2 days ago, someone was shot and killed in my barrio, just outside the government building(the only government building) in town. I wrote about it and posted it on Steemit that night, sharing my experiences with what happened. I want to point out here that this is really the only incidence in 6 months of violence that's occured somewhat close to me. This is from the point of view of an expat, an illegal expat on the run actually, in a new culture who doesn't speak the language. That story in itself is amazing considering that if anyone should have a fear of cops and the government, it'd be me. I live my life here as though it doesn't exist, and it's worked out for me. I will say it helps that I am not property of Mexico and they know that. I've barely spoken to anyone about it but from what we can tell the whole neighborhood and their families knew, as my landlord and her family attended. What I'll share here is what I've gathered from observation, but it shows a lot about Mexican culture and how they deal with death.
The night of the shooting, we went to a friends for dinner and for use of his internet, it was there that I wrote Shooting in the Barrio. We noticed we had to drive around the barrio the long way, and it was still a slim fit getting out as the street was lined with cars. There were people everywhere and they seemed to be congregating and setting tables and chairs(who knew they had so many, by the way, hundreds of chairs) in the street. They also were constructing a sort of party tent over their tables and chairs. Everyone in the neighborhood was out and about, all seemingly heading there. With Mexico being a celebration culture, we somewhat assumed that it was another party, maybe with something to do with the shooting, maybe not. We have a joke here, "I think it's a holiday" as we hear music, parades and all sorts of other noises that indicate someone nearby is partying hard. So while it definitely seemed likely that it was connected to the shooting, we weren't for sure.
We continued down the hill, passing up Policia I had seen in the barrio earlier that were pulled off taking pictures of the hill. At the bottom, we noticed that checkpoint, a lot of the cops being ones I recognized from earlier. They didn't seem to be stopping anyone but they did seem to be looking for someone. We continued on and I wrote and posted that article that night.
Since then however, we've managed to put more of the picture together from our observations. From what we can tell that party was because of the death, a sort of pre-funeral. It seems that it's location is important as we now think that the husband of the woman on the corner was killed. From what we can tell, the shooting happened and the entire neighborhood got together and threw a big old party, out of respect for their fallen. It was a party so big that it went on all night and all day the next day, yesterday. They held the funeral yesterday, only one day after the death occurred, something unheard of where I'm from. We know this because we came home yesterday after taking a friend home and noticed that people had moved to the church and the surrounding area, and many were emotional. When we drove by the government building, we noticed white flowers had been placed on the sidewalk with an x, probably where the person had died.
I went for a coke soon after getting home, only to notice that my favorite miscelanea was closed, seemingly for the funeral. The next closest miscelanea was in the thick of the mass of people, with a line coming from it as they were both taking advantage of the extra business and providing an essential service on a really hot day. As I walked around, I noticed literally everyone I had ever seen in the neighborhood, including my landlord, and many people I hadn't. I was somewhat surprised in the number of people that had come out of the woodwork for this event, on extremely short notice. It was as though everyone had heard and flocked, and those not on the mountain headed up immediately.
It was on another coke trip that I watched the funeral procession go down a road I've actually never walked down. There was a pickup truck full of flowers, which could have been the body, as there was no hearse or anything like that. Everyone flooded down that street, and later I saw them flood out of the same street and disperse in the neighborhood in groups.
Today, when we came back up the hill we noticed that there were 10-15 men on the property on the corner, doing all sorts of yard work and general labor. It was at that point that John formed the theory that it was probably her husband who died, and that was their way of trying to pitch in and help the new widow. When I went on a coke run(we weren't kidding about that habit...), I noticed people pulling up in cars and giving her stuff. I probably watched 3 cars do it in the time I was walking to and from the miscelanea.
So from what we can tell, death has a lot of respect in Mexican culture and it really brings people together. It's as if the men understand what sort of role a husband plays, and do their best to make things less hard on the widow, probably thinking how hard it would be on their wives if they suddenly died. The whole neighborhood came together to pay respect and help their friend through an extremely hard time. No one in the neighborhood was visibly emotional until yesterday. It seemed as though they were paying respect by partying the way any good mexican can, then getting down to business in really helping to support those that are left to pick up the pieces. I have a lot of respect for how they do things here, the people seem much stronger but they still have the ability to come together and be vulnerable as well. I know when I die, I'd rather them party for me then make me wait a week and have a sad event like we do in the states. How they handle the time afterwards is nice, as they are finding ways to help those left instead of just offering some kind words.
PS. As I was posting this, my local friend explained that for the 24 hours following death, people gather to protect and send off the soul properly, with lots of praying and partying. It's generally about 24 hours later when the person is buried, which explains everything we experienced. The only thing left that we don't know is who specifically was involved or why it occured.