16 de Septiembre: Mexican Independence, Ocosingo style

When we tell people we were headed north from San Cristobal, the usual assumption was that our destination was Palenque.

Whilst true that we would eventually head there, it wasn’t to be before we stopped by the town that sits roughly half way in between the two, Ocosingo.

Now it was by sheer coincidence that it happened to be 16 de Septiembre, Mexico’s day of Independence.

It also seemed very likely after finding and checking into a very empty hotel and then wandering the streets, that we were the only non Mexicans in town!

Ocosingo decked out for an independencia fiesta

Ocosingo decked out for an independencia fiesta

We thought it a good opportunity to see how things were really celebrated, especially as the need to pander to tourists was non existent.

As such, we grabbed some dinner and took in the celebrations.

So, what did we see?

Beauty pageant bonanza

Beauty pageant bonanza

Essentially it felt like organised chaos!

Getting things off to a fine start was a local beauty pageant, where the winner looked like she was going to get stabbed in the back at any moment based on the daggers one of the runners up was giving.

Three stages essentially faced each other, one of these hosting the beauty contest. Another looked set to host a band of some nature in the not too distant future, whilst the other was home to a large TV screen, running a live feed of the celebrations from the Mexican capital, complete with audio which seemed intent on trying to drown out the pageant announcer at every opportunity.

But the real show stoppers were to come.

Unnoticed by us, the towns main plaza was also host to one more treat.

It was also home to a large pole, atop of which lay a veritable treasure trove of small household appliances and sporting goods.

Suddenly a small mob formed, all eyes turned from the pageant stage (despite this, the rotund presenter continued to sing), and before long this posse began to form a human pyramid.

Eventually a young boy, clothed in rags, somewhat similar to how you would imagine Mowgli in Kiplings ‘The Jungle Book’, using this human ladder and his own guile, made the final ascent to the top of the pole.

Before long, he was ripping the booty free to the cheers and hollers of the crowd below.

Elevating themselves to lofty heights...

Elevating themselves to lofty heights…

Despite initial fears there may be a fatality should he fall, his grip was vice like, and not only survive, but triumph he did.

He and his posse’s reward for their endeavors?

Well, they were personally handed all of these gifts, one by one, by the very same pageant beauties that still sat on stage.

At about 23:00, we were woken by what sounded like gunfire above our hotel.

Fear not, it was actually fireworks, launched from incredibly close and bursting so close to the hotel roof, you could see the cinders fall.

Thus ended our 16 de Septiembre.

Viva Mexico!

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