I had heard a little about the Mexican celebration called ‘Cinco de Mayo’, and since I was very curious to learn more about this land I was visiting, I grabbed my smart phone and went online in the restaurant at Playa Azul Tulum.
I read that ‘Cinco de Mayo’ translates to ‘fifth of May’, and the day is greeted with fireworks and a day off from work and school to reflect on its meaning. It marks the day of the ‘Battle of Puebla in 1862’.
The reason the celebration is so memorable for the Mexicans is it represents their victory in a David and Goliath-style battle against the highly-armed French fleet in 1862.
I discovered that when the ill-prepared Mexican band of 4,500 inexperienced soldiers fought off the brutal attack from 6,500 highly trained french soldiers from sunup to sunset on May 5th, 1862, the sheer bravery, faith and ferocity of the patriotic Mexicans forced the French to return to Europe to reorganize and increase their army to 30,000 for their renewed attack on Mexico the following year.
Even though the French eventually won against the Mexicans and governed the country for 6 years under the rule of Archduke Maximilian of Austria, Napolean’s nephew, the Mexicans celebrate their victory at ‘Battle of Puebla in 1862’ as a symbol of the country’s ability to defend its independence with faith and bravery.
Later, as I lay in my hammock soaking in the tranquility of the Caribbean, I closed my eyes and imagined what it might have been like to be a young teenager back in 1862, enjoying my adolescence in this idyllic and beautiful country then being called into joining an army for a seemingly losing battle to defend it the next.
The bravery and patriotism of these young men protecting their right to govern their own land against a marauding foreign land set to exploit them is a fine example of what makes a country a home, and the kind of patriotism that the Mexican people stand for.
I am so glad that I am free to come and go in this beautiful land, to appreciate it and love it, as those brave souls did so many years ago; a love and faith so much stronger than their reality that they could not win against the Goliath that came to take it from them.
I love Tulum, and I love this land that welcomes me with the smiling families and dignified souls that have grown from a love of a land and of itself; in the tradition that a proud and dignified nation comes from.