Each day we are here we become happier with our move to San Miguel De Allende and Mexico. And this past weekend’s celebration of Mexican Independence Day just brought this feeling further home. Saturday night was an all out party that we just couldn’t miss, even though it went past our bedtime.
The decorations and merchandise were evident about a week and a half ago as the streets became dressed up for the big event, Independence Day. And I mean BIG event. Everyone got in the mood and we were very proud to call Mexico our new home. Centro was full of color of the red, green and white variety. All the buildings were decked out with flags and shops and restaurants had displays, garlands and banners. Around the Jardin and along the streets were just about every possible merchandised item under the sun to buy to show one’s pride and participation in this annual hoopla.
We spent the whole of September 15th in Centro anticipating the grand finale of the day, “El Grito”, the call for Independence followed by the biggest fireworks display of the year. And that is really saying something for San Miguel!!
At exactly 11pm in towns and cities all over Mexico the cry for Independence is called out. The bells ring and everyone loudly and enthusiastically yells “Viva” in response to the names of each revolutionary and then there are the final cries of “Viva Mexico” “Viva Mexico” “Viva Mexico” with people echoing each cry. I have to admit I got tears in my eyes standing with proud Mexicans, and have a few more in them now as I write this. It was a very special moment for us as new Mexican residents. We had never seen anything quite like the passionate spirit of the crowd. The long fireworks display was amazing. Red, White and Green shot out everywhere lighting up the sky and the faces of those watching. Since we were extremely close to the firework towers, which are an amazing feat to create and take great skill, we were at times showered with sparks making me duck at one point (we did see some of the fire brigade there). The lovely Parroquia was spewing out strobe lights all the while too, set to patriotic music. Of course every one had a cell phone and I have never seen so many of them packed into one space before, it was fun to see the night’s event mirrored on all the screens.
We had been told to get into Centro in roughly late afternoon/early evening since the Jardin area and surrounding streets get jam packed. We had gone to one of our favorite rooftops, La Azotea, above Pueblo Vieja, for a few cocktails and to wait out the torrential downpour that came around 6:00pm but luckily only lasted about 30 minutes. This was our second cocktail stop for the day. We were up on another relaxing rooftop, Terraza Chiquita, (part of Casa Chiquita on Correo) watching the runners go by underneath on the street earlier and listening to some very cool music. Glenn found a new Spanish drink called Carajillo at La Azotea that is an expresso coffee and either Liqor 43 or brandy, whiskey, rum or anisette with or without ice. It is really good!!! And may become a go-to drink. But it is sweet and we can only have one or two of them. It did it’s job of keeping Glenn awake for the duration of the night’s events. Of course we also had to get a couple of their famous jicama tacos which are outstanding. We finally did join the crowd outside at about 7:30, getting a good spot just in front of the balcony where the cry was called out by the “El Presidente” (mayor). We were packed like sardines but it was all in good fun.
Once again, the call of “El Grito” didn’t happen till 11pm so we had a very long wait to go through. But it was a super festive atmosphere with lots of traditional music and everyone singing so the time went by fast and easily. We were surprised, although we shouldn’t be so much by now, with how organized and controlled people were without a lot of security. It was there, but it was very low key. No bags were being checked etc. Everyone had a smile on their face. There were 10’s of thousands of people and we didn’t see one incident. No pushing or shoving, no swearing or fights, no drunkenness and no shots fired! Instead there were lots of horns and noisemakers, a huge array of flags of all sizes, people of every age dressed in their flag colored finery, and the children were even well behaved, many sitting on their fathers shoulders so they too could catch the view. We heard no tantrums or screams. Everyone was mingling with their neighbors to all sides of them even if they may not have known them. There were not too many Gringos in the crowd though. Perhaps for a lot this is a one time thing. This being our first year made it a must do! But after all of the fun we had and the sense of belonging, we will definitely come again. It just made us feel so good. I think the fact that there is this one moment where everyone in Mexico is in synch at 11pm makes it a very unifying and special experience, and something we had never witnessed before. It was a tremendously mind boggling night.
Unfortunately, we were not able to get in to Centro on September 16th, the actual Independence Day as we had plans in the evening and had to catch some zzzzzzz’s due to staying out the night before. Sometimes we get too lazy. We also thought it was just going to be a military parade. Boy were we wrong!! After seeing Instagram photos/videos from those who did attend I could now kick myself for not going in to town. We will have to make a point of making it next year. We heard from friends that the streets were packed full for reenactments, the military parade and so much more, and the photos looked full of color and costumes. And I am a sucker for all of that. I learned my lesson, just get out there and check things out, we can always rest another time.
We have been following a Vlog for the “Kenetic Kennons” a young couple who moved to Mexico about 2 years ago who do a Vlog each day from where ever they are in Mexico. They are quirky and although their videos do not give a lot of information they are fun to watch and we are hooked. After seeing their “youtube” videos for the Independence Day festivities in Mexico City we have now added that event to our bucket list. Mexico sure knows how to celebrate!!
Mexicans are very proud, open, welcoming and warm people. This event was just another moment of solidification for us. We are so happy we are now a part of, and participating in, all Mexico has to offer. DO NOT believe the naysayers and closed minded thinkers that are determined to tarnish the idea of Mexico. We never did. Come to Mexico with a curious and inquisitive mind and allow yourself to be surprised!! You just may find yourself staying.