The point of this post is the wonderful parade we saw in La Paz for Mexican Revolution Day, but our attendance at the parade does bring up a another point. La Paz has a great community for cruisers, with a VHF radio net six days a week, four or five marine supply stores, multiple marinas and even a club for cruisers. You can find assistance with most boat projects, get parts, and just socialize, all with no need for cultural immersion. The new store that just opened, aptly named Mega, even has a row of familiar sounding Kirkland brand products. Granted, we’ve had some challenges asking for some products in the store, but we have managed to even find enough familiar food to put together an almost traditional Thanksgiving dinner we are heading back to the boat in a bit to cook up and enjoy (and much, much thanks to Jenn for tackling her first ever Thanksgiving dinner several thousand miles from home in a foreign country – she really is a catch). And yes, I wrote this awhile back and haven’t gotten around to posting it.
The point of this that I feel like the leadership of the cruising community here did the cruisers a disservice by not encouraging us to go see the parade. Overall, I feel like a lot of the cruisers that have kind of stalled here have just chosen to live in a comfortable environment with an English speaking support group and not experience the culture available to enjoy. The primary message about the holiday was to be prepared because businesses would be closed on Monday. There was little mention of the parade, and zero encouragement to go see it. Fortunately I have enough world travel experience to know if there is a local holiday, you should get out and experience with the locals. So we did, taking the dinghy ashore and and walking towards the Malecon where the La Paz residents were collecting.
We did our part to support the local economy, first buying a serving of fresh sliced fruits with yogurt, topped with toasted oats and raisins, than really diving in and discovering Tostilotes (detailed in my previous post). We wandered along the route looking for a good observation spot, pausing to chat with a family sporting a Washington State University hat and Gonzaga t-shirt, visiting with their daughter for their 30th anniversary (“But this is it” joked the woman”.
We staked out a spot to watch from, taking advantage of the fact that I am substantially taller than average here. Some police vehicles proceeded the parade, moving the people to the sides of the road. The first participants were groups of mentally handicapped revelers, suggesting a level of caring and support to me. Maybe my view was incorrect, but I found something refreshing about not trying to hide this segment of the population, but rather leading off with it. As they passed by, there was wave after wave of children, mostly in brightly colored outfits. The colors tended toward a red, white and green theme to match the Mexican flag, but there were other colors as well. There was vehicle after vehicle playing music for the paraders following it, I even spotted a DJ in the back of one of the pickup trucks.
As the parade moved by, the participants grew older, with groups of teens dancing in cheerleader outfits, pseudo military outfits and colorful period costumes from Mexico’s past. Music blared, skirts twirled, pompoms glittered in the sun and the vibe was one of fiesta and culture pride. More than one shout of “Viva Mexico!” rang out as we watched group after group parade by. The youth dissolved into sporting groups, representing local clubs for cycling, martial arts, futbol, baseball, archery, kayaking, even some older volleyball players. I didn’t catch the sailing club, I must have just looked away for a moment as I can’t imagine their wasn’t one!
The parade continued with a show of government groups, police, firefighters, military groups marching by and giving demonstrations of their skills. The firefighters made pyramids atop ladders on their trucks, while soldiers dove over a pyramid of their fellow fighters. Mixed in were several floats of people in historic outfits, appearing to reenact moments of the Mexican revolution, which I admit I’m very ill informed about. Finally the parade drew to a close with various people on horseback, in colorful and authentic costumes, the women riding side saddle in colorful dresses. There were even a few horses dancing to the music, and my hero, a middle aged Mexican man riding his horse with reigns in one hand, a local beer in the other.
During the course of the parade I worked my way into several decent vantage points and kept firing with the camera, my first real use with a digital SLR, a decent telephoto lens, and a multitude of subjects. I probably got a bit carried away not having to worry about film and snapped off around 500 pictures. I’ve edited the collection down to about 160, and I suppose even that is a bit much. On more than one occasion a participant
saw the telephoto lens point at them and hammed or posed for me to get a shot, the DJ on one of the sound trucks even flashing me a peace sign. For those of you that are friends on Facebook I’ve uploaded the pictures there, and I’ll get them posted on Picasa soon and post a link. Overall I had a great time, finding some new food treats, hearing Mexican music and watching a waves of color and dancing parade by. I hope we are lucky enough to stumble on more local celebrations as we continue our journey.