Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Stripper's Keys

I have several fears living here. One of them is falling. Stairs are non-standard, rough pavement abounds, there are holes in the streets and markets. One has to be very careful walking. I also fear getting hit by a car or bus, though most drivers are very good and only graze you. My worst fear, for some reason, is losing my keys. After that first day when they fell out of my pocket in the restaurant I’ve been terrified of losing them. The scary scenario is: I’ll leave the house, buy a bunch of stuff, be exhausted, climb the hill, and then not be able to find the keys. I’ll be out of money and won’t have a way to get all the way back across town to find the owner to get another set, or she’ll be gone, or she won’t have another set, etc. One of my pairs of pants has a tiny little coin pocket and the keys fit perfectly. Until they are too dirty to wear, the solution has been found.

Prettiest Burger King in the world.
Thursday I went to the Merposur to see about getting a light-weight shirt and pair of pants. In one store, the man asked what size. I said I didn’t know, but it would be for me. He looked me over, shook his head, and said they only carry “chica” sizes. The store next door had my size. There were several customers in there who looked just like me. The young lady showed me some jeans that had a big colorful tag with a sexy woman’s rear-end proudly displayed. The brand name: STRIPPER.  I pointed at the tag and laughed, she did too. They fit fine, skin tight and stretchy over every bump and dimple. I gave them back to her and said “No tengo el cuerpo de una STRIPPER”. The other chubby ladies laughed and agreed wholeheartedly.

In the evening, Natalia asked if I’d like to go out with her to meet her friend Prisa in the Centro. Some huge event was going on. In front of the great white government building there was a stage and two young girls with incredible “mature women” voices were singing. We listened to them for a long while, and guessed they were 13 and 10.  They must be quite successful, they were hawking their CDs, the costumes were exquisite and expensive. I took a few pics with my cell phone and wished I’d brought the camera.

Plaza in front of the Cathedral.

I needed to get some money from an ATM. I decided to take out a lot so I wouldn’t be caught short in the next week or two, and I didn’t want to be charged the fees over and over again. I have a special travel account so that if someone were to get my account information (it happens a lot through the less secure Mexican banking system) they won’t get very much money. I put the 3000 pesos in my back pocket and fastened the button. These pants are very handy that way, a little pocket for keys, a button pocket for bills.

Across from the event, in front of the cathedral, where on most nights the Mayans are plying their handicrafts, a huge food court had been set up. All the street food you can imagine was there for sale and Natalia had a desire for fried plantains. For 15 pesos, we got a giant hot-out-of-the fryer banana and a churro drizzled with some kind of sweet dressing. I’m a real fan of churros, and haven’t eaten any since I quit eating grains, but this was a special treat. Unfortunately, the churro was cold and not very tasty, but the banana was soft, hot, and sweet. Prisa showed up and the three of us went to a wine-tapas bar where Prisa’s roommate works. For only 25 pesos apiece we got a glass of good Argentinian shiraz and choice of appetizer (tapa). I passed on the second glass, but the girls didn’t.
Another view of the plaza and distant mountains.

We had a marvelous time. Our table was out on the sidewalk and we were rather packed in with other tables and people. Next to us was an older man and a large group of Europeans. The old guy was quite the blow-hard and the girls quietly made fun of him. Natalia said you could tell he was an ass from a block away. Yes, personalities are similar the world over.  

Next we walked up the street to a disco where the men were frisked but not the women. I got a bit concerned going into a place where they were so obviously concerned about weapons, but Natalia said it was just to keep the riff-raff out. Yeah, right.


Inside, it was two-for-one on all drinks. The girls got beer and I got 2 glasses of rum and coke.  Half way through the first glass, I knew I’d reached my limit for the night. We danced to the incredibly loud music, got some young men to dance with us, (I bribed one with the other rum and coke) and then left to yet another bar.

The last place was delightful. A New Orleans style jazz combo from Germany was playing. I could have sworn the singer was from New Orleans, she had the accent down so perfectly. Robin, Natalia’s boyfriend, was there with many of his friends from the University, they’re all professors, and all British.  I enjoyed visiting with them, even though they continued drinking till some of them didn’t make sense any more.

On some cue I didn’t catch, they all got up to go to another bar and I decided to take a taxi home.  It was 1:00 in the morning. The streets were more or less deserted, and the taxi driver was either tired and not listening, or I was still slurring my words from the overdose of alcohol.  He drove south and followed a route I knew from riding the busses, then suddenly he headed down a street I didn’t know, going in the wrong direction. I almost panicked. OMG, it’s 1am, I have 3000 pesos in my pocket, I’m all alone in a cab with a muscular man taking me to who knows where? I almost shouted at him. He said this is Don Bosco! No, not the right one, I explained, Callejon del Don Bosco. He didn’t know that street, but he knew the school, so we got back on track.  

After that (emotional) close call, I went inside the gate and hiked up the dark staircase. Note to self, bring the little flashlight next time. A pack of six dogs was roaming the huge yard looking for scraps of food. They didn’t look hungry enough to attack me. At the door, I couldn’t get the keys out of the little pocket! They’d gotten sideways to each other and were jammed into the corners. The wire loop holding them together prevented either from moving. I had to take my pants off and wiggle the material in the dark, without being able to see a thing. Finally one key moved enough to get them out.  Looks like I have the body of a Stripper after all!!

Lights under the palms in the central plaza.