Saturday, September 30, 2017

the eye of the storm

"But, you don't have any seasons down there? How do you know if you are alive without surviving a winter?"

It was my friend Rod in Portland. He has never understood my decision to move to Mexico. So, he pulled the seasons card.

But he was wrong. We do have seasons in our little tourist village by the sea. And I do not mean the three seasons of hot, hotter still, and so hot you might as well live in the Congo.

True, the three hots do exist. But the more obvious seasonal indicator is the ebb and flow of tourists visiting our lovely Eden -- complete with serpents and other things that go bump in the night.

The calendar does not help a lot. But we can use months as reference points.

We are now just coming out of the tourist doldrums of August and September. Why don't we start there?

These two months tend to be the most difficult for businesses that rely on the tourist trade. Mexicans visit on the weekends, but not in large groups. And there are some northerners here in August visiting their Mexican relatives.  There is enough English spoken on the Barra malecon that it is possible to believe you are in Santa Monica. By the start of September, that stream dries up.

In September, the beaches are almost deserted. As you can see in the photograph.

October starts a different cycle. The northerners (mainly Canadians) start arriving for long-term stays. The omnipresence of Canadian Thanksgiving dinners on 9 October is the official kickoff of the northern season. It will run until about March or so with its high point of six weeks that span January and February.

There are two large surges of Mexican tourism that coincide with the northern visitors. The first is approximately two weeks around Christmas when Mexico puts down its tools and rests -- with almost endless fiestas. Some vacationers are clever enough to combine their Christmas vacation with the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico's patron saint) on 10 December.

San Patricio has its own patron saint. Coincidentally enough, San Patricio. Or, Saint Patrick -- for you Irish. His feast day is 17 March, and it is wildly celebrated for well over a week, even though it falls within Lent.

Speaking of Lent, Mexico's big holiday is semana santa -- what we northerners would call Easter week and was once a school holiday, now supplanted by the soulless spring break.

The week before Easter and the week after bring the largest groups of Mexican tourists to our area. The beach seems to be the place to be. Traditionally, the tourists have come by bus. But, more and more, middle class Mexican families arrive in their SUVs with their 2.1 children. And, often, a large dog. All wearing designer clothes. Well, except for the dog.

Most northerners have pulled up stakes by the time semana santa arrives. And once the Easter festivities are over, the town slips into a bit of tourist hibernation. Weekends are busy. But weekdays are slower.

Until the arrival of summer vacation. About six weeks in June and July. Once again, the beaches are filled with Mexican families. And, unlike up north, young people seem to enjoy spending vacations with their full extended clan. Though, smart phones are whittling away at that dynamic.

Then comes August, and the cycle repeats itself.

Mexicans and expatriates who live here full time have their favorite parts of the tourist cycle. I like them all. It is almost like watching a kaleidoscope of humanity. Each month -- each week -- each day -- is different in its own way.

So, no Doug, we may not have winters here, but our seasons are every bit as interesting as watching the leaves change colors in the park blocks of Portland in September.

Maybe more so.

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