Known for its beaches and boating, my town undergoes a major transformation every year at this time. From November to the end of March, the population is largely comprised of retired gringos...gray heads on the beach, silver heads in the restaurants, white heads on the golf course, bald heads on the boats. Then they suddenly beat a hasty retreat to escape a sudden influx of young, scantily clad Mexicanos. The view is better, but traffic creeps through town at glacial speed, each night drums throb until dawn, and every morning the streets are strewn with millions of plastic bags, bottles and other fast food remnants. We hear rumors of empty vacation homes being ransacked, strangers passing out in private patios. Visitors fill up the hotels and the RV parks, they camp on the beaches, they sleep on bus benches. Beer flows in astonishing quantities from streetside tiendas that have sprung up like mushrooms, surrounded on three sides by sturdy hurricane fencing in case of riots. Mexico is a young country, after all, and young people do crazy things, especially after a number of cervezas.
In some parts of Mexico and the rest of the Latin world there are solemn traditional parades with thousands of the devout carrying saints and Jesus stand-ins carrying crosses, but here in our desert paradise there's no evidence of what Semana Santa is about. Instead there's techno rock pounding up and down the main street. Bring back the tubas, the polka, even the mariachis with the flat trumpets, por favor.
Those of us who didn't leave town hole up at home with our stockpiled snacks and TVs, refusing to venture out for any reason. Yesterday I tried to drive two blocks to the nearest store and it took me an hour to get home. ¡Caramba!
Here's our usually uncrowded beach as it looks this weekend, from a travel site called Mexico Guru.
Another benefit was that I got to know my neighbors better. In the morning my little friend M. came over and we planted tomato, lettuce and cilantro seeds in old plastic containers I've been saving. Afterward I asked if she was hungry and she said she had to go home for lunch. Moments later she ran back to invite me to her house. Her dad did the cooking, Cuban-style, and served up a savory lentil soup flavored with lots of cilantro, along with grilled chicken and vegetables. A very talented fellow, her papa. We talked for a couple of hours, M's family and I, about their trip last week to the historic mining district of Moctezuma, stirring up once more my urge to explore more of Mexico. I'm so lucky to have such congenial neighbors who'll still be here when almost all my amigos norteamericanos have gone for the season.
I've saved the best news for last. Tomorrow Semana Santa will be almost over and I have spent the time in a decidedly joyful frame of mind. The Capt came home after a five-month separation, and our 20-year marriage had a resurrection of its own.
So salud! Let everyone celebrate. I have something to celebrate too.