Don Edwards Literary Memorial

December 25, 2007

Good Mexico Stuff


First, Feliz Navidad. As in all adventures, there are pros and cons here in Mexico, but on the whole I think living in Mexico is a wonderful adventure. How can you not love a country whose milk is made in LaLa Land (the brand name of milk here), the bread is baked by a Bimbo (Mexico’s equivalent of Wonder Bread) and every single clerk, as the cash register goes “ka-ching” says, “Que la vaya bien”….May your way go well.

Part of the adventure, of course, is the language. One must always be careful in dialogue to watch for unintentional mistakes with words which sound similar. Sometimes I still ask for my Thursdays over easy for breakfast and I really didn’t want my onions cut just above the ears at the barber shop. “Cebollas,” (onions) and “cabellos,” (hair) just look too much alike. So, I switched to “pelos,” another word for hair so my onions would remain long. Still, I must have some kind of linguistic deformity when it comes to the subject of hair. When I lived in France I wanted the barber to cut my horses short: “cheveux” instead of “chevaux.” My most embarrassing mistake here was at the closing of our house. I insisted on two lawyers. I arrived to find two avocadoes on the desk in front of me instead of two abogados.

But I’m learning. I never say mande? (pardon me?) on Tuesday.

I love Mexican children, the best behaved in the world. Last night at a restaurant a family of six small children showed up. In Atlanta I would just pay my bill and leave, anticipating the total chaos to come. Here the little ones would go in the back yard and play soundlessly. Two girls, probably twins, around five years old, made some motions to run around and got “the look” from their mother. The rest of the evening they sat quietly on chairs and whispered back and forth.

The year-end fandangos here are great entertainment. The festival of San Andrés, spelled for some reason “Andreas” in California, takes nine days, the time of the novena. Each night the church bells ring forever accompanied by rockets forever. I am forever fond of saying that San Andreas, as holy as he was, still had his faults….but they were mostly in northern California.

Just as the two week rocket brigade is finished, then comes the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The procession is one grand event. It starts at the main church in the Ajijic plaza and travels to the church of the Virgin at Six Corners. The guys dressed as faux-Aztecs get to lead it, followed by a blaring mariachi band, followed by the pilgrims, many of whom carry small children on their backs: the little girls with small cages on their backs, the boys all dressed like miniature Juan Diegos. Finally the large picture of the Virgin comes borne by several men, the whole phalanx of folk weaving their way to Six Corners and into the church….but without the poor phony Aztecs who have to stay outside….pagans you know…and drink beer while everyone else is inside singing hymns. They don’t look like they mind much.

One of my favorite things is the balanced view Mexicans have about spiritual things. For example, on the Day of the Dead, ancestors are honored. Families go to the cemetery, bring drink and food, pray, play music. Serious and fun together, and the hot skeleton babes, Catarinas, at first a nose thumbing of the dictator a century ago, now fully invooved in the Night of the Dead celebrations.

And speaking of balanced views of religion, last Christmas in the courtyard of the church in San Antonio Tlayacapán, there were paper maché replicas of scenes of the Bible. The first in line was Genesis. On top of a mountain were Adam and Eve. Down below, Cain was stabbing Abel. An angel was hanging out. Animals roamed over the terrain. I looked more closely at Adam and Eve. They were portrayed by Ken and Barbie dolls. Ken was Ken, macho and cool. But Barbie….she was a real babe dressed to kill. This whimsy would not be possible in the US, I think. I can see hoards of serious religion people with pitchforks and torches like in the Frankenstein movies. Here everyone, gringo and Mexican alike, laugh at the goofyness of Eve being hot stuff.

Then there’s Los Eventos. The Events are in my front yard, more or less. The Charro, the stadium, is one block away with no sound control in our bedroom. One day I decided to go to one.

The crowd was predominantly very young. Of course, most people on the planet are younger than I am now, but couples, groups of teenage girls, some parents, a few older people were all dancing to the music, and they seemed to be just jumping up and down to my undisciplined dancing eyes. Dancing? I could do that, I thought.

I made my way to the top of the stadium. Some young lady was singing at the top of her lungs on the stage. As I got to the top, a young man with his girlfriend made room for me, each giving me a giant “Hola!!!” as if to welcome a stranger to their home. After that they paid me no further attention except when I yelled or whistled to a song I liked. At one point, I get a high five from the young lady, whacking my open hand. I mused how cultures export their products. By now this is a universal sign of approval from my native country.

While the groups were singing I looked down on the stadium floor. There were men on horses which were prancing to the music. At the end of the song, the horses reared, riders waving a sombrero to the crowd, everyone going nuts applauding, me too, high fives to the young lady and her boyfriend.

Then a door opened at the bottom of the arena, and out came a bull, I mean a big damn bull, horns and all, snorting and charging. Was this going to be a tragic ending to a wonderful evening, would it hit a horse or knock a rider off? Was there going to be a bullfight after all?

No chance of any of that….this poor bull was part of the act. It did what it was trained to do, dancing with the horses. A bull dancing? Talk about an act against God and nature. Bulls are supposed to at least try to knock bull fighters on their asses, fighting to the last minute the inevitable ending. This one had lassoes around its neck just in case, but I wondered as he pirouetted if perhaps it was thinking of the good ol’ days when bulls were fearsome creatures, terrorizing toreros. Unlikely. This Ferdinand ran around having a good time, bouncing up and down, clowning with the caballos (not the onions).

So there are many things I like about living in Mexico. The sick and elderly are taken care of. I see no homeless here. Perhaps in the big cities, but not here. Mexican workers can fix anything. My friend, Efrain, also our contractor, has magical hands that designs, repairs and builds.

Oh, I almost forgot….at El Evento, I learned a great new way to dance. This is how it goes. A guy and a girl face each other. They get close enough to touch from forehead to toes. Then they jump up and down in time with the music. I can do that. This is the best dancing I’ve ever seen or heard about.

Right. As if the world population isn’t sufficient as it is, for God’s sake.

Filed under: DON POSTS — Don @ 1:15 am

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