Of the many worries facing a typical American or Canadian living in Mexico, in my experience there is one worry that appears frequently and most often rises head and shoulders above all the rest. I think you all know what I am referring to. I’m speaking, of course, about the little matter of noise.
Put another way, calling the fireworks I hear in my neighborhood at any hour of day or night a “firecracker” is like calling a debilitating migraine a mere headache. In each case, words fail.
And don’t get me started about the ringing of the church bells. They ring with such enthusiasm and endurance that one imagines they’re announcing the end of hostilities; it’s Victory in Europe Day all over again.
We recently experienced another off-the-charts noisefest. Like Floridians boarding up their coastal houses in the face of an impending hurricane, I stocked up on wax ear plugs well in advance of the event. A few weeks ago, Sunday, June 15, to be exact, San Miguel celebrated its annual Parade of Locos (Dia de los Locos).
The Locos, aka Crazies, celebration is a kooky rite of early summer and, truth be told, one of my favorite fiestas. Entire neighborhoods, families, and businesses create floats or form bands or play dress-up, en masse, in anything from women’s clothing to a huge papier-mâché replica of a politician’s head, and then march up and down streets. This is a parade where macho men dress up as women and hurl candy with such ferocity and aim that one imagines the entire point of it is to put out as many eyes as possible.
After consulting a guidebook about San Miguel, I learned the town is a festival town unlike most others, even by Mexican standards. If San Miguel were a college instead of a town it would easily make Playboy’s Top Five list for parties. At some point, the town was recognizing and celebrating so many saints and heroes the central government told civic leaders to pick a few and stick with them.
Experiencing these fiestas and festivals has helped me to understand why the Mexican people remain warm, friendly, and downright happy, in spite of a daily struggle to make ends meet. They know they are always just a day or two away from their next party. Don’t get me wrong. When they can find work, they work very hard. But I suspect they party even harder.
I once told my wife it was a good thing Mexico didn’t own a nuclear weapon because they’d probably detonate it just for the noise. Not to harm anyone, mind you, but solely for the sound it would make and to earn the appreciation of the crowd below. That’s because in Mexico if it’s worth celebrating, it’s worth a lot of noise. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s their nuclear weapon: a talent for celebrating life.