San Pancho's plaza lies in the geographical center of the pueblo and about 10 steps from our front door. A sleepy and often empty square with sinewy ficus trees, an old-school playground, a basketball court and plenty of park benches, the plaza is evidence of President Echeverria's mission to gentrify San Pancho in the early 1970s (more on this fascinating and ultimately disappointing story later).
On the other side of the plaza is San Pancho's only church, a modest whitewashed structure with a spray of colorful flags strung from the bell tower. Hobbs and I were splayed on a park bench Saturday afternoon, people-watching and reading David Sedaris aloud, when a wedding party began to arrive at the church. The caballero tending to the wedding's horses used an adjacent ficus grove as his hitching post, so I grabbed my camera and went to check out the action.
In a recent NatGeo photography seminar, photographer Amy Toensing reiterated the importance of getting up close and personal with your subjects, pushing through the moments of discomfort and maintaining your confidence. I still feel like a real outsider here - the majority of my barrier a linguistic one - and my shyness is coming across in my photos, which look more like stealthy paparazzi shots than intentional portraits. Over the coming weeks, I plan to push my comfort to the edge, shush my second-guessing and capture a new level of beauty here. Here's what I captured of the wedding from the safety of distance: