On a gorgeous, warm November afternoon I stepped out of the door of a hardware store and into the middle of a 10-piece mariachi band, the guys with the crisp white suits and brass horns, who differ from the fellows in black who line the four squares of the jardin at night. With their cream velvet sombreros safely fastened to their heads, they led a group of well-dressed (though not well-heeled) guests. Each of the male wedding guests wore a sober black suit, a true rarity in San Miguel, and the women were dressed in long, backless gowns and the most ridiculous shoes you can imagine. Each had a pair of four-inch stilettos, some in that wide-toed, boxy shape with the thick heel that seems to be popular now. One poor teen had to walk up on the sidewalk hanging onto her father's shoulder below, unable to handle the street. Her shoes looked like Mother Hubbard's, laced up and black, on a spike that must have been six inches.
But aside from the shoes, more interesting were the three trucks of federales, each carrying about five well-armed officers following the procession as it headed south down Aldama towards the park. I was in the middle of the group, noticeable because I was in jeans, flip flops and a sleeveless white t-shirt. Not wanting to cut in front and go around the mariachis, I carried on with the wedding party, and had time to look around at the crowd. Next to me was a beefy dude with sunglasses and the curly plastic ear piece you see on bodyguards or secret servicemen. What made him a little different was the black canvas bag he was carrying, shaped like a violin case, but clearly holding something else. Next to him was another guy with the same bag. And ahead of them two more on both sides of the sidewalk.
We walked together until I got to Ancho San Antonio, where they turned left, uphill, presumably headed to the Instituto Allende for the reception. At the corner where we parted ways were six more trucks of Mexican police, with no less than two dozens cops, and a few guys posted among the jacaranda trees, guns, walkie talkies, and sunglasses at the ready. Who was getting married tonight?