Wednesday, September 16, 2015

XXXVII. El Grito

The Cry

It's raining in the plaza. I'm waiting for El Grito.
In Mexico  El Grito means “The Cry” or “The Shout” and it refers to Miguel Hidalgo’s call to arms against the country’s Spanish overlords delivered over 200 years ago on the night of September 15th. Every year on that date, at precisely 11PM, in the plazas of ciudades y pueblos all over the country, El Grito is repeated for all the people to hear again. Only trouble: no one knows for sure exactly what Hidalgo said. 

One thing is for sure, though, at least nowadays, El Grito, spoken by some politician or luminary, always concludes with, “Viva Mexico!” loudly shouted three times. We two gringos—my wife and I—listened pretty much uncomprehendingly last night to El Grito until we recognized those words. They were enthusiastically repeated by the folks crowded in our block-away plaza. Over and over again. Followed by fireworks, of course—at closing in on midnight. Thanks to the way cranked-up amps, it was stirring to hear even from our bed.

I had planned to be at the plaza then in person; left a little after nine to get a good seat. Found one, and then a much better one when some abuelas booked up and left. I figured they had gotten tired of waiting, listening to the interminable patter of MCs. But it was a different kind of patter that had them walking quickly to stand under the nearest awning. And it wasn’t long before that promise was proven by a downpour. We’re talking serious solid rain, here, folks. I ducked under a tree and thought myself lucky to be out of the worst of it.

Long story short: rather than get wetter and wetter as the deluge continued for who knows how long, after about fifteen minutes I opted to make a quick run home, from overhang to doorway, trying to keep out of the rapidly flooding street. Striped off my clothes. Laughing wife. Hot shower. The downpour ended half an hour later.

The shindig at the plaza though continued until 4AM. The huddled masses escaping the rain under restaurant awnings and vendors' umbrellas returned to claim their seats. Back home, after El Grito, we closed our windows, doors, and turned up the white noise. Even so—not much sleep.

Almost too much cuteness.
By 8AM this morning, the policia cars were running up and down our street loudspeakering and blatting their siren. Accompanied, for show, by the town’s one tow truck they were exhorting all coche owners to remove their vehicle from the Dia de Independencia parade's designated route. About 10AM the parade began, and it consisted almost solely of all our village’s schoolchildren, in uniform. I guess the idea is that almost everyone else is either just sleeping, sleeping it off, still hungover, or still drinking.

At least the charros we saw lounging on their horses when we went to the plaza for lunch today were still imbibing, as were a couple of cronies on benches. One fellow was sprawled asleep behind last night’s stage. 

By tonight, though, things are hopping again in the plaza. It’s 9:30 now—early. Our neighbor says the noise won’t be as late or as loud as last night. It's at least the same volume, though, now. No telling how late it’ll last. About time for that white noise again.

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