Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Procession

From our second story perch, we rested or read or drifted in and out of afternoon siestas while daily Sayulita life came and went, on the streets below us. It's neither quiet nor loud -- just life.

We don't even look up when a shrill burst of a trumpet blares from down below. Likely a passing car, with the volume cranked up. Then the single trumpet is, one by one, joined by a chorus of other horns. Crisp, clean and strong. I look at Nic, excited thinking about what it might be, it sounds like live music!

He shakes his head.

I sit. The horns overpower every other possible sound. No birds chirp, no babies cry, no motors hum, no other sound exists but their slow tune. I hop out of my seat to the balcony just to see.

"You guys." is all I can whisper over my shoulder.

The cobblestone street below us is a sea of silent people. All, slowly walking, down towards the sea -- to the playa de los muertos. All, intent on the road ahead and the cream colored Escalade that leads the procession. Behind this simple procession of people, behind the rickety truck carrying two walls of red and white roses, come the band. Shiny gold cowboy shirts, tan slacks, slicked hair and horns, belting with all their might the song that hushes the crowd (and tourists alike).

We sit in silence, observing theirs. It's breathtaking. An honest and personal moment, suddenly shared to all. A glimpse into someone else's life. A glimpse into someone else's death. No poetry to quote, I only had a cliche feeling of being "inextricably bound" to my neighbor in that moment. We talk of dia del los muertos, the comparatively ornate tradition of caring for the dead, the bittersweet belief that on that day the departed loved ones walk among us once more, and just the seemingly relative comfort with death that's distilled in hispanic cultures. It seems like it's not something to fear, but merely the passing of life, into...the next stage of that life, death.

(Very guiltily I sneak a couple photos after they've turned their heads so we'll remember this moment.) Sometimes, in the midst of travels and the desparate pursuit of relaxation, it's easy to forget that around you continuously swirls the lives of others in their own unique way...and long after you're gone, the dance continues.

As promised..

Here's the video of the dancing horses, live music and just general partying going on last night.

¡Viva Mexico!

¡Viva México!

I was pleased to discover that we accidentally traveled during a holiday season here in Mexico. As Wikipedia can attest, a common misconception in the United States is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day. Instead it is actually September 16, which is the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico. The party really begins on the 15th of September.

According to the young doctor that treated me earlier in the week, the 15th is when Mexicans celebrate by performing what he called "The Shout." The purpose, to honor Hidalgo y Costilla’s battle cry declaring a revolution against the Spanish (oddly enough, his cry wasn't recorded, so nobody knows precisely what was said). It is actually formally known as Grito de Dolores (or the Cry of Dolores which is the town where the cry was made). He made this declaration sometime in the night between the 15th and 16th so in proper fashion, citizens of today flock to the streets in the evening and revel into the night. A huge amount of people flocked to Sayulita to celebrate. I can only imagine what it was like in a large city.

Things got started as the emcee shouted
something and then the crowd responded each time with an enthusiastic "Viva!". It then ended with Mexico getting the viva treatment three times. What ensued after that both delighted and amazed me. However, I don't have the pictures or video to show you -- and I just can't put what we witnessed into words, but I will give you a hint. The good news is Nic got some of it on video and will share it with you once we figure out how to use youtube. :)

The following morning it was the children's turn to show their appreciation for their country. Children from various grade levels lined the streets while they performed color guard ceremonies, patriotic recitations, and a shout of their own. After this, they gathered into the plaza for traditional Mexican dances and re-enactment of the beginning of the revolution -- which incidentally ran roughly a decade after the initial shout in 1810.

Everybody was draped in the colors of the flag, but this little girl's dog really took the cake. Other's marked the occasion by wearing green, white, and red streamers in their hair. One thing I've learned over the last 24 hours is that Mexican's really know how to throw down. This town transformed overnight from a sleepy village to a crazy party overnight and then back again -- just in time to show a sublime respect for the history of their country.

From what I could tell, before both last night's and this morning's reveling came a public history lesson. The speakers blared to the packed plaza the events leading up to Mexican Independence. If only I understood Spanish then perhaps I could have learned something. What I did learn however, is that the story of how this country came to be is hearts and minds of every citizen and there is no reason to think it won't make it to future generations.