Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Juquila
The Juquila town plaza, half a block uphill from the terminus of Avenida Antonio Valdez, the entrance drive into town, is the place to appreciate Juquila and the town’s beloved patron. Getting there requires some doing, however, especially during festivals. If you’re driving, park your car in the lot of the Hotel del Carmen (on the right-hand side of Valdez, half a block before the plaza) and check in at the desk or order breakfast or lunch, if the restaurant is open. If busing, walk or ride a taxi from the Juquila station about a mile (1.6 km) ahead along Valdez to the plaza.
The baroque shrine-church, the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Juquila, faces approximately east (unusual for Mexico, where most churches face west). Step inside the church, where the tiny Virgin stands above the main altar, surrounded by flowers and encircled by a halo of blue fluorescent light. Multiple copies of the Virgin rest to one side of the main altar, while in a right-hand chapel, other copies, hung with milagros (wish medals), preside above a host of flickering candles.
Back in the nave, the faithful continuously arrive and quietly seat themselves in the pews, while others kneel before the altar, gazing at the Virgin. The diminutive figure is decorated with a pearl-garnished silk cape. Her face is of brown complexion, and upon her head rests a regal, native-style headdress. In front of the altar stand boxes for donations and personal letters to the Virgin.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition