|Mornings in Gringolandia come very late for the Carroll family. Because the main part of
our work day, meaning when we do the most writing, starts around 11 p.m., we typically
drag out of bed around 10 or 11 after 5, 6, 7 hours of sleep. The girls get a up a little
earlier and Abigail takes the chance to do her email thing and to do some of the initial
research on her country report. The other morning, as I was creaking my way down the
stairs, our neighbor Arturo came by and told the girls there was parade downtown ...
sadly I had to tell them that there was no way Mom and Dad were going to be able to
wake up in time to make it to see the parade. At any rate, when Arturo got back from his
excursion into town, he told us they were going to be partying down there all day and
there would be fireworks that night.
It seems as if they are always celebrating something around here. Most evenings we hear
the occasional blast of firework. Who knows what they’re for? A birthday?
Anniversary? A great dinner? I’m getting the feeling we’re going to be having constant
party from now ‘til Day of the Dead on November 2 ... or maybe even ‘til New Year’s!
Mexican Independence Day was September 16. A brief history lesson for those
unfamiliar and interested: certainly you learned in school how the Spanish conquistadors
claimed Mexico as part of their territory in the New World, their quest for gold rewarded
with, well, gold. Through the years, the class of Mexican society became peninsulares at
the top – Spanish-born colonists who had all the political power; criollos next – Mexican-
born citizens of Spanish parentage; mestizos – people of mixed ancestry; and at the bottom
of the pile, as usual, the indigenous people and African slaves. The criollos got tired of
being second-class citizens, and in 1810 a bunch of them got together in Querétaro (not
too far from where we are) to plan a rebellion. News of their plans was leaked to the
colonial authorities, and on September 16, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest in the town
of Dolores, summoned his parishioners and issued a call to rebellion. Hidalgo was
captured and executed the next year, but these actions eventually led Mexico to declare its
independence from Spain.
We made our way to the Centro that Saturday night, and naturally the place was packed.
I am normally not fond of crowds, and I won’t say I was overly fond of being in one
then, but the air was festive and there were vendors surrounding the square, with a band
playing in one corner, playing that brand of Mexican music that shows the Germanic
influence (the oom-pah kind). There were a number of people riding around on
horseback, and I found out later they probably were part of the parade. (Yes, you do see
the occasional burro or horse riding around day-to-day, but not all that much – oh, no, the
Mexicans have definitely given in to the convenience of the automobile, and it is fun to see
VW Beetles all over the place. No, they do not all drive Beetles, nor do they pimp up their
cars East LA style.) On the grassy areas, children were tossing these long, sausage-
shaped balloons, so of course we had to seek some out for the girls. We settled onto the
edge of one of the small fields as Abi and Elea tossed and played swords and wrestled. A
young boy seemed to take a particular interest in Abi, who I must say looked rather
radiant that evening, as he had one of those laser pointers and kept tagging her with it.
Just after nine, there was a blast as a rocket took off into the air and then all the
streetlamps went out. I suppose these fireworks were not as powerful as those we are
used to seeing back in Wilmington alongside the USS North Carolina, but the cool thing
about it is that they were firing them off from right next to the statue of Quiroga at the
center of the square. Now, although this place is commonly known as the Plaza Grande,
or Big Plaza, I’m tellin’ ya it’s NOT that big. Not even as big as a football field, maybe 75
yards at its longest. So we were standing about 30 yards away from where they were
shooting these things off. You may not think this is such a big deal, but I invite you to
come down to the square and witness it yourself! It’s tremendously exhilarating.
I shot as much video as I could with my little digital camera, and some of it came out
exceedingly well – I've posted one of the shorter ones on the bottom of this page and will
hopefully be able to post the rest soon on a Video page. They had some displays they set
off on the ground as well – first, a bull burst into sparkles, then a Mexican eagle that spun
around, and last a portrait of Morelos with his name underneath (Morelos was a student
of Hidalgo and picked up the gauntlet on his mentor’s execution – he was from this area,
and the nearby city of Morelia was renamed in his honor). On my videos, these images
are too bright and make it look like the town is on fire. But hopefully you’ll be able to see
part of show.
So back to the other morning. Come to find out the celebration was for Patzcuaro’s
birthday, I think it’s 472 years old. We popped downtown around 5:30 to pick up our
new eyeglasses – the Old Man needed reading glasses, and mine were about 15 years old
with one of the nose rest things missing. Things were starting to pick up down there, as
they were setting up some more fireworks, a band was practicing and there were extra
food vendors. Abi asked me if we had missed Wilmington’s birthday, and I had to tell her
they didn’t celebrate that this way – maybe for a centennial or something. We grabbed
and shared a tostada that were simply too tempting. But, we had work to do, so we went
back home, and later Arturo called us over to his part of the porch, which is the closest to
town. We got another treat of fireworks bursting over the trees and I got a few more
shots with the digital – haven’t downloaded those yet. Abi was so excited she was
jumping up and down, and I asked her why she was jumping so much. “I’ve got
popcorn in my stomach!” she said.
Just another month until Dia de los Muertos, and if you haven’t heard already this is THE
place to be. And this time, we promise we won’t miss the parade! Hmmmm ... provided
someone can drag me out of bed!
# # #
|Elea prepares for battle.
|Abi, in her new cowboy boots,
doesn't seem to mind being
|Some of the stills look like
pictures from the Hubble
Telescope - don't know if you
can see, the trees make a
canopy over much of the
Plaza and partially block the
view, but bits of spark would
sail down through the leaves.