Charros, Charreadas, and Escaramuzas

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

Breakfast on the 16 de Septiembre
A friend had invited a group of us for breakfast on the 16 de Septiembre.

It had become kind of an annual thing, and we had driven down from Veracruz to Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca.

He lives on a tiny side street in town and had set up tables in front of his house for the event.

It was Mexican Independence Day, and every town has it´s parade.
Most of the time, it´s school children and maybe a couple of horses.

Sitting there after breakfast, we watched the parade go by in the distance.

Then, I noticed the girls on horseback illuminated by the morning sun.

I grabbed my camera, and excused myself from my friends.

I had to see more.

The Sombreros
Maybe it was the sombreros, or the colors or the morning sun, but I was captivated by the beautiful event.

These weren´t your average cowgirls.

Their outfits looked expensive, and they knew how to ride.

You could see they had spent a lot of time getting ready for this event.
Three Sombreros
A Break in the Parade
For some reason, the parade had stopped, and it was time to rest.

They had stopped in front of me, so I weaved around among the people watching the parade discretely taking pictures.

I was new at taking pictures and decided to look at them when I got back to Veracruz.

They were close to the end of the parade where the ceremony would take place on the plaza.

The day was heating up and you could see that people were getting a little tired.
A Summer Cold
Up Since Dawn
Ranch Hands
The Rest of the Parade
The rest of the parade started up next came the ranch hands, and children.

I realized there must be more to it than a rodeo in the States.

A Doll
Padre Hija
Watchful Grandfather
A Family Tradition
In Mexico, there is a deep respect for traditions.

The tradition of the Charros and Charreadas run in the family and go back many generations.

You can see this in the people who are of all ages.

Un Sombrero y Dos Aretes
Congreso Charro in Veracruz:
The Tradition of Horses in Mexico
The other day, Andrés invited me to attend a charreada with him. He loves horses and belongs to one of the charro clubs here in Veracruz.

I thought it would be like a rodeo, but I was mistaken. Although the American rodeos originated in Mexico, they are distant cousins from the real Mexican charro tradition.

The tradition of horses in Mexico started a long time ago when Hernán Cortes arrived in Veracruz in 1519.

These Spanish horses were the first to set foot on American soil. With them, Cortes brought the horseman traditions of Spain.
A Girl
A Girl
A Girl
A Girl
A Charro Family
A Lot More than a Rodeo
Andrés explained a lot of the traditions to me during the different events.

I was looking for the best times, and asked him about the prizes. Andrés kind of chuckled, and said,

"This is a hobby that costs the contestants money. There is no clock and it is not about the best time."

"There is only one prize and it´s not much in comparison to the expense involved. "

"We do this for the fun of being together."
On the Way to the Parking Lot
On the way back to the car, there was a delicious smell coming from one of the makeshift restaurants nearby.

I had to take a closer look.

It was my favorite: Agujas. And they were laying down the fresh hand made tortillas, too.

Andrés and I stopped and had a couple of tacos before we went home. I was stuffed.
Silver Spurs
Personalized Silver Spurs
An Invitation
A week after the event, I noticed announcements began on the local radio staion, XEU inviting people to the Gran Congreso de la Charreada. The only thing was it was over. I guess somebody had forgotten to get the announcements out.

Andrés saw that I was interested in learning more about the Charro tradition and offered to loan me a huge book called, "El Libro de los Charros", by José Valero Silva.

"That way you will understand more about our traditions".

"Next month is the Cattle Show and there will be a big charreada. You can come along if you want."

I am looking forward to it. I realize I still have a lot to learn. I´m also looking forward to some really good agujas, too.

Back to the Traditions Section