jueves, 17 de abril de 2008

No sleep last night, no sleep tonight

Just to keep up with the tradition, or boring thematic repetition of these posts, it’s Sunday evening again, Carne Asada outside again, and I shall tell you that in my dark room, light from the kitchen falls outside my door, and the first isolated words of Because by I Am Kloot are dropping into the silence.

I should be asleep. How I should be asleep. I have another early morning and a 5.15 alarm programmed into my mobile, but I have snoozed on and off throughout the day, and since sleep has now become vital, it has also become elusive. Julia is in her room next door in a haze of smoke, talking to Germany and I am here cross legged on my air bed, too warm to wear anything but a sheet. I have worn it nearly all day, tied around the back of my neck like a dress and sweeping to the floor in a satisfying fashion.

Last night was really good and lots of fun. Ana and Gigi had a bienvenida party of white - white clothes, and drink and food on a terrace with candles. A lovely atmosphere and combination of languages, wine and mojitos, white chocolate and smiley people on a warm evening. It all became a little bit hazy around the edges and we sped away from it all in an early morning taxi. I shall miss the friendliness and laughter, the switch of one second to a language or another, and translation, the interest and the difference.

Alison Krauss just started singing go to sleep little babe at me. I feel as if I should take her advice.

Oh Christ. Whitney Houston is back.

domingo, 6 de abril de 2008

No words No word count

It is Sunday afternoon. I can smell carne asada outside, which is usual for a Sunday. Julia is playing a Whitney Houston song after I accidentally reminded her of its existence by shouting abuse at someone in the barrio who also feels the need to play it on a loop, along with I will survive. I am staring into the face of the fact that two thousand words I should have written this week are incomplete. More like a paltry thousand, in Spanish I feel I should point out. In my essay career so far, my best word-time ratio was a cool thousand in an hour, sat on the bottom bunk of the green room at Osborne Drive, Belfast, watched by my Dad’s old toy soldiers. Relatives in the rooms below lay prostrate on sofas recovering after Grandpa’s birthday meal, and when I finished, I padded down the staircase into the kitchen to discover that in the McDonald family a bit of bread and cheese, a glass of wine and some left over pudding is always squeezable in for supper, however late or large is lunch.

My word count has not been helped by the clocks stealing an hour of my time and the way I punctuate my days with useless activity; absentmindedly listening to BBC podcasts featuring Richard Dawkins and some infuriating woman who is under the strange impression that religion is a serious business, rediscovering the Walk the Line soundtrack, holiday-skinning my legs, writing this, making a splendid salad sandwich, watching a portion of last night’s DVD with Spanish dubbing and subtitles just to watch the strange disparity between the two, and deciding that afternoon tea should be indulged, and going to buy a Bimbo cake to eat with my tea. It was probably memories of Belfast that have persuaded my subconscious to persuade my conscious to go to the little shop to buy what we succinctly call Bimbo shit. Bimbo products do truly challenge all normal rules of science, staying soft and squishy and apparently fresh for days running into weeks. Moreish pap.

Apparently this week, the temperature this week is going to hit forty degrees. Likelihood is I won’t see it. I hope not. I spend inordinate amounts of time in one room in the uni, to the point where four walls just do not seem sufficient. In moments of weakness I lean up against the air-conditioner to feel my skin cool and watch what passes for television in this country. I think it’s the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve lived in Italy. It truly looks like a group of friends who have become intoxicated by the sheer amount of make up on their faces, stolen a television studio and are pissing about solely for the amusement of each other; every two minutes they dance like idiots and cackle. It looks, at least, like they’re having a good time. Mexican daytime television strikes me as a series of had-to-be-there moments.

I went on holiday over the Easter holiday. Monterrey, to put it mildly, is not my spiritual home, so visiting other cities and finding I really like them always has a touch of poignant disappointment that I wasn’t placed there. I reassure myself with my ability to visit them, and the knowledge that I can talk with glowing terms about Mexico- the country, and the people, if not the concrete and fast food jungle in which I currently reside. Perhaps I am being overcritical. It is a concrete jungle set in the most incredible craggy mountain ranges and impressive landscape.

To get to Guadalajara, it took the first of two twelve hour bus journeys of the holiday. It did not go well. We arrived in a bus station resembling a pan shot of a city in flight; families squealing at each other over trolleys full of all of their worldly possessions and utter confusion over bus numbers and destinations. Becky was ill, without voice, and my intelligent self, after having with relief found the right bus, stored our luggage and set out, realised my jumper was still in our friendly taxi service. I shivered away the twelve hour journey in a vest top and utter discomfort, resenting Julia-two-hoodies beside me, and the well prepared families with blankets behind.

Guadalajara was great; a clean, white hostel with high ceilings and books, cycling through the city (not me, obviously), squares and cathedrals, Tlaque Plaque and I have to say the worst meal I have had in as long as I can remember. I never know you could make pasta so truly repulsive, but failing to cook the flour in a cheese sauce is a good start. I felt worst for Becky; a painful chest infection, having to watch me nose-bleed at inconvenient moments and then a plate of raw flour and slime.

We moved on to Guanajuato and my new favourite place. It’s not that hard to be my new favourite place; it requires cafes and good places to eat, cobbled streets and colour, trees and hidden plazas, interest, at least one market, the ability to walk most places. A Mexican Margie running a bed and breakfast is an added bonus. Oh, and cable television. Being deprived of television does at least give it a great novelty, especially when you discover the strange culture shock of being able to watch some mid-nineties Changing Room episodes at breakfast time in Mexico. The city was full of people for Semana Santa and getting street treats and elote (with mayonnaise, cheese, chilli and lots and lots of lime) in the evenings was a bit of an enjoyable scrum.