Friday, 16 May 2014

Iguana Nights 3

“One of the biggest troubles hitchhiking is having to talk to innumerable people,
  make them feel that they didn’t make a mistake picking you up, even entertain
  them almost, all of which is a great strain when you’re going all the way…”
                                                                      Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Carlos had invited me to his parent’s house in Guadalajara so, early next morning, Klaus drove us out to the highway, and I introduced him to the fine art of hitchhiking. It took half an hour to get a ride, but fortune smiled. Standing in the wooden bed of an old truck, we drove through endless high rolling hills of giant slate blue agave hedgehogs, the contrasted volcanic soil underneath blood red, from all the tequila gods of Jalisco crash-landing on their radial spear blades. We were tossed on an ocean of two metre high mescal pineapples, each one having to wait a dozen years, until it’s heart would be cut open in a Sauza sacrifice. After baking, it tasted like yam candy. When a maguey heart is fermented it makes a light foam white wine known as pulque. It was sacred before the conquistadores arrived, but sanctity changed forever after that. The Spaniards put an edge on everything, and they put pulque through a still. You just can’t do that to a plant that is pollinated by bats, without becoming batshit crazy. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
Carlos’ mother was delighted to see both of us, and quickly conjured up a feast of frijoles, carne, sopa, tortillas, and limonada. I was embarrassed later when I found she had raided Serendipity, and secretly done all my laundry. That evening, Carlos took me down to the Plaza de los Mariachis, where I ate the best vanilla ice cream I’d ever had. Roaming charro-outfitted bands of violins, tongued trumpets, vihuelas, guitars and guitarones sang out, and shouted other distillations of Mexico, God, and their own suffering- love, heroes, machismo, politics, cockroaches, betrayal, and death. By now I knew how close death was in Mexico. ‘Ay ya yay ya!’ rolled out from under sombreros waltzing under the stars. And very late, after too many Bohemias and Negra Modelos, Carlos and I rolled on home to dream.
After a breakfast of sweet rolls, milk and frijoles next morning, Carlos took me downtown, for a tour of the municipal attractions. We visited the Museo Guadalajara, and the churches of San Francisco and Santa Monica (with it’s breathtakingly ornamented Baroque porch façade of grapes, corn, and angels). Carlos showed me the Clock Tower, and the bullet hole that Great Grandfather Pancho had shot into it one night, after too much blue agave. The highlight, however, was the murals of Orozco at the orphanage. What teacher worth his salt would have neglected to show me these? The man blew off his left hand with gunpowder in an accident, and went on to paint with the blood and charcoal and colours of the Mexican soil his wound healed into. One mural of conquistador engines raping Aztec culture went through me, like the same 25,000 year-old bull pigments would in the Altamira cave, two years from now. The mosquitoes made sleep impossible that night. I got up around five. Carlos escorted me to the edge of town, and bid me ‘buen viaje.’ An hour later, I was bouncing along the pretty little countryside just outside Tepatilan, merrily sewing my own space-time continuum.

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