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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Bombs Bursting in Air

Cohetes are constantly being set off during the village's celebration of it's patron saint, San Andrés.  They begin as early as 5 AM and numerous bombs are shot into the sky in quick succession.  At 12 noon, the church bells and the rockets can be deafening if you find yourself in any canyons formed by the buildings around you.

These rockets are of simple construction.  A rocket engine like those used in model rocketry is tied to a thin wooden dowel and topped with a wad of paper containing gun powder.  And, as with rocketry, a fuse trails out of the bottom of the rocket engine.  When lit, stick and all shoot off into the sky and explode.

I was told that these "fireworks" are tightly controlled, yet somehow a gringo friend was able to gift me 5 of those noisy babies from his stash.  I had been slightly fearful of setting them off, but the election of Senator Barack Obama as the next President of the United States had me sending 3 of them into the night sky.  My last two are being saved for New Year's Eve.

Nearly every night of the 10 day festival sees a traditional "ground" display of fireworks based on a two story high wooden contraption called a castillo (literal translation -- castle).  By the time the castillo is fully constructed it is covered with giant wheels and other moving parts with hundreds of individual firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers, and flares.  Additionally, standard fireworks are set off on two or three special nights.  Presently the town square is ringed with beer and liquor tents, food stands, and even a couple kiddy carnival rides.  Here a gordito is a rather large glass of cerveza or a very sweet bread, not some faux Mexican dish served by Taco Hell.  Ajijic knows how to party.

This morning, as on other mornings this past week, we awoke to the sound of the cohetes and the sweet sounds of a band in a pilgrim's procession going down our street and ending at the main church.

The celebrations continue.


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