Monday, May 02, 2005


Ocotlan, Oaxaca
Originally uploaded by BillieS.

In the USA I live near downtown Houston and for some occasions, like the 4th of July, there are great displays of fireworks. The city departments coordinate to mark off huge "fall out zones" and to have police, fire and emergency department personnel at the scene. Everything is done to insure safety.

What a contrast with Mexican fireworks. First of all, fireworks are not reserved for just a few occasions a year but they are a part of most events, births, funerals, weddings, saint's name an occasion and it will probably have fireworks. Sometimes they start at 5:00 AM and sometimes at midnight. The first month of May we spent in San Miguel, I felt like I was in a war zone with all the late night and early morning fireworks.


And secondly the "fall out zone" is however far back YOU think you need to be from the flying sparks and debris. For the Mexicans, that isn't always so far back. Little boys show their bravery by putting a piece of a cardboard box over their head and running through the flying sparks. During the Festival of San Miguel when rockets are fired not up but across the jardin, young men climb tall poles and dodge the rockets. Of course, this happens about 4:00 AM and they have been drinking all night to bolster their courage. And just so everyone in the crowd feels like they are living dangerously, the town may have men wearing structures over their shoulders. The structures may look like a "toro" or a small tower but it will be covered with exploding fireworks. The men may just run around the edge of the crowd or if they are the "toro" they may run through the crowd.


The style of Mexican fireworks is different than all of the exploding rockets with cascading stars that we have in the USA. Oh, the Mexicans also have the exploding rockets with stars but they use a lot of just a lot of rockets that just make noise...lots of noise. The grand display is called a "castillo" and it is usually a four-sided very tall structure that looks like it is made of bamboo wired together. Attached to that are pinwheels that spin or umbrella type things that open up and glow, pop and spark. All of these attachments go off sequencially so that the Castillo may take 15 or 20 minutes to "do it's thing." Usually there are two or three Castillos for a fireworks display.

I never get tired of seeing the fireworks here in Mexico either up close and personal in the Jardin or from my terrace against the night sky. It is so different....I know I'm in Mexico.


I'm a OK guy said...


Well done. Both the images and the story.

Rosana Hart said...

I really enjoyed this piece. My husband Kelly (whose photos you saw on Flickr) and I are living in Bernal, east of Queretaro not far from you. It's feria time here and there are lots of fireworks.

I will link to your blog soon. We have to go back to the US for some months in a week or less, and it will be a good place for my readers to go!

Rosana Hart

BillieS said...

Rosana, I'd be honored to be linked to your blog which is great. Love reading it.