Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mexican-American Graffiti

                                                Mexican-American Graffiti
            I never know. I never know what each day might bring. I think I do. I’m always wrong. Back when my children were youngsters, I used to pray, literally pray, for a boring day, just one boring day, please. At the same time, if one of my youngsters dared mouth, “I’m bored,” invariably I got a gleam in my eye and whipped out a list of positive motivational activities, ie, jobs to do. Interestingly, following the initial attempt, my children were never bored. I never said life is fair.

            My life here is simple. Quiet. Reclusive. Serene.

Until last week—Semano Santos—Holy Week. Last year I was in Montana for Holy Week. So I didn’t know that seemingly half the mountain villages of Mexico emptied out, packed into buses and cars with holiday gear and headed to the beaches of Mazatlan. Sure, people “said”. People said the city of 800,000 swelled and overflowed with an additional 400,000. People said there was not a hotel room to be found. People said every family home burst at the seams with out-of-town relatives.

Looking out my back door, I first noticed a definite increase in foot traffic, a virtual parade of families and groups, laden with towels, bags of food, ice chests, beach chairs and umbrellas.
Cars streamed by with roof-top carriers packed and strapped, kids and dogs hanging out the windows.

Main corridors were turned into one-way streets in an effort to ease congestion. Every corner had policemen directing traffic and helping tourists. Tour buses pulled to the curbs and disgorged tired, hungry, excited, cranky, singing passengers. Our peaceful beaches resembled pictures of the French Riviera.

And if sight isn’t enough to let me know whatever people said is true, all I had to do was close my eyes and listen. Music. Song. Laughter. Shouting. Joking. Making happy. All at full volume. All day and all night. Such energy is infectious. I caught a strong case of excitement that lasted the week. I couldn’t help it. I felt good and happy and full. And I’m a bystander, on the periphery.

Remember when we were teens in school and someone would get their father’s car for the night. We’d pool our pennies for a few cents worth of gas in the tank so Dad wouldn’t know we were driving around when we were supposed to be at Church Group. And we’d all pile in, sitting on each other’s laps, crammed to the doors, radio playing country music and cruise up and down Main Street, all four or six or eight or ten blocks. Back and forth, up and down, for an hour or two until we had to get home before curfew.

It’s the same thing here—Mexican-American Graffiti. The cars are not Dad’s. Dune buggies to souped-up hot rods; vintage restorations to cars with show-room shine. Windows are down, music of all kinds, most of it, surprisingly, classical Mexican torch songs, blares into the night. Youth laugh and sing along and shout their exuberance into the night, all night until the break of dawn. Because they are having so much fun, I have to smile and it is okay that I don’t sleep.

Last Saturday Arturo, my physical therapist knocked on my door to ask if he could park out front while his family went to the beach. So I met Jasmine, his wife and we talked about special dishes to cook, Arturo’s mother, who taught Jasmine how to cook the specials, his father, the in-laws, siblings, nieces and nephews. With ingenuity they crammed three cars into spaces for two, with one bumped up onto my patio. New friends.

Come Monday morning, sand crusted beach towels and bathing suits were slung over hotel balconies, waiting to be stuffed damp into suitcases. Mom and Dad, cranky, loaded trunks and car-top carriers. Sun-burned children with dogs, looking morose and forlorn, not wanting to leave the beaches for home and back to school, begged for one more swim. Reluctant lines of passengers boarded tour buses. Streets resumed two-way traffic.

I had just enough time to store up two nights of sleep before the motorcycle groups va-roomed into the city. Today marks the beginning of another annual event, Moto Week. Five days of motorcycles; clubs and gangs, biker babes and all. People “said” thousands of bikes from all over Mexico, South, Central and North American countries, converge in Mazatlan. A different excitement, a different noisy energy fills the air, crowds the beaches. In days we shift from glimpses of American Graffiti to Sturgis, South Dakota, ala twenty years ago, all in my back yard.

Next week back to normal. Simple. Quiet. Reclusive. Serene.

Boring? Hasn’t happened yet!

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

April 9, 2015

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