Friday, January 6, 2017

First light of the New Year

Fireworks at midnight in centro
Mexico really knows how to party.  The festivities for celebrating the arrival of the New Year in Mexico begin late in the evening on December 31st, and romp on into the first hours of daylight. 

Tony Garcia photo - Dancing the night away

We have several times in the past nine years joined the party in centro on Isla Mujeres for the fireworks and the beginning of the dancing. We usually give up around two in the morning, leaving our reserved table and chairs for hardier friends to use.  A few times we have noticed the three and four-year-olds still dancing with their siblings and parents as we slink off to our beds. You have to be born into this culture to have kind of stamina!

New Year's Eve celebrations - Jimmy Picuri photo
This year we didn’t make the trek to centro, instead we celebrated quietly, just the two of us and our little mutt, Sparky, with a toast to the New Year and a few tasty snacks.  We were in bed well before midnight. When the booming explosions started I woke up briefly, thought about climbing to our rooftop to watch, then turned over and mumbled Happy New Year to my slumbering hubby. Maybe next year.

Waking at o-dark-hundred at six in the morning, Sparky and I decided to leave Lawrie snoozing and join the group that gathers to welcome ‘first light’ at the southern end of the island – the very first place in Mexico for the sun to strike.  I had an ulterior motive.  The event is featured as the opening scene in my second novel, Trouble Isla, but I had never actually dragged myself out of bed in time to participate.

Road blocked off at Punta Sur - no more room for vehicles
The pooch and I bundled into the golf cart and set off driving south to Punta Sur.  Passing through the colonias I waved at neighbours who were still happily partying in courtyards or spilling over into the roadways.  Loud music, laughter, the clink of glasses and the occasional small explosion from handheld rockets.

The farther south I drove, the more traffic joined the procession. Pickup trucks with mattresses laid in the back were piled with sleepy children. Motos with two and three laughing celebrants whizzed past. Groups of young men and women waved and greeted me with Feliz Año Nuevo as they trundled past, crammed six, seven or eight to a golf cart.  Almost everyone was still dressed in their party finery, vastly different from my jeans, sweater and athletic shoes. 

El Presidente Juan Carillo and his wife Pao Orrico first sunrise
Passing the landfill site I saw the flashing red and blue emergency lights of two police cars. Thinking I had come across an accident I fervently hoped no one was seriously injured. As it turned out, the police were controlling the traffic for a side road, where a large group complete with tents and chairs had set up along the edge of the cliffs, facing south. This is new. It could have been the new Presidente Juan Carrillo Jr. and his wife Pao Orrico with a large group of friends, or it could have been a church gathering. It was difficult to know with the quick glance I had before the police officer waved me on.

Arriving at the turnoff road to Punta Sur, I was surprised to see a police roadblock. The officer waved me through then replaced the traffic cones behind me.  Everyone arriving after me had to park along the main route, cluttering up both sides of the road. Sparky and I parked the golf cart and began to walk the block and a half towards the large palapa near the entrance to the park. There were cars, trucks, golf carts, motos, people, pets, and more people. An enterprising food vendor had set up near the palapa.  Music blasted over the crowd from a nearby DJ. Every available space was crowded with bodies; the tops of the stone walls, the seats in the seldom-used amphitheater, the gardens, and the plaza. People arrived with coolers of adult beverages. A few carried open bottles of champagne.

First light at Punta Sur January 1st 2017
I edged my way through the throng, heading towards a space where I might be able to snap a few photos and met up with two friends, Harriet and Richard Lowe, who have been making the ‘first light’ trek for a number of years. They were astounded at the number of people. In years past the small group was a combination of party-goes and sleepy early-risers, still wearing their pajamas.

Sparky and I hung around until the sky began to lighten with ‘first light’ and then I took a serious look at the number of vehicles parked in the area and decided it was time to go.  

We arrived back at our casa just as the sun was clearing the horizon. I brewed our morning coffee, then headed upstairs with two steaming cups of liquid brain-food to share with my sweetie. It’s a pretty great way to start the New Year.

Happy 2017, Feliz año nuevo

Lawrie & Lynda
and Sparky

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