Our Lady of Guadalupe and La Ahorcadita

Seashell offerings to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Seashell offerings to Our Lady of Guadalupe

My recent post relayed the story of La Ahorcadita and the short film made by the Jóvenes en Video program. While the facts of La Ahorcadita cannot be proven neither can they be refuted. What is irrefutable is people’s faith that La Ahorcadita (the hanged girl) can grant miracles related to conception and pregnancy. Today Burt and I had some time on our hands. Our goal was La Ahorcadita and a hamburger and fries at La Esquina.

First we took a walk at La Poza and found two stunning shrines of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I lack faith so I am perplexed by my crush on Our Lady of Guadalupe. She moves me. I love finding her. I love knowing she’s out there lurking waiting to be found and gazed upon. The giant portrait is painted on a rock close to a controversial planned upscale development. She is vibrantly new. I hope someone thought a little (or lot) of Guadalupe could help make things right and protect the community from over development and a loss of resources. Maybe she will guide the developer’s hand as they build their “sustainable” community? Faith, hope and charity…

Lunch was an awesome round of cheeseburgers and fries. La Esquina has a loiterer. El Jefe, a local, mildy disturbed mute man that is usually a mere nuisance, was in teeth gnashing form today at the restaurant. He was agitated and the staff were at wit’s end trying to shoosh him along.  They tried every trick they knew to get him to move on. Usually this man causes no harm and I personally find him easy to ignore. Until today. Today he crossed the line and grabbed my arm from behind while I was standing at the counter. I startled a lot of people when I gave him a loud and terse, “No me toca!” with absolutely no thought. Not quite grammatically perfect but sound enough to do the job. Burt was seated a few feet away and loved seeing el Jefe jump back. I was pleased at my verbal self defense but sad it had come to that. With the mood changed staff had el Jefe quickly back on the street and off their patio but not before he directed some unintelligible but obviously peeved noises my way. Maybe our Lady was looking over me and put the Spanish in my mouth.

With our bellies full we headed out to el otro lado (the other side) to find La Ahorcadita. I was given verbal directions two weeks ago and recalled everything but the last landmark. So we headed towards what I thought I had heard and when we didn’t find the shrine we asked a family building a fence. The man was eager to help us get a miracle. He knew exactly what we were looking for. I think he thought Burt and I were looking to cure my peri-menopause with a baby. With the helpful man’s almost correct directions we found it. A Palo San Juan tree in the desert is an unusual thing and once we were in the right gully we picked it out. There in the desert, next to a home under construction, is the shrine of the hanged girl. The tree is looking fragile. A large limb had recently fallen and decades of etched names combined with the terrible drought are taking a toll. The shrine brought to mind a song I sing called Becky Johnson by Gillian Welch. It’s a peppy bluegrassy thing with notably downbeat words. The chorus sings “That’s the way that it goes, everybody’s buying little baby clothes, that’s the way that it goes, there was a time when she and I were friends.” The verses are all bad news, overdoses, jail, betrayal. The implication of the chorus is that the clothes are being bought to desperately find hope when life of the song is all tragedy. This shrine was stocked with toys and baby booties and baby clothes. Desperate people hoping for new life in this gritty world.

My new favorite representation of the patron saint of Latin America and Mexico
My new favorite representation of the patron saint of Latin America and Mexico
She's got an ocean view
She’s got an ocean view
Offerings made in hope of conception or a safe delivery of a healthy child.
Offerings made in hope of conception or a safe delivery of a healthy child.
Baby shoe and a pacifier amongst rosaries too thick to count.
Baby shoe and a pacifier amongst rosaries too thick to count.
La Ahorcadita
La Ahorcadita
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La Ahorcadita

Palo de Arco basket and votive candles.
Palo de Arco basket and votive candles.

Last year’s Jóvenes en Video film was a short treatment of local lore called La Ahorcadita. Many years ago a fifteen year old girl was found hanged in a Palo San Juan tree. The locals believe she was murdered by her mother-in-law and the hanging was a cover-up for the crime. At the time of her death the girl was pregnant. This big, stately tree still lives and has become a shrine for women hoping to conceive or asking for protection during their pregnancy. The movie is a nuanced and gorgeous depiction of the unknowable truths behind the current day beliefs. Local teenagers wrote the script and devised how to film the movie through the Jóvenes en Video program. You can see the trailer HERE.

These pictures show some Jóvenes en Video students maintaining an art installation representing La Ahorcadita next to the film festival theater.  The photo of a girl hanging from the noose is not the actual girl. It is a photo of the character from the film representing the girl. The exhibit was created by Colectivo Cinéteca as a sign of respect for the community of Todos Santos.

Is it any wonder we want to volunteer to help support the mind boggling work these kids are creating? Despite some tired feet and a few rude people it has been totally worth it to help local kids create and learn and see the world through different eyes.

 

A fictional representation of the hanged girl.
A fictional representation of the hanged girl.
Jóvenes en Video students redress the exhibit with flowers.
Jóvenes en Video students redress the exhibit with flowers.
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