Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dancing It Off, Eating It Up, Drinking It In, Wrapping It up, and Mixing It Up (Mexico City, Mexico)

Back in Mexico City. Highlights (Through August 4th):

Dancing It Off
My clothes are baggy. That's because I've been dancing at the following locations:
At the Park La Ciudadela
Ismael teaches me new moves.
Ricardo (a.k.a. Steven Segal, Jr.) makes me look like I know what I'm doing.
A dance instructor asks if I have a background in ballet. I do. As a little girl, I took years of lessons. Lacking rhythm, talent, grace, coordination, and ability, I never moved on to toe shoes. Although I did look rather fetching in the red tutu my grandmother sewed for me, the clothes never did make me a ballerina. My mom would be so proud of me now! Or, perhaps, the instructor was being sarcastic....

At Salon Hidalgo
My lovely buddy, Martin, dances well, even as he recuperates from a devastating elevator accident in which both feet were crushed and broken in multiple places. He tells me that I dance with sabor (flavor) and better than most. I love a good liar, don't you?

At Salon de Convenciones
Some excellent dancers are spinning me around the floor these days, among them, a heavily tattooed guy; a tall dance instructor with indigenous features who tells me I have "ability"; and a huge, overweight guy whose feet seem to be attached to springs.

At the PRI's Headquarters
New friend and good sport Gerardo accompanies me to a dance at the PRI (a political party) headquarters, although he's neither a dancer nor a party member. At 43, he is, however, the youngest person present.

Eating It Up

I continue to indulge in and relish the cultural richness of this city. Along with Ingrid, I revisit the Diego Rivera Mural Museum (http://www.museomuraldiegorivera.
bellasartes.gob.mx/). "Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central" is a dream of a mural, featuring people from Rivera's life, archetypes of Mexican culture, and famous personages from Mexico's history in Diego's provocative and inimitable style.

Museo de las Intervenciones (http://www.inah.gob.mx/index.php/especiales/221-museo-nacional-de-las-intervenciones-)
Ingrid and I tour the former convent for the first time. This museum offers a history of foreign powers' interventions in Mexico. The gardens are gorgeous, the photos on exhibit are both familiar (if you've spent any time in Mexico) and memorable.

My friendly neighborhood vendor sells me delicious potato and cheese tacos de canasta. When he asks if I'd like another, I tell him I would love one but I'm hoping my weight will go down rather than up, something that won't happen if I indulge in an extra serving. "With all due respect," he says, "you are very beautiful." A great way to start the morning, eh?

I eat chicken with a fabulous peanut sauce one day and with an incredible green mole sauce another in one of my greasy-spoon holes in the wall.

The tiny hotel porter asks me when I'm going home, then requests that I send him a postcard and a photograph.

The sleazy owner of Cafe Rex greets me and doesn't say or do anything obnoxious. What's going on? Possible explanations include, but are not limited to, the following:
1) He finally got the message that his attentions are unwanted.
2) Someone told him he was chasing away female customers.
3) Someone told his wife about his (failed) attempts at womanizing.
4) Someone cut off his...attempts.
5) His wife is now working at the restaurant.

Drinking It In
Ingrid, Carol (a South African psychoanalyst, in town for a conference), and I meet each night at "our" table in the hotel lobby. One of them brings a bottle of red wine, one of us secures glasses from the hotel restaurant, one of us brings something to nosh (Japanese-style peanuts, peanuts with garlic and chili, etc.), and we all drink and chat for a few hours before bed. We discuss opening frozen yogurt shops in our respective countries to sell the horchata-flavored frozen yogurt we've become addicted to. We talk about what we've done all day, compare our home lives and our lives here in Mexico, and they good naturedly blame me, as the sole representative of the USA, for all that is wrong with the world. We do this all in three different brands of English (Ingrid's is British), which often sets us off into spasms, hoots, and howls of laughter.

Occasionally, Jim from China by way of Virginia, joins us. He teaches and tests English-as-a-Second-Language students, translates and edits, and is writing a novel. He tells me that the owner of Cafe Rex stares at him incessantly when he stops in; perhaps the sleaze has found a new love interest and that is why he no longer bothers me. (Thanks, Jim!) Jim accompanied Ingrid on a tour to hear ghost stories and legends. During the tour, his mother called from the US, to tell him that she'd just seen a TV news program showing how dangererous Mexico City is. I don't think she felt at al lreassured when her son told her that he was, at that moment, in a cemetery.

Wrapping It Up
I go shopping with my friends. My budget is so limited that I look and touch more than I buy. But I do pick up some cute bracelets and the figure of a woman/flying insect at La Ciudadela's wonderful crafts market.

Because my woman-insect is fragile, so Ingrid brings down some bubble wrap and tape one evening. While we're talking, I only burst 12 of the little bubbles. Had she brought the bigger-bubble wrap with the ultra-satisfying pops, I wouldn't be able to spend the night alone in my room with it.

The tour vendor in the hotel invites me to the movies. I tell him that I've got plans for the rest of my time in Mexico. He asks if he can go home with me and live in my house. "I'll fix things and help you out by getting a job and paying expenses," he tempts me. I tell him I've got plans for the rest of my life.

Mixing It Up
Lingering too long at Starbucks, I'm enjoying the gorgeous day. I sit here nursing the dregs of my now-cold coffee, just people watching and staring into space. If it weren't for the street noise -- ear-splitting sirens, a competition among songs emanating from each storefront, sales pitches for fresh fruit and politicians blasting from the megaphones in passing trucks -- I would be utterly at peace.

I have mixed feelings about going home. I love my relaxed, stress-free Mexican life but miss my family and friends. I want to stay here forever. I want to travel to other countries, see new places, taste different foods, and learn about different cultures. I want to go home. I want to know, for certain, that I'll come back here.

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