The festival began early in the morning with an address by las Golondrinas Executive Director John Birkenwood and Mayor David Coss. The crowd quickly fell from applause into gasps as five men from Papantla, Veracruz, climbed a 60-foot pole with the intention of throwing themselves from it.
Trained since childhood, these fearless men performed La Danza de los Voladores, the Dance of the Flying Men, an ancient fertility ritual rarely performed north of the border.
Viva Mexico! also brought 45 artisans from 15 different states of Mexico for a mercado, where visitors browsed a colorful and diverse selection of crafts from across the country. Merchants sold everything from traditional cooking ingredients to luchador masks to weekend getaways in Mexico.
Fernando Olea, whose efforts brought together las Golondrinas and the Mexican consul, presented a cooking demonstration focused on mole, a dish he's perfected over the last few decades.
And the sotol tasting. Oh, the sotol.
As Unanue describes, "It's tequila for men."
This spirit, made from the Desert Spoon leaves, is certainly not to be messed with. And, if we want to make it to the annual Viva Mexico! celebration, we'll all have to lay off the sotol—at least for a little while.