Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Viva Mexico!

This past weekend was the celebration of Mexican independence, and since Mexicans love to party, even their independence celebration lasts two days. It begins on the evening of September 15 when the Mexican president stands atop the National Palace overlooking the Zocalo and addresses the crowds that have congregated below. The celebration reaches a climax when, in a commemoration of Father Hidalgo’s call for independence and liberty back in 1810, the president closes his remarks by ringing the same bell originally rung by Father Hidalgo, and shouting, “VIVA MEXICO!”

And thus begins the independence holiday, which lasts into September 16, the actual day of independence.

Anticipation of El Grito de Indpendencia (The Shout of Independence), however, starts weeks before when streets, houses and buildings are decorated throughout the city in the national colors of green, white and red. Buildings are swathed in the biggest Mexican flags you have ever seen, and vendors set up shop on every street corner selling flags, balloons, sombreros and other memorabilia.

While we thought it would be a fantastic experience to stand amongst the crowds at the Zocalo and experience Mexican nationalism in its highest form, we ended up celebrating the holiday from our apartment, listening to the fireworks in the distance and the blaring car horns below. I was a bit disappointed as I was told that the atmosphere at the Zolaco is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, only warmer and a bit more dangerous. However, too many people cautioned us against going. After all, the party-going people that they are, the Zolaco was sure to be filled by way too many Mexicans, many having consumed way too many shots of tequila . . . .

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