Happy Benito Day.
Not the Italian Il Duce whose apparent lovechild is now running Venezuela.
The Benito known to some as the Lincoln of Mexico: Benito Juarez.
His birthday is actually the 21st of March. But the Mexican government decided that the American Congress had a good idea in moving Washington's Birthday to accommodate the desire of every patriot to celebrate the birth of dead presidents with three-day weekends.
So, this weekend, over a week early, we celebrated the birthday of the only president Mexico deigns to so honor. Unfortunately, for good reason.
Our house celebrated Juarez's birth by harvesting water hyacinth. My land lady, a mutual friend, and I slogged into the mud with our grappling hooks and started tossing more of the evil weed onto the laguna bank. When it dries, we will burn it.
Several women rode by on their bicycles. Each applauding our almost Herculean efforts. Certainly the Augean stables could not have been as difficult to clean out.
And then along came two men. They stopped. Looked at what we had done and what was still left to do. One guy commended: "It looks as futile as spaying dogs."
My landlady is one of the leading lights in the neutering-spaying project in our village. She calmly asked: "How long have you been coming to Melaque?"
"Ten years," said he.
"And you haven't noticed any difference in the dog population in the last 10 years?"
"Nope. Still too many of them."
At this point, I knew we were dealing with a founding member of the misanthrope society.
I tossed out: "Or it could just be the result of presbycusis." Presbycusis being the inevitable loss of hearing as we age.
He responded: "What was that?"
"I thought so."
Of course, his problem was not that he could not hear. He simply could not appreciate how things can change for the better. And it was his judgment we were really questioning.
I imagine that is exactly how Benito Juarez felt. He thought he had some good ideas, but his opponents could not see it. As a result, he died a very unhappy man.
As a consolation prize, we celebrate his birthday.