Mexican life

Let the good times roll!

carnival
Well, not so much in this photo, taken early today, but just you wait!

IT’S MARDI GRAS weekend or, as it’s called in my hardscrabble barrio, el Carnaval.

I’m an old hand at Carnival, Mardi Gras, whatever you want to call it, due to living in New Orleans for 18 years. You want Carnival, go to New Orleans. There is nowhere else like it, even in Rio where, I’ve been told by a relative who went there, the hoopla is confined to a few square blocks. In New Orleans, it’s a citywide riot.

I would love to experience a New Orleans Mardi Gras one more time, but I doubt that will happen, so I’m left with drunken memories.

Likely would be less fun sober anyway, eh?

Here on the mountaintop, no neighborhood embraces Carnaval more enthusiastically than my hardscrabble barrio. Lucky me.

The banners over streets went up yesterday. The first bone-rattling concert will take place tonight. Then another tomorrow night. Then another Monday night. Then another Tuesday night. And at least once that I recall there was yet another on Wednesday night, a pure sacrilege.

That’s Ash Wednesday, for crissakes! Get a grip.

But when a Mexican faces a choice between the Virgin Mary, the Vatican and a fiesta, the fiesta will often win out. We do love our parties and the incredible racket that goes with them.

car
Mardi Gras 1966 in New Orleans with my first wife who was pregnant. I was 21, and she had just turned 20.

Here at the Hacienda we will sleep with silicone earplugs nightly through Tuesday, perhaps even Wednesday if they cannot apply the brakes.

Why don’t we leave town till Wednesday? I stupidly accepted a reservation at our Downtown Casita months ago before realizing the significance of the dates. They arrive Sunday. We’re trapped. I will not make that mistake next year.

Were I still a drinking man, perhaps I would enjoy the festivities, but I’m not, so I don’t. Feel my pain.

28 thoughts on “Let the good times roll!

  1. Love your header photo! Take lots of photos of the event, and report back here! Also, besides the music, there are the fireworks, right? … those cannon-like-sounding firecrackers that make one think the war of wars has begun.

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    1. Angeline: Alas, I will not be taking lots of photos of the event, not even one. This one is it. I can hardly venture out our front gate during party times here, anytime when the locals are boozing. Why? Because everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, becomes the Gringo’s best buddy. I get lots of slurred Spanglish from swaying hombres. I become a magnet for drunks. Well-meaning drunks, but drunks nonetheless. Ain’t fun.

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      1. Thirsty: Yep, always something. I remember an event about a decade back during the administration of President Felipe Calderón who decided to come down hard on narcos, a bad decision. We heard some hollering one afternoon from the sex motel next door. I looked over there from our second-floor terraza and saw a soldier in full battle gear pointing his automatic weapon at some guy. I ducked my head back quick, so don’t know how that wound up. I suspect it did not wind up well for the fellow being pursued. I imagine he was not read his Miranda Rights. And then a couple of years later, we were awakened in the middle of the night by machine-gun fire that went on for about half an hour. My wife was worried a lot, but I just went back to sleep.

        Next morning we discovered the cops and/or military had descended on another narco in another sex motel (with his girlfriend) about a mile down the highway. That narco was also armed, but they got him in the end. Sounded almost like it was next door. Sound carries well in the dead of night.

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  2. I’ve never been to N.O. for Mardi Gras, but was there on St. Patty’s a few years ago. It’s hard to appreciate if you’re not drinking, too much puking in the gutter.

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    1. Creigh: For boozers, New Orleans is heaven on earth. I had a grand time the 18 years I lived there. Unless it’s changed, and I very much doubt it, there is no hour that bars are legally required to close. It’s 24/7. More than once, I stepped out of a watering hole in the French Quarter to see the sun rising.

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  3. I’ve been to NOLA twice, each time for a medical meeting so playtime was only at nighttime. I have to admit it was a bit too much for me to take in, and I was still of the age of enjoying a good party. From the reeking dark alleys to the risqué bars trying to lure partiers in for a view, the French Quarter is a party haven. But the restaurants were outstanding, the best being not the Commander’s Palace but a stand-alone shack offering Po’Boy sandwiches. I can only imagine what your barrio will be like during the upcoming festivities, and I feel for you and the child bride.

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    1. Leisa: For many years of my life, New Orleans and I were blood brothers. We were made for one another. I regretted having to leave in 1984, but I had to due to my employment. It was a sad, sad day. The restaurants are outstanding, from the famous places to the neighborhood joints. You would be hard-pressed to encounter a bad meal. I was surprised, however, on moving to Houston to discover that Houston was even better. While most all the restaurants in New Orleans were above average to superlative, they pretty much served variations of the same thing: New Orleans cuisine. Houston, however, has restaurants from all over the world. It’s not uniformly great, but if you know where to go, you’re better off food-wise in Houston. Who knew?

      As for my barrio here and now, I just drove home from downtown, passing the plaza a block and a half away about 5 p.m. A monster sound stage is up and ready for tonight’s racket, and they’ve got chain-link fence on one side to keep, one imagines, drunks from falling into the street. This will not calm down till next Wednesday … with luck. Woe is me.

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  4. Hey Felipe, Mi Esposa and I would like to experience El Carnaval next year in Patzcuaro. I’d like to book that week in your casita.

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      1. LOL, was just yanking your chain, Felipe. You had said you made a mistake when you failed to check the calendar when you rented the downtown Casita this year. Besides, I have no desire to experience Mardi Gras craziness, no matter where it’s at. Take care!

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  5. I wish you peace during one of the rowdier weekends in Mexico. I experienced it once and never again. I had enough experience with drunks while playing R&R in bars for a dozen years. I drank and smoked a lot back then so it was tolerable, even fun. When you’re in a band you’re everybody’s best friend for a week and then on to the next town. We always had to lecture the bass player not to get involved with a barmaid until at least Friday and never more than one. He was incorrigible.

    Today we rarely stay up past 10 p.m. which I still consider a luxury. Nice photo of you and your first wife. What a lovely couple you made. Good luck getting some sleep during Carnival.

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    1. Ricardo: Praying didn’t do a lick of good. The only positive thing in sight is that now, Monday morning, we have two nights of bone-cracking racket till 3 a.m. behind us and two more ahead. Well, possibly three, but probably not.

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  6. Felipe: Perhaps rural living would be more suitable for you? Close enough to town for driving a short distance but far enough to not hear most of the commotion. We have lived rural for most of our married years for the very reason that you are suffering … well, not to that extent, but wanting a quieter enviro. You would be surprised how a few miles out of town can make.

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      1. I had to laugh at that comment because in some sense, you already are living rurally. But as you note, not rurally enough. So you haven’t taken Ms. Shoes up on her offer? Can’t stay with Tancho? Or your sister-in-law? (Who I nominate to do the check-in and check-out of your casita downtown, so you can have your rent and escape too.

        Saludos,

        Kim G
        Ajijic, Jalisco
        Where we skipped the festivities, and our street was just as quiet (or noisy) as usual.

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        1. Kim: Yes, we are kinda rural due to living on the very outskirts of town. Most of the time it’s okay. Not sure actual rural living would appeal to us, certainly not to my better half. No, had to pass on Ms. Shoe’s kind offer due to having fresh tenants in the Downtown Casita. I don’t like to be away from here while it’s occupied, especially the first few days. Stuff can happen. Can’t stay with Tancho for two reasons. One, he has not invited me and two, I don’t know where he lives. I do know it’s rural, however. Leaving the Downtown Casita in the hands of my sister-in-law is an absolutely laughable notion. I will not go into details here.

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