Toys grow on trees.

A few weeks ago, something started screaming in the trees. Every 30 seconds or so, the sound of loose, old, dry fan belts would start screeching and just get louder. When it began, we gritted our teeth and dealt with the constant sound assault. The children however, had quite a different reaction.

" Chicharras!!!"

The kids of Las Lomitas have been constantly entertained and gleeful since the hell-creatures began their tune. When one of the bugs starts screeching, and it seems to be within climbing distance, the closest local child is instantly up in the tree trying to grab it. Just as amusing, as soon as aforementioned child is in the tree, all of the other kids start throwing dirt clods at the now terrified, crying child stuck in the tree. We try hard not to laugh, but it's funny every time.
Fairly well camouflaged, but crying nonetheless.
The chicharras are almost identical to our locusts/cicadas but seem to be a little more desperate in their noise production. They show up in early March and apparently stay around for a couple of months: just long enough for the kids to fall in love with them, get tired of them, then not miss them when they're gone.

Never has a child been more in love with a demon-like insect.

However, before they disappear, the love affair with the creatures is intense. More than one child approached us tearfully, clutching the recently perished, but dearly beloved pet. For a few weeks, practically every child had one orbiting their person at the end of a string. From a distance it's a little disconcerting, you can't see the bug, so the string seems to have a mind of it's own. However, my personal favorite was the "pocket chicharra."

Little buddy Bryan (5 yrs old) is a pretty lousy chicharra catcher, which makes him love them even more fiercely. After several days of poor hunting, he came running across the field to me, eyes wide and jibbering unintelligible Spanish from his toothless head, all symptoms of chicharra ownership. When he got to me, he excitedly reached deep into his pocket and produced a very, very lifeless chicharra. His change of expression immediately indicated that he was unaware his chicharra had slipped into the eternal sleep. Never have I seen such pure joy change so quickly into soul-wrenching grief. He mourned his friend deeply.

The mighty chicharra hunters.

Aside from climbing into the trees to manually extract them, the kids also make "chicharra rods" to fish them out. They're basically long sticks with a bag tied onto the end of them. They just shove the bag around the bug and shake them into them. Very effective. We were passed several mornings by a line of 5-6 kids holding their chosen instruments high as they marched off towards promising territory. 

All-in-all it has been a blast to watch the kids have such innocent fun and has been a great way to get to know the kids, having grabbed a few chicharras ourselves. However, this season will soon come to an end and none too soon for the gringos' ears.

Damos gracias a Dios por: el gozo en las caras de los niƱos cuando agarran una chicharra nueva (the joy of the kids when they snag a new cicada.)

1 comment:

  1. This is a very well-written and amusing post. I thank you deeply! -Phil H