Our St. Patrick’s Day in Playa del Carmen
Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 20, 2009
Our Green Past
We have always loved St. Patrick’s Day. For the many years we lived in San Francisco, we usually took the day off to celebrate with friends. There was always a St. Paddy’s Day party (or ten), as San Francisco has a huge Irish population. Over the years we celebrated at Harrington’s, Herrington’s, Pat O’Shea’s, Ireland’s 32, the Dubliner, The Plough & the Stars, Fiddler’s Green, Abbey Tavern, The Four Deuces and for the last couple of years, our favorite Irish bar, O’Reilly’s, owned by our friend Miles O’Reilly.
The Irish in Mexico
Here south of the border, things are a little different. Mexico in fact has history with the Irish. An old friend of ours, legendary San Francisco bartender Mike McCourt (baby Mike in the book Angela’s Ashes, written by his brother Frank McCourt), explained to us once how in his youth he lived for a time in Mexico and was treated royally because of his Irish heritage. Mike was the one who told us about Los San Patricios, or “those of Saint Patrick.” It seems during the Mexican/American war of 1846, many young Irishmen came to fight on the side of Mexico against what they saw as American aggression. Some of them were American cavalrymen who deserted; others were simply Irish immigrants. It’s a fascinating part of history. Here’s a great site to learn more about it. In fact, we have discovered that many Mexican towns have monuments and plaques honoring the Irish who helped defend their country. They even have a day set aside to honor Los San Patricios, which is September 12.
However, Mexico does not celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. So we thought it was our duty as American expats of Irish descent (well, Tony, anyway) to celebrate St. Paddy’s day in style. So…we decided that we’d have our own St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Luna Blue Bar. We wanted it to be one of the best St. Paddy’s day parties ever, so we put a lot of thought and work into it. Over the last several months, each time we would return to the US, we would spend some time shopping for decorations, prizes, giveaways…anything green, Irish or related to St. Patrick. We arranged for one of Playa’s favorite local musicians, Chris Bolister, to provide the music for our party. It seemed a natural fit as Chris’s mom is from Ireland, and he is well-versed in the old traditional songs (as well as a couple new outrageous ones whose lyrics can’t be published on a family blog).
As March 17 approached, we kicked it into high gear. Tony designed a poster, and we had a bunch printed up. We took them around town ourselves, hanging them on lampposts and empty fences. We took the same poster and had it turned into a “lona,” a giant poster on a plastic tarp, and hung it in front of the hotel. At the same time we had another lona made for the party featuring a pretty girl in a leprechaun hat carrying green beer and proclaiming she was Irish and should be kissed. Oh, and did we mention she forgot to wear her shirt?
We also asked our good friend Renata if she would be our special leprechaun for the party. Renata is one of the sweetest people in the world and happens to dance at a local mens club. She’s beautiful, Brazilian, and has a great sense of humor about it all. She appeared as our special guest at our Obama inaugural party in a stars & stripes bikini she had specially made for the event. She agreed that she would be at our St. Patrick’s Day party in a new green shamrock bikini to help with giveaways, prizes and to pose for photos.
We put together a fun drink menu featuring things like the Irish Dream (Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey), the Irish Pecker (Jameson’s & a splash of lime) and a few other specialities. We ordered enough beer (we thought) for the crowd we expected. Then we sent out the word on the internet to locals and tourists alike. We gave “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons and other goofy green stuff to the staff. The day before and of the party we spent decorating the bar with “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” signs, green tinsel shamrocks, and hundreds of green balloons. There were a lot of ballons to blow up, but we had help not only from Genaro and Jorge, but even from some of the guests in the hotel, including a groom-to-be (who is getting married today). All we needed now were people to show up for the party. As it turned out, we had more than enough of those.
By the time the party officially started at 7pm, the bar was already filled to capacity and people were overflowing into the hotel courtyard, the garden and the street in front of the bar. One group of about 30 people from Ireland and England who were in town for a wedding, showed up and took over the entire center of the courtyard. They were delightful. We also had a group of lovely ladies who had just arrived from Peru; a group from Iowa who came dressed in shamrock-festooned clothing (Kiss Me I’m Iowish); a young couple who came with their faces painted green; several babies in strollers; a couple of dogs; lots and lots of Luna Blue Hotel guests; a number of local Mexicans; and just about every ex-pat in town. We were packed to the palapa, as our firend Michele said.
The great people at Superior beer company (our rep Rosa and her boss) brought us hundreds of little presents to give away. We had Dos Equis XX lanyards to which we attached small green plastic shot glasses; Dos Equis XX spring break t-shirts; Dos Equis XX bottle opener/keychains; green beads; cigarette lighters and tote bags. To this we added our own flashing green headgear; Irish drinking gloves; Guinness coozies; and a bunch of other goodies. We had Renata (who everyone calls Ginger, but that’s another story) pass out many of the gifts. Needless to say, she was a huge hit. The beer company also sent over two young ladies clad in skintight black outfits, proclaiming them to be Dos Equis XX beer girls. They were cute, friendly and not surprisingly, very popular.
Chris Bolister performed his usual terrific musical set. The poor guy had literally just arrived in town a few hours before and was pretty beat. But he came through as always, mixing some traditional Irish ballads and drinking songs with other popular tunes and some of his own compositions. If you ever get a chance to see Chris, do it. He’s great. And if you’re in town, stop by the Luna Blue and pick up one of his CDs. Or see him live next Tuesday at the Luna Blue Bar.
Around 10pm, with the party in full swing, we congratulated ourselves on once again putting together a fun event. It was just about that time when our friend Rick, a Playa local who was at the bar trying to pick up girls with the help of his cute little dog, Lenny (hey, whatever works), came up to us and announced, “YOU’RE OUT OF BEER!!!” No greater words could have struck fear into our hearts. After a moment of panic, we found out we weren’t completely out of beer, but we getting down to the bottom of the cooler. We had to find a store that would sell us a lot of beer, fast. We asked our beer rep, Rosa, who was still at the party, if she knew where we could go. We might have been a little stressed. Rosa held up one hand to calm us, and with the other whipped out her cell phone. In a moment she had the beer company on the phone and was asking us how many cases we wanted. She gave our order and Cheri asked if it would be cold (frio). No problema. “Frio,” Rosa ordered into the phone. Fifteen minutes later up pulled a truck with our beer. Nobody had to go thirsty even for a minute. And the driver of the delivery van got the added bonus of being able to take photos of Renata in her green bikini with his cell phone camera. Rosa saved the evening!
The party went to midnight when people happily disappeared into the night. Chris went to get some much-needed sleep; Jorge, Nicho and Mario began to clean up the mess; and we put a slightly tipsy leprechaun into a cab home. We finally got to bed around 2 am.
Since we had worked so late and hard at the party, we decided to reward ourselves the next day with a trip to the beach. Having spent the night with so many people, we now wanted a little quiet time to ourselves. So instead of heading for one of our regular beach clubs, Mamita’s, Blucacao or La Playa, we loaded the van with our own brightly colored beach umbrellas, folding beach loungers, and a small cooler and headed down the coast. We went down to Tulum, stopping first for brunch at one of our favorite places, the Pollo Bronco restaurant. If you’re never been, next time you’re in Tulum check it out. They are a small storefront restaurant on the main highway which runs through the pueblo of Tulum. They have a limited menu, but what they have is delicious. They serve roast chicken (quarter, whole or half) served with coleslaw, rice and potatoes twice baked with cheese. Unbelievably good, especially when you’re really hungry.
Then we headed to the beach. After stopping at a little store for ice, drinks and snacks, we drove down the beachfront road. The beach of Tulum stretches a long way, and there are many excellent beach clubs to be found. But since we wanted something more private, we drove until we found a part of the beach that was free of homes or clubs. Walking through an area of little sand dunes, we ended up on an undeveloped stretch of the Caribbean with our name on it. With no other people around, we set up “Tony & Cheri’s Own Beach Club.” We swam in the blue water, snoozed in the shade of our umbrella, read and listened to our tropical music playlist on the ipod. It was pretty much perfect.
Now, we’re back to work. The hotel is full, and the bar, while not as packed as St. Paddy’s Day, continues to be popular.
Next week we’ll take another day off. Maybe. But first we have to start planning for next Tuesday when Chris Bolister is back at the bar.
Here are some more pictures of the Luna Blue Bar’s 2009 St. Paddy’s Day Party:
One of our official posters
Jimmy, Claudia & Heather (caribesunrise.com)
The Dos Equis girls & Lenny
Our wonderful beer reps & a friend
Local Jez hitting on some pretty Luna Blue guests
Jez & Renata
Bartender Jorge trying to keep up with a demanding green crowd
Claire & Carlos
The beer delivery guy taking a picture of Renata with his phone
Locals Rob (buyplaya.com) and John (intheroo.com)
More pretty girls
Chris Bolister with the Dox Equis XX girls
Kevin & Dayna, Luna Blue guests and newlyweds to be (wedding today!!)
Tony & Renata
Locals Rob & Michele (buyplaya.com) in a St. Paddy’s Day liplock
Can you get enough of the Dos Equis XX girls?
Check out the cooll hats!!
More gals in green
Renata & Cheri
Rob again, in a goofy beer hat
Folks relaxing in the reception area
Some of the large crazy wedding group from England & Ireland
More folks chilling out
Listening to music from the most comfortable spot in the garden
Chris’s view of the mayhem
More party girls
Heather (caribesunrise.com) & Laura (Coco Cat Rescue)
More folks partying in the courtyard
The view from 26th Street
For some more pictures (and always great information about Playa and the surrounding area), check out our friend Michele’s blog, Life’s a Beach.