Now what did I say about sod's law saving up something for me? I knew it was going to be big when I both managed to get back from the supermarket with no problems, and then yesterday I travelled right across Monterrey to get to Becky's flat and I got on the right bus, and off at the right stop. Sod's law rubbed it's hands with glee and saved up something big.
We dressed up rather fetchingly in green, red and white in celebration of our adopted country, even went as far as face paint, hair ribbon and glorious glorious moustaches, which we twiddled and shaped, and left, ultimately, at home. I think that was a good move, since the majority of Mexicans had left behind their green, red and white costumes. Most people had managed to bring their umbrellas and little trumpety things, and lots of people in front of us had generously worn their sombreros.
After standing on the verge of an enormous road for exactly the amount of time it took for me to give up hope and my shoes to become slimey in the rain, we successfully hailed a taxi. We headed for the Macroplaza. The centre had been pedestrianised and was being policed by men in lovely bright yellow raincoats. Very Paddington. Want one. What had previously been an underpass was taken over by stalls selling food, flags, trumpets, face paint. It was a sea of people, all shouting, tooting and eerily lit in yellow. Very odd. Since it was only about 10.15, and it was still spitting with rain (or estaba chispeando, as I learnt in class today - el chipi chipi), we went to find a bar. This was more difficult than it might seem on Independence Day in Mexico - not dressed or desiring an expensive, exclusive club. We ducked into the nearest place with seats and shelter and beer. My slimey shoes were breaking for freedom, so we were moving rather slowly.
It was a karaoke bar, a place to wait until we went back to the plaza for el grito, what the whole celebrations centre on. The shout, by the governor of each place, similtaneously throughout Mexico, of ¡Viva! ¡Viva this! ¡Viva that! and finally and of course ¡Viva Mexico! We were waiting until just before 12 to brave the rain and go out to see a couple of thousand people shout all together, fireworks, celebrations etc etc. I don't normally go in for large public celebrations, and I should have clocked the New Year´s Eve ambiance of the evening, but I thought that I'd probably never be in Mexico for Independence Day again, so I might as go with it. Plus Becky was very excited, and that was rather infectious.
Then sod's law kicked in. Everyone I've spoken to, ditto Becky, had said midnight was the big time. It's definitely the logical time, since the Día de Independencía was actually Sunday, the day after - same as celebrating New Year at midnight on New Year's Eve. However, it was with a growing sense of concern, horror and overwhelming disbelief that we watched the television screens come on. The cameras followed the official through a palace and out onto the balcony, the balcony that was five mintues from the strange little karaoke bar where we were sitting. The governor went to the balcony and el grito commenced. ¡Viva! everybody shouted. At 11pm. Not midnight. How ridiculous is that? We spent the height of celebrations, dressed up and sat in a bar 5 minutes from actually seeing and hearing el grito in action. Sod's Law indeed.
The rest of the evening was still good fun. A German girl called Julia has been here for 2 weeks and is staying with a religious family, but no run of the mill Catholic family. We're not quite sure what, but they don't smoke, they don't drink and she's obviously going stir crazy-I met her at a fiesta we had instead of spanish class. Her first question to me was 'Do you like going out?´.
She spent the first half of the celebrations at a party with no drinks and no music, and the second half, they spent at the macroplaza, so she escaped to find Becky, me and a large bottle of beer. She had been given a chaparone called Estéban, who very sweetly followed us around and asked in utter disbelief if me and Becky were out alone. We went to a chilled out place and ended up listening to a man with a guitar singing lovelily songs that the audience knew all the words to. Was good.