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Ancient ritual at Las Trojes, a highland lakeside town, splices time together with simple drama

This column was first published in the April 9, 1988 edition of this newspaper.

Just behind the high ochre ridge that slices the northern horizon at the west end of Lake Chapala lie two small villages, the remnants of a once vast hacienda.

The smaller of these two pueblos, Las Trojes (The Barns), traditionally has been considered by the residents of Ajijic and Jocotepec as a pueblo triste (a sad town). Just before the rains in the summer of 1972, I made a lengthy visit to the village. The pueblo was the color of adobe, sitting silently baking among stony fields fingered by abrupt dust devils, watched from above by red-tailed hawks drifting on invisible streams as they made their lethal morning observations. In the barrancas cutting burgundy shadows in the mountain flanks toward Ajijic, cordoniz (quail) sent up a rising call.

Strangers in remote pueblos everywhere are instant objects of curiosity, and as I rode into the beginning street of Las Trojes, people paused to stare. Soon three children were trotting alongside my horse, examining me with such intensity my grin gave way to laughter which made my young escorts laugh too. The calles of Las Trojes were, of course, paved with stone block and were cleaner than those of lakeside towns. They appeared wider, and seemed more friendly because of this width. This impression, I realized, came from the fact that there were no cars in Las Trojes to cramp the street’s edges.

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