I´ve decided to spend a few extra days in Nebaj, where they are celebrating the Feast of the Assumption with a gigantic street fair. I´m pretty sure this is how Jesus (and Mary) would´ve wanted the day to be commemorated, with cacophanous marimba bands, bad town hall speeches, lots of drinking and hideously loud firecrackers, cotton candy and bad plastic trinkets for sale, games of chance under fluorescent lights, and rickety-ass carnival rides. Seriously, if Winger had been headlining that night, I would have thought I was back at the Great Allentown Fair. The only thing missing was funnel cake stands.
Dude, this place is weird.
After a horrible false start at a dump called the Hospedaje Nebajense -- I´ve written to the good folks at Rough Guides to request they remove this filth pit from their recommendations -- I found another room at a nice place a block from the plaza. An American I´d met on the bus ride out here said that Wednesday was the big fiesta day, so I hung around the main square, peoplewatching and waiting and wondering what to do. There are only four or five of us gringos in town, so I was as much of a curiosity to them as they were to me. Every time I sat on a park bench, someone struck up a conversation wondering where I was from and what I was doing there. The pastor of the local church even proudly introduced himself in English.
Throughout the next few days there were a few parades, musical acts, and some goings-on in the church. (For those of you keeping score at home, please note that I was at Mass on the Feast of the Assumption! Maybe Santa Claus will get me that iPhone for Christmas this year after all.) There is a very distinct traditional uniform for the folks of Nebaj, and they were all decked out in their finest for the fiesta. The women wear dark red skirts and blouses with geometric designs in green and purple and sometimes maroon. They wear headclothes woven around their finely-coiffed hair that end in brightly-colored pom-pom tassles that they pile high on their heads. And even some of the men were dressed, in dark red cotton jackets with black embroidery. It was really interesting to see so many people dressed exactly the same.
The only other thing of note was a strange procession in front of the church, with men wearing gold-spangled costumes and masks and pirate hats. They were accompanied by the everpresent marimba band. The men lined up and did this strange marching two-step dance, over and over again for like an hour, and then they packed up and walked away. I have no idea what that was supposed to be about, but it provided a bit of entertainment in the middle of the day.