Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A day to remember

Today is a very special day for anyone looking for an excuse to drink margaritas, eat chips and salsa, and give thanks for the Swine Flu "epidemic." Today is Cinco de Mayo, which to those unilingualists out there means, "The day after the fourth of May." With more independence day celebrations than Zsa Zsa Gabor, today Mexico has reason to raise their blue-cloth masks high into the contanimated air and celebrate their pride and heritage. Although today certainly is no "diez y seis de Septiembre" (translated as "a week and three days prior to September 26th"), which is the Mexican National holiday commemorating their official independence from Spain, it does signify the huge victory of the small Mexican town of Puebla's victor against a much larger, better equipped, well-dressed legion of French soldiers smoking fancy cigarrettes. It's essentially their "Alamo," except they actually won (only to lose later, whereas we lost, only to win later.)

The day is still of significance in parts of Mexico, including Mexico City, which, ironically, is where the French eventually won the war and placed French Emporer Maximilian I on the Mexican throne. Rather than celebrate their defeat, enthusiasts celebrate their neighbor's victory by dressing up in hot polyester uniforms and reinacting the entire Puebla battle under the smoggy air around them which simulates rifle smoke.

Just up the road in Seguin, Texas, the town named after the Spanish General responsible for inspiring his Mexican troops that day back in 1862 to "wake up and fight (translated)" the kids who are home due to the Swine Flu are likely celebrating the day out in their yards flogging pinatas made to look like pigs and French Legionnaires.

In St. Paul Minnesota (see left), thousands of miles from Puebla, Mexico, little ninos and ninas are marching through the streets, ya know, wearing sombreritos (little sombreros) with what appears to be their hands handcuffed behind their backs doing folclorico dances.

Even farther north, across the other border (where they speak French) in Vancouver, they are celebrating Cinco de Mayo (and the French defeat?) via a skydiving exhibition. Apparently, the skydivers dress up as their favorite candy treat and jump out of a plane decorated as a pinata. Upon landing safely on the ground, the onlookers storm them and shred their costumes to pieces! For real! I'm not making this up.

In Portland, Oregon, more than 300,000 people attend a festival dedicated to this day. During the festival, people of Mexican heritage sell their crafts and wares while continuous Mariachi music plays loudly in the background while attendees stumble around drunk on Mexican beer trying to sing along to the Mariachi music with slurred lyrics in a language that is NOT Spanish. A similar spectator event is held at Civic Park in Denver, Colorado that also includes a green-chili cook-off and a holding facility play area for kids.

Even the British get in on the celebration in the Cayman Islands. At the local Hard Rock Cafe, you can drink enough discounted Corona beer until you get the courage to enter in their "Cinco de Mayo Air Guitar competition extravaganza!" Aside from the discounted imported Mexican beer and the day on the calendar, the event has nothing to do with Mexico, although you DO get
extra points in the competition if you throw in Air trumpet while wearing a giant black mustache and hoot a couple of "Aye, aye, ayes"

Last year's winner celebrating Hendrix style

As for me, I think I'll celebrate the day myself in a more subdued, yet honorable and flavorful way: Mexican food and a Negra Modelo(s) for lunch, followed by a looooong siesta. Thank you General Seguin and Swine Flu for making it all possible.

May everyone's tacos and enchildas of today not be the hearburn and gastroenteritis of tomorrow.

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