Happy Independence Day, Mexico!
Brief history: El Grito de Dolores was the event that marked the beginning of la Guerra de Independencia on the 16th of September, 1810. Several months earlier, Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo began planning a revolt against the Spanish colonial government. By September, he had managed to set over 80 pro-independence prisoners free and on the 16th ordered the church bells to be rung to gather his congregation and encourage them to revolt. It wouldn’t be until September 28th, 1821 that Mexico would finally win its independence.
Less-brief account of the celebration: Every September 15th at 11:00pm, a bell is rung in every large city by the presidentes municipales, who then repeat a cry of patriotism, echoed by the crowd below. I arrived in the Centro with friends a few hours early to enjoy the ambiente – Mexican flags, face paint, huge sombreros, fake mustaches, loud music, atascado sea of street food vendors. We walked around, snacking on paletas and watching a few incredibly intense games of Dance Dance Revolution. At 11:00 the bells started ringing and we scurried over to the Catedral. A friend and I managed to push our way to the front so we could see Rolando Zapata Bello, the Governor of the Yucatán, call out the names of war heroes to which the público roared back ¡VIVA! The speech built until todo el mundo shouted ¡VIVA MEXICO! repeatedly and then dissolved into the Himno Nacional Mexicano as the church bells rung and fireworks began overhead, close enough that the sparks fell through the trees above and left gun powder in our hair, quickly filling the plaza with smoke glowing green red and white.
Además de la noche, there have been many other tipos of celebration in honor of Mexico’s Independence. Friday everyone was ready to go hard in anticipation of the three-day weekend so some of the IFSA-Butler students and I met up with a bunch of our UADY friends at a bar to dance and tomar well into the night. At some point we transferred to the house of one of the UADY students where we tomamos más and played Nunca Nunca He (Never Have I Ever), with which I got far better practice using the preterite perfect than in any activity I’ve ever done in Spanish classes. The following morning my madre was thrilled to learn that I had gotten home around 5:00am, saying that’s how it is here with all of the young people and she was glad I had fun. Definitely a very different reaction than I would have received from my mom at home, which would have involved a lot less hand-squeezing and a lot more eye-rolling. Yesterday before I went to the Centro, my madre hosted a big almuerzo with relatives and neighbors and lots and lots of food and toddlers (two of my favorite things). Today, I didn’t have class due to the celebraciones so I spent my extra time
doing homework working out talking to my Mexican family watching Louis C K stand-up on Youtube. No regrets.