Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from Mazatlan!

Written in the Christmas morning stillness…

Yesterday, we spent some time decorating the boat for Christmas.

Bryan made these decorations for our wall. Good thing we don’t have too much condensation these days.
Meira made us stockings from the brown paper left over after we used up the wrapping paper. The symbols match those on our stockings at home.

There wasn’t room for Bryan with the rest of us, so he ended up on the pantry.

We hung our socks with care, but they ended up too small and we used pillowcases instead
Bryan went to the store for wrapping paper, etc (the etc is now wrapped and under our “tree”) and the girls and I elved around the boat for a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, Meira made us the paper and yarn tree and this nativity scene collage cut from a sailing magazine. Joseph is into windsurfing, there were apparently female shepherds, and Mary needed a little help covering up her bikini. The “sheep” are a cat and dog, one of the wise men has a map (he’s a wise man, that guy), and Baby Jesus is wrapping in a spinnaker, laying in a sailboat.
I wrapped presents down below while the girls washed dishes in the cockpit.

About halfway through both, a tropical rainstorm came through and we had to cover the gifts in a hurry to let the girls back in the boat. The dishes got an extra rinse!

Bryan grilled some marinated steak between showers and we had a fabulous lunch of steak tacos with tomato, grilled onion, avocado, cabbage, and lime.

We spent some time in (or near) the pool and then, about 7, we met up with our friend Will for an excursion to Oldtown Mazatlan.
We stopped for a few minutes on our way out to watch a party with a giant piñata.

Then we negotiated a ride into town in the back of a truck. It’s not as adventurous as it sounds; they’re actually taxis here. I tried to take pictures, in the dark, on the move.

I settled for making memories instead. We sat on padded seats, facing each other, away from the wind finding its way through the cracks in the plastic walls. We shouted at each other over the sound of the engine and flinched as the driver narrowly missed hitting a police truck. The girls beamed all the way there.
We’d planned to go to Midnight Mass at the downtown cathedral, so we asked the driver to drop us off there so we could get our bearings. Good thing we did! The only mass of the evening, the 8 o’clock mass, was starting just minutes after we got there (This is the third time on our trip that we have stumbled into a cathedral or basilica just as a service began.)

We walked around to the main entrance and found room to stand in the back. The service was in Spanish, of course, with many traditions as foreign to us as the language. But it seemed important to take the opportunity to honor and experience the culture this way. And it was fun to hear some familiar tunes, even if we couldn’t understand all the words.

I often play a part in our community’s Christmas Eve service and it’s a little bittersweet to be away. But just like at home, as the service drew to a close, the musicians led “Silent Night.” All around me, worshipers joined in. I thought I even caught a hint of our friend singing in the original German, his native tongue.The beauty of the Spanish words—“Night of Peace, Night of Love”—soared above the clear sounds of my daughters’ voices—“Christ our Savior is born.” They reached for my hands and we sang together of the gift of Emanuel, the God who is with us, however far away from home.
We broke away from the stillness and wandered a few blocks to a central plaza. The roads around the square were filled with tables, the tables surrounded by joyful celebrants.

The square itself was a circus of light and beauty.

We found an empty table for 5 that seemed to have been set just for us. We ate and drank, laughed and savored. A ranchero stood near us doing tricks with his lariat. Live piano music from the restaurant next door filtered over. A quartet of drummers set up nearby and took turns juggling fire batons under the trees.

We sat as long as tired eyes could stand. I walked away looking back over my shoulder, trying to capture the fleeting magic for always.
A golf-cart taxi had just stopped on the corner to let out some riders. We negotiated a price back to the marina and squeezed in, the girls in the front with the driver, and grown-ups in the back. Even the crude rap music from the speakers couldn’t dampen our delight. Meira kept looking back at me and smiling at the wild ride—no walls, no seatbelts, just the warm wind on our faces (and up my skirt!)
Back at the boat, I surreptitiously poured a few gifts into our pillowcase “stockings.” As the evening revolved into Christmas morning, we crawled into bed.

We finally got a shot of the golf cart sleigh that keeps zipping past us at the resort!

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