Saturday, January 16, 2010

Things you will never see in the USA

A fireworks "castillo"...

the "Passage of Kisses"...

blessing of the boats...
a thatched roof truck...
...and a vendor selling candy and nuts in the street.

Mexico loves celebrations and most towns and cities have annual festivals to honor their patron saints. We are lucky to live in a town whose patron saint is Our Lady of Peace, and today begins the annual fiesta in homage to her. Lasting eight days, this is a raucous and noisy fun time, with the entire downtown area full of carnival rides, vendors selling delicious snacks and booths full of wonderful things to buy, from the exotic (handwoven rugs from Oaxaca) to the mundane (a new pitcher for your blender).

The highlight of tonight's events is a three-story tall castillo (castle) of fireworks, right in the middle of the plaza. Can you even imagine the liability insurance premiums for such a thing? The sparks shower down on the crowd, and children rush to get closer with pizza boxes on their heads to protect themselves. Yes, people get scorched, and NO, nobody files a lawsuit.

To reach the festivities from our side of town, it is best to park on the south side of the arroyo and walk across a pedestrian footbridge that crosses the arroyo which divides our town east and west. Just after you cross the bridge, you approach the Paseo del Beso, where it is obligatory to stop and kiss the person who is with you.

Another highlight of the festival is the blessing of the fishing boats. At the northern end of the Bay of Banderas, Bucerias began as a fishing village: bucerias means "place of the diver." Fresh oysters (ostiones), octopus (pulpo), shrimp (camarones) and small red snappers (huachinangos) are available for sale in the plaza every day.

The red truck with the palapa roof can always be found parked on Calle Lazaro Cardenas - one of our main streets and the one that leads you over the foot bridge. We hired this truck to clear construction debris from our yard a few years back and the driver is still there, ready for hire every day.

And if you fancy a treat, you can grab a delicious snack from the guy who sells candy and peanuts (cacuahates) from a wheelbarrow. Yes, they are right out there in the open, no hygienic sneeze shield to protect the candies from the hands of children who long for a taste. But I don't know anyone who has ever become sick after eating these great candies...who can resist them?

These are just a few of the things that make us grateful that we live in this amazing little town in Mexico. We begin the new year with resolve to enjoy each day of health and well-being in this wonderful place.