Friday, November 2, 2012
The Day of the Dead
Today is the last of the Day of the Dead celebrations. I didn't go out at night and see the parade, the fireworks or the activities at the cemeteries. I rarely go out at night anymore. But I couldn't avoid the sounds of all the cohetes and firecrackers going off, day and night. The cohetes are like giant firecrackers that are shot up into the sky. They explode with a loud bang and a whiff of white smoke. It scares the dogs. Many of the Mexican dogs that have always heard them are okay but the ones that have come down from the States or Canada, they don't know what is going on and they run for cover. These explosions go on for days. Some of my friends have had to drug their dogs in order to calm them down. Chico is a Mexican street dog. The explosions don't bother him.
I don't know much about why these noises are so popular with the Mexicans. I once heard that they are supposed to scare off evil spirits. Mexico is a noisy country, no doubt about that. If you want peace and quiet, don't move to Mexico.
Today I am taking the bus into Chapala to take photos of the altars for the Day of the Dead. One street is closed off so people can make elaborate ones on the street. It is a lot of fun. So I didn't miss everything. Just almost everything.
Maybe getting older is why I don't bother to make the effort to go out and celebrate at night. Or maybe it is just fear because of being alone and having to walk in the dark, down isolated streets. Women have been mugged in the daytime here and at night I would be even more vulnerable.
I remember towards the end of my mother's life, she would say, "Well, that is the last time I will do ....... " (Fill in the blanks,) she was marking off her last times, the way young children mark off their first times. It always made me sad to hear her say those words but now I understand them. I will never go trick or treating again. I will never ...... (Fill in the blanks) I am doing my last times just a my mother did.
I remember my mother taking me to the cemetery where she had bought a plot and I refused to get out of the car to look at it. I didn't want to admit that she would die one day. She was upset at me for not wanting to see it. But it made me too sad to even think about it.
Here in Mexico, there is a different attitude towards death. It is more accepted and celebrated every year with altars to the loved ones who have passed away and trips to the graves at night to eat and play music and communicate with them. This is one of the biggest holidays of the year. I hope it isn't my last one.