January 20, 2009

Seeing the inauguration as an 'expat' - quite an experience

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - Whenever I use the term 'expat' - short for expatriate - it rankles some people who think that those of us who live some - or most - of the months of each year outside the U.S. are somehow, well, unpatriotic.

A roomful of people, many of whom would label themselves 'expat' proved that to be a mentira (a lie) today in La Manzanilla. When the Star-Spangled Banner was sung, everyone was on their feet and there was barely a dry eye in the house. And the cheers as President Obama made his speech rattled the palm fronds in the palapa.

Luckily, there were no scorpions in the rafters to ruin what turned out to be a great party.

Palapa Joe's watches the inauguration
A packed Palapa Joe's for the inauguration

I arrived just moments before the speech by our new president and as luck would have it, Jane Gorby, aka Lois Lane, had seats for my amigo Mario and I in the back. Adm. Fox was in Vallarta and caught the whole historic spectacle up there.

The room was as crowded as I have ever seen it. Willie, Palapa Joe's owner and bartender extraordinaire, said he believed there were more than 110 people crammed in. Every seat was taken, including all the perching spots on the steps and planters.

And when the announcer said that Barack Obama was officially El Presidente de Los Estados Unidos, the room erupted into cheers and with a lot of backslapping and shaking of hands. In addition, several people told me they were going to get seriously drunk today to celebrate. Better than four years ago, they said, when they got seriously drunk to drown their sorrows at George W. Bush's inauguration for a second term.

Jane Gorby was there on official business, as a columnist for the Guadalajara Reporter. We talked journalistic strategy briefly over drinks (We are journalists, after all!), and Jane launched from her chair right after the speech to interview a half-dozen or more people to get their reactions.

Jane Gorby interviews the inaugural attendees
Jane interviews a group at Palapa Joe's

Journalist Jane in search of the perfect quote
In search of the perfect quote

The heros of the day - besides the new President and vice president - were Willie and Norma. Willie worked feverishly to keep up with the drink orders as the crowd got more happy and more thirsty. Norma needed roller skates to keep up with the drink orders and the food coming out of the kitchen.

Willie serves 'em up during the inauguration
Willie serves 'em up

The only downer of the day for me, was having to listen to the pundits immediately after the ceremony dissect President Obama's performance. A little silence from those folks would have been nice today.

And that is coming from a career journalist.

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1 comment:

VisitLaManzanilla said...

Yippeee! What an exciting day. My husband and I were at palapa joes as well, so proud to be an American and so hopeful for the future!