How to possibly summarize such an amazing 24 hours? Mexican Independence Day starts on the night of the 15th and the 16th is the official national holiday. This year the 16th is a Friday, so basically from Thursday night until Sunday there is partying and celebration taking place.
One way to summarize the spirit omnipresent in the celebrations is to watch this four second video of a little boy I met at the parade in Leon.
Before we went out, I walked around the main plaza here in Leon. In every state on September 15th, the governor leads a cheer at 11pm saying things like “Viva Mexico”. I walked around the square at about 8:30pm and it was already quite crowded. It is decorated nicely and it was full of opportunities to eat and shop. I bought some “gorditas”, or sweet bread. It was all I had planned to eat for the night, but as I found out, you are never finished eating in Mexico. Below are a few pictures of the square, and here is a video of the celebration (El Grito) in Mexico City led by the president.
I spent Thursday night with Marcela, my friend and couchsurfing host, and her friend Aldo. First we went to a family house party at a friend of Aldo’s. But I didn’t know that. After we were there for an hour I finally asked Aldo how he knew the people there. He joked and said he didn’t. I said “So we are like Wedding Crashers??” It was funny.
Everyone paints their face in the colors of the flag to show their patriotism. Chalk with all three colors combined is sold to make it easy. Below you can see the evolution of the chalk on my face – First an M, then a fence?, and lastly Yo ♥ Mex. None were designed by me, but all approved when finished 🙂
At the house party, I met an uncle who lived in Vancouver, Canada for several years. We talked for a long time and had a great conversation about life, our different cultures, and Mexico. In short, he feels that Latin culture is so different and so rich because they focus on living one day at a time.
This is not to say that they aren’t responsible. It’s just a different way of approaching life. I think many cultures put life enjoyment on hiatus to keep up the appearance of being “responsible.” As such, I’ve noticed that the Latin people I’ve explained my project to seem to have no difficulty at all grasping at the core of what it is I am doing. It’s almost intuitive for them and they’ve all been supportive.
There were fireworks at the house and lots of kids, so it was a great time. Even the dog felt the spirit and was colorfully decorated in the colors of the flag – green, white, and red. I found a Viva Mexico sombrero there and had to take a picture 🙂
After the family party, and lots of amazing food and fun, we headed outside the city to a farmhouse belonging to Aldo’s uncle. The crowd was younger and it was a lot of fun. There was a Foosball table, ping pong table, and air hockey table. Of course, there was more food, lots to drink, and new people to meet.
But first, I have to say I unfortunately had a run in with the Mexican gun violence that for months everyone has been warning me about. As you can see below, Aldo attacked this innocent by-standard’s cup with copious amounts of tequila. Luckily, I was able to restore order with my own gun.
We listened to a lot of music at the party. Music is omnipresent here in Mexico, but it was especially so during the independence day festivities. Luckily, we were blessed to have a talented guitarist stand in as a mariachi 🙂
The party was a lot of fun and we didn’t get much sleep. On the 16th, we drove back to the city and stopped for breakfast. To say I was not hungry is the understatement of the century. I was completely stuffed. But what can I say. The sights, sounds, and smells compelled me to taste what was available at the roadside restaurant we stopped at. I had two tacos (which are about half the size of American ones) and then a torta with green salsa and guacamole as you can see. Nice!
Back in Leon, we went to the independence day parade. Public servants (police, fire, etc.) marched along with local organizations. It was fun for the kids and luckily it was shady most of the time. I really like the traditional dress that the men and women wear here. Below are some pictures of the parade.
So, in the end, another wonderful Mexican experience. I never thought I could enjoy an independence day celebration so much. There is just something about the spirit within the people here. I’m not sure how else to explain it. But it’s wonderful.