Feliz Navidad...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Thursday, December 21, 2006

It speaks volumes about one's childhood when the words 'feliz navidad' prompt Boney M's Christmas Album in one's mind.  Volumes.  As I wander across Mexico City's magnificent Zocalo, the spiritual centre of both ancient and modern Mexico, beyond the fluorescent glow of the giant christmas treee and star, the Spanish christmas greeting is emblazoned across the perimeter of the grand square in truly christmassy yellow, green and red lights, the soundtrack to this scene playing in my mind "I wanna wish you a merry christmas from the bottom of my heart...".  For a moment, I am transported to somewhere in the South West of australia, driving in an ageing Holden of some description, the music alternating between the 3 B's:  Boney M, the Bee Gees and Billy Joel.  The moment is short-lived however, as I'm thrust back into reality just in time to avoid a spinning toy aeroplane and a menacing child in a Mexican wrestling mask, confronted by a realisation that Christmas is a forever changing conception.  Through the pink and blue clouds of fairy floss, whilst a big band plays a spanish version of 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' in the distance, the Cathedral Metropolitana subtlely shines down on the proceedings below.  Does it approve?  Does it still bear the guilt of its foundations covering hundreds of years of Aztec history?  And last of all, where am I?
Boney M stops momentarily, and then continues, as if on repeat - "Feliz Navidad" - the phrase in my mind now as common as green and white VW Beetle taxis roaming the inner city streets of the world's biggest city. 
Calls from all around bring to mind the eternal question - is it better to eat street food or be of full health.  The two are, of course, mutually exclusive.  Almost immediately, two tacos are propelled in front of me; the equivalent of an Australian dollar changes hands.  'Con todo, claro'.  Nice.  Jalapeno it up.  And guacemole.  Don't skimp on the salsa.  Onions will do fine as well.  Do it...  Full health is overrated anyway...  When compared to tacos...  Con todo por favor...
Christmas is a perplexing time for a traveller.  At least me.  More than any other time, it seems to highlight both the brilliance and shortcomings of travelling . the wonderful experience and atmosphere of a place during this festive period; the manifest joy - and the absence of those dearest; the constant question - would I be somewhere else if I could be?
Unlike the boombox of my childhood, there is no 'stop' button to the soundtrack of this christmas.  Boney M has become an unstoppable, merciless force, destroying all in its path.  At least it's not 'Rivers of Babylon' I guess.  As I sit, penning this entry, the song recurs and recur, ever more forceful.  A message perhaps?  "I wanna wish you a merry christmas from the bottom of my heart..."
So, to the Top 5.  Christmas in Mexico.  On my wanderings around, I've noticed that most of the Christmassy stuff is centred around the Zocalo.  In most of the other areas, it seems very much business as usual - and whilst you stroll in amongst the endless winding markets or evade death-by-opposite-running-bus-lane, you almost forget that it's almost Christmas.  But every now and then, even in these areas, you get reminded that it's christmas. Here are the top 5 such reminders:
5.  Traffic cops?  Christmas hats.  Do it...
4.  The homepage of google.com.mx?  Has christmas kangaroos.  Like ozzie kangaroos.  What the fuck?
3.  The guys selling porn on the street being out their christmas titles...
2.  The dudes on the street wish you a merry christmas before mugging you...
1.  Christmas special - reindeer tacos - 2 for 15 pesos...
Feliz navidad to all...
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