Hundreds of Salvadorans carrying fruits on wooden palancas toured the town of Santa Maria Ostuma, in central El Salvador, on Tuesday to thank the Holy Cross for the abundant harvest.
To the rhythm of music bands and the roar of fireworks, the day began in the early hours of the morning when residents of rural communities arranged pineapples, sapotes, coconuts, oranges, bunches of bananas and other fruits on palancas for the traditional tribute in Santa María Ostuma, located 65 km east of San Salvador.
Before starting the journey, participants drink chaparro, a handmade alcoholic beverage in order to “double” their strength to carry the heavy load of fruit.
“It is a cultural activity of the community since 1935”, said to AFP Sergio Mejía, 60 years old, a fruit grower who every year participates in the celebration that attracts hundreds of visitors from other municipalities.
Nestled in the mountains, the town of Santa María Ostuma stands out for its pineapple, citrus and a variety of tropical fruits.
In the tour, the poorest show their fruits in baskets made of bamboo or sacks.
“Here is the greatest tradition, this is where the best of the fruit is given (exhibited),” says with pride Carlos Funes (40), one of the loaders of a colorful palanca in the community of San José El Carrizal, on the outskirts of Santa María Ostuma.
Characters from the local mythology such as the devil, the cipitío and the masked men of May dance in the street and surprise and frighten the distracted.
The festival ends at dawn on June 1 with the distribution of all the fruit, before the “mayordomos (officials)” are appointed to take on the commitment to bring out the palancas next year “so that the tradition does not end”, explained Mejía.