Monday, January 13, 2014
Our Christmastime Visit to Mexico and Seeing 'The Hobbit'
By Allan Wall
My wife and two sons
and I have returned from our annual Christmastime (Navidad) visit to Mexico, and things went well.
I resided in Mexico for a decade and a half. I met and married my wife there, and that's
where our children were born.
When we lived in Mexico we would travel
to the U.S. for Christmas. Since we moved to the U.S. in 2008, however, we've reversed course and we now go
to Mexico each year for Christmas.
Thus we are able to spend time with
my wife's parents, our sons are able to spend time with their Mexican grandparents, and we celebrate Christmas with them.
As always these days, security is a consideration with the ongoing violence in Mexico.
In the old days we didn't mind driving cross-country at night in Mexico, now we try to avoid it.
Nothing untoward happened to us during our trip, neither security threats nor mechanical problems. (Two years ago we had a mechanical breakdown on the U.S. side of the border. We left our car
with a mechanic and proceeded by bus to Mexico, arriving at our destination on Christmas Eve. After Christmas we returned
by bus and picked up our car, which had been repaired. So it all worked out.)
Many Mexicans who reside in the United States visit Mexico at Christmastime. That can cause long waits at the
border. This time we had a 5 hour wait going in, and a 2 hour wait going out.
We had Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) dinner at my wife's parents' house, the main course being ham.
A week later, we had the New Years' Eve dinner there too.
fireworks and shooting off firearms on New Year's is a Mexican custom and I heard some of that. Sometimes a stray
bullet will hit someone. After all, if a bullet is shot up into the air it's got to come down. It's the law
of gravity. Tragically, consequences are sometimes fatal.
in Mexico, we often make purchases at a Soriana department store (see "Mexico's Soriana Stores - A True Success Story"). During this visit, I saw a medical clinic at the Soriana store, where
customers could be examined.
Now that's an interesting concept.
Maybe in the United States, Wal-mart could open medical clinics. Customers could go shopping and be examined by a doctor
on the same visit to Wal-mart, and maybe have their cars checked in the automotive department at the same time!
Our family enjoys going to the movie theater when we go to Mexico, and this year we went
to the second Hobbit movie, which my 14-year old son had already seen but I hadn't. (When we saw it in
Mexico, it was in English albeit with Spanish subtitles.)
The movie was
entertaining and well-produced. However, as a longtime fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's work who has read and enjoyed The
Hobbit, I can't help but note the difference between the book and the movies.
Yes, I understand that adaptions typically have to be made when transferring a novel to a movie format. I once
adapted Dickens' A Christmas Carol to drama form for a school play and I had to change some things (and cut out
a lot), though I tried to keep it faithful to the original.
The Hobbit, besides the many changes to the plot, to the characters and the ridiculous addition of a female
elf-warrior, the film transforms the emphases, atmosphere and mood of the story.
In the novel, Tolkien employs a leisurely, straightforward and reflective storytelling style, like that of a father
telling stories to children. In fact, Tolkien himself told the story to his own children before publishing it.
The movies have transformed it into a non-stop action extravaganza. The novel's
action is part and parcel of a quest, a journey that Bilbo the Hobbit makes. In the movies, it's wham-bam-bam,
one thing after another. It's like a video game.
No wonder so
many young folks nowadays have such short attention spans! They're accustomed to constant noise and electronic stimulation.
There's something to be said, however, for reading an old fashioned
book like The Hobbit -- turning the pages and letting Tolkien weave his tale at his own pace, the reader imagining
the story as it unfolds.
That being said, of course I plan to see The
Hobbit III when it comes out this year. After all, I saw the first two Hobbit movies!
Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years. His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info/.