The first weekend in December, San Javier celebrates. It's the village surrounding the second oldest mission in the Californias. Built in the late 1700s, Mission San Jaview is the best preserved original mission. The community consists of about 300 people who mostly make a living directly or indirectly from ranching in this tough landscape. They celebrate with their horses, with their music. They sell things they make of leather, of wood, and of the fruits of their orchards. They catch up with distant family. They visit the mission with offerings and prayers.
The village's population expands many times with vaqueros who ride in from days away and spend the weekend. A parade of trucks and trailers haul in more people and horses. Every field is packed with tents, trucks, trailers, tethered horses.
My parents came to visit on the last day of the festival and we drove the hurricane-torn road up into the mountains to see San Javier in its party garb. We were the only tourists, but folks were friendly as we wandered around. I've been enjoying the mango jam ever since, and the handmade rolling pin has formed its first Christmas cookies.