New Year’s, Too (40)

I don’t remember the noise of New Year’s Eve in Ajijic. But after October with the steady rotation of the statue of Guadalupe from church to church, rockets marking the progression every morning at 5am, and the two weeks of our saint’s festival, culminating in whole days of almost ceaseless explosions–not to mention having lived through the rainy season with the cascading thunder (!)–I am betting New Year’s Eve seemed quiet there in comparison.

Cobblestone street in Ajijic

I do remember walking through the village on New Year’s Day, spying the evidence of street fires in every neighborhood. Everything was rather impressively cleaned up, no trash or half-burned logs or even big ashes left in the road from the last embers. But you could see the charcoal remains dusting the cobblestones every block or two, and you could feel the quiet, everyone asleep after the big night. Later I learned from Ana they would make tamales and have a fire in front of their own house on Zapata. They would stay up all night, eating and drinking and enjoying each other, the family, the neighbors, nearby friends. Staying up all night seemed to be part of the tradition, though I didn’t ask why. One truly greets the new year that way, I am thinking, more than only marking midnight.

Now every year I picture them together in the street on New Year’s Eve, the firelight dancing on brown faces, dark shining hair. I imagine Rodolfo has made his pipián, and there is a big metal pot filled with homemade tamales, and the corn husk wrappers pile up beside it as the night moves toward the dawn. I can almost taste the masa, can almost hear them singing. Happy new year, everyone.

Felíz Año Nuevo (39)

crossroads with corner market

In Todos Santos, I could see the bonfire in the dirt crossroads beside the corner market two doors down from La Casa Azul. Rockets bombarded the last night of the year, and the flash of firecrackers fell across the ceiling and the tall walls in my second story bedroom.

window and light on the tall walls

I was supposed to go to Iris’s for the evening celebration. I’d imagined driving over before dark, but she called me from a restaurant downtown where they had all ended up to let me know they wouldn’t be home until later. It took what wind was left in me, buffeted as I was from the neighborhood fiesta. I imagined trying to squeeze my red Jetta past all the other fires in the streets between my center of the old village and Iris’s home in el otro lado, fireworks arcing across my car, fingers gripping white on the steering wheel. I chickened out, hunkered down at home with the cats while the wild party crashed around our barrio. Felíz año nuevo.