20 May 2010

The Navy

I do believe that on the first day I was here I wrote something about needing a long-sleeved shirt at night for the chill I was experiencing. That is no longer true. Right now it is 9:30 pm and I am sweating like a piggy. I just opened the door to get some circulation. It’s not really bad now, but I certainly felt the body-sapping weather today when I was out both in the morning and in early evening.
I wake up early here; like at 5am or 6, mostly because that is my norm but also because I think that maybe if I keep it up with it the sun will follow my example. And even though I am up well before the crack of dawn, I can’t seem to get out until I’ve already missed the sunrise.

A few days ago I did manage to leave the hotel and head for the shore at 7:30 am. The beachfront restaurants were busy setting up for breakfast both at the open-air, semi-indoor seating, as well as down on the beach. We’re talking white table cloths, cups and saucers, more flatware than one would need for a five course meal, and a whole lot of other stuff. While this was going on, other folks were wetting down the sand, putting out lounge chairs, putting up umbrellas. I wondered about all the effort for so many, many tables, when this is the low season.

It was pretty quiet as I walked along the shore; a few joggers and dog-walkers, and of course the pelicans cruising low over the water. I passed fisherman on the pier and some at the waters edge with nets or diving gear. It’s lovely at this time of day. (I happened to go by in the early afternoon and it was a nightmare of bodies crammed together in the sweltering heat).

Leaving the sand for the paved walkway of the Malecón, I decided it was a good day to finally visit the Naval Historical Museum, which I have passed countless times on this very same walk but have never gone in. When I got there I found out that they wouldn’t be open for another hour so stepped across to relax in the main plaza.

It was then that I noticed a flat-bed military truck loaded with guys in full combat gear. The men standing right behind the cab had big, possibly automatic, rifles at the ready and pointed out at the street. (No pictures as I knew better than to even ask if I could take photos). On closer inspection, I saw that they were from the Navy. Then I saw that a display of large posters had been assembled around the government building that fronts one side of the plaza.

The exhibition was in honor of the Bicentennial of National Independence, and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution. It was put on by the Secretary of the Navy’s History and Culture sector, highlighting the role they have played in defending Mexico.

There were about fifty, 7 foot tall exhibition posters with pictures and text chronicling the struggle to reach Independence. It was beautifully done; each poster depicting an important person and/or significant event. I didn’t read every last word on each poster, but did skim through most of it and learned a lot. Now I feel I really need to go to Hidalgo and to Vera Cruz. (I also need a serious refresher course on what the US was doing in Vera Cruz in 1914.)
This very impressive display will be up for another week or so, then move on to other cities, eventually ending in Mexico City in November.

The Naval Museum was now opened so I popped back across the street and went in. Seeing as I was in a bit of history overloaded at that point, I did a quick run through and will return later to read things in more detail.

While walking around I saw that people were going upstairs and not returning. I followed them up to discover a restaurant, run by the Navy. It is a small affair, but its prime location on the Malecón means that one has an excellent view of the water. I checked out the prices and they were more than reasonable. And you get the bonus of young men and women in uniform serving you. Definitely a place on my list of things to experience.