Ajijic is in the middle of its annual nine-day festival to honor St. Andres, the patron saint of this charming town. The festival includes numerous activities, mostly centered near the town plaza. There are amusement park rides for the little ones, a variety of vendors, and nightly fireworks. But most of all, there are cohetes.
Cohetes are deafening canon-like firecrackers that cause the entire region to shake like Dolly Parton’s breasts when she has the hiccups. They greet the day around 5:30 a.m.; if luck is on our side, they don’t begin until 6:00, but that involves a lot of day-before prayer and can include illegal bargaining with people who look shadier than New England’s largest maple trees. Some people, I’ve been told, even sell their souls to the devil for the 30 minutes of extra quiet. Once begun, the cohetes can last an hour, maybe more. But by then, your blood pressure is in the four digit range, your fingernails are but nubs, your hair surrounds you in tufts on the floor, your pets have become paranoid neurotics, and your houseplants have packed their bags and moved to the Seychelles.
The cohetes cease just in time for you to take your sedative, or to be more precise, an ample supply of sedatives, but start up again around noon. I made the mistake a few days ago of preparing lunch around noon. Just as I was about to bite into my gooey, gravy-soaked meatball sandwich, a cohete exploded, startling me so I added a new piece of wall art to my home. You would think I would have learned my lesson after last year’s messy, and painful, lunchtime tomato soup incident.
Sunset brings a new round of explosions and they last until bedtime, provided you are a college student pulling an all-nighter. Cohetes are particularly irritating in the evening because they interrupt television viewing. How, I must ask, can one be expected to concentrate on and follow deep, complex programs like 2 Broke Girls, Entertainment Tonight, and Duck Dynasty with that cacophony drowning out their important dialogue?
Because the explosive, deafening reports of the cohetes continue into the night, dreams are greatly impacted by the booming detonations, too. I’ve had recent dreams in which I was hunkered down during a World War II London blitzkrieg with Dame Judi Dench, Ozzie Osbourne, and Benedict Cumberbatch; trapped in a tympani drum with the Iowa State Hog Calling Champion, who was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap; and duct-taped by my long-forgotten college fraternity brothers to a 747 jet engine as the plane approached O’Hare at 10:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
I have found, however, a way to block out much of the noise. I often play my Best of John Philip Sousa CD at full volume while the cohetes are exploding around me. I hardly notice them. My neighbors, though, are not pleased. Apparently, they are more Vivaldi people than fans of Sousa’s marches. As if “The Four Seasons” could drown out a cohete.
After enduring two St. Andres Festivals, I’ve already made plans for next year’s celebration and commotion. I’ll be traveling during that week, vacationing in a nice quiet place, like a mega-bowling alley, Grand Central Station, or a dynamite testing factory. I’ll be certain to include in my itinerary a heavy metal rock concert and a Seattle Seahawk home game for their soothing, relaxing hushed tones.
Meanwhile, I’m also trying to figure out how to smuggle a cohete into the States and stick it up Donald Trump’s ass.