Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gunfire and Fireworks

A few nights ago, I was Skyping with a friend in Australia. She suddenly got all concerned. "Sherry, I hear gunfire, are the Cartels having a battle?"

Gunfire? Then I realized the sounds of fireworks were carrying all the way to Australia. It did sound a bit like gunfire, but I've gotten so used to them I hadn't even noticed.

Every little occasion is reason for fireworks. The parade in Chiapa de Corzo; people shot off black cats right in the middle of the crowd. Several men walked along with what looked like a cord of wood over their shoulders, cloaked in black plastic. The pieces of wood were long sticks with a rocket mounted on top. Once in a while they'd stop, take one out, aim it to the sky and shoot it off. It made a huge racket and then BANG, glittering embers rained down on the crowd.

Sometimes in the early morning, especially on Sundays, the fireworks start long before dawn. Between the early morning truck traffic up and down our well traveled street, clanging church bells on the hour, and fireworks, it's sometimes hard to sleep or sleep in.

However, there's a difference between gunfire and the ubiquitous fireworks. It'a hard to describe other than the actual gunshots (here anyway) are more cracky, it's a report followed by a slight echo. Once in a while I am awakened by a single shot, and it's clearly not fireworks as those tend to be go off in groups. I'm told that many Mexicans have rifles, but use them for agricultural purposes, meaning I suppose, to kill a pig, or shoot a nuisance dog. Even though federal soldiers are often standing around with their assault weapons, I have yet to hear one used.

Thank God for that.