We are at La Terra Nova sitting at a cafe table. It is dark but the zocalo is alight with the stars of twinkling white electric Christmas candles. A bedecked tree rises three stories. A gold painted mime entertains locals and visitors in one corner. A Christmas posada of school children come by, the girls carrying decorated baskets on their heads, the boys wearing Joseph costumes, accompanied by parents. A teen band of trumpeters and saxophonists bring up the rear. After they pass, a group of excellent ranchero musicians assemble to play for pay right in front of us. The air is warm yet beginning to chill and I wrap my cochineal-dyed rebozo (shawl) around my shoulders. The zocolo gardens are stuffed with noche buena (poinsettias). Children twirl and dance. Tourists stroll arm in arm.
Eric, Elsa and I are sipping Micheladas. It is the Terra Nova version: maggi, salsa picante, lots of lime juice and beer. It doesn’t have tomato juice and I’m not as fond of it. I ask Elsa why Oaxaquenos eat 12 grapes at the new year. She says that each grape represents the month of the year, and as you eat each grape you make a wish for something important for that month. I ask her what she wishes for and she says she only wants good health and meaningful work. We say, a su salud, to your health. It is a good wish.