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Reflections on a holiday season visit to Mexico

by Yucatan Times
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As we do each year, my family and I traveled to Mexico for Christmas.  Only this time we did it a little differently, as we didn’t all travel together.  More on that later.

First a little background. I formerly resided in Mexico, for a decade and a half.  It’s where I met and married my wife, and where our two sons were born.

When we lived in Mexico we would visit the U.S. at Christmastime.  However, since we moved to the U.S. in 2008, we’ve reversed course and now we go to Mexico each year for Christmas.  So we’re making the same trip, just in a different direction.

Thus we are able to spend time with my wife’s parents, our sons are able to spend time with their Mexican grandparents, and we celebrate Christmas with them.

Christmas, the celebration of the incarnation and birth of Christ, is special everywhere it’s celebrated.  The essence of the holiday is the same, though you’ll find it expressed differently in various cultures throughout the world.

Christmas, called Navidad in Spanish-speaking countries, is a special time in Mexico.  It’s said that even Mexican drug lords customarily arrange a truce for Navidad!

Many Americans are afraid to visit Mexico, and what with all the publicity about the ongoing violence I can of course understand.  However, we haven’t had any trouble on our Christmas trips, not that we want to take chances of course.  Nothing untoward happened to us during our trip, neither security threats nor mechanical problems.

The big difference for us on this trip was that we didn’t make it together.  My wife had to go to Mexico three weeks earlier due to some health problems in her family there.  So a few days after school was out, my two sons and I drove to Mexico and were reunited with my wife there.  After that, it was pretty much a normal Christmas visit.

We ate in a few restaurants, and I discovered there is a new law in Mexico concerning salt. Mexican restaurants are now forbidden to have salt shakers on the table when the customers arrive.  So when you sit down at the table there is no salt shaker on it.  You have to specifically ask for it, and they will bring you the salt shaker.

It’s a nanny state measure to get people to ingest less salt.  I guess the idea is that some customers, if they don’t see the salt, won’t ask for it.  Who would have thought that salt would become a controlled substance?

When we go to Mexico we enjoy going to the movie theater.

This year we saw the latest Star Wars movie, number seven in the series. (The audio was in English, with Spanish subtitles.) Unsurprisingly, Star Wars #7 was entertaining and well-produced. That doesn’t mean it all made sense, even by the principles of the fictional world of Star Wars. Even a fantasy or sci-fi movie is more believable if it is consistent with its own principles.

To make a feminist statement, the movie went overboard with the female character “Rey” (Spanish for “king” – coincidence?) who was able to beat up on the male characters, including villain Kylo Ren, despite the fact that Kylo Ren was already more advanced in the power of “the Force.”

Also in Mexico, we purchased some Mexican candy, which I give away as birthday gifts or prizes in my Spanish classes in the U.S.

Many Mexicans who reside in the United States visit Mexico at Christmastime. That can cause long waits at the border, going either way.

Tijuana - San Ysidro Border Crossing (Photo: Google)

Tijuana – San Ysidro Border Crossing (Photo: Google)

On this trip, when the boys and I drove into Mexico we hit the border crossing at a time when few cars were crossing, so I got my business done quickly. I had to acquire a permit for myself, and a permit to bring a U.S.-registered automobile into Mexico, plus pay the fees for both permits.

The staff at the border crossing was helpful and competent and it went quickly. It would have gone even more quickly had I not forgotten to bring my passport in, so I went back to the car and got it.

On our return trip, passing back into the United States, there was a lot of northbound traffic, with many Mexicans returning to the U.S.  It took us six and a half hours to cross the border.


By Allan Wall

Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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