If this week’s traffic snarls and fender benders are any indication, it looks as if this winter season could be bigger than the past few economically challenged years. More snowbirds flocking back to the warmth of Lake Chapala is great news for local businesses and service providers who have struggled to keep the doors open.
It should be no surprise that each influx of residents causes growing pains in the small fishing villages that were designed long before autos and giant delivery trucks fought for rare bits of available space. This year the seasonal problems in Ajijic have been compounded by the construction that has closed some of the most heavily traveled streets in the heart of downtown. While the finished project will improve driving and walking, the process is snarling traffic.
To complicate the problem, the annual giant fiesta honoring Ajijic’s patron, San Andrés (aka St. Andrew), begins with a Friday, November 21 evening procession. Part of the carnival booked to entertain the townsfolk during the fiesta’s nine days arrived in time to be set up and ready for the pre-fiesta Revolution Day crowds. With some streets still closed, the carnies and vendors are scrambling to find spaces for all of their games, rides, tents, travel trailers and market stalls. By the end of the month, this entourage will not only have packed the center of town, they’ll also be lining the Carretera.
Some expats find the morning, noon, evening and nighttime skyrockets a more irritating problem than winter traffic. Noisemaking to announce religious celebrations isn’t limited to villages at Lake Chapala; it isn’t even an exclusively Catholic tradition. Aztecs used clattering shells, drums and the long steady note blown through a conch shell to announce special events. In the book “Myth, Ritual and Religion,” published in 1887, Scottish scholar Andrew Lang recaps many of the old customs his father had recorded in a book of traditions some 60 years earlier.
In that earlier text, the elder Lang wrote of exuberant bands of Eton students who pounded on drums and clanged cooking pots with ladles as they raced through the streets of Windsor early on the November 30 feast day of St. Andrew.
The best advice for coping with skyrockets? The best option is to relax and accept that skyrockets are part of normal life in Mexico. Acknowledge, accept and adjust! Wake up realizing that the noise indicates there’s a celebration taking place. The other option? Use earplugs.