I’m not going back. This is the first time in three years that I am not returning to Canada in the spring. I am staying here in Tlaquepaque. I’ve lived in this house longer than anywhere else in Winnipeg in the last five years, and this feels like home now.
This is also the first time I have stayed here for Semana Santa. In the past I’ve always been in Culiacan with my family. Instead of going to a Mass at a church, I participated in a Via Crucis in the streets of San Pedro, along with hundreds of others.
Instead of the usual chocolate eggs and rabbits that are common in Canada, I enjoyed the empanadas offered by the local vendors.
The spring semester began at school, and my students informed me of a number of special days that are celebrated here.
April 30th is Children’s Day. In the elementary schools, parties are held with music, food and special activities.
May 1st is Labor Day here. Government offices, banks and schools are closed.
May 3rd is celebrated by Catholics as Day of the Holy Cross. One block away from my house there was a street fair, complete with music, games, food and fireworks.
Cinco de Mayo surprisingly lacked the festivities that I had envisioned. Schools were closed, but it was a regular work day for everyone else.
Mothers Day in Mexico is celebrated on May 10th regardless of the day of the week it falls upon. May 15th is Teachers Day and classes are cancelled. And May 23rd is Students Day.
With the month of May filled with all these fiestas, I look forward to the summer months here in Guadalajara. I am certain that there will be more special days to come.
And although the rainy season is approaching, the days are mainly still sunny and warm. Spring this year has actually been unseasonably hot.
As I write this, I hear the strains of mariachi music in the distance. Across the street a group of men assemble chairs in their home. Banda music blares from a car radio as one of my neighbors paints his car out on the street. A horse and wagon pass by with a load of tree branches. Children scurry by on their way home from school. Dogs and cats freely meander about. The hours pass by quickly yet time seems to stand still. This is my life in a small town in the midst of a sprawling metropolis.
I’m not going back. I’m staying right here in Tlaquepaque, where smiling faces greet complete strangers with “Buenos dias” , where roosters crow at the crack of dawn, and where birds chirp loudly. Here, even on a cloudy day, the sun shines brightly in my heart, and I am happy.