Walking out of my friend Carrie’s house, just on the outskirts of downtown, tequila (illegally) in hand, I smelled the aroma of fresh tortillas and roasting meat floating through the air. We were heading downtown to immerse ourselves in the festivities, including the swarm of half-dressed, underage kids from Mexico City (it is the biggest city in the world, you know.)
Turning the corner out of Colonia Guadalupe onto Calzada de La Luz, we were greeted by a group of mounted horses, people dressed in all white with red sashes and enormous torches. Yes torches, though at this point, they were unlit. It was the start of the parade. Tequila had done us right, leading us to just the right moment - the re-enactment of Miguel Hidalgo’s revolution march, otherwise known as El Grito (The Liberty Yell.)
They lit the ceremonial cloth wrapped sticks and chanted, led by a man posing as Miguel Hidalgo, “Viva Mexico!” Many streets were closed and we followed their flickering lights all the way down to the Jardin, our town square, where enormous sculptures made of fireworks towered above us looking like carnival pinwheels. The Parrochia, the massive cathedral and un-missable icon of San Miguel, was lit up like a Christmas tree. Just before crossing into what is officially centro, the police kindly asked me if I could finish my plastic cup of tequila before entering (significantly nicer than TSA agent in the airport, I might add.)
So I did. Encircling the town square, festive items like flags, tri-colored sombreros, horns and tee-shirts sat alongside the regular vending stalls’ gum and soda. Nearly everyone had on red, white and green, and many more had flags painted on their faces. Fireworks ensued, and we stood shoulder to shoulder with our paisanos (countrymen), as the brilliant light exploded above us, banners of Miguel Hidalgo sparkling in its reflection.
In honor of revolution, I raise my caballito to liberty, to Mexico and to tequila.