Monday, September 20, 2010

The actual Bicentennial Holiday

There was no way to hear El Grito again in Delores Hidalgo at 6:30 this morning, but we did hop a bus and go later in the day. We got off at a Feria, kind of a county carnival with rides and booths. After much wandering about and visiting with vendors and photographing the sights, we hopped another bus to the Centro. The plaza there was decked out with flags, signs, colors and a big stage in front of the church where the first El Grito was given. I imagine the party the night before was even more crushing than San Miguel's. Their Jardin was equally crowded with vendors and people. John bought a couple more hats. I think he's up to 11 now. We wandered around checking out the town, then had a very late lunch, or early dinner at a hotel restaurant that had a buffet. The food was excellent. They had chicken mole, pork in a tequila sauce, Spanish rice, fruit salad, and one of my favorite local dishes: chile en nogada. (Sweet white sauce over a cheese filled Poblano pepper, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.) 

I had heard rumors that Dolores Hidalgo is famous for two things, the start of the Revolution, and weird ice cream. I have a recipe from my Cubano Spanish teacher called Elotes Domingo, which is green beans, but since discovered that elotes in Mexico is corn on the cob, or just corn. (Thanks Joyce Carlson!) Sigh. So no wonder the ice cream I tasted before didn't taste like green beans, it was corn flavored!! Anyway, as we wandered around the plaza looking at hats, trinkets and everything else for sale, I got a small ice cream, Beso de Angel, the kiss of an angel. It was strawberry with almond (paste I think) and dried dark cherries. It was really good. On the list of available flavors were tuna (in Mexico that's the fruit of a cactus, not the fish), elotes, tequila, mole (a chile/chocolate paste for meat usually), beer, avocado, mamay (not my favorite fruit - it tastes like tuna (the fish) to me!), shrimp, cheese and many others - some more disgusting than others. I suspect milk and sugar can disguise or enhance just about any flavor in the world. I also tried fried grasshoppers or some Mexican equivalent, they certainly looked like little grasshoppers. It was interesting, and not disgusting at all, a bit on the sour side, and of course it had been powdered with chile. I enjoyed the taste but didn't buy any. When I'm in adventure mode I'll eat just about anything, but I know, back at home, I wouldn't want to finish off the bag. Not like a bag of potato chips!!

The 45 minute ride back gave me time for a much needed nap. We landed back in the Centro of San Miguel and it was hopping for the night's festivities. We stood in one of the corners of the plaza as horses with riders lined up for the evening parade. There were official looking ropes across the street but nobody paid any attention and crossed over between and behind the horses. Suddenly a horse acted up and people backed up, pushing and shoving. It was all I could do to stay on my feet. After that scare I stuck close to the building and watched people, even ones with little kids, cross the horses. The crowd was drunker than the night before. There were many people from Mexico City and the bars were overflowing even though no one was selling alcohol on the streets. It felt much less like a family affair and much more like a drunk fest than the night before. We decided to bag it and head for the apartment. That was a trip unto itself. The bus we would normally have taken didn't show up. Lots of other buses came and went, but not the one that would drop us right in front of the hotel across the street. It was dark and crowded. No one seemed to know where that bus might stop, some said across the street, others said down the street. Finally we found a small crowd way down the street and on the other side. They were all waiting for the same bus so we joined them. What a strange way to run a bus system. There must be much more to it than the average Gringo can figure out. 

Back at the apartment we could see the sky bursts from the second night of celebrating. It went on for twenty minutes or more. I ran up to the roof but actually the view from our lower balcony was better since we could see under the treetops there; on the roof trees obscure the view. I had visited the roof earlier in the day. It's an interesting place. There are sky lights above rectangular columns that allow the bathrooms and kitchens in the apartments to have a source of light and fresh air. The gas tanks for each apartment are up there in the corners of the building with copper pipes running all over the place taking natural gas to each separate unit. In addition there are some odd looking small buildings that house the water heaters and also a corrugated sink and water tap. I guess you send your maid up there to wash the sheets and clothes, then she hangs them up on the lines that stretch from little building to little building. 

While it is nice to be in San Miguel, I miss the quiet of Eronga. The nights there are silent with the exception of some animals dashing across the roof occasionally. Here one cannot sleep at all without closing the windows. The traffic noise on Ancha de San Antonio and Sterling Dickenson is incredible both night and day. Only from about 2:00 am till 5:00 am is it relatively quiet. In Eronga I was always awakened by roosters and donkeys braying. Here I'm serenaded to sleep by fireworks and awakened by trucks churning up the hill on Sterling. Needless to say, it does not make for a restful night's sleep.