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Rain washes away one of Huamantla's colorful carpets. Rain washes away one of Huamantla's colorful carpets.

Weather takes its toll on annual carpets of sawdust and flowers

A rare rainfall in Huamantla turns intricate carpets into streams of color

An unusual rainfall devastated most of the ephemeral art that covers the main streets of Huamantla, Tlaxcala, every year for “the night no one sleeps.”

As they do every year, Huamantla residents prepared for months to celebrate La Virgen de la Caridad, a Marian title of the Virgin Mary, on the night of August 14 and the early hours of the following day.

A procession leaves the church at midnight and follows a colorful path of carpets that were crafted for hours before from sawdust and flowers, following a tradition that dates back to pre-Hispanic times.

Everything was ready on Tuesday night for one more sleepless night after residents spent between six and eight hours completing their intricate carpets.

But just as the procession was leaving the church, a light but persistent rain began to fall, surprising locals and national and international tourists alike and turning the carpets into colorful rivulets.

How the carpets appear when it doesn't rain.
How the carpets appear when it doesn’t rain.

The work was washed away in a mere 10 minutes on some streets, although a few of the colorful carpets remained as the procession rushed through town.

One of those was the 200-meter-long carpet created by Heriberto Saldaña. The water only washed away the sides of his creation, but the risk that his work would be carried away by the unexpected rain was almost enough to make him cry.

“There was a year that it rained and it all washed away, there’s nothing we can do, it depends on the weather . . . ” he said.

Locals said it had been at least 10 years since rain was recorded on the night of August 14.

However, visitors did have the chance to admire the work earlier in the day.

Julieta Hernández, visiting from the neighboring state of Hidalgo, said “it was beautiful, I came to witness the night no one sleeps and to see the virgin. It is beautiful, I leave amazed.”

Source: Reforma (sp)
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