Earlier this year, Instituto Mexicano Madero, where the boys went to school, took the boys (along with a handful of classmates who are also ex-pats from around the world) off for a photo shoot. The first sign of the new advertising campaign was hung up before we left! A similar picture is also featured on a flyer they’re currently handing out, advertising the language school. I have a friend who has agreed to be on the lookout for any billboards and signs that pop up around town with pics of the boys featured!
Students in the sixth grade of primary school and the third year of secondary school have graduations in Mexico, so Luke and Caleb were both honored at the end of the school year. We haven’t seen a “prepa” (high school) Mexican graduation for comparison, but I can assure you that their graduations had all the pomp and circumstance associated with a US high school graduation! Solemn ceremonies, speeches, awards, and multiple-course dinners with music and dancing! Here are a few of the highlights…
The students all wore their uniforms to the ceremony, but Luke’s class had to add white gloves to look fancier. In this picture you can see the kids performing the ubiquitous song-and-dance number, adorned with their mime-like gloves.
The ceremonies were somewhat similar to US graduation ceremonies with a few exceptions. The students processed in two-by-two, using a step-together, step-together gait that, generally speaking, the girls performed admirably while the boys shuffled along. Various folks gave speeches, including Luke, who reluctantly agreed to speak at the request of the school principal. (His short-but-sweet speech thanked classmates and teachers—in English and Spanish—for making him feel welcome.) They read off the names of the graduates, who stood at their seats rather than processing forward to accept a diploma. They gave out some awards (Luke won the math award for the sixth grade) and read words of inspiration. Of course, somewhere in there they threw in the song-and-dance numbers. Caleb’s group did a whole-class song, but there was also a duo of girls who danced to “All that Jazz” from Chicago!
Both classes then had a series of graduation festivities. There was a “mojada”—a water party just for the kids (Caleb’s was at a little waterpark with pools and slides, while Luke’s was at a party center. They brought in a tank truck full of water and sprayed it at the kids while the kids pushed and shoved and carried each other through the spray). Then there was a multi-course meal & dance for each group. Caleb’s party happened first. The festivities kicked off at 8 p.m., so Malcolm was sleepy from the get-go.
The kids processed in, one by one, as they announced their names.
The event was BYOB for the adults, but the graduates each got a glass of champagne for the toast, which was lead by one of their teachers—not something you typically see at a school event for fifteen year olds in the US.
The band was great and played a really fun mix of contemporary Mexican tunes and more traditional stuff, as well. They also gave out fun hats and other funky souvenirs. I’m sure the festivities only got more interesting as the evening wore on, but by 11:30, I had had a hot and sweaty eight-year old sleeping in my lap for an hour and a half:
Caleb was living in dread that someone would ask him to dance, and had been quietly hoping to leave for an hour, so we slipped out, the first folks to bail. The party continued until 4 or 5 a.m., with parents and kids dancing the night away!
Luke’s party was similar, although it began at 3 p.m. instead of 8. The kids got to sit at a head table as the honored guests:
Luke was disappointed that the students were given sparkling cider at his party instead of real champagne!
The dancing was kicked off with a parent-child dance:
Some of the couples (especially the girls and their dads) had impressive moves for twelve-year-olds, but Luke and I kept it simple!
The kids seemed to mostly enjoy the chance to dress up and act “fancy”, although this ice sculpture only lasted about an hour before it was knocked over in a game of tag. We spotted it later, chilling the koi pond.
Altogether, some good memories to round off our year in Puebla!
Dave was in the US while the rest of us were in Puebla for Father’s Day, so we celebrated a week later with tacos and a baseball game! The local team is the Pericos de Puebla, and while we knew nothing about them, we headed out ready to cheer on the home team!
Heading into the stadium, we were offered a bunch of free campaign goodies advertising candidates for the upcoming elections. They reminded us to be sure to vote on July 7! We didn’t break the news that that won’t be happening.
Skies were getting cloudy as we headed into the park, so we asked the ticket girl which seats were under the roof. She confidently assured us that ALL the seats were under the roof, so we went with the General Admission tix. After wandering around for a while, we eventually found the General Admission entrance and discovered that NONE of the GA seats were under a roof. Good thing we had our nifty new umbrella!
It never did really rain, and the game went well, with the Pericos winning in the end, 7-4. Malcolm’s attention quickly waned, but fortunately we were one of only three groups in the entire GA seating section, so he and his brothers were able to run around at will. The regular vendors didn’t come out to us, either, but these sweet worker kids would literally RUN back and forth, bringing us (and the two other groups) drinks and food when we wanted them. They weren’t allowed in the regular seating section (with the food vendors), either, so they’d go up to the fence and pass through the money and the orders, and then someone inside the fence would bring back the food so they could sprint it out to us. It was quite a process.
Towards the end of the game, the center fielder caught our attention and tossed us a game ball! If you look closely, you can see him waving in the back of the photo:
You can also see in this photo the rest of the field, with the regular stands (under the roof!) In the background is the MUCH larger soccer stadium, which stands right across from the baseball field.
A fun day for everyone!
On Friday, June 7th, Luke and I went with his class to Six Flags in Mexico City. Since school is still in session here in Mexico, the park was not too busy. Even most of the big roller coasters only had lines 10-20 minutes long. And, sometimes we were able to just walk right up and ride with almost no wait at all.
I don’t know that Churro Man is the mascot of Mexican Six Flags, but surely he should be…
To get a good look around, early in the day we rode the ferris wheel. If I remember correctly, we were the only ones on at that time!
Perhaps the fastest wooden roller coaster that I’ve ever been on, the Medusa mixes mythology and old west themes…
Luke drove the classic cars, but oddly, the cars here did not steer with the wheel at all…
The Joker is their wild mouse roller coaster. After waiting in line, before queuing up to get on the cars, there is a small fun house which I thought was a unique touch…
Finally, I have a video of a ride I thought I was completely familiar with. Maybe these are all over, but I’ve seen the version that goes faster, but just does what happens until about 50 seconds in, then this one adds a new twist that surprised me…
During the fourth “block” (the Mexican school year is broken into five “blocks” of two months each), each elementary classroom at the boys’ school worked hard on a BIG bilingual presentation for the parents. I have no idea if this is traditional at all Mexican schools, but apparently it is a yearly event at ours. Malcolm’s presentation involved the kids demonstrating various science experiments, several song-and-dance numbers about recycling and eating healthy food, plus a quiz show in which the parents had to answer questions to show we had learned something! Unfortunately, our camera was with Dave in the US at the time, so I don’t have pics of that one.
For Luke’s project, the students from all three sixth grade classrooms worked on Science in the Kitchen displays. They dressed up as scientists, investigated a variety of food-based science projects, made posters, power points, and speeches that were practiced again and again. In classic Pattons-in-Mexico fashion, it took us three separate attempts to fully grasp what he was supposed to be bringing in to school, but eventually we got it right! Reminiscent of a Bollywood film, the morning began, like ALL (yes, literally ALL) school assemblies here begin, with a dance number. What science/cooking song did they choose, you might ask? Why, a medley of songs from Grease, of course!
After that was out of the way, we got to visit the student booths to hear the kids explain the chemistry of preparing various foods. I thought it was fun that most of the foods were pretty typical Mexican foods—chorizo, palenqueta (Mexican peanut brittle), rompope (a local alcholic beverage! The sixth graders had made a batch and were handing out samples!), as well as mayonnaise and Jello (which might not sound Mexican to the uninitiated, but are nevertheless omnipresent here).
The gym was full of these little booths, and it was really fun to get to see all their hard work come together in a tasty science fair!
So, in general Cinco de mayo is a much bigger holiday in the US these days than it is in Mexico, but since Puebla was the location of the original battle against the French troops on May 5, 1862, here in our adopted Mexican city it is a VERY big deal. The boys have a four day weekend, and there is general revelry all over the city. We headed out early this morning in the hopes of snagging a seat on the bleachers for the parade (Luke definitely couldn’t stand around on crutches for hours!), but when we arrived a couple of hours before the parade began, the bleachers were full, people were crowded four or five deep along the route, and little kids were climbing up on top of phone booths and statues to get a view of the parade! Finding a family who had backed their pick-up truck up to the parade route, we offered them some pesos and gained ourselves a nice little viewing area alongside their family in the bed of the pick-up. They even had a chair for Luke to sit in and one for Malcolm to stand on!
Before the parade even reached us, we got to see multiple fly-overs, with various groups of helicopters, jets, cargo planes and such.
The first half hour or so of the parade was various military groups, including some dressed in “reenactor” type clothing (both Mexican and French), as well as lots of present-day Mexican army folks.
We really liked these guys all camouflaged in swamp grass!!
For those of you who may have been worried about us being buried in volcanic ash if our local volcano Popocatepetl would choose to erupt while we’re here, never fear—we also got to see a float of the Popo rescue squad, complete with pickaxes, shovels, and canine rescuers!
**(Not to worry…we’re actually plenty far away from the volcano…)
After all the army stuff, there were some incredible floats that came through, depicting scenes from the Battle of Puebla and from other parts of local history.
This photo shows a re-enactment of the famous ball game that was played by lots of the indigenous groups in pre-Columbian times.
This float had a giant metate, or corn-grinding rock and all kinds of depictions of the importance of corn in ancient and present-day Mexico. Also, it had a random archaeologist looking at things through a magnifying glass.
Here the French troops are in a boat…leaving Mexico?? I was a little unclear on whether they were coming or going, but it was a cool float!
This float shows the church that the Spaniards plopped down on top of the local pyramid at Cholula. If you look closely, you can see that UNDER the pyramid, Spaniards are hard at work slaughtering the native Mexicans. Also, another random archaeologist! This float really gives you the big picture, I guess!
We love parades in any context (well, *I* love parades in any context and the rest of the family kindly humors me), but this was my first big city parade. It was very cool to get to join in on the Cinco de mayo celebration!
Tricia wrote this original blog post. And, for the record, I enjoy parades as well, and this was quite the impressive one!
I took a few videos that I’m going to embed here if you’d like to see what the parade and crowd looked like in action.
Here is a musical troop from relatively early in the parade…
This video features a cool float with humans made up to look like statues and twirling cherubim…
And, finally, the float commemorating one of the oldest libraries in the New World, located right here in Puebla…
We all had a very fun day out at the parade. It was honestly just an amazing experience being there—truly a huge parade and a tremendous turnout.