San Blas, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
We arrived in San Blas last evening. It was still daylight and the village of San Blas was decorated for the Mexican bicentennial. The 200 hundredth anniversary of independence from Spain. Those plastic streamers of colorful triangle flags, like hang at car dealerships to draw attention, were strung overhead everywhere. Banners announcing the celebration tonight. Many more people than usually in town, the crowd was as dense as at a county fair. San Blas's population is only about 6000 people, but the 'official' count includes many surrounding villages and the numbers, depending on where you find your info can be from 12,500 to 25,000. Even Santo San Blas (San Blas Day) last February didn't draw such a large crowd as was present last evening.
Unfortunately, our camera batteries were all spent so no pictures. Everyone was dressed in their 'going to town clothes'. Ladies in pretty dresses and skirts with good shoes. Teen girls in their tight jeans and high-heels. The men all seem to dress the same no matter the occasion but even amongst the men, nicer shirts were evident. Small girls wearing traditional white skirt and peasant blouses decorated with the colors of the Mexican flag, green and red .. were seen everywhere.
More than a few people of all ages carried or wore something festive. Waving Mexican flags, some with the “flag pole” stick made of long glow-sticks in Mexican colors. One little girl about age 3 waved and waved hers, enjoying the colors in the night atmosphere as she, held tightly by the hand, followed her mother, weaving through the crowded square. Several teen boys seen here and there had purchased cheap versions of traditional, comically huge Mexican sombreros. Nearly every child and teen was carrying a plastic bag with a goodly supply of what looked to me like grey sticks. They would take one out, drop it to the ground and squash it with their shoe which would set off a little stream of firecracker pops. The stick would be squashed again and again until every possible pop had been enjoyed. Giggles and smiles everywhere. Along one side of the square, a row of perhaps a dozen foosball tables had been set up. Children were playing the table soccer game. Other children were watching and cheering the players, awaiting their turns to play. Older women sat in their perfectly coiffed hair and freshly applied lipstick, fanning their faces with handkerchiefs, cooling relief from the heat.
Many kinds of food treats were offered for sale. Few sweets but a grand variety of tasty snacks. Gayle and I chose corn on the cob, roasted over an open fire. The seller, a pretty woman, offered lime and lemon halves to rub on it, salt to sprinkle and a thick hot sauce to smear it with. I used a bit of lemon. Gayle chose lime, salt AND the sauce. The corn had been well cooked and was satisfyingly chewy. Gayle and I both commented on how good it tasted. I was even surprised to learn I liked it chewy. The sauce turned out to be hot enough to sting your lips. Not 'oh my gosh' hot, but hot enough that someone not expecting the heat would decide to wipe the sauce off or even toss the corn! Gayle kept eating, in spite of the heat, because the flavor was so tasty: exactly right for corn and exactly right for the celebration!
The town square was lined with stalls selling mementos: flags, hats, toys, the firecracker sticks, trinkets, jewelry, lollypops, bags of crunchy snacks and Modelo beer. The town's large stage had been set up and when we arrived a twelve piece band was playing. 6 violins, 3 guitars and two trumpets plus a singer. All dressed in the style of mariachi, deep burnish orange/brown with bright gold braided trim, even matching shiny, shiny brown shoes. After their set, next came a group of local teen boys and girls dancing in traditional costume. We watched awhile before deciding to look around just a bit more before walking the 2 short blocks back to our little rental house. The festivities were advertised to last until midnight and would end with a fabulous fireworks display. By midnight, we'd been asleep for hours.
Our little house! When Alex and I traveled to Mexico for a 7 day visit at the end of this last summer, I rented us a house. We'd been looking for something right in town but most homes designed for tourists rent for $350 to $450 a month. We wanted something about $100 to $150 .. which is still more than the $50-$80 that Mexicans pay. I found us a little 2 bedroom, with a gated front yard and a good-sized backyard. It was rough, I warned Gayle. A American surfer buddy had been living here and apparently hadn't cleaned it in awhile since he was headed back to California. I knew it needed work but........
I am not sure what I was expecting. Fortunately the place doesn't need to be trashed out. Unfortunately, the dirt is so thick, the white plastic table looks tan. The warm green floor tiles look light grey. The shower has at least an inch of brown sand in it hiding the color of the bright blue shower tiles. Our first day here will be one of cleaning! We salvaged a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a handle from the corner where people place their garbage for pickup. I went to the marketplace early morning to pick up rubber gloves, bleach, sponges, scrubbies and scrapers. We're excited about the house itself, though. With a good cleaning and new paint on the walls, it will be as lovely as any renting for way more than we're paying.
Lucky, however, is that the previous tenant (Joe, a surfer buddy, someone we'd met our first trip here in January ) left two bed frames which are in good condition and one mattress which is gratefully clean. We put our 3" 'space foam' mattress topper on it, had clean sheets packed at the back of the truck and slept under a water cooler, but it was refreshing! (Water cooler--That would be an ancient version of air conditioner, before air conditioners were invented.) We made coffee this morning. Bought a small packet of oatmeal cookies last evening to eat with our coffee and life is looking comfortable already.
Ozzie the cat is with us. He actually walked around and seemed to look at us like 'You've got to be kidding? Here? You expect me to sleep HERE?" .. But with his litter box, his food and water dishes and his favorite scratching toy unpacked, he settled in and slept like a contented kitten.
We've arrived. We're busy. We're happy.
Miss you! Come visit us! A plane ticket to Puerto Vallarta and we'll pick you up, give you a clean comfortable place to sleep and feed you while you're here. It will be your cheapest vacation ever. We love visitors! You will leave a surfer!