Villa Santa Cruz

Viva Mexico! Mexican Independence Day Celebrated in Todos Santos

Saturday, September 17, 2011

We are lucky in Todos Santos to have many festivals, parades, and events throughout the year, but, without doubt, the biggest night of them all celebrates the Día de Independencia - Mexican Independence Day.

While the actual Independence Day is September 16, the celebration begins the night before with a grand party in the main plaza.  The Mission is dressed up in a light show, food stands made of palm fronds appear so you can feast on authentic and delicious churros, tamales, and pozole (just to name a few), you can play Mexican Bingo, vote for the queen of Todos Santos, and watch the dance and music troops performing on stage.



The night culminates around 11pm with the infamous El Grito - literally "the yell."  The yell is a call-and-response between the speaker and the audience, mimicking the yell from Hidalgo in 1810, encouraging the people to revolt against the Spanish colonial government.  

In Todos Santos, this year's yell was led by Esthela Ponce, the Presidenta Municipal de La Paz (akin to the Mayor).  She yelled and we spiritedly responded:

"Viva Hidalgo!


Viva Morelos!


Viva el Pueblo Mágico de Todos Santos!


Viva Mexico!


Yes indeed, Viva Mexico!


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Day Trip to El Triunfo: An Unexpectedly Delightful Day

Monday, June 13, 2011

Itching to get out on the open road and explore a new area of Baja Sur, we decided to take a day trip to El Triunfo, a small historical mining town about 1 hour northeast of Villa Santa Cruz and Todos Santos. Up in the mountains, the town itself is very quiet and very quaint, but with some surprisingly notable things to see. With only a few restaurants, some mining ruins, and a lovely mission, you need just a few hours to get a good look at El Triunfo.

To begin our afternoon, we first dined at the delicious Caffe El Triunfo for a casual lunch. Serving amazing homemade pizzas, pasta dishes and enormous salads, the Caffe seems to be the center of life in El Triunfo. We enjoyed lounging in the café with iced teas (a nice respite from the heat), watching a steady flow of customers, and chatting with some of the local expats who have made El Triunfo their home. The food is simple, but wonderful, and the homemade bread and sweet treats for sale at the counter are worth the trip on their own.


After lunch, we strolled behind the restaurant to see the remains of the silver and gold mines that were active in El Triunfo from the 1860s to the 1920s (these mines are the reason the town came to be). While most of the structures were crumbling and decrepit, the one beacon that remains is an impressive 35-meter-high smokestack designed by Gustav Eiffel. While it is no Eiffel Tower, it is très magnifique. During the late 1800s, Eiffel traveled throughout Latin America designing a variety of structures and made a stop in El Triunfo – what a wonderful legacy for the town.


Equally as impressive as the Eiffel smokestack, the collection of pianos on display at the El Triunfo Piano Museum is both remarkable and a bit bizarre. The Museum boasts pianos and other instruments from New York, Chicago, Germany, Austria, etc. and are from all different historic time periods. For such a small town like El Triunfo, it is quite unbelievable to see vintage pianos from around the world collected and exhibited in this unlikely location.

After wrapping up our walk through the Piano Museum and wandering through the old Mission, it was time to head home. On the drive out of the hills of El Triunfo and back to the beaches of Todos Santos, we were quite content with our day trip. With a lovely café and noteworthy historical sites, we will definitely recommend this excursion to our Villa Santa Cruz guests.

Cinco de Mayo - An American Invention?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

For many people living in the United States, the 5th of May, or Cinco de Mayo, is a day to let loose and celebrate. With visions of margaritas and cervezas, crazy sombreros and delicious Mexican food, for many Cinco de Mayo is a day to leave work early and hit the neighborhood cantina for a Mexican fiesta. The irony is that while the Americans are partying it up in the USA, it is just a normal day in Mexico without fanfare, parties or even as much as a second thought given to the day…why is this? 

Americans widely believe that Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s independence, but this is just not the case. Mexico earned its independence from Spain in 1821 and celebrates this day – the most important national holiday of the year – on September 16. Cinco de Mayo is merely the anniversary of the Mexican military’s triumph over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It was an important victory to the Mexican people because their smaller, outnumbered army defeated the larger French forces, helping the Mexican people develop a much needed sense of national identity in Mexico (which is the reason for its continued celebration).

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico as a regional holiday in the State of Puebla (where the famous battle took place), but really nowhere else in Mexico. Yet, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the United States has exploded! It seems that Americans have transformed the day from its origin as the commemoration of a Mexican military victory into a day to celebrate Mexican pride and culture – similarly to the celebrations of the Irish, German and Chinese heritages associated with St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest or the Chinese New Year.

So, even though the US celebration of Cinco de Mayo has evolved into something bigger than the actual holiday itself, it remains a great day to join in to celebrate the vibrant Mexican culture. So, go on, leave work early, head down to a Cinco de Mayo celebration and shout “Viva Mexico!”

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