The Heathen of Santa Maria

Shortly after noon today, I considered going to Centro to buy myself a Judas, not wanting to risk the good ones all being sold out by tomorrow. But then while I was debating over whether to drive or take a taxi, I talked myself out of the proposition, deciding to rent a couple of movies and grill a steak instead. If it’s really a life-size Judas I want, then I should spring for something custom-made instead of street-quality.

The one day of the year that you can count on peace and quiet in Santa Maria de Guido is Good Friday. The buses and combis don’t run, no one’s gunning an engine, the leaves in the trees don’t rumble, no music rings through the air, and even the dogs don’t bark. There is no sense in wasting that moment of stillness by leaving the house.

I did have to leave the house for the videos and a pack of the elements of vice and destruction. There was no one in the street until I turned the corner and saw two young boys sharing a can of beer on the sidewalk. They quickly tried to hide the beer, but they know me well enough to know that I don’t care. On the next block, a neighbor works underneath his car.

Like everything else in my hamlet, every business was closed, even the video store. But you can always count on Don Chucho being open. His abarrote, manned by his two daughters, never closes, not even in the late hours of Christmas Eve. Jesus Villa, who can only write his name with a great deal of effort, is an astute businessman. His prices beat Walmart’s any day of the week, and he has nothing to fear from Walmart’s ventures into the abarrote business. Beer sales were brisk this afternoon, but I never have to wait at this store, because the clerk always hands over a pack of Marlboro Lights without saying a word. Sometimes it’s almost embarrassing that I never have to stand in line there.

Mauricio and Angelica find me in the street, and they invite me over to eat.

“Thanks, but I’m going to grill a steak today,” I tell them. It’s a religious thing.

“Well, you are going to the Procession of Silence tonight, no?”

I lie and tell them I will. They know perfectly well that I’m lying, so it really makes no difference.

Now the Procession of Silence has passed, obviously making no noise as it swept past my street. Goodman the Nearly Perfect Doberman didn’t notice.

I can no longer stand the silence. I put on some Charly Garcia. No one will complain.

Maybe I’ll walk to Centro tomorrow to see the local version of Burning Man.


2 comments on “The Heathen of Santa Maria

  1. Helen says:

    Where are these dolls from? I really want the red Judas!! Can I find one in the US?


  2. Read about the J. Peterman of Mexico at
    and then go to Zocalo Fine Art at, and write Rick and Deb Hall, telling them you know me.


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