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Column 010515 Wall

Monday, January 5, 2015

Our Christmastime Visit to Mexico and Going to the Movies

By Allan Wall

My family and I have safely returned from our annual Christmastime visit to Mexico, and it was a good visit.   

Christmas, the celebration of the incarnation and birth of Christ, is special everywhere it’s celebrated.  The essence of the holiday is the same, though you’ll find it expressed differently in various cultures throughout the world.  Christmas, called Navidad in Spanish-speaking countries, is a special time in Mexico.

I resided in Mexico for a decade and a half. It’s where I met and married my wife, and where our two sons were born.

When we lived in Mexico we would come to the U.S. for Christmastime.  But since we moved to the U.S. in 2008, we’ve been travelling back to Mexico each Christmas. So we’re making the same trip, just in a different direction.

There’s been a lot of highly-publicized violence in Mexico the past few years.  It’s nothing to take lightly.  On the other hand, it’s not like the whole country is a free-fire zone twenty-four hours a day.  So we made our Navidad trip to Mexico and returned unscathed.

Many Mexicans who reside in the United States visit Mexico at Christmastime.  That can cause long waits at the border.  On this trip, in December of 2014, we crossed the border and then had a ten-hour wait, mostly in the process of acquiring a car permit.  (A permit must be acquired, a fee paid, and a monetary deposit left, for a U.S.-registered car to be taken into Mexico.)

We arrived safely to our destination, which is the metropolitan area in which we formerly resided.  We visited my wife’s parents, other relatives and friends, and celebrated Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) at the house of my wife’s cousin.

We were able to visit a local tourist attraction which we hadn’t been to in years, since before our sons were born.  That particular place now has more tourist infrastructure than it did before.

We like to go to the movie theater when we visit Mexico, as the movie theaters there are very nice.  This time we watched two movies: the third installment of The Hobbit; and the Biblical movie Exodus.

The Hobbit movies are based on novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, who also wrote The Lord of the Rings.  During Christmas vacation a year ago we saw The Hobbit II, and here is my review of that one: Our Christmastime Visit to Mexico and Seeing 'The Hobbit'; I actually thought this third one was better than the second.

All three Hobbit movies were directed by New Zealand director Peter Jackson, who had also directed The Lord of the Rings movies.  (Chronologically, The Hobbit takes place before The Lord of the Rings, but the production of the two movie trilogies was reversed.) 
 

Mexican moviemaker Guillermo del Toro was originally hired by Jackson to direct The Hobbit movies, but due to circumstances beyond his control (delays caused by MGM money problems) del Toro had to leave the project.  However, he still contributed to the production of three Hobbit films and is credited as a co-writer.

The Tolkien movies were filmed in New Zealand.

The Exodus movie, directed by Ridley Scott, was based on the Biblical history of Moses and the Israelite exodus from Egypt.  Not atypical for a Hollywood Bible movie, the Exodus film contained inaccuracies and deviations from the Biblical text.  It did, however, follow the essential outline of the story and was a well-produced film.

The Exodus movie was filmed in Spain, the only country in Europe with significant desert terrain.  You may recall The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a famed spaghetti Western directed by Italian director Sergio Leone, which was mostly filmed in Spain. 

Movies are a popular form of entertainment in Mexico, and there are some nice movie theaters.  English-language movies are presented in the original English-language audio, with Spanish subtitles, or they may be overdubbed.  I prefer to see a movie with its original audio and thus prefer subtitled films to overdubbed films.

We had a good visit, and departed Mexico on the night of January 1st, 2015.  On the Mexican side of the border I returned the car permit and received my deposit back.   But this time, there weren’t many people so it went a lot faster.  The whole process took about 40 minutes, and would have been even shorter except that I forgot a document in my car and had to go back for it. 

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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