Cinco De Mayo

MayfestAs the title of this post suggests, last Saturday was Cinco De Mayo (May 5th). In a strange example of borrowed culture, the Americans tend to celebrate this distinctly Mexican holiday, originally intended to celebrate Mexican independence. The way in which I ended up celebrating this day was to go to Mayfest in Fort Worth. I went with Craig, one of my friends from church (no, mom, it’s not like that, seriously).

Craig is one of those people who I would like to be like when I get older. Dispite the fact that he needs to use crutches to get around, he’s kept himself particularly fit and healthy. He lives in a lovely home which is filled with beautiful things and only works when he wants to. Among those beautiful things are the cats, or his children as he calls them: mutant and psycho-kitty.

Mechanical BullI knelt down and scratched mutant behind the ears, she purred like a chainsaw. Psycho-kitty eyed me jealously from under the table. Mutant is so named because she has an extra toe on her paws. She’s the affectionate one, and the first to greet me at the door. Psycho-kitty is so named because she has a few unresolved issues to deal with. One of which is her suspicion of strangers.

“Here kitty kitty” I scratched enticingly at the carpet, but she retreated further into the safety of her make-shift den. It was just a few moments and Craig was ready for our long journey out West to Forth Worth. “You like rock?” he asked as he turned on the radio in his car. I shrugged “I have eclectic tastes”. Craig, it turns out, is an avid fan of rock, including the more modern stuff and he listens to the “alternative” radio stations. So, I know a 19 year old who loves jazz and a retired war veteran who’s into rock. Musical taste, it seems, is not ageist.

We talked as Craig drove. He worked as a doctor in the US Navy, so he has a great deal of medical knowledge but he also has the kind of flexible intelligence I admire greatly in people. He’s asked enough pointed questions over time for me to realise that he has more than a passing acquaintance with computers and keeps up to date with technology, news, politics and the like.

Trinity RiverAbout 45 minutes later, we arrived at the festival. In flooded fond memories of “Market in the Park”, the weekly Pietermaritzburg flea market my grandmother would take us to when we were little, back in South Africa. I can still taste the strawberry jam & cream coated scones and smell the fresh loamy soil along the Duzi River. It seems all flea markets and festivals have to be alongside a river. The river this particular festival took place against is the Trinity River, which passes through both Fort Worth and Dallas on its torturous journey south to the gulf.

Real Merry-go-roundAs we entered and paid our $7 entry fee, I received a cute little frog stamp on my hand (I know Sarah would get a kick out of that). The very first thing I laid eyes on surprised me a little. It was a merry-go-round in its most crude and fundamental form. Five little horses were tethered to a pole which allowed them to walk around in a placid circle. It reminded me of the mills I had seen in operation in South Africa, except this mill was used for no other purpose than the amusement of little children. I took a video of the real life merry go around here.

Big BootWe then set about finding the first scheduled attraction of the day: pig racing. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I went to a festival in Texas and there was pig racing, who’d have thunk it? We were hopelessly misled by the map, but that didn’t mean we failed to have fun. Among the many other interesting things I saw was this monstrosity: an enormous boot. It’s size 877 or so and took 80 cow hides to construct. That’s 80 cows worth of leather that went into that shoe. Yes, it really does seem as though everything’s bigger in Texas.

Clear IceNear the shoe, we came across a man unloading large cardboard boxes filled with ice; pure crystal-clear ice, as transparent as glass.

Apparently, the trick is to keep the water circulating so that it all freezes in a nice controlled fashion.
He was preparing for his ice sculpting today and we made a note that we should come back and see him I action later on in the day.

I got a video of him trimming his ice to size.

SPAM!Before we found the live pigs, we found dead ones in the form of SPAM. I had found something I absolutely had to get a photo of: the SPAM-mobile.

It’s no joke, ladies and gents, this is the bona fide SPAM mobile, brimming with people in bright yellow shirts eager to expound the nutritional benefits of a nice big helping of low-sodium SPAM in your diet.

Doesn’t that enormous SPAM burger just make your mouth water? Well, it made my eyes water anyway.

Pig RacingAfter much searching, we eventually found it: a brightly coloured trailer with a cute little racing track set up in front of it. A man with a big hat was hollering into a microphone and making up funny names for the pigs that ran in the races. Christina Hogulera, Brittney Spare Ribs and the like. He also made mention that one of his diminutive athletes had pulled a hamstring the other day. I took some vides of two races: Pig race 1, pig race 2. The announcer chose a kid to cheer for each animal, whenever a child’s pig won, that child got to go up to the front and do something silly in celebration, just like grownups do at horse races.

MarinesWe walked behind the Marines’ stand on the way to the high-dive act. The marines always have a stand at these sorts of events, they’re attempting to recruit people, most likely. As a part of their exhibit, they challenge you to do a bunch of chin-ups. It always reminds me of my good friend John Gilpin from South Africa. John could do 10 chin-ups without breaking a sweat, he was a really funny guy. I miss him.

“How much to ride the Marines, I wonder?” Craig asked innocently at my shoulder.
I grinned.

Another picture Sarah would appretiate is this one of the police with their hats on.

P1040357I took a picture of the marines from behind because I thought they may be a little uncomfortable with me taking a picture of them from the front. I find it continually ironic that these were the kinds of guys who used to scare me in high school: the jocks, the bullies, the tough guys. Now, as the saying goes, most of them are more afraid of me (or the idea of me) than I am of them.

The high dive act was a hoot, they put on a bit of a circus show, replete with clown antics, trampoline act and diving spectacles. Then, the moment we had all been waiting for: the high diver himself (a man who looked to be in his 50’s) climbed nimbly up into the clouds and dove into the water. It was quite impressive. I got a rather dark video of him in action.

Ice SculptureBefore we left, we decided to check on the ice sculptor we’d seen earlier. He had made a great deal of progress. We found him working skillfully at a large bee or blowfly. The ice melted copiously as he shaved a bit off here and there with his tools. It was interesting to me that, of course, he didn’t need to bother smoothing his work with sandpaper. Of course, any blemishes would melt away quite quickly. Also, he would have to make whatever he was making a little bigger than he wanted it to turn out, because it would quickly melt down to be a lot smaller than its original size. I took a video as he cut into one of his newest creations. No, that’s not what you think it is.. it’s a rocket ship. No, seriously. It’s a rocket ship.

Frisbee DogAfter the ice sculptor, we were just in time to see the “disc-connected k9s”. A number of beautiful collies and other breeds of dog entertained us with their antics. I am not entirely sure if I agree with these shows, the dogs do seem to enjoy themselves but sometimes I worry about exploitation. Especially when the man performing with the animals sharply pulls the frisbee out of the dog’s muzzle. The dog on the left turned cartwheels while he grabbed the discs out of the air.

Finally, before leaving, we had a little something to eat. I had a toasted cheese sandwich and Craig had a… wait for it… steak on a stake. Is there anything they won’t put on a stick? Well, it turns out there’s almost nothing they won’t deep fry here in Texas either.