Holy week centers around the community-produced Semana Santa Ajijic Passion Play which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and expected to draw two million visitors to our little town. Not a typo.
Everything begins on Palm Sunday, with Jesus riding a donkey into town with a large procession in the village where, for a half mile, the street is strewn with alfalfa and bougainvillea. At 9 that evening an outdoor mass is held in front of the large church where, for 30 minutes, all the electric lights go out and the plaza is illuminated with candles and oil as it was 150 years ago.
There is another mass on Thursday followed by a portrayal of the Last Supper and a procession to the garden of “Gethsemane” (actually a nearby hill). The play continues as a group of Romans come at 9 pm to apprehend Jesus and take him to the town’s main plaza.
On Good Friday at 11 am, the Passion Play resumes with the trial before Pontius Pilate. The actor portraying Jesus carries his heavy wooden cross through the cobblestone streets and to “Golgotha” (in the nearby hills) where the crucifixion scene takes place. Along the way, he is flogged and collapses to the ground under the weight of the cross. Everyone then heads back to church representing the procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is buried.
Kind of anti-climactic but on Easter, but the Passion Play is over—for another year.
One image I recall from last year’s photos is Jesus hanging from the cross, bloodied and broken with a dangling earphone and walkie-talkie hooked to his rags reminding me that he is, after all, just an actor. And speaking of the role of Jesus, you don’t just get to play Jesus Christ because you look the part, you spend the entire prior year acting like Jesus and doing good and working for the church and the community and only if you merit walking in the sandals of Jesus do you get the part.
The part includes being flogged, beaten and you have to drag a heavy cross up a mountain while wearing a crown of real thorns. But on the upside, I heard there are a lot of opportunities to get laid. Apparently there is no shortage of young senoritas eager to sooth Jesus’ wounds after he rises (so to speak) from the dead. I asked if the woman playing Mary had to be a virgin. Apparently nobody had thought of that before. Probably too hard to find.
And last but not least, since this is such a deeply religious community and I want to be respectful, I asked a young Mexican woman I know if she is going to participate. No, she doesn’t believe in any of that—her mother is a Baptist and her is father an Atheist. So, there you go!
Up next: The top 10 reasons you know you are living here and no longer just a tourist.