Intricate designs are cut into tissue paper to decorate various parts of the city. Similar to paper dolls, as many as forty flags may be cut at the same time. These are red white, and green for Fiestas Patrias. From what I gather, the whole month of September (more than any other month) is about celebrating Mexico.
I headed to the supermerdcado (supermarket) this afternoon to buy things I needed for the kitchen here at the posada: a can opener (abrelatas), a cheese grater (rallador de queso), a bottle opener (abrebotellas), a colander (colador), a sponge (esponja), a towel (toalla), and dish soap (jabonera).
I also picked up some tomatoes (tomates, avocados (aguacates), a potato (papa), corn (elote blanco), cantaloupe (cantalupo), and bananas (platanos). In order to eat fruit and vegetables here, there is a process of using iodized silver to soak and disinfect the items. It takes twenty to thirty minutes. The delicious foods are worth the extra work.
So far, I have cleaned grapes (uvas), bananas, and apples (manzanas), and I am all good.
At first, I heard the ladies screaming and the fearful part of my brain wanted to run back to the Posada. Then, I saw the gyrating fringed chaps and tight almost turquoise leather pants and realized I was hearing the gritos (shouts) of fans welcoming Banda Maguey to the Zocalo.
I have looked them up on the web; they have a ton of YouTube videos showcasing their songs and their own site: http://bandamaguey.com.mx.
By the way, maguey is a form of the agave plant. This is what is used to make mescal, an alcohol similar to tequila, distilled in Oaxaca. A teacher once told me, “Para todo mal: mescal, y para todo bien: tambien” (For everything bad: [drink] mescal, and use it for everything good, too).
As many people as possible crowded into the shade; those in the sun had sombrillas (umbrellas) and sombreros (hats), rebolsos (shawls) and banderas (flags) to block the sun. We stood listening to the military and police marching bands, waiting for the desfila (parade) to begin. We waited so long, children began crying and even the strongest men were no longer holding their children on their shoulders. People began whistling (as they would to summon a dog, for the parade. And so, at last, it arrived.
And, it had to arrive because everything needed to be wrapped up by 11:40, the time the revolution began.
The desfila was like no other parade I have witnessed. It featured: students in their perfectly pressed uniforms, the police, various branches of the military, firefighters, ambulances, nurses, doctors, the Red Cross, and so on. It was a representation of federal and civil departments, and they all marched, waving their arms as they strode down the quarter of the Zocalo where the parade took place. We watched for nearly an hour and a half; people hooted out: “Bravo” to the uniformed crews as they felt motivated.
The horses ridden by charros were the last of the parade, and people knew it and began filing into the shade of the Zocalo to listen to the rest of the presentation that focused on the revolution. Part history lesson, part patriotic celebration, part Sunday on the Zocalo, this observance was both reverent and full of revelry, including red, white, and green confetti.
El Grito, the call for independence, was an enormous celebration, and it was impressively orchestrated for families. Having recently attended Carnival in London, and seeing the crowds and metal detectors and uniformed people assembling, I was initially concerned about what I was getting myself into. I noticed only a handful of people drinking alcohol and no belligerent people in the streets. Instead, I saw people having a nice time with generations of their families, people with tremendous pride in their country and culture.
When it came time for The Grito, the governor uttered phrases including: Viva Oaxaca, Viva Mexico, and so on. Each time he offered one, we responded with: Viva.
There was music everywhere all evening, and the Zocalo had fuegos artificiales (fireworks) in every corner. At one point there was a cascada (waterfall) of fireworks pouring from the cathedral.
On my walk home, I noticed that people were chasing each other with eggs filled with confetti and shaving cream. It seemed fitting that an evening with fake mustaches should conclude with shaving cream.
The officer was right; I could wear a bigote, too.
When I emailed this photo to my mother last night, she kindly suggested that this might not be the look for me.
Although I could not get a photo, this is the same size mustache children were wearing. It is one size fits all, and Zapata really put the big in bigote.
I found that most people were willing to pose — or to have their children pose — for me when I asked and when they were dressed up for the occasion. In fact, many would fix their children or themselves for the photo. And, they always wanted to see what it looked like on the camera screen.
I was especially grateful to the man who let me take a photo of him with and without his mustache.
I was only, very politely, told no when I requested to take a photo of a small girl in a beautiful blue falda (skirt), and it was only because the little she was extraordinarily shy.
I like practicing my Spanish with strangers, and they are super helpful when they can be. I am wholeheartedly grateful.
I noticed that vendors were selling mustaches (bigotes) as part of the items one can buy to celebrate Independence Day here. Then, I saw a tiny boy, maybe five years old, wearing a bigote.
Practicing my Spanish, I stopped to ask a police officer why children were wearing mustaches. He first informed me that they are not real mustaches. I explained that I had seen some for sale at a stall on the corner and that my question was more about why they were for sale with the rest of the items.
Now that we were on the same page, he explained that Emiliano Zapata, a revolutionary hero of Mexico, had a distinguishable mustache. Merrymakers wear them in honor of his efforts.
He promptly suggested, “You can wear a mustache, too.”