his family members still make sure to return to San José de La Fuente, during the times of the festival, to reminisce about these great memories. Since, he was last married he stopped attending the festivals because it became difficult to return to these celebrations. With children in school and the increasing costs of taking a family trip to El Salvador, the voyage to attend one of these festivities has been postponed. Yet I have always grown up hearing fond memories of his times home, specifically of these times in the feria. This has only increased my motivation to ensure that I attend this festival in the not-so distant future.