My Blog

February 12, 2016

San Miguel by Night

Fear of Mexico at night is highly overrated.

What is it about attitudes in the U.S. that focus so much on the dangers of being in Mexico? Even my Mexican friends in Laredo when I was at the conference there in October seemed to feel that the dangers abounded if I dared go across. I’m sure if we went into the back streets of Laredo, or Houston or Austin or Dallas or any big city, we would run into the same dangers.

Last night we walked home from the conference about 8 or 8:30 at night and I doubt we would have felt safer anywhere in the world. The rough, cobble stone streets are narrow and not terribly well lit but the traffic was flowing, cabs honking, store lights glowing, people strolling along the narrow sidewalks, everyone laughing and talking. As Becca says, this seems to be a happy culture.

The number of vehicles is amazing, and not a traffic light in sight. Cars and buses slow only a little at intersections before throwing their vehicles into the melee. No such thing as stop signs either, and if there were, no one would pay them any mind. Pedestrians just have to throw themselves out there as well. If we are lucky, some kind cabby will slow and wave us across. Buses, not so much.

Of course, we passed the inevitable couples playing kissy face in dark corners, and the resultant mothers and fathers carrying babies wrapped in blankets hurrying home. An ancient crone or two sits crouched on a stone stoop wrapped in their rebozo with their hands out begging for a coin or two. That was rare. Evidently the many Gringos here are so horrified by the sight that they do something–I’m not sure what– to prevent it. Certainly it would be much more common in other towns in Mexico.

The sounds of music from restaurants and bars, loud and brassy, attract passersby, both young and old and even the very distinctive Gringos. Someone at the conference who was thinking of bringing their life-workshops here asked if I thought the ‘natives’ minded. Not hardly! With all the money the Gringos bring in? The Gringos stay in their own areas, and the natives make money working for them. Sometimes there are disagreements and disgustos and probably some robbery and theft of items from the Gringo homes. But for the most part, they live in amicable symbiosis.

The bells from the church clanged as we walked past, slowly at first, then picking up tempo as they called the faithful to mass. There are a number of churches here, all ancient and at least three hundred years old. It pleases me to walk past the many buildings from the 1700s and encourages me to keep writing about the period. At night, the slanted lighting highlights the amazing designs on walls, cornices, doors, and windows.

There was even a fireworks show. We heard the pops, like gunfire behind us, then turned to find the sky full of light. The explosions of the brilliant reds, golds, greens and white star bursts were so close they seemed to cover the whole sky above us.

It was a delightful stroll in the chilly night air without any concerns about danger.

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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