In the little pueblo of San Juan Cosala, we made one of those great “stumble upon” discoveries on a Sunday afternoon. We pulled over to watch an adorable young boy riding a donkey and dressed for show. His father that guided the pair invited us to stay and wait “veinte minutos” (20 minutes) because a group of fifty cowboys on horseback were about to parade through on a cowboy roundup. Always up for an impromptu adventure, we pulled our camper over in the town square and unloaded our nine children.
Jeremiah gets his turn to be a cowboy.
Neighborhood children poured out from concrete bungalows to meet our children.
When it became clear the wait for the cowboy roundup was going to be a little longer, we searched for a shady spot to wait it out.
Children from the pueblo meeting our son, Hosea.
The children found a dog while waiting for the cowboys.
Close by, we found a palm frond-shaded taco stand. Francesca, her sister and the two daughters that ran the stand warmly invited us to take a table.For about nine dollars, we were able to enjoy a couple dozen tacos, hot off the grill and stuffed with frijoles, chorizo (a local sausage), tender beef steak, and potatoes with onions. This was served with piping hot tortillas, fresh salsas, raw onions, and plenty of limes. We washed this all down with a liter of Jamaica water, a favorite punch made from the abundant red hibiscus flower.
Enjoying a family meal of tacos under a palm frond roof.
Homemade tortillas cooking on a wood-fired grill.
Watch this video to get a glimpse of our meal. Spoiler alert–at the end of the video watch for the loose horse that runs right for our table!
The entourage soon clattered into the town square, escorted by the local police. The mix of bravado, showmanship, and free-flowing tequila added to the jubilant chaos. The cowboys circled around to the beat and warble of a local mariachi band. The most experienced (or flamboyant) of the riders took turns strutting their dancing horses in the center of the circle. Even in the midst of these festivities, each cowboy seemed to follow an unspoken code, allowing each to take his turn in the center. Locals, merchants and our smiling little crew delightedly looked on.
A wild horse dance
A bow legged cowboy stands proud as he chats with his partners.
A cowboy selfie.
A Maraichi band excites the dancing horses.
After about an hour, with a whistle from what appeared to be the ringleader, the circle turned one direction with a few stragglers grabbing the last free drinks. The group headed east on the bike trail paralleling the highway, leaving the echoes of cheering and a trail of memories.
Watch this video to see the smiles, horse dancing and the pretty incredible view of fifty cowboys converging in one spot.
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Brent and Stacey-jean Inion, parents of nine (including four children adopted with special needs), 2014 National Geographic Travelers of the Year and the National Geographic Travelers People's Choice Travelers of the Year.
They love to laugh, to read and to explore as a family. The secret to their marital bliss is an early morning cup of freshly brewed coffee before the children awake.