11:30 this morning I stepped out my door to be greeted by what first appeared to be a large New Year’s parade of a couple of hundred people coming down the hill.
Wrong. It wasn’t a parade but a funeral procession. I then thought, ‘That’s an awfully large procession. Must have been a very important/well-loved person.’
Wrong. It was a funeral procession for three men. Three hearses. Several trucks filled with flowers. A few cars filled with people. And lots of pedestrians following.
I saw a number of my old neighbors who still live up the hill were in the group following the hearses. Enrique, the old barber, stopped and gently remonstrated me for not coming to visit. He said, ‘It’s been six months. Come by and see us.’
I shook hands with a number of men. There were exchanges of Happy New Years but everyone felt a little awkward saying it given the circumstances.
I stopped Raphael to quietly inquire, ‘Who died?’ He named three names. His friends. All good men who were murdered in their prime.
It occurred to me that the violence had finally shifted as good people were now included in the maelstrom.
And it also occurred to me that I could now be a target as much as the next person. Why not make an example of the smiling old gringo to further demonstrate the extension of fear and death?
After the procession passed I walked the three blocks to the mostly closed Mercado. I wanted some mushrooms and vegetables to cook with some beefsteak leftover from yesterday’s NYE feast.
There I got a bunch of hugs and handshakes and Happy New Years. And I found my mushrooms and veggies.
Walking home I thought, ‘Tomorrow I’ll find out more on who was killed and why.’ One or more of those guys were my neighbors.
I’ve been here so long I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I admire and respect all these people and although it wasn’t my family that was killed, those men were loved by all these wonderful people around me.