Sunday, September 16, 2007

Viva Mexico

Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico!

Early in the morning of September 16th in 1810, Father Hidalgo rang the bells of the Parroquia church in Dolores Hidalgo and urged the crowd to take up arms against the Spanish Government. This is a picture of where it all began in Dolores Hidalgo. And last night we were there for the Grito.

We always say that we don't drive at night in Mexico and certainly not at night on the Dolores highway on a Mexican holiday. I use the word highway but it isn't really what you would think of as a highway. This year we decided to throw caution to the wind and live it up. We went to Dolores with three other crazy gringos. Going over was no problem. It was still daylight.

We found a parking place facing in the direction we would be leaving and almost back to where you enter the downtown area....this means maybe 12 blocks from the Centro. We had a lot of time before the Grito at 11:00 PM so we decided that maybe we would have a drink. Not easy to find because no alcohol or beer was being sold from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. But we stopped in a restaurant on the square and had a drink and some botanos just in the nick of time. After that we walked around the plaza to see what was happening and figure out where we might want to position ourselves. The plaza in Dolores is very big with the Parroquia church at one end, government buildings on one side and the other two sides are colonial buildings occupied by offices, restaurants and stores.

After a slow cruise around the plaza and through the market, we headed back to a street that we had seen earlier that was lined with taco stands, tables and stools. We found one that looked good and we ordered plate after plate of tacos of beef, pastor, chorizo, grilled onions and chiles. Yes, my friends, we ate the street food including the raw veggies on top of the tacos and sliced radishes and cucumbers. So far, so good. Unfortunately you couldn't linger over the table because there were other customers waiting. We relinquished our stools and headed back to the plaza.

Another turn around the plaza and now there were street performers for the gathering crowds, ranchero bands looking for gigs, flag, hat and horn sellers, and lots of face painters. They were even putting on glittery eyelashes. We found a curb to sit on and people watch. About 10:00 PM the lights went out and a movie was shown high beside the Dolores Parroquia church. I was thinking that this was going to be nice. There was a huge crowd but it wasn't too bad. Wrong. About 10:30 the young people started piling into the plaza. One half of them wanted to go on way and the other half wanted to go the other way. No matter where you were standing there was a line of traffic shoving its way through the crowd that had already gathered. This wasn't what I was hoping for in Dolores. I had been in a crowd like this one time in San Miguel for the Grito and had said never again but here I was.

At 11:00 PM the most important government official in the town is suppose to come out to the crowd and shout, Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico. Last year President Fox was in Dolores for the Grito. This year we assume that the Mayor of Dolores did the shout but we didn't hear anything nor did we hear a band playing the National Anthem. But you could hear shouts across the plaza and there was horn blowing and flag waving. A few minutes after 11:00 PM the fireworks started. A wonderful castillo in front of the Parroquia and then aerial starburst fireworks.

Now it was time to go home, except for the young people who were ready to party and dance in the plaza. But we couldn't move in any direction. We were being pushed from every side. At the corner where there was a firetruck with some of the firemen up on top of it, some people handed babies and small children up to them to get them out of the crush. There were still people trying to come into the plaza and there were those of us trying to get out. The firemen were shouting at the crowds trying to clear a passage. We were stuck like this for maybe 15 minutes. Once again I was saying never again.

Finally the crowd from the plaza was able to break through and it was such a relief to get out into some open space. We headed back to the car. The traffic out of town wasn't bad at all and there were police in lots of places along the highway. Still I was very relieved when we pulled the car up to the house safe and sound.

Happy Birthday Mexico.....but next year I think I will watch the fireworks in San Miguel from my terrace.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

I was telling Linda yesterday that next year, I would like to celebrate in Dolores. Now that I have read your post, I think I'll make a new plan.

Not much of a celebration here in Clear Lake, but I did hear a few fireworks in the distance last night and wondered if someone was shouting Viva Mexico out of earshot.

Glad you made it home safe and sound.