It was interesting to experience the Christmas atmosphere in Mexico around the holidays. It was an odd combination of somber tradition and flamboyant fiesta. We noticed the bright decorations along the malecon when we arrived - which is similar to any city in the US of course with a decorated tree, stars, and christmas lights everywhere.
On our fourth night in La Paz we walked up from our hotel into a new neighborhood and ran across a celebration at the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. At first I didn't realize it was a church from the vendors outside. They were selling all kinds of stuffed animals and glow-in-the-dark toys and noisemakers. Alongside these where figures of saints and other religious icons. The sidewalks were packed with people and the noise from everything was deafening. We decided to take a quick peek into the catholic church and discovered that it too was packed with a mass in session. The chaos outside was magnified by the organization of the mass and solemn procession. We stepped back outside and into the circus on the street to head onward. I wish we could have stayed to watch the service because I was fascinated by the families and how everyone was celebrating the Advent season.
The following morning we walked to the main square and saw the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de La Paz - the main cathedral in La Paz. The vendors were nowhere in site so it must have been a special celebration the evening before. We peaked inside but there wasn't a service going on just yet. It was the serene setting inside that I was used to from visiting other churches in Spain and around Europe. My friend explained the traditions to me a bit when I returned from Mexico. From her experience living on the Baja, she saw that the Mexican's motto was typically "Go big or go home!" when it came to celebrations or festivals. If you're going to have a religious party, treat it like a party - duh!
During our stay in La Paz we enjoyed seeing the passion and celebration of the Mexican people and as some of them celebrated Advent. I knew we were heading home to zero-degree weather and snow so we soaked in all the sunshine we could get in our final hours. Cruising down the Malecon we ran into this display in front of a family fun center.
I wasn't sure if they had poinsettias in Mexico or not but the decorations looked so fitting among the palm trees. Mexico we have enjoyed your people, your beaches and your wildlife so much this week. We hope to return someday soon to continue the explorations. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good Flight!