5 of May Feliz Cinco de Mayo! On this historic Mexican holiday, we look to the past and remember the great Mexican victory won over the French (who were angry because Mexico didn’t pay their bills.) On this day, 1862, a band of ragtag natives lead by Ignacio Zaragoza and armed with meager artillery valiantly defended their land with a spirit that has enraptured the world for centuries, with its loyalty to the land and Mexican national pride, at the Battle of Puebla. *For those of you non-Mexicans that are still confused, I hope that this year you won’t raise your Tecates and Coronas and drink to the Independence of Mexico (this seems to be a common American misconception). Independence Day is the 16th of September. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated because Mexicans love to celebrate, and the Battle of Puebla seemed to them like a good enough excuse to create a national holiday and party without remorse. **Not really. Yesterday, after another frigid morning spent in the ridiculously AC’d church, the Jackson/Schisler clan sped off to Muyil, the natural, two hour long lazy river right outside of Tulum. The weather was in a foreboding fit, hurling curses of angry tears all the way through our beer ‘n sandwich stop until we reached the Muyil turnoff, a discreet dirt road choked by the jungle (typical). Unfortunately the rains would not relent, and our decision to try Muyil another day was solidified when the workers at the dock refused to lower their price of 450 pesos a head, despite the terrible weather and large group. The thirteen of us times the wage they expected for each individual topped 5,000 pesos. So in the end, the four six packs of Mexican beer, assorted whiskeys, and sandwich bingeing didn’t end up fulfilling the role we had intended. (Which was us, roped and floating together in the natural current of the Muyil river with cold drinks in hand and floatie coolers trailing behind- also attached to the rope.) This was a lesson in the unreliability that comes with the free spirit of Mexico and its inhabitants. Although a sudden rainstorm is a natural occurrence that doesn’t base itself on human affairs, the weeks preceding the one day we needed the sun were completely clear, as was this lovely Cinco de Mayo day, post-Muyil attempt. Maybe the rains pouring on that ONE particular day was just a coincidence, but you never know. What I love most about my Mexico is this free spirit, utterly unconcerned with the rat races of its close neighbor, the US, or anything else frankly, as Mexico’s world runs on its own clock. Many expats call this blithe disposition “island time”, even though Mexico obviously isn’t an island. The term is handed to places that basically run as if it had no worries (’bout a thinggg). An example is the fact that if you tell a Mexican to show up for a dinner party at your house at six o’clock, they won’t show up until 8:30, they’ll have a “coupla friends” in tow (all their cousins), and they won’t leave until the entire party has succeeded in downing every liquor in your cabinet and you, the host, have assuredly had a fantastic time (gaged on how much you have relaxed from your stick-up-the-butt uptightness and how you no longer care/notice the material damages occurring to your antique furniture). By then, it will typically be around 3 am, and either the dinner party ends because everyone is passed out, or because you, the host, didn’t have enough food/drink. As we look back in time to the Battle of Puebla, this free spirit is equally as apparent, strong, and carefree. How did this outlook on life come to be? The Mexicans have been pushed around and trodden on all through history, but they retained a soul unparalleled by any other culture. They are the underdogs, the ragtag army thrown together to defend the Puebla, the men and women toiling day-long, and yet, they come out the far end victorious. And all through the Mexico’s turmoils, although at times they may have been at fault as with the French, I find myself rooting for them solely because of their uncontainable, inextinguishable spirit. A spirit that bursts with airy happiness and meets challenges head-on with a spry sense of humor, never taking itself too seriously and genuine in every aspect. I have traveled many places in my fifteen years, and maybe it has been living in Mexico that finally made their strong-willed humility so visible to me, but there is no other place I have been that I find the ingrained soul of a culture so aligned with the soul of the land. When I speak of Mexico, I speak of the lines in the coarse hands of the Mayan women, of the parched, strangled roads, of the pueblos, cities, art, literature, and every creature born in the heart of the world. FelizCinco de Mayo mi Mexico, te amo mas que el pais de mi nacimiento.