Dominic travelled to Mexico on assignment for Lonely Planet. You can follow his adventures on Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled, screening internationally on National Geographic. These are his images of Rarámuri Easter celebrations in the Sierra Tarahumara.
Also known as the Tarahumara, for the Sierra Tarahumara in which they live, the indigenous peoples refer to themselves as Rarámuri, which in their language means "those who run fast". Here a man sprints between houses as Easter celebrations begin on Good Friday.
Midday on Good Friday, brightly dressed families from outlying farms begin long walks down the hillsides to Potrero to participate in the Semana Santa (Holy Week) ceremonies.
Potrero’s version of the passion play pits the chamucos (devils) against the Morocos (Roman soldiers). This chamuco drummer stationed himself on the road to Batopilas to harass bypassing cars; the monotonous beating echoes off the canyon walls, notifying all of the ceremony and scaring away evil spirits.
The wife and children of my guide Patricinio escaped the heat in the shadow of Potrero’s church, while vending traditional hand-woven colorful purica belts to chamucos and Morocos alike.
Corn is quite literally sacred to the Rarámuri. It forms the main staple of their diet and is the basis for tesgüino, the corn beer which fuels most of the chaos during Semana Santa. A girl inspects the corn basket while a relative with baby on board confers near the organ pipe cactus.
For two days, the town is split into two factions, chamucos and Morocos. The Morocos represent the Roman soldiers and righteous aspects of ourselves; the chamucos the devils or mischievous sides. As the last ritual songs are intoned, muchachos wait for the signal to proceed to the river and convert themselves into chamucos with white mud body-paint.
The repetitive giddy songs of the Rarámuri Easter feature drums, violin and foot shakers, in a style strikingly reminiscent of Celtic song and dance.
Good Friday afternoon, just before the chamucos don body-paint, the lead chamuco priest begins his ritualized foot-shaker dance, which continues throughout most of the night and into Holy Saturday.
One jolly Rarámuri chamuco in particular took pity on the gringo, helping paint me at the river and offering tesgüino corn beer from the communal ceramic vessel. His drunken Spanish became incomprehensible as night fell, but I’m forever grateful for his helping me break the ice with the tribe in ways I couldn’t have done on my own.