I spent this past 4th of July in New York, celebrating the land of the free and the home of the brave, and listening to Katy Perry while watching fireworks explode over the Hudson. I love America. Americans know what patriotism is, and I thought there was an even better sense of patriotism among the people in New York on Independence Day, especially as we approached the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I thought we knew how to celebrate....but lets just say Mexicans put our party to shame.
We headed down to the centro early Thursday evening (15 de septiembre, the night before...like New Years festivities) to partake in some of the Independence Day festivities. The evening began with tacos de pastor (my favorite), followed by some street market wandering, and lastly, the always adventurous task of finding a bathroom. As it neared 9pm we knew it was time to head to the Plaza de Armas where the "Grito" would be taking place in front of the government building at 11pm. We shuffled into the plaza and immediately became part of the "can of sardines." Everyone was dressed up. Fake mustaches, giant sombreros, red green and white face paint....you name it! Music from the giant stage included a symphony, mariachis, and solo singers. Everyone around me would sing along....every word to every song!
After the loud flag ceremonies it was time for the "Grito." The governor stepped out onto the balcony of the building and began to deliver the "Grito de Dolores", the same speech uttered by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato 201 years ago. After the governor utters the final "¡Viva México!" the people reply for the last time, "¡VIVA!" The sea of thousands of people immediately broke into the National Anthem accompanied by the symphony. Everyone sang. Proudly. Not 2 seconds after the last note was struck, fireworks burst into the air. The crowd went wild and the espuma came out (shaving cream-like foam that people spray just for fun). Fireworks blew off from all of the buildings surrounding us. They danced high in the night sky to the music coming from down below. Mexicans are very orgulloso (proud!) of their country, and they sure as heck know how to throw a party in its honor.
In the USA, people rarely ever actually sing along when the National Anthem is being sung. The 4th means we show up, watch fireworks, and listen to music from people like Katy Perry. Mexicans truly know how to celebrate their country. They sing along, they dance, and they do it all with really big and prideful smiles on their faces.
And in the words of Kesha....the party don't stop.... After the festivities in Plaza de Armas, a friend and I headed out to a club called Ananda with some of our amigos from Querétaro.
And what would be more appropriate than a tequila toast: "¡Viva México!" Excellent end to an incredible night.