If there's one way of really experiencing how a country likes to party, then it's on Independence Day. What follows is a short story of my time in Oaxaca, Mexico
. This is my last story about Oaxaca before moving on to Mazunte, one of my favourite places in the world.
|I want his hat!|
Photo by uteart
The 16th of September is
a special day in Mexico.
“You will see the city
alive now, Oaxaca is the best place to see the fiesta,” Victor said, pointing
to a photo of the manic Zocalo the previous year. I’d never witnessed an
Independence Day before, so I was excited.
In the sixteenth century,
Hernan Cortes started the Spanish conquest of Mexico. In 1810, Miguel Hidalgo,
a Mexican joined by a group of liberals, decided to fight for their country’s
freedom. They started their combat in Dolores and continued until they reached
the capital later that year. The Spanish captured and executed Hidalgo, but his spirit thrived as they battled on for
the next ten years, until finally getting their Independence back. Mexicans celebrate the
start of the fight for liberty as their Independence Day.
Preparations in the
Zocalo commenced a week in advance. The vibe was unlike my local town’s dull
annual fair; I’d never seen such enthusiasm in a city. Locals organised stalls
and hung up red, green, and white decorations. Mariachis serenaded the public
more than usual, getting ready for the main event. Every night new bands and
street performers practised in the Zocalo.
“My ex-girlfriend Maria
comes to visit tonight. Do you want to drink with us?” Victor said the
afternoon before the main event.
“Sure, why not. Might be
“Fun yes, if I can get
rid of her.” We arranged to meet in a couple of hours and I went for a quick
wander on my own.
There was a real buzzing
atmosphere in town. The Zocalo smelt of barbequed meat and firecrackers and was
full of joyful, smiling, and well-dressed Mexicans. Even Gringos wore their
best clothes. Parents walked with their skipping children. Young couples
strolled hand in hand. Elderly people, who normally bickered and complained,
laughed and enjoyed the celebrations. Young adolescents waited in front of the
stages in the square while organisers made final sound adjustments. After drinking
a beer on my own while watching a group of lads try to chat up some ladies I
headed back to pick up Victor.
Avenue Independencia was
full of excited people blowing whistles and waving Mexican flags as a brass
band patrolled towards the Zocalo. As they passed, everyone cheered and saluted.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. What a transformation of the city.
“Did you see that?” I
asked Victor as he stood on the steps of the hostel.
“Of course, what you
think I’m deaf and stupid?”
“Do I have to answer
that?” He slapped my head. “Is your lady here?”
“No not yet, and she is
not my lady,” he said, firmly. Victor and Maria had left on bad terms and he
was annoyed that she was coming. “It’s the best night to find a woman and I’m
with her; she always does this to me.”
Maria was a petite,
attractive, and friendly lady. Victor seemed pleased to see her; perhaps there
was still a chance. We left for the centre.
At the Zocalo an
energetic Mexican rock band was entertaining a massive jumping crowd. We stood
bopping up and down, swigging ice-cold beers, and trying to make idle chit chat,
but the loud music drowned out our conversation.
Maria fluttered her eyes
at Victor and occasionally hugged him. He was having none of it; at least for
|Mezcal worm...get it down ya!|
Photo by lilita
When some drunk
teenagers started throwing water about we ducked into a packed bar. With our
first round we got a small complementary bottle of mezcal with a worm inside.
“You drink the gusano before?” Maria asked me.
“It’s an aphrodisiac,
make you hot,” she said, gazing at Victor.
“Sounds good to me,
ready Victor?” I said as we chinked bottles.
I felt the stiff and
slimy worm slide down the back of my throat. Maria laughed as we grimaced.
“That wasn’t so bad,” I
said to Victor.
“You are dangerous,” he
said, trying to hold the drink down.
“Come on, it’s Independence
Day, have another,” Maria said. So we did. Three shots later the worms were
making their magic and we were feeling slightly smashed.
Independence Day arrived.
There was no formal countdown like at New Years, everyone just continued
talking and drinking. When we stepped outside, the fresh air hit us. The party
was in full bloom. The Zocalo heaved with fans jumping to the music. Fireworks
lit up the sky. A huge beer fight broke out in the square. Victor had Maria
glued to his side, which, thanks to the worms working round his body injecting
alcohol into his veins, he now seemed quite happy about. Her plan had worked.
After a little while we got separated and I ended up in a disco on the
outskirts of town with a bunch of university students. I think it was a good
night, but my memories are slightly hazy.
That was my last party
in Oaxaca. Next was Mazunte.
Labels: Independence day in Mexico, live in oaxaca, Mexico, TEFL Mexico, travel in mexico, what to do for independence day in Mexico