Well, another holiday season is upon us. Starting with Dia de los Muertos, which occurs on what nortenos call Halloween, and has a different cultural connotation in Mexico, we move right along to Thanksgiving, which has no cultural equivalent, as a holiday, in Mexico…then Christmas, which has great cultural significance in Mexico and Latin America…then New Year’s, which is universal.
Since this is the November, 2020 issue, Thanksgiving is on my mind. While there are many different opinions, and political views, on what the holiday is about, what it means, or whether it has some deep political agenda, let’s settle on the original intent, shall we?
At its most basic level, the holiday ceremoniously celebrated the sharing of the bounty of the land between the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors. After years of privation, the Pilgrims, with the help of their neighboring tribes, were finally able to produce enough food to provide for their colony. The traditional Thanksgiving feast began as a way to share not only food, but good will and community. Somewhere along the way, though, it seems to have lost a good portion of that basic premise.
Many expat Americans, who call Peñasco home for much of the year, still embrace the holiday, although as a true echo of the original intent, or to have a family/friend gathering in “old” Mexico, or the beginning of the holiday shopping season, is open to interpretation. Many, but certainly not all, will invite their Mexican friends and families to partake in the feast, and some will volunteer to help the less fortunate in our community in various ways.
If you know anything of the Mexican culture and the people, you know that giving and sharing are a large part of who the Mexican people are, so it is not a stretch to say that most Mexican’s are probably more attuned to the original intent of Thanksgiving than many of us who grew up in the states. They are very aware of the holiday, even though they do not celebrate it as such. Ever the opportunists, most shopkeepers will gear their shops and marketing tactics toward the touristas who will (hopefully) flood restaurants, hotels, the Malecon and Rodeo Drive shops during the long holiday weekend.
Social media has been both a blessing, and a curse, for our town. A blessing in that many people who have never been here are, due to Facebook and other social media outlets, suddenly interested in finding out what we are about and thinking about visiting. On several sites, I notice a large uptick in questions from ‘first time’ visitors who are planning a trip to our beautiful city. Notwithstanding the increases in traffic and crowds, this helps our city on a number of levels. The ‘curse’ part comes into play when people who know better, or should know better, give false or misleading opinions to those same folks. If you spend a few minutes reading through the comments on the posts, you get what I mean. Anyone who has ever gotten a ticket in Sonoyta or gotten busted for doing something stupid on a quad in Peñasco proper, will share that unhappy story.
The ‘newbies’ have to thread the minefield of such comments, and since they have also been bombarded with negative ‘news’ stories in the American press about Mexico and travel to Mexico, it becomes difficult to tell fact from fiction. In the spirit of thanksgiving, I ask our readers who know the real Puerto Peñasco, to tell anyone who asks, what our town is really like. Remember, you can just as easily get a speeding ticket in Ajo or Gila Bend as Sonoyta. The difference is your insurance rates don’t go up in Sonoyta. No matter where you go, there are laws and rules. Mexico is no different.
With COVID, this year will be different on my levels and while Mayor Munro has done a masterful job of ‘threading the needle’ in keeping the town moving while protecting the population from the virus, the onset of the holiday season will be the true test. Even though Peñasco has become, or is becoming, a year ‘round tourist destination, the summer months are still less active than the fall, winter and spring. How we will fare once the throngs of tourists arrive is yet to be seen. We can all hope that, with the proper precautions, our town will see a happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season. I, for one, would like to put the whole COVID thing in my rearview mirror as quickly as possible. Feliz dia de accion de gracias amigos!