The Lake Chapala region has more than its fair share of Mexican religious festivities.
As each one occurs at frequent intervals around the calendar, foreigners who haunt local social networks come across ranting and raving about the endless barrage of cohete sky rockets that are part and parcel with traditional celebrations.
Many expats express extreme aversion to the ear-splitting rockets that disturb their peace at all hours, and worse still, cause frantic reactions to their household pets. Others have plenty to say about outsiders thinking they have some inalienable right to demand that native inhabitants abandon age-old customs for their own comfort.
A newcomer in San Antonio sparked a flood of such online discussion by mentioning that her canine companion was totally freaked by the fiestas racket in their first two days of residency. Par for the course, as back and forth commentaries were loaded on the thread.
It’s only fair to mention that plenty of Mexican lakesiders are also ardently opposed to cohetes and their impact on innocent animals.
Do rocket-haters have a right to vent on Facebook? For sure. But, does it accomplish anything worthwhile?
On the one hand, yes, because some people respond by sharing helpful suggestions on methods to soothe hysterical pets. There are thunder jackets and other types of body wraps, noise conditioning techniques and medicinal remedies on the market that can help calm canine nerves.
Looking at the flip side, complaining on social media is useless in terms of achieving restrictions or an outright ban on the use of cohetes. On the contrary, the tactic actually tends to embolden those who cling to customs handed down through generations, and boosts their resentment against foreign buttinskies who feel otherwise.
A classic case of the Ugly American phenomenon was reported during the run of San Antonio’s fiestas patronales. A foreign women had the gumption to attend a service at the parish church and drop anti-rocket propaganda in raw language on every pew and the steps of the altar. Her despicable behavior was highly offensive to clergy and parishioners alike. If her objective was to change minds and effect a prohibition on cohetes, it backfired with same intensity of the pyrotechnic devices themselves.
I’m no fan of cohetes, but the noise doesn’t bother me in the least because I accept it as an integral aspect of village life. Fortunately, only one of the pups in our household pack dodges for cover when the bombardments go off nearby. The others just huddle peacefully near the terrace doorway, seemingly taking it all in stride. However, as a life-long animal lover, I found it heart-breaking to see multiple Facebook posts of the doggies who bolted and got lost during all the commotion in San Antonio.
The bottom line is that all of us transplants should keep in mind it’s our obligation to adapt to the local way of life as best we can, not vice versa. We have already intruded enough in the community, with plenty of negative consequences. Ultimately, the native-born folks are the ones entitled to decide to when, if ever, to alter their customs by ruling cohetes off limits. Full stop.