Fabiola appoints herself as our personal tourist guide. She has postponed starting work as a tour guide on one of the buses so she can spend time with us. On Saturday we go out to one of the clubs. There are photo’s of martin and I in wrestling masks. We drink and dance and then go riding around in the back of a car. Young people all over the world it seems find places where they can park up and smoke and drink without their parents noticing- although in Mexico the dependence on parents seems to last longer than in England.
Sunday we go up to La Bufa– the Liver shaped rock that overlooks Zacatecas. There are fantastic views over the town and to the Pueblo beyond. We do the tourists things- slide down a zip line, take photographs of the statue of Pancho Villa. We leave Fabiola and Tania waiting while we scramble up the cliff right to the top of La Bufa. Fabiola tells us that just last year a young man and woman whose families do not want them to be together made a suicide pact and jumped from the top of the rock. He died, she did not.
Monday we bump into Jess walking around the streets? She’s staying at the hostel and we end up going for a drink in Jorges bar and then for another in "The Fifteen Letters". This bar is the oldest in Zacatecas and is full of macho men getting very drunk on tequilla. I am summoned over to a table by an aggressive drunk displaying an alarming bonhomie. I decide it’s probably safer to accept the invitation than to refuse.
A succession of double shots gets knocked back in quick succession. One more, one more… If they are trying to get the poor gringos drunk then they have chosen the wrong gringos. I happily match them until it feels safe to move to another table. Martin is in conversation with a couple of construction workers from Peru who speak good English. Jess has wisely quit for the night.
Sometime later I am shaken by the shoulder and accosted by the drunk guy. He doesn’t go away and shouts some gibberish before his friends bundle him out the door. 5 minutes later the bar empties and a brawl starts on the street outside. Guns are waved, police show up, lights flashing. Luckily Ernesto’s two brothers have turned up and we stay safely in the bar while the commotion outside dies down.
The barman offers us something on the house and proceeds to take down a bottle and glasses and lay them on the bar. There is a big build up and then he reveals the punch line: This is on the house he says and lifts his apron to reveal a huge puppet cock.
There is laughter and more beer.
Nothing happens the next day.
Wednesday, Fabiola picks us up in her mum´s car and drives us to La Quamada. It´s so nice to be out in the country, with fantastic views and not even the sound of passing cars to disturb the peace. It´s rather a shock to discover that our plane is leaving the next morning and not Friday as we had thought. Confusion at Mexican Airways- their´s or ours we´re not sure. We make our way over to the rodeo and watch the cowboys trying to lasso Horses and Bulls. Faby rushes over from College to say goodbye and we go for a final drink.
Now you know and I know that I have a soft spot for dark curly hair and brown eyes you can swim in but Faby also has a great energy about her and we part as real friends. Martin and I stay for a final drink with Jorge and as a parting gift he gives us a really fantastic bottle of Tequilla- which we then take immediately back to the Hostel and proceed to drink with Ernesto and Fellipe. Sometime later, having sworn eternal friendship and "Mi Casa su casa" we stumble to bed.
Ciudad de Mexico
At 4am I make various attempts to wake Martin and finally succeed by dripping cold water on his face. Despite our prompt arrival the plane is delayed and we don´t get into Mexico City until 11am. By this time as you can imagine we are rather the worse for wear and the heat and sheer press of humanity that greets us would have been overwhelming if Guadalupe bless her soul hadn´t met us at the airport and guided us through the bewildering Metro system to the safety of Raul´s house.
I make it to the laundry and the internet cafe and spend a bit of time wandering the streets and getting used to the place. After the quiet bustle of Zacatecas, Mexico city is a blast of raw energy but after several plate fulls of food from one of the street vendors I feel remarkably better.
Periplum have been working with students from one of the top drama schools to create a theatre piece in the ruins of the first Anglican Church in Mexico city. By one of those strokes of good fortune that seem to happen with suprising frequency on this trip we discover that the Church is actually less than 3 minutes walk from Raul´s apartment. In a city as big as Mexico this has to count as a Miracle.
The performance is amazing, the students really talented and the atmosphere of the semi ruined church by night creates a magical piece of theatre. Then we go to a party. Another one. On a roof top with magnificent views of the city at night the drums come out and letting of my inhibitions I allow myself to dance, possessed by the spirits of the African drumming. After all, it´s something I know a little about 😉
After a little site seeing the next day Martin and I decide to stay in with Raul and his flat mate Jose. We share some food and beer and a smoke and then the instruments come out and we share songs and stories until its time to go to bed. Raul is a great host and we really feel like we have made another good connection. This is what the travelling is about for me. Meeting people and being invited to share in their life away from the hustle and bustle of the well trodden tourist path.
The plan has been to head for patsquada for the day of the dead but at the coach station my alarm bells are ringing. We have no accomodation there and are unlikely to find any but more than that I just feel rushed into making a decision. I´m unsettled, in need of rest and food and I tell Martin how I am feeling.
After a good breakfast we come up with a plan. Martin, Milo and I jump on a coach to Xalapa to meet up with the guys who are running a workshop there.
Nothing much happens in Xalapa. Ever. The gang head in to join us from Coatepec where they are staying and we spend ages trying to find a bar until one of the locals offers to show us the way.
The place where Periplum are staying sounds amazing though so the next day Martin and I catch a bus to Coatepec and find our way to the Ceiba Grafica- ex Hacienda La orduna. Originally the house of the family that owned the surrounding plantations it was abandoned in 1968 and has only recently been taken over and converted into an artistic community. It really is an amazing place (check out the photo´s when I get time to put them up).
Martin and I trek up through the sugar cane and coffee and bananas to the ridge overlooking the village and have a fun time getting lost in the tangled undergrowth. We see the biggest spiders we have ever seen! We end up staying the night.
Which brings us up to today. An overnight dash to Villahermosa and then on to Palenque to stay at the ruins. It´s sad to say goodbye to everyone but also good to know Martin and I are so well matched as travelling companions. For now, Adious. Asta Pronto.