jueves, 14 de agosto de 2008

29th June 2008

I am listening to Kumbia Kings in the kitchen of a hostel in Zihuantenejo. I have a feeling that my enthusiasm for Mexican pop will not be shared once I hit London; the idea of Estos Celos blasting out of speakers in my beloved grey city seems on the verge of absurd. It fits here. It fits life here, and it is truly something I will miss. I spent an hour or two in a hostel in Mexico City where they were playing music made by boys with guitars and sepia videos, droning on about some emotional fuckwittery or other; just, in fact the type of music that I used to like very much. It just made me crave some unashamedly cheery sounding Mexican music; despite the fact that half the time they are singing about their depth of love and the other half is about how they’ve been cheated on, they are not afraid to use a few trumpets or cumbia rhythms to bring their point home. Britain will seem truly grey and quiet without this music blasting from every conceivable corner; shops, cars, taxis, buses, people. A bus that does not judder dangerously each time it breaks, a bus without mirrors, dedications to Christ and the Virgin de Guadalupe and rosary beads, without Te Quiero on the radio, people attempting to convert you or sell you something, is a boring bus indeed. Even better were the onboard buskers; Julia and I used to catch the bus together, attempting to sit as the bus lurched, without spilling our precious Oxxo coffee, and every now and again we were joined by a group of busking Mariachi, which cheered up the morning no end. It was sensible on their part too; the air-conditioned buses were a blessed relief in the Monterrey heat. Less enjoyable was sitting on a bus in Saltillo once and having a musically challenged young busker sing a group of love songs into my face, inches away. Minutes felt like hours.

It is strange to contemplate how it will be to be in London again; the difference in air and climate, attitudes and people, manners and tips, values and way of going about things, the size of the city, and how everyone and everything is packed in together; none of the room to sprawl luxuriously, lazily and unattractively, like the cities here. I imagine the strangest feeling will be the immediate familiarity of all of the above; all of that which seems far away and foreign now.

28th June 2008

Alex and I are travelling south down the coast. At each village or crumbly town we reach, at some point it invariably crosses my mind; what a strange corner of the world to end up in. I generally say it each time; considering my repetitive conversation, it’s a miracle she’s still with me. We are travelling in low season. The places we reach show signs of previous tourists; shops of inflatables and sarongs, T shirts and shot glasses, but we are in the Marie Celeste of travelling. We have hotels, buses, restaurants and pools to ourselves. Calculating the number of days it is since we have spoken to another person (waiters and ticket booth operators aside) has become a running joke, and more so, the number of hours we actually don’t say anything at all. We snatch Wimbledon matches and bad MTV programming while we can and while we are in lifeless towns and chose restaurants solely because they have other people in, but we take pleasure in all that seems funny solely to us too.

What a strange corner of the world we have ended up in; a village called Caleta de Campo on the edge of the pacific. We jumped aboard a second class bus as it was leaving for a five hour bus ride. We painfully felt the lack of air-conditioning although the open window blasted my face with salty air, leaves and water, which was the less technologically sophisticated version, but effective in its own way. The hours and minutes slipped past, dragged past and barely passed at all, as it became obvious that five hours was a rough estimate. After hitting the coastal road, the green jungle corridor either side of the road, the repetitive rising and falling of the road and corner after corner for hours on end was almost trance inducing and depending on whether you prefer my or Alex’s bus ramblings, a version of hell or real life (‘Which pill? The blue or the red? We took the wrong bloody one if we ended up on this bus’). Eight hours later we peeled ourselves off the seats and did the usual humiliating farce of getting the bags off the bus at the same time as ourselves. We had arrived.

The saving grace of the village is our view; yesterday evening, wiped out from the journey, all it took was a beer in hand and our view over the ocean; the swell and the rocks, an altogether more rugged view than Barra de Navidad, to regain contentment. We sat on the balcony, shuffling cards with no game in mind, and talked, until we could no longer see the difference between sky and sea; both were black.

We were woken in the early hours by a light storm – enormous flashes of light, eerily without rain or thunder. I lay in bed, my face up against the window, trying to keep my eyes open to watch the flashes of light over the bay. Finally the strange silent movie of a storm was broken and it hit in full force; thunder, rain and wind attacking the trees outside the hotel. Alex crawled across the room, wrapped in a sheet, to my bed. Her bed was soaked by the storm. The windows refused to close. The storm raged.

Now, the morning and in the light, post-storm and post-broken-sleep, we are gathering ourselves. It is time to pack again and stagger through the village. Another bus, another bus station, another town and place to see, afterall, in a week, I’ll be at work. Horrible thought.