Happy Cinco de Mayo!
If you’re from any of the Southwestern states, you most likely know all about Cinco de Mayo. It’s a Mexican holiday that celebrates the Mexican military victory over the French way back in 1862. Now I’m not Mexican, nor do I have a single ounce of Mexican in me, but any holiday that celebrates the butt kicking of the French, and does it with tacos and beer, is a holiday I’m going to get in on! So we went downtown to the Fulton Mall and joined in the huge annual celebration down there.
Now the Cinco de Mayo Festival gets kind of a bad rap mainly because it’s held in an area of town that is considered to be… how shall I say this gently… a freaking dump. It’s a very old walking mall that has seen all of it’s major retailers leave and be replaced with indoor swap-meets and assorted low rent specialty shops. That said, it’s kind of a charming place in a way. Lots of trees, fountains and sculptures decorate the mall and it’s right next to our beautiful baseball park. Yeah, there’s an occasional hobo collecting cans, and it’s mainly a place for poor people to shop. But if that’s your only reason for staying away, I’d say the problem is with you, and not the area. It’s certainly not a “dangerous” area as I hear some of our “North Fresno” elite residents suggest.
So we ventured down and walked the mall in search of an authentic burrito and a beer. The first thing I noticed was that there were a TON of people there. The second thing I noticed was that there were NO white people there! Honestly, me and my girls were probably three out of maybe ten white people that I saw all day. Out of the expected thousands of people at the event, that put us in the solid minority! Everyone was speaking Spanish, all the signage was in Spanish, all the food was Mexican food, a lot of which was of types I had never seen before. Seriously, the last time I felt so out of place was when I was in Ethiopia, Africa.
That’s an interesting feeling because it really becomes apparent how much baggage we carry around with us. The majority always likes to discount the feelings of the minority, but switch the tables and you suddenly get a taste of what it feels like to be the outsider; the only one with different colored skin, different style of dress, and a different language. It’s an interesting and educating experience.
Anyway, once we got over the initial culture shock, we had a great time. It’s always cool to experience other cultures and see how people live and play. And when you can do it without buying an expensive plane ticket to another country, it’s even better. One sight that stuck with me was the guy selling a cactus stripper. It was like a potato peeler, but bigger and he used it to strip the needles off of cactus. What you do with the cactus afterward is beyond me, but I found it interesting that there was enough of a demand in this community for cactus strippers that he could actually make money selling them. Another sight I saw that was really interesting was a guy selling Sham-Wow’s, or should I say Sham-Wow rip-offs. He was doing the whole high energy, “Vince from Sham-Wow!!” routine, except it was entirely in Spanish. I thought for a second that it would be really funny if his name was Vincente.
All in all, it was a really cool time. We found our burritos, had a few churros, Deanna bought some cool hand made clothing, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Mark your calendars for next year!