New Year’s Eve in Mexico, a Celebration for Friends
ZIPOLITE, Mexico- Saved by the good graces of my charming daughter, my family was vaulted out of a potentially mediocre New Year’s Eve and into a home on a hilltop. Score.
Holidays mean nothing if not spent in good company. A celebration is not as such if you do the same thing you do every day.
On the road, holidays can often be lonely and depressing events — often better to ignore than to futilely engage in. Being away from family, friends, and being alone or with stagnant company during your culture’s traditional celebrations is the curse of travel. I have spent many empty holidays alone pretending that they did not exist. How can you care about Thanksgiving when you are the only American in a 100 km radius? Just try to get into the Christmas cheer in China — go ahead, I dare you. Evaluate how defunct turing another year older feels when you are the only one around who cares about your birthday.
Holidays spent on the road are often enough to make a traveler dream of home.
When I first began traveling with the woman who became my wife — a Jew — I found it odd how she would not allow me to try to celebrate her holidays with her. She said that it was because going through the feral motions of her Jewish holy days with no one but a goy made her miss home. I was, obviously, inadequately Jewish, but I tried to celebrate her holidays anyway. To no good ends, I must say, the more I tried to celebrate the more depressed she would become. This lasted up until the time we had a baby, and now my wife happily celebrates with a fellow Jew of her own creation.
In point, for the traveler, holidays mean a search for people to spend them with. After a botched Christmas, my family and I were determined to celebrate the New Year in Zipolite, Mexico, with friends — and we found them. My daughter, Petra, befriended a little girl on the beach early in our stay here, and my wife and I subsequently became friends with her mother (from the USA) and father (from Mexico). We were all peers in age, and found that we shared a similar lifestyle in terms of moving across large spans of geography with a child. My wife and I, as you know, had been traveling with Petra since she was two months old, and our new friends had been bouncing back and forth between Mexico and the USA with their child for three years.
They gave us some notes for the road ahead, great food, margaritas, and did not seem to mind that I guzzled five out of the six beers that I brought to share. A good New Year’s Eve, I must report. It truly beat hanging out on the beach watching new age pagans dressed in white robes bring in the new year burning of Christmas trees in a bonfire and cheering loudly about it. It is my impression that this family based New Year’s Eve perhaps even beat getting drunk with scoundrels or tripping with hippies.
But I had to do a little leg work at securing the invitation. Friendships often do not just happen, they are things which need work to get started. I truly wanted to spend New Year’s with this family, and each time I saw them in the streets leading up to the holiday I would asked them what they were doing. Eventually, they proposed hanging out together. I accepted. The next day I made sure to confirm the proposal — an essential exchange in Latino culture — and a New Year’s Eve party was arranged.
Sometimes, you need to let people know that you are interested in spending time with them; sometimes, you need to extend some of yourself and clearly let someone know that you want to be their friend,
It is like in primary school. “Would you like to be friends with me?” This is seriously how I made friends back then — I think I learned this from some neutered kid’s TV show. But my success rate was high, I only remember being shot down once: by a little badass black girl in kindergarten (“Do you want to be friends with me?” “No, cracker”).
Letting people know that you value their company and want to spend time with them is part of the leg work of friendship. This is, truly, not intuitive. For the traveler, whose friendships often end as quickly as they need to be started, expressing your intentions is essential. This seems even more essential on holidays.
Though I must admit that the midnight cheer woke us up from sleep.
“Is it the new year?”
“I don’t know, go back to sleep, cracker.”