When we were kids, we went to my grandparents at Easter for breakfast, where the kids searched for the colorful hardboiled eggs that were masterfully hidden by the Easter bunny. It was good fun and magically the sun always shone. When we were teenagers the Easter bunny delivered the eggs at the breakfast table, saving us the trouble of searching for them. When we moved out, breakfast got replaced with a dinner honoring the start of the white asparagus season. I guess we make traditions and change them when necessary (or convenient?).
We did not know what to expect for Easter in Mexico. Would it be a big church event? Or more like a family event? Would the shops be closed? Does the Easter bunny come here? Do they do eggs? Or lunch? Or breakfast? We did know that the long weekend started on Thursday and would last till Sunday. For us it started with many drinks with friends on Wednesday night while making plans for Friday and a hangover on Thursday.
The plan for Friday was to go to a nice beach club south of Veracruz with our friends. Judging by the sounds that came from ‘our’ beach, the beach is the place to be, so that sounded fine with us. On Friday they told us they were invited by their neighbors to come to some private part of the beach and would we want to come along? We were not that fussed, but in hindsight I am very glad we did. It was AWESOME.
The private place turned out to be a nice plot in the dunes right on the beach (beach here is very much like the Dutch beach, sandy and dunes). It had a small building on it that contained storage and bathrooms. We were the first to arrive, but within ten minutes another 50 or 60 people or so did too. The men started firing up the barbecue and the women pulled out tons of food & drinks from the various bags they brought.
We were baffled: how organized are these people! In our best Spanish we introduced ourselves and found out that this plot belongs to Grandmother and that the family gathers there normally every Sunday for lunch. Whoever is in the neighborhood comes along and if you like you can bring your friends. The more the merrier. And merry we were: the company was great, the weather was perfectly hot, the sea was nicely cool (as were the drinks) and the food was terrific. We stayed until late after the bonfire with marshmallows and traveled back leisurely in a traffic jam.
From what we could see this is the way the Mexicans spend their Easter. Of course not everyone has a plot of dunes available, but that is not a problem. The others just drive up on the beach and park their cars on the waterline. From the trunk they grab tents, chairs, barbeques, little inflatable pools for the small ones and ice boxes with a lot of food and drinks. And if you do not have a car, just bring everything in a taxi. Somewhere during the day the garbage truck comes by to pick up whatever you want to throw away. Perfectly organized.
On Saturday we decided to check out ‘our’ beach. We had been listening to the noise, and were getting curious on what was going on. Apart from the original beach shack it now had a huge stage with live music and every brand of beer was represented with fancy two-story shacks: downstairs to sell beer and upstairs girls in bikini dancing to the music they play and a dj who loves the microphone. The beach was black with people: kids playing in the sand, teenagers dancing on the beach and grown-ups drinking beer and cocktails.
So in the end, Easter in Veracruz is like a summer’s day on the beach in Holland and, like in Holland, they all make up their own traditions. I feel very much at home here.