Another year of Carnaval celebrations in Ajijic, Mexico, has come and gone, and the masked sayacas along with it. These guys (mostly young men and boys dressed in drag) appear early each year in Ajijic during the town’s Carnaval celebrations, which stretch over several weeks leading up to the day of Mardi Gras, el Martes de Carnaval – or, Fat Tuesday. The sayacas always add a lot of excitement and a little danger to the Carnaval parades, as they careen through the streets, chasing and tackling kids, and stuffing their faces full of flour and confetti to the delight of the crowds. This year was no exception. I have a photo series about the sayacas you should probably check out, too.

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Forest Zayaco in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
During Ajijic’s Carnaval celebrations, José de Jesus Romero Pérez dresses as a sayaco, a traditional character from the town of Ajijic, Mexico. He wears one of the wooden masks that he carved himself. In an age of Hollywood and Halloween masks, José and his brothers help maintain the sayaca tradition of elegant dress and masks made from wood.
Abel Romero Pérez dressed as a sayaco during Carnaval in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. He’s wearing a wooden mask that was hand-carved by his brother, José.
Forest Zayaco in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
Aron Axael Romero Pérez dressed as a sayaco in a mask made by his brother, José
A boy dressed as a zayaca during Ajijic's Carnaval fiestas.
A boy about five years old dresses up as a zayaca during one of Ajijic’s many Carnaval-season parades.
A goat zayaco poses on Mardis Gras in Ajijic.
A sayaco with goat mask and jacket.
Portrait of a zayaco, one of the traditions from Ajijic, Mexico
A sayaca with a colorful rainbow wig poses before starting the Carnaval parade in Ajijic, Mexico
Sayacas take down a man in the Ajijic bull ring, making sure he gets extra-special flour treatment.
Sayacas take down a man in the Ajijic bull ring, making sure he gets extra-special flour treatment.
Zayacos throwing confetti on Carnaval in Ajijic, Mexico.
A sayaca throws confetti during the Carnaval day parade in Ajijic, Mexico.
Zayacos tackle a boy during the Carnaval celebrations in Ajijic, Jalisco.
Sayacos tackle a boy in the Ajijic bullring. The parades end up at the bullring and the sayacos chase them in the enclosed circle, while the crowd watches and laughs from the stands.
Zayacos taking down a kid in the bullring in Ajijic.
A group of sayacas make sure that their victim gets his pants stuffed with flour during the Carnaval celebrations in Ajijic.
A boy after getting attacked with flour by a zayaca.
A boy yells out, “What was that?” after being attacked with a faceful of flour.
A zayaco at a table during the procession in Ajijic.
A sayaco sits down at a table of diners eating tacos as the procession goes through the streets of Ajijic.
A woman during pre-Carnaval celebrations covered in flour in Ajijic.
A woman covered in flour during the pre-Carnaval celebrations in Ajijic.
A crowd doused in flour during Carnaval in Ajijic, Jalisco.
The crowd covered in flour during the pre-Carnaval fiestas in Ajijic.
Zayacas grabbing a kid during the Carnaval fiestas in Ajijic.
Kids love being chased and grabbed by the zayacas as they run through the streets to avoid their grasp.
A zayaco tackles a boy in the bullring in Ajijic, Jalisco.
A zayaco performs a wrestling move on a boy in the Ajijic bullring.
Zayacos dancing int he street in Ajijic, Mexico.
Zayacas dance in the street during a brief interlude of the parade. Taunting and egging each other on is a large part of the excitement of the pre-Lenten fiestas.
A boy lays under a pile of zayacas after being tackled on the hard cobblestone street.
A zayaca grapples with a boy in Ajijic, Mexico
Sergio Martínez tries to get away from a sayaca while the crowd laughs.
A zayaco in traditional dress.
A sayaco in traditional elegant dress and a wooden mask.
A sayaca zips up some eggs, filled with confetti, into a small handbag before the Carnaval parade.
A boy covered in flour in Ajijic
An infant isn’t sure how to react after being doused in flour by one of the sayacas.