Living in Mexico had long been a dream of mine. Embracing another culture, learning a new language, celebrating exotic holidays like the Dia de los Muertos had all sounded romantic and many a work day, prior to my retirement, had been spent in my imagination. Nothing, however, could have quite prepared me for the reality of today, July 4th, 2012. Finally, I’m living on the island of Cozumel, but, as I stood in the center of San Miguel, I realized that I could just as easily have imagined myself back in the states on this most American day of the year. How fun is this? The fourth was always one of my favorite holidays and it looks like I’m not going to miss celebrating it after all.
So, there I was listening to a Mexican singer emulate, sort of, Kurt Cobain, while being accompanied by his enthusiastic band mates. Standing on the steps of the gazebo, he was surrounded by decorative balloons that were the familiar red, white, and blue of my culture and his audience was, mostly, dressed in like fashion, many clutching miniature American flags. As the sun began to set, and the crowd began to gather, I started to walk around. It looked to be a fun night.
Tables set up next to the gazebo were decorated with cloths and hats, balloons were everywhere, and little shiny stars were being hand glued to drop cloths. There were large carts set up with American foods like ribs and hot dogs with cold beers to wash them down and attentive hosts were busily moving about. One couple, Kelly and Alma, were keeping an eye out for both customers and friends. They were nice enough to stop and pose for me with big smiles. In fact, all those around seemed to be smiling and enjoying the festivities. After just a short while, I ran into someone I’d met at the gym and she began to introduce me to, well, just about everyone. I’m thinking she’s either lived here a while, or she’s just plain sociable, maybe both, and, with her help, I was able to meet quite a few of the other expats, although I will never remember all their names. Still, it seems to be quite a friendly group and I get a strong sense of their camaraderie.
After a while, a few of us walked over to a local pub, Woody’s, just off the square to sit and listen to their entertainment. A young man, who was quite good, began to sing Don McLean’s American Pie. I remember admiring his bravado since, if I remember correctly, that ambitious choice is close to ten minutes long with verses that seem unending. But, he did a fine job and I thought the selection was perfect. For me all holidays have their signature song and he’d picked the one that has become a standard for the fourth, at least in my humble opinion. Everywhere I looked I could see other expats and tourists singing along whether sitting at the tables, or just strolling past.
It was a great atmosphere and certainly one I didn’t want to leave behind, but all good things must come to an end, or so I’ve heard. After excusing myself, with the hopes of seeing those good folks again, I did my typical last stroll around to see if there was anything I’d missed. There was quite a bit, actually, but it was time to head home and let my dogs inside for some air conditioning. I was looking forward to cooling off myself since the heat was impressive. It is July in Mexico……….
I stopped to take one final picture of a dog that just might actually be more spoiled than mine. Then, after showing the image to his proud owner, I put the camera away for the night. I held up my tiny American flag and waved it at the smiling locals as I headed down the tiny street towards home.
p.s. A big thank you to all who worked so hard to put this celebration together. I know it made me feel like I was home, in more ways than one.