Video: tequila, gun-fire and dancing in the streets

Inhabitants of the small town lined the streets to follow their fellow townsfolk dressed as Charros, Mexico’s traditional cowboy or horseman. Many of the Charros concealed their faces with masks of bearded Spaniards as they stepped and turned to the beat of Banda music.
Both men and women sported the beautiful heavy suits particular to Charros, the women swapping the trousers for long, fitted skirts. The intricately embroidered outfits depicting images of horses, eagles or other animals in gold thread that glinted in the afternoon sunshine and made them seem worth the 15,000 pesos (1,500 US$) that people pay for them.Semana Santa Begins, Iztapalapa
As we followed the crowd, who moved slowly through the narrow streets, our guide, a local diputado (MP), nodded to the on-looking policemen who had parked their jeep down a side-street. In full uniform and bullet-proof vest, their commander waved back. Hands were shaken and backs slapped. Behind him, one of the other policemen played idly with his mobile phone.
The crowd moved on but we took a sharp right into what was a family ‘comida’ the main meal of the day, hosted by the family of the carnival reina (queen) in the garden surrounding their modest stone and adobe house. As I was stuffing pork bar-b-que and tacos into my mouth and washing them down with a cold Corona, the man next to me nodded and said ‘provecho’, the Mexican equivalent to ‘bon appetite’.
In his late 60’s, Pedro was elegantly dressed in a white shirt with a brown suede cowboy design on the front and tight-fitting beige trousers. The pistol holster on his hip was empty.
‘My son was hit by a falling bullet last year,’ said Pedro.
‘What comes up must come down. Thanks to god, the bullet didn’t penetrate his skull and after a trip to hospital he was back dancing in the streets.’
Semana Santa Begins, IztapalapaAs he spoke gun shots ran out. It is a sound easily recognizable even for war-virgins like your humble correspondent.
Back out on the street a band of men women and children were dancing to banda and sporting masks of Shrek, monsters and ghosts. Every few minutes, one of the men standing nearby drew out his pistol and fired five or six shots into the air. Mercifully, the guns were pointed diagonally, meaning the bullets would fall outside the street.
Unlike the one foreigner in the crowd, the young children, adolescents and women didn’t flinch at the sound of gunfire.
‘We don’t do this because we’re crazy,’ Pedro said.
‘Men who fire their guns do it to show their pleasure and happiness.’
They may be happy, but the sound was deafening and painful to the ears.
When a man two meters away drew out his automatic and pumped some rounds into the air, the air around us bystanders moved with the force of the shot. Then he brought the gun down to his hip and started loading it again as his red-eyed companions, all of whom were dressed in just jeans and a shirt, watched the proceedings in silence.
‘They’re not part of the party’ whispered my companion.
‘Many think that local narco-trafficantes come here to try out their firearms without getting into any trouble.’
That may just be vicious rumor, but as night drew in and fresh tequila bottles came out to replace the empties, it seemed like a good time to begin our trip back to the centre of Mexico City.