We craned our necks for the source of the excitement. We could hear it but we couldn’t see it.
What was it?
Horns blaring, engines roaring, people shouting, music blaring, bells ringing.
From atop the hill we had a great vantage point over Zacatecas and its surrounds, yet we still couldn’t determine the source of the noise.
Was it a protest, was it a celebration, a festival, a fiesta, a beauty contest, a football game…?
It’s often hard to tell in Mexico, as any event seems to be a perfect pretext to become boisterous. Any day, any time.
The origin of the pandemonium eventually revealed itself. A fleet of brightly decorated taxis rounded the bend and climbed the hill in a convoy of commotion. Vehicles were draped in streamers, covered in balloons and painted or wrapped in the national flag. Red, white and green dominated the scene as more and more taxis wound their way up the hill to the church.
To be blessed, of course.
On this particular day, the taxis of Zacatecas were receiving their annual blessing from the priest and, through him, the almighty. They were asking for protection and, no doubt, many lucrative fairs for the next 12 months.
Patriotically-adorned taxis and motorised mayhem lined up outside the church and the noise eventually subsided as the drivers and their family and friends waited for the priest to bless every vehicle in turn.
While the event certainly surprised me, it was not entirely unexpected. Sure, I’d never seen taxis blessed in my own country, but I had noticed during my time travelling in Latin America that taxi drivers would bless themselves every time they drove past a house of worship.
The procession of taxis had interrupted our quiet inspection of La Quemada archaeological ruins, so we decided to return to the city. With tired legs and the burden of history upon us, we realised the best way to return to the city safely, and saintly, was by taxi.