Today I am going to reblog my post from last year about Navy Day here in Mahahual. The Navy here patrols our shores and beaches everyday, and they have a base right across from the lighthouse here.
I see the Navy and Marine guys every day around town, at the store and in restaurants, and they are all friendly and cordial. I think they rotate in and out of Mahahual, as well as other Mexican Caribbean villages and towns like Xcalak.
So here in Mahahual if we are ever invaded I feel safe because the Navy and the Marines are just right up the street. Here are some photos of the Mexican Navy patrol boats docked at the fisherman’s dock here in Mahahual.
Today, June 1, is a holiday in Mexico. It is Dia de la Marina, or Mexican Navy Day.
Día de la Marina, Mexican Navy Day
June 1st – Día de la Marina – Mexican Navy Day
Armada-de-México This day is celebrated in all coastal towns, with naval parades and fireworks. Mexican Navy Day is an official Mexican holiday. The date that Navy Day is celebrated was determined by the fact that on 01 June 1917, for the first time a Mexican merchant vessel, the steamer “Tabasco”, left the port of Veracruz. The entire crew was composed exclusively of native born Mexicans and captained by Captain Don Rafael H. Izaguirre Castanyares. The correct name of the Mexican Navy is Armada de México. This day, in all Mexican harbors, they honor the sailors that have lost their lives in duty, not only in battle, but all activities related to the sea.
The event is mainly held at sea with all the city’s Navy ships in an offshore parade, they are followed by tour boats and fishermen that then hold a ceremony to honor navy personnel.
Here in Mahahual we had a big celebration and festivities put on by the Mexican Navy and the Port Captain here. There were boat rides, swimming races, greased pole climbing, and other activities, followed by a free lunch for everybody in town afterwards. All the school kids were let out of school and all attended, and participated in the games and activities. There were also other representatives of the Mexican Navy from the capital of Chetumal to help host the event.
It was very overcast and rainy, but the activities still went on. I myself went and even took a boat ride which I have photos of. I went on the boat to watch the Navy place a wreath in the water in honor of those lost at sea. I had a Mexican woman friend with me, and she helped take photos and helped to translate and tell me what was going on. I have learned, if you want to capture an event or holiday in Mexico, turn a Mexican woman loose with a camera, and she will get you all the photos you need, and then some. She must have taken 150 photos, of everything and everybody.
After the boat tour and the ceremony, there were swimming races for all the different age groups for the students and children of the village. Prizes were given, and the races were quite entertaining, and some close finishes.
After the races there was a greased pole contest. A pole about 15 or 20 feet high was greased, and prizes were placed at the very top. Several local businesses and restaurants donated the prizes, and I think the Navy provided some too. This was very entertaining to watch, and it was my first time in Mexico I have witnessed this. In South Carolina I have seen greased pig, and greased watermelon contests, but never a greased pole contest.
It started oit with several young guys trying to climb the pole by themselves, but they kept sliding down. So a group of some of the bigger guys in town got together and formed a kind of human base at the bottom of the pole. Then some of the smaller guys started to climb on their backs to reach the top. This went on for several minutes, and they finally got almost to the top, but they were still short by a little bit. All of a sudden this little skinny Mexican kid,( I think they call him Gato, and he just showed up in town on the beach and malecon recently. I see him almost every day hustling cocoanuts and other stuff on the beach to the tourists. He must be about 12 years old, and he is so skinny, he is always walking around on the malecon pulling up his pants. He just showed up one day, I don’t know if he has parents or family here or not, but he is the malecon and beach every day working or trying to sell something) pushed his way to the front of the crowd, and jumped on the backs of the other guys and started climbing to the top. This kid climbs like a monkey on the backs, shoulders, and heads of the bigger guys and struggles, with the town cheering him on, but finally makes it to the top. He starts ripping the prizes off the top of the pole and throwing them down to the crowd, and the crowd goes crazy and starts cheering him. He stands up and raises his arms in the air like he had just won a gold medal, and the crowd cheers him on. He climbed back down and the people mobbed him and were patting him on the back, he had saved the day. He is new in town, but for now he is the hero of the day. I saw him later on that day, and I told him he was Mahahual’s new hero, and he just smiled and walked down the malecon with his chest stuck out, I bet he will not have to worry about a meal for a couple of weeks here.
After the festivities on the beach ended, the Navy and businesses in Mahahual treated the whole town to lunch for free. The food was prepared by a local guy Sergio Duran, who cooked a pig in a hole, local style here. There were tortas and tacos, and drinks for the whole town and it seems like all the school kids were there, and a lot of parents and locals.
The Navy gave a talk and distributed prizes and other things to the school kids and there was a ceremony honoring Navy Day. Even though it was rainy and overcast the holiday was celebrated here and I think a good time was had by all, I sure enjoyed it, and of course I was the only Gringo there, but I think I fit in fine.
Below are a bunch of photos to help you get the feel of the holiday here, these are just several, trust me, I could download a lot more.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers, USA-South Carolina