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Columns

Making peace with those darn cohetes

By a non-scientific calculation I estimate that eight out of ten expats have a strong aversion to cohetes, those ear-splitting rockets that are fired off around here with mind-boggling regularity.

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Aside from getting rudely jolted out of sleep at ungodly hours, folks mostly object to the fear and panic the darn thing cause to helpless animals.

I understand. The wooden front door of my house is riddled with the claw marks left by canines desperate to take cover inside. One sensitive pooch even broke through glass windows more than once in attempts to escape the terrifying blasts.

While many Mexican people love or at least tolerate rocket fire as a cultural custom, some despise them with equal fervor as foreigners do. Among them is my dear friend Javier Raygoza, publisher of Chapala’s Spanish language weekly Página. He makes no bones about his point of view in frequent editorial comments on the paper’s pages, railing about priests who collude with their parishioners in the waste of money that would be better spent on helping the poor.

For Javier it’s not so much about the infernal noise. A man of many talents, he is a musician in his spare time, ironically fond for making his share of instrumental racket.

Cohete-haters never run out of motives for aggravation. I tried to count the number of days in the year when rockets can be expected, but I ran out of fingers before I got to the end of January.

New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day, the Day of the Holy Cross, and Independence Day are the single day celebrations when we are invariably subjected to a steady barrage of cohetes. They are shot off repeatedly day and night during each and every prolonged religious fiesta that happen somewhere hereabouts just about every month.

According to legend, the practice replaced ancient rituals of thundering drum beats to ward off evil spirits, becoming a signal to manifest the protection of Christian gods. On the theory of the more the merrier, shooting off massive quantities of cohetes is a matter of pride to many fiesta patrons. The firecrackers also serve as a call to worship for people unaccustomed to fixation on watching the clock.

Cohetes are employed to kick off running contests and celebrate weddings, birthdays and other rites of passage. Sometimes they are ignited just for the hell of it, and perhaps to annoy the neighbors.

Here’s the deal. Like them or not, cohetes are part and parcel of lakeside living. They won’t be eliminated by noise control regulations. They won’t be stopped by endless griping on Facebook. Countless incidents of injury and death from pyrotechnic accidents all over the country haven’t been enough to do the job, because hundreds of people depend upon the perilous rocket trade to make a living.

So give up the frustration and keep in mind that irritation can be reduced with earplugs, white noise gadgets, tuning out through meditation techniques and self-applied brainwashing to accept that boom-booms are simply an aspect of the surrounding auditory landscape.