As I write this it is the Sunday the day before Revolution Day here in Mexico and the little Pueblo I live in on the shore of the Sea of Cortez, better known to Gringos as the Gulf of California, there was a parade.
This is a very small town with a lot of children and parades are a part of life here as they are all over Mexico. As the young as participants lined up for their part in the parade my mind went back to the first parades I saw in Mexico. I was staying in San Miguel Allende Guanajuato, north of Mexico City.
I was taking my first class in Spanish there and living in a small efficiency apartment. On a weekend I decided to walk from my apartment up the hill past the church and what was a cloister to the “Jardin” or Garden in the center of the town.
I was standing on the corner just south of the “Jardin” when I could hear a parade coming from my left. The music and the fireworks were unmistakable. There were men and women dressed as Aztecs and every once in a while some men dashed forward off the parade with this huge tube that must have been three or four feet long and load it with a rocket and shoot it off towards the sky with a whoosh and loud bang as it exploded above us.
The participants weren’t just marching they were doing an elaborate dance moving in circles and shaking rattles and beating drums as the decorations on their bodies made soft metal sound, it was quite impressive; with huge feather moving up and down on their costumes. I was enthralled at the display and energy of the dancers as the route was all up hill.
Then to my astonishment I heard a similar whoosh and bang and here comes another parade up the hill I had climbed from my right. I wondered if they would meet at this corner I was standing on as the two progressed up the hill one to the right and one to the left. Sure enough they both arrived at the corner on which I and now lots of other people were standing on watching this huge display of energy and beautiful costumes.
I noticed one figure close to me and recognized that he worked in the bank and had helped me just the previous day, now he was in full regalia with a black wig and dancing tirelessly. Somehow the leaders of both parades came together and just how they managed to decide who went first I couldn’t figure out; did they toss a coin, use rock,scissors, paper ? Just that the ones on the right moved ahead while the ones on the left continued to dance and shoot rockets until the ones on the right cleared the way then they too moved on to the big church on the “Jardin”. I felt as though I had witnessed a slice of life in San Miguel.
Back to today’s parade in San Felipe there were no Aztecs, no feathers or rockets it was more home grown with little boys wearing fake mustaches, carrying fake rifles and sporting huge sombreros while proud parents took their photos like parents and grandparents do the world over. The little girls in their revolution dresses and bigger kids in their uniforms were more serious as the drums and bugles played while trucks carried children on decorated floats and waved. It was a grand sight to see. Again I felt that I witnessed another slice of life in Mexico.