Study abroad reflections – Experiencing the Mexican Independence Day while studying abroad in Queretaro, Mexico

From API staff member, Kim K.:

While studying abroad, I kept a blog to document my experiences. As it is the Mexican Independence Day today, I figure it would be an opportune time to share my experience from 3 years ago while studying in Queretaro, Mexico! Enjoy:

September, 2007:

This past weekend was the Mexican Independence Day and boy was it an experience! Throughout the entire weekend there were continuous celebrations, fiestas, parades, events, fireworks, etc.!  Basically anything having to do with Mexico and celebrating and it was happening here in Querétaro.

My host parents are wonderful (as I’ve mentioned once or twice before (; ) and spent the last few comidas talking with me about the Mexican Independence Day, it’s history, traditions, celebrations, etc. They are so wonderful, I love Maru y Nacho!

My professors here are excellent as well. Regina, my art history professor, is very into experiential learning, so in the spirit of the Mexican Independence Day, Regina found a way to intertwine our lesson and the holiday with a field trip to watch this absolutely AMAZING parade though the streets of QRO. Photos don’t do justice to what we saw; however…

On Saturday night we walked to the centro – let me just say, there was green, white, and red was everywhere! There were musical groups all around the centro, dancing, parades – even a martial arts presentation!

We ran into some other students from our group as well as some of our Mexican friends in the centro – somewhat of a miracle as there were literally hundreds of people in the streets!

Here’s a picture of me with some friends in the crowded streets:

There were lights everywhere, fireworks, confetti, music, entertainment, etc. The traditional Grito was delivered at 11 and, well, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much sheer enthusiasm from a crowd!

I think the Grito was one of my favorite parts of the whole evening. Why you might ask? Well, during the Grito, I realized how much pride and love Mexicans have for their country, their culture, their country’s history, their heritage, their roots, etc. I’ve never seen anything like it – and perhaps because I’m an outsider looking in, everything seems magnified…however…I don’t believe this is the case. (=

Here’s some video I took of the Grito:

After the Grito was delivered, confetti filled the sky:

It was such an amazing Mexican cultural experience! There was certainly a sense of sensory overload, but como decimos en Mexico: “vale la pena!” (=

After the Grito and music, there was a firework display, right there above the centro plaza!

After the Grito, our Mexican friends invited us to go to a celebration that was happening at one of their family’s homes. (Another thing I find so beautiful about the Mexican culture – our Mexican friends and host families are so inclusive and are always inviting us to join them, whether it’s a fiesta, comida, taking a walk, going grocery shopping, visiting family, etc.).

There was a plethora of sombreros and mustaches at the fiesta! Here’s our friend Carlos with one of the many mustaches I saw that night:

And here I am with my friend Torin with our mustache / sombrero! (=

We had so much fun with our Mexican friends, their friends and family – they are all SO nice and SO welcoming it has been nothing short of amazing, especially as an exchange student. We’re so lucky!

I ended up getting home around 5 am which I later found out from my host parents is relatively early for the night after the Independence Day. It was actually a bit humorous – I was telling them the next day at comida that I have never celebrated an independence day that late / early before and they said: we thought you’d be out later, here in Mexico we celebrate until the next morning! (=

They told me that as they were leaving for the store the next morning, their neighbor was just getting home from a party and that I’d just have to come back the next year to celebrate again. I might just have to take them up on that offer…

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