December 29, 2009

A Mexican Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a time when Mexican families gather from afar at the homes of parents, aunts and uncles or grandparents to await Christmas day. The parties often last into the wee hours.

We decide to take a walk, to enjoy a "Mexican Christmas". Central “Joco” is about 7 or 8 blocks square, interspersed with angles and lanes. Most properties are long and narrow, surrounded by high walls; some have gated patio areas in front. At Joco’s heart is the central plaza. Six of us, a gringo crowd, straggle off from Marilyn’s house, west of the plaza. The cobblestone streets are quiet. It’s dark, we watch our footing. Sidewalks are uneven and narrow; it’s easier to walk in the stony street, there's little traffic.

In the square, things are bustling! Overnight, two days ago, traveling vendors set up blue and black plastic sheeting into a maze of booths selling every conceivable plastic toy, shoes, cosmetics, candies, clothes and more.

We wander and browse with the crowd. Parents lead children clutching balls and dolls; teens peruse clothes, bootleg music and each other; vendors sell pizza, hot peanuts, churros, ice cream, tacos.

After dining on pork/pineapple tacos al pastor, we watch the boys ring the Cathedral bells for evening service.

Walking back along Degollado Street we see lighted nacimientos (nativity scenes) in front of several houses, and peer into open doors to see the Christmas trees.

Two middle-aged men sit on the curb in front of a dark doorway with a bottle. The frame and warp of a large floor loom is just visible behind them. Marilyn starts a conversation, and suddenly we are walking a dirt path past a primitive open kitchen to the bodega (storeroom), where a weaving cooperative keeps their finished work in high stacks. The artist picks up and rapidly displays wall hangings and rugs with richly colored figures and patterns. Scott purchases two 3x3’ hangings for 100 pesos each! Marilyn buys one, too. We can’t make up our mind, so promise to return, and we all walk on.

Families are gathering behind small barbeques or fires. Everyone waves, "Feliz Navidades!!" Men lift their drinks in a toast, offering a beer as we pass…and some are extremely joyful! 

Along the way, a formal table is set for a late dinner. Nearby, a modest house has a BBQ waiting.

Our last street is closed off with two trucks, and a large family sits on chairs circling a bonfire. The parties will go on very late. We say adios, and jump into the truck to head for the campground at 10:00.

Christmas day we spend at home...that is, with six of our campground family: Ken & Kris (California), Sonia & Dave (Vancouver Island, BC) , and Russ & Ruth Ann (Ontario, Canada). Here is a picture of our fine dinner!

No comments: