12 Grapes and 12 Wishes–Doce Uvas y Doce Esperanzas

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.

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