Something as old as the ground she is rooted in – Hank Vine on life and Saint Death in Mexico City

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on May 11, 2018

My good friend from Sulphur Springs, Texas — Hank Vine is in Ecatepec — sub-metro Mexico DF — he writes:

1*UiqBa_fh-T07CPBwzkGHwwPenche camiones —

The hybridization of taxi and micro-bus. There are countless ways to face unexpected danger at any given moment here, one in particular is the transit trucks, they are a hail as needed service.

Meaning there is a constant flow of people coming and going, on and off, businessmen, grandmothers, goth punk kids, and a steady flow of folks selling candy or ice cream or whatever.

It is a hard sell, they shove it in your hands as they pass. Then if you don’t want chiclets at that moment you hand it back and usually do not make eye contact.

Some folks are just trying to hustle to put food one the table, but there is without question a segment of these “vendors” who are genuinely dangerous folks.

Its the static. The kid high as fuck on glue begging a few pesos with an apparently funny story about a failed bathroom visit.

The dude with a bag of bitesize chocolates — 5 for 10 pesos. You have to be a quick judge of a person when they step on the penche camion as much as be prepared for an impact from the rear as we attempt to rejoin traffic.

As I write – Looking at a wreck

Taxi bus collision.

We all say a prayer for the person on the stretcher, and run the next three red lights.

Cathedral Chimes

All this is in real time

Waiting at this light, really sketchy looking cat gets on. He is pushing chiclets. Tattoo of flaca on his right forearm.

Two kids. One maybe 16, the other 10. Hustling mentos candies. Hard sale. Desperate. That is the penche camion.

1*GBFCxrO_zg4fdABjhFAR7gBeing in an epicenter of femicide, I see the sense of “awareness of surroundings” on the faces of women, young and old. It is not fear, or even resignment to an unacceptable and unavoidable fact of life ( that life in general, and here female life in particular, ain’t worth much) — it is determination and pure fucking grit etched in the faces of women I pass on the street.

There is a collective spirit that pulses in the backstreets and under yellow tarps as the aromas of street food, fruit, raw meat, bizarre offbrand cigs and weed and a thousand other unidentifiable scents all mingle into a sweet stench that is the scent of that unexplainable something.

The DF is as deadly as it is beautiful, with that, as untold numbers before me have already stated — the average working class person faces a daily life not unlike the worst parts of Dallas or Chicago or Minneapolis, the difference is in how folks deal with the situation.

Here, folks are smart/cynical enough that no one trusts the cops or expects any help from them, so the only leaves divine protection which makes for a very crowded playing field.

We took a trip to Tepito to get a crown for the statue in Dallas. While watching all the antics of the self appointed traffic cop for the corner, a camione that had the correct placards for where we needed to go pulls up.

We hop on like any other time, it is crowded as hell, so I stay standing.. The driver turns and comments on my Santa Muerte garb. I smile and say thanks, he is not the first driver to have SM garb and statues.

But this took a different turn. He offered me the most honored yet dangerous seat on the bus — by the front door, basically on the dash. I was humbled and shocked.

I introduced myself, took a good long look at this cat, he was no angel, but he is the flesh and blood example of that spirit that persists here.

It is something that I think is present in any environment where the common people are desperate as fuck, SM is in the States, but aside from a handful of folks who are really in touch with her gritty real world, blood on her robes aspects, they are just shadow boxing.

The driver, I will call him “chilango” went about his route like any other driver, we chatted as best we could. I helped a half dozen elderly folks on and off at stops, a few people mistakenly gave me the bus fare when all I was doing was offering a supporting hand as we went lurching back into traffic.

After about ten minutes we are at a light and stopped, he hands me a small multicolored bracelet, I gaze on it admiringly, when I go to hand it back, he motioned no, and I understood it was a gift.

In return I managed to detatch the first SM medallion I had purchased. There is so much left unsaid, without smelling it, tasting it, seeing it in the eyes of a stray dog, it is difficult if not impossible to convey.

1*5QsD17P2xqoQbHacUQ_JZQI do believe that same spirit is in the States, but it is feral, and still very wild, it is going to take the right folks with the strongest hearts and the weakest egos going into the streets, walking the homeless camps, really fucking doing something, not reading what bullshit I am posting on Facebook and taking my words for any value.

My words are shit, everyones words are shit. If there are true diehard devotees in the North of the border English speakers, they will go to their knees and they will go to the streets.

Here la Santisima is in the streets, not in a store — yet business is one extremely important, if not dominant, aspect of what I understand as Santa Muerte.

Mexico City is a very crowded marketplace for saints looking to make a sale. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an image of San Judas. Flaca, she’s a lot harder to find in terms of stores and whatnot. But I pass as many people sporting SM items as I do San Judas.

I honestly am not sure how or why Santa Muerte manifested in the time and place she did, but I am certain that the entrepreneurial spirit is somehow connected. Tepito has been a market area since precolumbian times, SM is something as old as the ground she is rooted in here.

There is something to be read — if only I could translate it.

Hank Vine
Ecatepec de Morelos, Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
May 11th, 2018

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