Category Archives: Fiestas

Mexican Alarm Clocks


For sixteen years, I’ve been watching Canadian and American expats flood into Mexico and most, no matter how charmed they might be with Mexico, have the same main complaint—the profusion of VERY LOUD sky rockets that are set off by the thousands during festivals, beginning at the very early hour (by gringo standards) of 6 A.M.

I have a piece myself, written on my first morning in Mexico 22 years ago when my husband and I awoke to what we were sure must be the cannon fire of a revolution in Oaxaca.  Alarmed, we sat cowering in our room that thankfully opened onto an inside courtyard until the artillery ceased and the city seemed to awaken to a normal day.  Familiar sounds of cars, donkeys, water vendors, gas vendors, vegetable vendors and motorcycles filled the morning air and we ventured out.  Knowing no Spanish at the time, there was no one to ask about the early morning sounds of battle until we met another gringo couple in the Zocalo and asked if they knew what the early morning artillery fire had been about.  They were polite and didn’t laugh too loud as they explained the Mexican fondness for cohetes (skyrockets) and their purpose.

After moving to Mexico a few years later, I became very well acquainted with their presence not only during holy festivals but also fiestas and celebrations of all sorts: weddings, birthdays, mother’s day, quinceañeras, christenings. After 16 years of living in this country of vivid colors, tastes  and smells,  noise seems to be as important as any other sensory excess while celebrating and living life. This poem, discovered in the bowels of my computer and written 20 years ago or more, now seems the norm:

San Miguel Morning

The sounds of rooting cats
like infanticide
tuba music
in 4/4 time.
Donkey brays.
6:29 in the morning.

All’s right with the world.

If you are curious about just why all these skyrockets are necessary and why the complaints of gringo invaders will always fall on deaf ears, read this excellent article on cohetes by Craig Dietz.

The prompt today was noise.

Mexican Fiesta

 Mexican Fiesta

Every village has one for the saint’s day of their town.
Vendor booths spring up like grass as fireworks rain down.
Bottle rockets all day long are auditory pollution.
Newcomers often fear that it is a new revolution.
Thousands in a day explode, from predawn into night;
so gringos living in the town often just take flight
for the two weeks of fiesta that happens every year
as loud music and announcements join the assaults to the ear.
But after thirteen years, to me it’s just become a joke.
I simply plug my ears and down another Rum and Coke.

The Prompt: Write about a strictly local event in the place where you live as though it were an entry in a travel guide.