We flew from Mexico City to Buenos Aires, Argentina, last weekend and one of the reasons we haven’t posted anything since then is that it’s been a rough transition.  The total travel time was over 12 hours, with almost 11 hours on planes, and we gained two hours and six months.  Well, we didn’t gain six months, but by crossing the equator we went from late spring in Mexico City, with temperatures in the nineties and over 13 hours of sunlight per day, to late fall in Buenos Aires, with temperatures yo-yoing between the high fifties to low seventies, and only 10 hours of sunlight per day.  Add in a terrible landlady, pressure from Amy applying for and interviewing for a job in Oregon, and it’s been a tiring time.

Things are getting better, though.  By Thursday, Amy got the job, we had a great (but not the best ever) steak in celebration, and it turns out this is a huge holiday weekend here.  All the signs here proclaim that it’s the bicentennial that’s being celebrated, and the events began last night and culminate on May 25, so you’d think that means it’s their Independence Day, but it isn’t.  This marks the events of “May Week” when in 1810 the local viceroy in Buenos Aires was booted out of office and a local government formed (according to Wikipedia).  It wasn’t until July 8, 1816, that national independence was actually declared, so that’s the official Independence Day.  So, this is the bicentennial celebration of  . . . something.  Although this seems to be a national holiday, it might be celebrated more here than elsewhere in the country, in that it commemorates the first local government in Buenos Aires.  Get it?  Yeah, me neither.

We saw part of a military parade, and many of the participants had on old-style uniforms that made it look like a live-action Stratego game.  Celebrations will continue for days, but in our wandering today we never came across food vendors.  I’m sure they’re out there somewhere but I can’t imagine a regular Independence Day celebration in the States, let alone a really big one, that didn’t include more food options than a person could go through in a month.

Some of you may think we recently experienced Mexican Independence Day on May 5 but Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico.  In fact, it’s not a national holiday at all but just a state holiday in Puebla, and which is partially observed elsewhere.  The day commemorates the Battle of Puebla, an impressive victory of the outnumbered Mexican army over the invading French in 1862.  The problem is the French went on to win the war and control Mexico for 3 years, so the Battle of Puebla ended up not making much of a difference in the arc of history, though the battle became a source of justifiable pride for Mexico.  The real Mexican Independence Day will come this September 16, and will mark Mexico’s bicentennial, too.  Several other Latin American countries also declared their independence in 1810, though it took years of fighting in each case to actually break free from the crumbling Spanish Empire.  1810 was not a good year for Spain.

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