Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Puppies, Filth and Murder: Ah, Chihuahua!

In the hotels of Chihuahua, this is the most popular wall decoration

‘Ah, Chihuahua’ is the infectious phrase conjured up by the state’s/city’s tourism board. It’s fun to say, and it kind of rhymes, and it actually quite catchy. Whenever I saw something of note in the city, I would hold Angie’s hand and say ‘Ah, Chihuahua!’

In the main square, we found these two small chihuahuas along with a small Chihuahuan.

Ah, Chihuahua!

A clean bathroom is a hygienic bathroom

Accommodation in Chihuahua was depressingly polarized. When forced to choose between a hundred-dollar-a-night chain hotel or a fourteen-dollar-a-night safety hazard, economics forces us into the latter. This was the kind of room we had largely managed to avoid on the trip. It came with a menagerie of insect life: bees in the bathroom, mosquitos, two kinds of cockroaches and even fleas in the blankets. Every time I brushed against something in the room, say the bedhead or the floor, I came away with a big dirty mark where I had made contact. I slept on my back so that I couldn’t smell the pillow, and crawled underneath the sheets with my eyes closed so I wouldn’t see the stained, probably unwashed, sheets. And this was the best of the seven or so rooms we looked at.

Ah, Chihuahua!

We were walking through the city centre when we heard a quick series of loud bangs from the other side of the square. They sounded like gunshots (but what series of loud bangs doesn’t?), and people started streaming over to the location of the sounds. In these situations at home, people walk with a kind of quick, disinterested swagger that gets them there fast on the off-chance something morbidly interesting has happened, but they don’t look like they’re rushing, which would make them look silly when they round the corner to find a dog with a broken balloon in it’s mouth and a startled look on it’s face.

There was none of that here in Chihuahua, though. Grown men loped unashamedly across the square, shoving the slower women out of the way and knocking over bins in order to see what was going on. They had a unsettling, morbid kind of joy in their eyes. I swaggered quickly and disinterestedly around the corner and found people crowded around a ute pointing mobile phones at the cabin.

Angie got her camera out (of course I’d left mine in the hotel room) and started snapping pictures, as was the local custom.

Seven shells

The police showed up and cordoned off the area, breaking up the mosh pit. People didn’t really take the yellow tape seriously though, and the bicycle cops had a hard time keeping the crowd away.

The press showed up shortly after the first police, and used the police trucks to get a better angle on the action.

The next day, we bought a paper (one illustrated far more graphically than this post) and found out that the victim was an ex-police officer who died on his way to hospital. His girlfriend was uninjured and the shooters escaped on motorcycles.

Ah, Chihuahua!!!

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