The holiday season has begun here in México. 16 de septiembre is Mexican Independence Day and the festivities are a blast. Someday, I guess, I will live here long enough that I can’t rouse myself for a 10 minute walk to see lovely things and have fun. But now, I’m al in.
Ajijic has an annual Regata de Globos — a hot air balloon festival. These aren’t the kind you ride around in; they are smaller. They are made of tissue paper and sent aloft with flames creating hot air. The event takes place in the fútbol field and is well attended. There are food and drink vendors and many teams making and launching their globos. Some go off without a hitch, after a lot of hard work, and sail up until you can no longer see them. Some fly for a while and then start on fire and drop from the sky. Some go aflame right there in the campo de fútbol. It’s a wild time and beautiful to see the handmade creations take flight. It’s sad, exciting, and funny when they don’t.
The day before Independence Day, kids’ games are held — running races, sack races, the greased pole climb, and one game where kids try to pry coins off a comal with only their mouths.
The night before Independence Day is the Grito de Dolores — a cry by Miguel Hidalgo that roused the people to fight for independence. It took place in the town of Dolores, which you may know now as Dolores Hidalgo. The grito commemoration at 11 at night. In Ajijic, the time leading up to it finds the plaza full of people watching ballet folclórico (the troupe included some very tiny girls who could really whirl their skirts around), mariachis, and a local singing contest (the crowd votes the winner with applause and the prize is a bottle of tequila). This year, it was a mighty close decision between an older man on crutches (who sang “Mi Lindo Ajijic”) and a tall young bearded hipster-y guy who the female MC asked to turn around so the ladies could admire his backside. In the end, the older man won and crutched off the stage with his bottle. Many of the singers this year were reading lyrics from iPhones, making us think of karaoke nights.
The local bellezas (beauty queens) were present with their intricate up-dos, perfect makeup and expensive gowns. A group of runners from Guanajuato arrived with the flame of independence— they had been relay-running for several days. They looked tired and so proud and patriotic. Touched my heart.
Earlier in the evening, we saw some high school aged kids in uniforms practicing their marching. They were the ones who marched the flag to the stage at the opportune moment. Someone read the Mexican declaration of independice, of which I understood more this year than I had in the past. Lots of stuff about the Catholic faith in there; who knew? The national anthem was sung (it’s long). The local delegado made the grito (cry) of Independence and everyone responded “VIVA! VIVA!” And then there were fireworks. The plaza was packed, many folks toting a bag of ice, a bottle of tequila, and plastic cups. A band would play long into the night/morning, long after we tottered off to home and bed.
On the actual Independence Day, a parade wound through the narrow streets consisting mainly of groups of uniformed school kids (all ages, with varying abilities to stay in formation), and horses. I love watching this, seeing the kids’ pride and that of their hovering parents. The horses? They’re big scary animals, okay? But some are pretty and have nice braided manes.
Other holidays will follow: Revolution Day, San Andres Festival, Dia de los Muertos, and then on to the Christmas season and the new year.
We’re ready. Bring it on.