Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mexican Independence Day: "Viva Mexico!"

This has been a big week for celebrating. Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16, to commemorate the day Mexico became a nation independent from Spain in 1821. There are many events during the week leading up to the actual date, including concerts, parades, and, of course, all sorts of fiestas. As I pointed out earlier, Mexicans are very patriotic and proud of Mexico.

The main celebration occurs on the evening of September 15. Each town in Mexico has a tradition, starting at 11PM, of reading Mexico's Declaration of Independence from Spain, and then having the mayor hold the flag and read what they call "the Grito," a word which in Spanish means "shout." He shouts out the names of Hidalgo and his fellow patriots who gave their lives for Mexico, and the crowd replies with a loud "VIVA!" after each name. At the end he shouts "VIVA MEXICO!" and the crowd replies likewise. This final exchange is repeated a total of three times. Fireworks explode and the party continues...all night. The picture below shows the mayor performing his Grito duties, while the two photos above capture the spirit of the evening. It was very emotional to be there. We wimped out and left about 11:30.

We also were invited to a family fiesta to celebrate the "cumpleanos" or birthday, of Daniel, the caretaker of our housing complex here. Again, we were the only gringos invited to this very nice party. Dora, Daniel's wife made Pozole, a traditional Mexican stew made with corn, pork and chiles. It was delicious. We also had a traditional Mexican birthday cake, Tres Leches: made with three different types of milk. We witnessed the Mexican tradition of having the birthday person, Daniel in this case, put his face down to take a first bite from the cake, while his usually male amigos try to mash his face into the cake, to great hilarity all around. We are getting to know more and more Mexicans every day, and we really enjoyed being included in their family fiesta. One of the gifts we gave to Daniel was a new flag. You can see from the photo below, in which Obert, Daniel's nephew is holding their old flag, that he needed a new one. Jesus, Daniel's son, is holding the new flag. Yoselin is also posing coyly with the new flag.

The work to clean up form the mudslides in San Juan Cosala continues. There is progress being made, but it will be awhile before things return to normal there. The Guadalajara Reporter said that 1200 homes were evacuated, and 50 were totally destroyed, with 20% of the homes in SJC suffering "serious" damage. There have apparently been no deaths and few serious injuries. One woman was up to her chest in mud and rescued after about 48 hours. Our UU fellowship has donated supplies and money and has pledged to continue to help.

We are apparently nearing the end of the rainy season; we have not had rain in about five days. The weather is warm a beautiful during the day, and the evenings are pleasantly cool. Pixie has recovered from a bad cold. We are looking forward to Curt and Judy Webber's visit in late October. And the big news: Maggie just got another wonderful haircut from Jael, her new barber:

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