I have never celebrated Mexican Independence Day in a large city. My experience has been limited to our pocket-sized square in San Patricio.
And Morelia is a great place in which to celebrate. After all, this is the home town (when it was called Valladolid) of both José Morelos and Agustín de Iturbide -- two of the heroes of the war. Even the highly-overrated Miguel Hidalgo was educated here.
As a result of the hand grenade incident in 2008, security in Morelia is tight on celebration days. To avoid delays at security points, I left my camera behind. Relying, instead on the camera in my telephone. With, as you can see, some mixed results.
We arrived in the historical center in mid-afternoon. My plan was to stay for the governor's grito -- an updated version of Miguel Hidalgo's 1810 call to arms. With plenty of time on our hands, we first stopped at Morelia's casa de las artesanias.
It is tempting to call the place a Pottery Barn on steroids. But it is far more than that. All of the pieces are created by craftsmen -- with a wide range of quality and prices.
I have always enjoyed these painted tables.
Even something as practical as a fish platter can be a piece of art. This one is probably better suited to display on a wall than under a grilled dorado.
And if a visitor did not want to buy furniture or pottery, there were plenty of vendors selling future memories of this Independence Day. Including this fellow who was selling mustaches, wigs, and patriotic eyelashes.
We lunched at Restaurante Lu -- taking our time to enjoy the increasing activity.
Young troubadours gathered across the street. Children in ambiguous independence/revolutionary costumes strolled by. Two pairs of nuns headed off in different directions. And plenty of security forces from all of the multifarious Mexican police branches made their presence known.
Including this group of police dogs that looked more like sniffer dogs than crowd controllers. Even though I would not have wanted to tussle with a couple of the rottweilers.
The dogs and the police were there to make us feel a bit more secure. But we were not to forget the people who died and were wounded in 2008. A new plaque on the plaza was recently dedicated to them where they were cut down.
This night was planned as a two-fer. The grito was supposed to occur at 11. And the governor's balcony was ablaze for the event.
Saturday is also the night the cathedral lighting takes place. I was looking forward to that.
If you think that last sentence should be followed by a contrasting "but," you would be correct. Just as the clock was ticking near show time, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse.
Thunder. Lightning. Rain. Lots of rain. That sent the crowd scurrying for cover.
After a bit of consultation (taking into account my lingering head cold), we decided to call it a night.
As I write this, I can hear the fireworks (and what sounds disturbingly like automatic rifle fire) kicking off this 202nd celebration of Mexican independence.
Or is it? Later this month, we will discuss whether mid-September is the proper date to celebrate.
But that is for another day.
Today, it is a good day to simply say: Happy Birthday, Mexico.