San Miguel de Allende, Proof, Perhaps, That “Art Begins With Resistance”

IMG_5907All too soon, it seemed, we were loading our bags into the van and leaving Guadalajara.  Thanks to Rodrigo, I was at least leaving with my backpack, Kindle, and passport.  While there was still so much I had not seen, I was incredibly excited to be heading to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.  This stop was the main reason I wanted to take this particular trip.  My anticipation made it almost impossible for me to relax on the five hour ride across the central highlands.  I could not wait to tramp up and down those hilly, cobblestone streets, stand in the middle of El Camino Real, and count and compare doors (to determine if there really were over 2,000 different ones).


San Miguel de Allende left me as breathless as I had anticipated, and it wasn’t because of IMG_E5779the climbs up and down steep streets.  The homes and business were painted warm shades of mustard yellow, terra cotta, and barn red. (Residents have seven colors they can choose from for their outside walls.)  Rooftop gardens bloomed.  Doors were made of heavy wood, some of them even original.  The cobblestone streets were in meticulous order, and I never saw so much as one cigarette butt or scrap of paper littering them.  Bus traffic was barred from some streets in the central district, as they were just too narrow.  Originally, of course, roadways were designed for carriages and donkeys.  The sidewalks were equally tiny, requiring pedestrians to step into the street on occasion to avoid bumping into one another.

The parish church, San Miguel Arcángel, is probably the most recognizable landmark in the city.  It dominates the central plaza and is as stunning at night as it is during the day.  Side note:  the central plaza is not referred to as a plaza.  It is called a jardín, or garden.  This caused some confusion, as San Miguel de Allende has created a beautiful green space just a few blocks away.  I thought this park was the jardín everyone was talking about!  I almost led our group astray during our pursuit of churros y chocolate by heading toward the wrong jardín.  And believe me, after two days of climbing hills to get from Point A to Point B, no one is even trying to get additional steps any more!

My abilities in differentiating between  churches, cathedrals, and chapels is seriously lacking.  Due to its size and grandeur, I incorrectly assumed the San Miguel Arcángel was a cathedral. (Fancy and huge = cathedral, right?)  But in the late 1600’s when the church was built, San Miguel de Allende was not a large enough city to be home to a cathedral.  It is only a regular, old parish church.


The man who built the church had absolutely no training as an engineer or architect.  He worked as a mason.  His idea for the church came from a postcard of a cathedral in Cologne, Germany that he carried around with him.  I cannot even put together a child’s Lego set without studying the instructions for a couple of hours and then spending another couple just psyching myself up.

Its exterior is pink, thanks to a local sandstone used in its construction. (There are actually five unique colors of sandstone in this region:  purple, pink, green, chocolate, and gray.)  I loved waking up to the church bells ringing each morning (followed immediately by the rooster), and I never quite figured out their timing.  The inside of the church honors both indigenous, pagan beliefs and Catholicism.  Interestingly enough, however, Indians were excluded from celebrating mass in the central church.  They were required to attend smaller churches scattered throughout town that were literally small, dark, concrete walled rooms.


Perhaps this is one of the reasons why San Miguel de Allende was so instrumental in the Mexican fight for independence.  It was the birthplace of General Ignacio Allende, whose home still sits just across the plaza from the building where secret resistance meetings were held.  General Allende fought alongside Miguel Hidalgo in the very early battles.  His name is shouted out every September 15 in the reenactment of the “Cry of Dolores” in celebration of Mexico’s independence.

The influence of the Canel family is still alive in San Miguel today as well.  They were a family of traders:  leather, grain, and animal fat.  In 1733, the patriarch began construction on the family’s second home.  It was not entirely finished until his grandson was of age, and the grandson and his family were the first to live there full time.  More servants lived in the home than family members!  The first floor of the home (mansion? palace?) was reserved for business meetings and guests.  The front doors were high and wide enough that a carriage could drive right through them into the central courtyard.  The stable was located just off the courtyard, near the servants’ quarters.  The family occupied the second floor.

One of the daughters of the family chose a life dedicated to God.  She used her inheritance, or at least 70,000 gold coins of it, to build the Convent of the Immaculate Conception.  The nunnery is active today, housing 14 cloistered nuns, women who have chosen to remain separate with the outside world in order to devote their lives to prayer and meditation.  They are even kept out of the sight of other parishioners during mass.  Today, Belles Artes, an art school, shares space with the remaining nuns.

And it may have been art that saved San Miguel, a city that suffered mightily during the IMG_5823Mexican War of Independence and a flu epidemic in the early 1900’s.  It was rediscovered by international artists.  Jackson Pollack got his start in San Miguel, where he attended a workshop led by David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of Mexico’s “Big Three” muralists.  Students came in droves, especially American veterans after World War II.  Artists and passionate amateurs continue to flock to the city today taking photography, drawing, painting, and cooking classes and workshops.  San Miguel de Allende was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, further cementing its appeal to retirees from the United States and Canada and increasing numbers of tourists.

How does the saying go?  Every cloud has a silver lining.  Perhaps the reverse is a bit true here.  The cloud is that many Mexicans born in San Miguel de Allende are now being priced out of homes in the central district, forcing them to live further from the city center and its main marketplace.  Beautiful mountain views are now obscured by condominiums, apartments, and large homes.  It is quite possible that water could be in short supply in the next 15 years due to the increasing population.  In addition, traditional work opportunities in agriculture and commerce are being lost as more services are needed to accommodate the influx of visitors and foreign residents.

Whoa.  I am kind of depressing myself.

I loved San Miguel de Allende and the people I met there.  I am inspired by history of the city and the effect it had on all of Mexico.  I admire the efforts the government and all citizens have made to preserve its colonial integrity.  Most of all I am grateful for the important lesson, intended or otherwise, in being a mindful, gracious visitor to another’s home.




That’s Mexico

Somewhere between Ajijic and Talaquepaque I decided that it was time for me to start carrying a big girl purse.  For about the past six years, I have basically carried a wallet on a string.  I am not the conventional purse type.  So as we boarded the bus to take us back to Guadalajara, I proudly showed off my woven backpack.  Now mind you, I had absolutely nothing to put in my new purse/backpack, but I figured I could google common purse items when we returned to San Carlos and then stock it full.

In the meantime, I loaded it up the next morning with my wallet on a string, my Kindle, and my passport for our quick trip to the glass blowing factory and arts and crafts stores in Tonalá.  I did not for a minute think I was going to have time to read, and no, one does not need a passport to travel from Guadalajara to Tonalá.  It is just that I really had no where else to put these things, and I was new to the whole purse thing.  I put on my backpack and proceeded to the taxi that was waiting.  Then I immediately took it off because have you ever tried to sit in a taxi with a backpack on?

There is a complicated button and a string closure that I had not quite mastered.  Okay, not exactly complicated, but time consuming.  I figured it would be easier, and a whole lot quicker, if I had my old purse out and ready to go when it came time to pay the driver.  Once I had it, I began the process of closing the backpack again.  Business attended to, I sat back and enjoyed the ride.

Steve, another friend from the tour, and I chatted with the driver along the way.  After introductions were made, he was most interested in talking to us about hiring him for the half day trip.  Three more members of our group were in the taxi behind us.  We let Rodrigo know that we needed to discuss the plan with the other group before making a decision.

After a quick stop at a glass factory outside of town, we all jumped back into our taxis and headed to the central shopping area.  We consulted with the other group upon arrival and decided we would just wander around and look for another cab to take us back to the hotel later.  We figured we could cover more ground on foot, and it was not necessary for Rodrigo and his buddy to sit around and wait for us.

We had just walked out of the first shop we visited when Steve, who was walking behind me, asked me where my backpack was.  Wow.  I guess I was really going to stink at this purse thing.  It was, of course, in the cab.  For some reason, I remained fairly calm about the fact that my Kindle and passport were now gone.  I had my cash and my temporary resident card.  I was not leaving Mexico anytime soon.  And really, I preferred reading books I could hold in my hand.  Steve, however, was not as calm about this.  He had been carrying a backpack the entire trip so far and had not lost it once.

We did the only thing we could do.  We called one of our tour guides, who was at the hotel.  We explained what happened and gave him the name of the cab driver.  How many Rodrigos could there possibly be driving a cab in the second largest city in Mexico, right?

Please bear with me here as I digress.

I often hear the phrase “That’s Mexico” from north of the border friends and acquaintances, community members, and posters on ex-pat sites.  And when they use those words, they mean them in the same way southerners mean “bless his heart”.  “That’s Mexico” is used repeatedly in a derogatory, demeaning way.  Any complaint, any inconvenience, any difference is immediately followed by the phrase “That’s Mexico”.  No, really, it is not. 

Within five minutes we heard back from our tour guide.  Rodrigo had been located.  He confirmed that the backpack was still in the backseat.  He was racing toward the hotel, where he would leave my bag for me at the front desk.  He was at the hotel when I returned to assure me my backpack was there, unopened and safe.

That’s Mexico, at least the one that I know.

Ajijic, Talaquepaque- -Say Em’ Three Times Fast

Public restrooms, I have learned, are few and far between in Mexico.  So as excited as I was to finally arrive in Ajijic, an area known for attracting artists, writers, and a lot of retirees, I spent a good chunk of our allotted time searching for a restroom.  Fortunately, the search led me through narrow cobblestone streets, past two churches, and finally to a brightly painted bar/cafe with a view of the action happening in the main square.  Lo and behold, there was a gazebo in the plaza. The bar offered a free restroom, which believe it or not, is a big deal.  And because I am a fan of the search, or just a glutton for punishment, I drank a Diet Coke, certainly setting myself up for a repeat hunt later in the day.

Rather than duck in and out of the boutiques and art galleries, Steve and I spent our (remaining) time, walking through the streets surrounding the plaza.  Ajijic was alive with color.  We didn’t need to step inside to see the beautiful artwork decorating the walls, homes, and storefronts in town.  We did not make it to the lakefront on this visit.  I like the idea of leaving something in each place to come back for another time.  Or I just tell myself that so I do not get too disappointed about what I may have missed!

But if we had made it to the lake, we would have missed the man selling the candy!  A lot of the candy in Mexico is made from fruit.  Coconut, tamarind, and guava are ground and rolled into logs.  The tamarind and guava have a sugar coating, while pistachio, chocolate, and other flavors may be added to the coconut.  Hey, I am all for four to six servings of fruit a day.  I went a little crazy when we discovered a hard candy made from jamaica.  In fact, we bought the man out!  The rest of our group was pretty excited about our find too, until another member returned with a cream made with peyote and marijuana.  I was intrigued as well, but I smartly used the distraction to put my candy in my backpack.  I am all for sharing up to  point.

Our next stop was Tlaquepaque.  It is a large city in its own right, but it is now part of the sprawl that Guadalajara has become.  This area is best known for its glass, clay pottery, furniture, and mariachi music.  High end stores line the busy streets.  Near the main plaza (with two gazebos), men and women set up stalls full of leather goods, textiles, and other handcrafted souvenirs.  Food carts sell elote, sweet potatoes, sugar cane juice, gorditas and ice cream.  I may have purchased more candy.

We bypassed the carts and dined in a restaurant situated in Mariachi Plaza.  The Guadalajara area is specifically known for a few culinary treats.  Among them are:  birria, a stew made from goat meat, and torta ahogada, a “drowned sandwich”, masterfully created one day from available leftovers, or so the legend goes.  I decided I was going to try the birria.  Steve immediately sent a text to Caleb, a true goat lover from the beginning of time, ratting me out.  Unfortunately, once I began eating, visions of goats in pajamas and goats in yoga class flashed before my eyes.  I think it was probably very good, but I just started thinking too much.  Others at the table did not have my problem, and they helped me eat it.

While I was distracted by a store featuring handmade works centered on La Virgin de Guadalupe and La Lotería (possibly a new obsession), Steve wandered into a tequila store and basically, had his very own tequila tour!  After a few samples, he happily (in more ways than one) walked out with his purchase.

It was time to return to our hotel, kind of.  I just was still too hyped up to call it a day just yet.  So once we were dropped off, unloaded the tequila in the hotel room, and used the restroom again, Steve and I set out for the four plazas and the Guadalajara marketplace, one of the largest markets in all of Latin America.  Even though the Super Bowl was on, and even though we had already walked miles that day.

The football Gods must have been smiling down on Steve, as we were not in the market long when closing time came around.  We lingered in the plazas for a bit, enjoying the musicians and artists and ice cream  before finally heading back.  We even made it in plenty of time to see the Eagles defeat the Patriots, which for Indianapolis Colts fans, was the perfect ending to a very full and wonderful day.

When Your Emotions Are “Flying” All Over the Place

So a friend of ours had a great idea for Steve.  She suggested we skip the trips to Chapala, Ajijic, and Tlaquepaque and schedule a Tequila Tour instead.  Our guides were very flexible, and most likely this would not have been a problem except… I really wanted to visit these three places.  And I suppose, Steve feared I would join the shopping frenzy if he did not come along. With the promise of a visit to a tequila store later in the day, Steve boarded the van with the rest of us early in the morning.


Chapala is about 30 minutes south of Guadalajara.  Playwright, Tennessee Williams, lived there while writing A Streetcar Named Desire.  Apparently, he found Chapala to be a quiet place with good swimming.  That is still true today, as Chapala is home to the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala.  It is an ideal weekend getaway spot for the city dwellers.

We meandered up and down the malecón enjoying incredible views.  On our way back to the van, we noticed a Palo Volador along the lakeshore.  It was not long before the Voladores themselves appeared and prepared to perform their ancient prayer ritual, La Danza de los Voladores.  As I mentioned earlier, we were blessed with incredibly easy going guides.  They were more than happy to turn our group around and spend a little bit of extra time in Chapala so we would not miss the ceremony.


I had come across La Danza de los Voladores while researching Mexico for my classes several years ago.  I was intrigued, mesmerized, filled with a longing to just go.  (I think this is what made my job so difficult for me at times.  I found the four walls confining, particularly when I was discovering so much that was new to me.)  I never incorporated La Danza into my lessons, most likely because parents would have frowned upon their children dangling from ropes attached to a 30 foot pole.  But I did not forget what I had seen on the YouTube video, and what I had read.  I was overcome with emotion that I would be in the front row to witness this special dance.


Five Voladores participate in the ritual at a time.  One man plays the flute and drum simultaneously while the group dances in a circle around the pole.  One by one, the Voladores climb 30 feet in the air and attach themselves to ropes that have been tied and wound around the pole.  The flutist/drummer sits at the top of the pole continuing to play music and leads the group of men in prayer.  In a demonstration of strength and faith at the prayer’s end, four of the Voladares lean back, drop from their seats, and soar, upside down, around the pole- -tethered by the rope.  Words cannot describe what it was like to be a part of this that morning.  I still get goosebumps when I think about it.


Okay, so afterwards, there was, of course, a little display of items for sale.  And one of the items was a two foot replica of the pole and the Voladores.  Without even thinking about how I would get it home without snapping it in two or what in the heck I would do with it once there, I bought one!  Steve was not at all surprised to see me get in line, pesos in hand.  He was surprised that I chose a green one.  Particularly because it was the same color of green I told him to please never wear again.

Sometimes I buy things I see like I still have a classroom to put them in.  Right now my Palo Volador is just sitting in my living room (making me smile whenever I look at it).  But I have been doing a lot of thinking on this purchase and have a fabulous idea for a dining room table centerpiece!  Which is going to require the purchase of a few more items that would look great in a classroom!

The Early Bird Gets… Well… A Really Long Day

Day One of our trip began at 3:30 am!  What kind of “vacation” was this going to be?!  We had an early flight out of Hermosillo and a ninety minute drive from Guaymas to the airport, so we were up before the roosters!   Steve and I waited for our pick up at the Pemex gas station.  I am sure we looked like runaways, standing behind the pumps with our two suitcases.  Fortunately, the Policía Municipal did not find our presence suspicious at all, and they did not even glance our way on their 4:45 cruise through town.  We were picked up right on schedule and enjoyed the most quiet van ride of our lives, aside from the snoring, of course.

We had no delays and traffic in Guadalajara was light.  We arrived at our hotel before they were ready for us, so we stowed our luggage and briefly explored the historic district before lunch.  I am extra lucky Steve was along.  He walked behind me and announced curbs, holes in the sidewalk, uneven pavement, and light changes.  I was too busy trying to take in as much as I could around me, and that did not include where I was walking.

I had my first “aha” moment thirty minutes into our walk.  I thought the gazebo in the center of Plaza del 13 de Julio in Guaymas was unique to that plaza only- -yes, as in the only plaza in Mexico with a gazebo.  So, I was a bit bewildered when I noticed Plaza de Armas had a gazebo too.  Mark, one of our very patient guides, explained that there is at least one gazebo in at least one plaza in every city.  Otherwise, where would the orchestra sit when they played for the crowds gathered on weekends?  And sure enough, later that evening, the orchestra played!


After lunch and some hotel room organization time, we headed out for a double decker bus tour of the city.  I am not going to lie.  I was determined to have a seat on top for the best viewing possible.  Luckily, I did not have to push any children out of my way to achieve this!  Guadalajara is the second most populated metropolitan city after Mexico City.  It is huge!  The bus tour provided a great overview of a place I would need to spend a month or more to fully grasp.  Works of art, statues, and fountains decorated the many roundabouts that kept traffic moving smoothly.  There was an incredible mix of historic and contemporary architechure, a lot of green space, wide roads, and blooming flowers along our route.

The city was well prepared for the double decker buses too.  We noticed that trees were pruned so that we would not smack our heads on branches as we drove under them.  We delighted at the birds feasting on the seeds of the flowers right above our heads as we waited at red lights.  I realized, while looking up and laughing with my mouth wide open, that it might be in my best interest to shut it!  I did not want accidentally swallowing bird poop to be “my vacation story”.


After our tour we spent the evening walking throughout the four plazas surrounding the Catedral de Guadalajara or Catedral de la Asunción de María Santísima.  La Rotunda de los Jaliscienes Ilustres, features statues of important scientists, teachers, artists, and authors from Jalisco.  Preparations were underway for Carnaval in Plaza Guadalajara.  Buskers performed magic, acrobatics, and puppetry.  Children chased after rocket shaped balloons that when bounced on the ground, soared high in the air.

A mariachi band performed in front of Teatro Degollado, and a band playing instruments made of everyday household items performed behind.  We strolled the length of Plaza de la Liberation, the last plaza in the link.  There was a lighted fountain, almost as long as the plaza itself, and the Regional Museum provided the perfect backdrop.


Government buildings surrounded the plazas, as Guadalajara is the state capital.  We had the opportunity to view Jose Clemente Orozco’s mural, depicting Padre Don Miguel Hidalgo igniting Mexico’s passion and fight for independence, in el Palacio de Gobierno.  Believe me, this made visiting a government office absolutely worth it!


I should have been exhausted but could not help feeling exhilarated.  The energy of the people, the music, the sounds, and the lights kept me going.  Guadalajara was buzzing when we arrived late morning.  It seemed the frenzy would continue late into the night.  Reluctantly, we headed back to our hotel, knowing tomorrow was another jam packed day!

And just in case you are wondering, my major purchase for the day was an ice cream cone.

Pack Your (Shopping) Bags!

Steve and I had been reluctant to take a vacation.  I mean, rationalizing the expense was difficult.  We live in a place many come to vacation.  Our home sits across the street from the Sea of Cortez.  We are minutes from popular dolphin hangouts, sandy beaches, and challenging mountain hikes.  There are numerous dining and entertainment options.  And even though Steve works 10+ hour days, we feel like we kind of are on vacation every day.  As we hit the three quarter mark of his current contract, not knowing if it would be renewed or not, we realized we really did need to get out there and see more of the country we had come to love.

As an elementary teacher, I had used Mexico as a central theme in the creation of Spanish language and cultural lessons for my kindergarten students.  My research gave me a brief look into separate, specific aspects of the country,  but there was so much I was missing.  My limited knowledge was enough to convince five and six year olds that I knew what I was talking about, but the truth was a different story entirely.  If I am being honest, I can admit that I thought of Mexico one of two ways:  either as one big all inclusive resort or as a quaint, colonial village surrounding a central plaza.  (And yes, even though I knew that Mexico City has a population of over 20 million people.  Go figure.)

Our first group photo in front of el Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara.  Photo Credit, Miguel

So I managed to persuade Steve into joining a tour that would take us to Guadalajara and its surrounding areas, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato, all in the central highlands of the country.  We laughed as we answered questions like “Can you comfortably walk 10 blocks?” and “Are you able to carry your own luggage?” on the pre-trip paperwork.  Then we went to the informational meeting and immediately understood.  Steve and I were the youngest on the tour by between 25-30 years.

Our guides tried desperately to keep our meeting focused on the historical sites and artistic centers we would visit.  Yet, the conversation always seemed to come back to shopping.  “Will there be time for the glass factory in Tonalá?”  “The talavera pottery factory in Dolores Hidalgo?”  “Who remembers where that one clothing store was in Ajijic?”  “And shoes- -we just have to find this one special design- -it is the only one I am missing!”  As the only sucker, er, I mean husband in the group, things were beginning to look a little bleak for Steve.  He rifled through the itinerary, certain that he had somehow missed the Tequila Tour in the paperwork. There was no doubt that he would need multiple shots of tequila after daily dealings (and apparently lots of shopping) with five women.  I even think our fearless leaders, Mark and Miguel, were beginning to agree.

It was painfully obvious that we were the real amateurs of the group.  Steve and I listened closely as the women discussed what stores would ship packages to San Carlos and for how little. We received specific instructions detailing how to pack the most efficiently.  One fellow traveler even planned to rotate no more than three outfits to make the most of her space.

I asked a lot of questions and took a lot of notes.  Steve was relieved that they had nothing to do with shopping.   There was no secret who the nerd of the group was! (I may have even cried a little when I learned we would be visiting the site where Padre Don Miguel Hidalgo made his now famous “Cry of Dolores” speech.)

So really, it was no wonder Steve looked so betrayed, when on the way home from the meeting, I suggested we take advantage of the one suitcase per person rule, as opposed to sharing.

La Vida Es Un Carnaval

We returned home from a trip south just in time to enjoy Carnaval 2018!  We avoided the weekend crowds by busying ourselves with after vacation chores like unpacking, laundry, and grocery shopping.  This worked out well for Steve- -as it meant Carnaval shenanigans would happen during the week, when he would be working.  So truthfully, I returned home in time for Carnaval!

Guaymas’ Carnaval celebration is one of the oldest in Mexico, dating back to 1888.  As athumbnail-4 port city, Guaymas was home to many immigrants and visitors from Europe.  A Carnaval, similar to those held in Europe, was their idea.  Participation was for the most part limited to the upper classes.  After the Mexican Revolution, Guaymas embraced Carnaval as its own, and participation opened up to include everyone.  The event always begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and runs until midnight the following Tuesday, or the start of Lent.

A parade is held each afternoon/evening.  (Based on my Guaymas parade experience, it is definitely an evening event.  But it is best to get there in the afternoon just in case it starts at the scheduled afternoon time.)  There are rides on the malecón, concerts, poetry readings, plays, games, lots of good food, and souvenirs to buy.

During the day one celebration a Reina del Carnaval and Rey Feo are crowned.  There is also the “Quema de Mal Humor” (Burning of the Bad Humor).  This year’s honor went to PASA, the city garbage collection agency.  PASA was on strike during the month of December, leaving trash to pile up in the city and its surrounding areas.  In spite of the inconvenience (and smell and eyesore) this caused, many were hoping that Enrique Peña Nieto, Guaymas mayor, Lorenzo DeCima, or Donald Trump had been selected instead.

Photo credit Sharon Mooney

Some friends and I decided that Carnaval would be the perfect time to try public transportation for the first time.  We knew the main avenue into el Centro would be closed off to traffic for the parade, and parking would be a challenge.  We had been a bit intimidated by the bus previously, certain we would make mistakes or get lost.  We found fellow passengers and the bus drivers to be incredibly helpful.  We were dropped two blocks from where we planned on watching the parade and discovered a new bakery/café on our walk!  And given that I am writing this now, the trip home was equally as successful!


The parade was a little delayed, but we filled our time shopping for masks and peoplethumbnail-1
watching.  Several women made cascarones and sold them in packages of five for five pesos.  Children loved breaking them over the heads of their parents.  Actually, they enjoyed breaking them over the heads of anyone nearby!  We were confetti bombed multiple times by the small children (and abuelitas) sitting near us.  We had stocked up ourselves, so we made sure to return the favor.  Nothing brings strangers closer together quite like confetti!

The parade was a marvel of sights and sounds.  Marching and mariachi bands entertained the onlookers.  Loud music blasted from speakers, providing the rhythms for the colorfully costumed dancers.  And the crowd.  The abuelitas loved to dance with the handsome, young parade participants!  The floats were big and bold, a true testament to the time and energy it took to prepare for this event.  Candy, stuffed animals, and confetti were launched from the floats into the crowd.  The crowd gave it right back spraying Silly String and throwing cascarones!  One brave youngster even sprayed a police officer with Silly String as he helped clear the parade route before the show began!


After the parade, we walked along the malecón.  Crowds stood in line for roller coasters, spidery spinners, and inflatables.  Children enjoyed crafts and magicians.  The smells of delicious food hung in the air:  pancakes con Nutella o fresas, churros, Cheetos con chamoy, elote, tacos, and hotdogs.  As we sat down to rest a moment on the seawall, one of our group discovered an unopened, ice cold cerveza, seemingly left there just for her.  (This, of course, necessitated a stop in the five peso port a potty before the bus ride home.)


It is experiences like this one that make up my very favorite Mexico memories.  (Yes, that even includes paying to use the bathroom and waiting an hour and a half for a parade to start.)  Living here has taught me so much about finding joy in the moment and letting myself be amazed by the little things.  The little things are the big things.  Go ahead!  Break a cascarón over a friend’s head.  You will know exactly what I mean.