Of Priests And Peacocks

For days I waited in the July heat for the corpse of Mexico's most powerful drug lord to arrive at his mother's compound. Amado Carrillo Fuentes had died after undergoing massive reconstructive facial surgery and liposuction to hide his identity. Finally, after the government finished slicing him open and running DNA tests, he was to be buried at the family crypt in Guamuchilito, Sinaloa. I didn't expect to get invited to the funeral. But with the threat of a military raid, the press were special guests: human shields. Peacocks and deer wandered around their private zoo. Big Chevy Suburbans with tinted windows were scattered around the grounds. The sashes on dozens of wreaths had been snipped off so as not to identify the mourners. One of them read, simply: ""From a friend.'' But it was the normality that was truly astonishing. The priest in his purple robes was readying his sermon. Townspeople sauntered down the road to show their respect and eat barbecue. I found myself chatting with Carrillo's sister, Alicia. ""He always said they'd never find him until he was dead,'' the friendly young woman explained. She didn't even look up at the helicopters buzzing overhead.