6 Jan 2010 Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico
However sated you are with Mexican crooners, can I suggest you don't snap, get up from your table, find the one Doors CD among the 2000 Los Amigos Borrachos recordings, and put on nine songs in a row including fully 10 minutes of "The End"? Sure, life ain't a popularity contest, but being alone in a Mexican dive bar surrounded by increasingly disgruntled locals ain't all that either.
*prays for last chord of "Soul Kitchen"*
"Dust In The Wind" by Kansas is great, isn't it, and their hair "styles" in the video are beyond criticism if you've ever even looked at a drug cigarette; but the question that needs to be asked is this: when they finally split, and the singer released his first solo album, did he call it "I'm Not In Kansas Anymore"? Ha! Ha!
This afternoon's fitting of back tyre #3 - a Pirelli MT90 - onto Her Maj marks the emotional high-water mark of our visit to Tuxtla. We can leave tomorrow! And yet - what's the hurry, Fast Boy? It's really not an amazing town, but there's a half-decent bar, a very special eaterie (lamb-centred), an excellent internet place and a damn good zoo. Hotel San Carlos is all about value at $17, and on top of all that, everyone north of the 28th parallel appears to be freezing to death: here, I sometimes feel like putting my jumper on after sundown.
Holy Jesus, forgive me my sins. It has been 35 years since my last confession, and even then I lied about most of it in a failed attempt to make it a worthwhile 4 minutes. I did not, in fact, set fire to Mrs Colmar's shed, or indeed say the word "vagina" in front of my Auntie Beryl. I have, however, dawdled like a reefer-stunted dormouse in southern Mexico to such an extent that I must now miss out Acapulco and hammer the toll-roads to Mexico City and the north, in order to be only a month behind schedule for the US border. Will five Hail Marys do? Whaddya mean, ten? Split the diff?
Mexico is, it turns out, bloody gigantic, and to see all the highlights in three months would be impossible. Her Maj is gagging for a new chain, and Mexico City is, I'm told, our best bet. Once I've swallowed the notion that I'll have to skip dozens of good bits, and come back to Mexico in some hazy future (because it is an unbelievably fantastic country), it all falls into place. Today we wham up the toll road to Cordoba like a naked, Vaselined Cyril Smith on the Cresta Run. The tolls are - literally - a bitch. It'll cost you the same to take a Honda C90 as a Hummer.
Once again, Lonely Planet (or Made-Up Cack Written By Cold-Sore-Ridden Vegetarian Cock-Punchers Planet, as it's known by anyone who's ever tried to find a bar in any Latin American town on the basis of an LP recommendation) proves off-target, but I find one anyway.
18.1.10 Mexico City
Excellent things about Mexico City:
1. 7-Eleven "Big Lunch" sandwiches. While "Small Lunch" would, in all fairness, sum up the defining attributes of these superbly fresh brown-bread starvation-attenuators more accurately, they are easily the least disappointing pre-packed sandwiches in Latin America. Six-and-a-half out of 10!
2. The traffic. Yes, it's a bloody big city. So Effing What? Someone's done a brilliant job of managing the traffic flow, and there aren't that many nutters to deal with. Six hours riding round the city today - only nearly got killed twice. Ree-Zult.
Excellent things about Marlboro Lights:
1. Nothing. Except the great rhyming slang I've just made up - "I'm busting for a Marlboro".*
My dear old darling, who has now become (in my Corona-sluiced mind) an unholy cross between both of my grandmothers, Queen Victoria and Fatima Whitbread, has gone to the shop for a new chain and some other late Xmas presents. I miss her, sure, but the grinding noise from the twisted chain has got to stop. We'll both look back and laugh some day. Probably tomorrow, which is when I have to collect her.
Daytona Motos - authorized Honda dealer - is great, and Enrique speaks English. It's at 13, Fuente de las Pyramides. Ha! You'll never find it.
The Chinese buffet situation in MC is outta control. Three UK pounds will buy you a pork-rib-ridden lunch of physiologically inadvisable vastness. You'll need -
a) a serious lie-down in a quiet hotel no more than 200 yards away;
b) adequate medical insurance to cover the inevitable episode of ventricular tachycardia, despite the excellent broccoli;
c) three quid.
I've spent, in the past, 30 quid on food I wouldn't give to a terminally ill pigeon in Gerrard Street (Chinatown, London, TV's England). MC has restored my faith in Chinese food in a way that, I suspect, a visit to China wouldn't. (I've eaten duck's feet and they're rubbish).
Current thinking re. MC runs as follows: If you hire a taxi, the driver will shoot you in the face, steal your wallet, and dump your claret-smeared torso on the nearest acre of waste ground. If you live long enough to report it to the police, they will a) laugh, b) kill you, and c) rob your corpse. Having been in MC for just over a week, that line of reasoning appears to be all shit. Buenos Aires, Mexico City, La Paz - that's the correct order, capital-city-wise. Don't agree? Tee-Ess, pal!
Women weren't allowed into the superbly ornate Opera Bar on Av. 5 de Mayo until the 1970's, and - do you know what? - thank heavens they are now! At the very least, they brighten the old place up with their gaily-coloured frocks and glamorous cosmetics; and who doesn't enjoy the sound of their musical, tinkling laughter?
I'm from England, so I'm sorry if this is old news to you - we still have cheese rationing, and a banana on the sideboard is sure to raise an eyebrow - but OH EM EFF GEE - the Burger Dog! I'd heard stories, of course, but... wow! I mean, it's a burger, in the shape of a hot dog - or a hot dog made out of burger meat... either way *slurp* it's brilliant.
I seem also to have gone Mad For The Doughnuts as well. What with all that and the Chinese buffets, I suppose I should've got my rear shock reconditioned at Daytona Motos; also I guess I should book two seats for the flight home from Vancouver. I can't see myself suddenly craving celery and walnut bake when I get to Texas.
So. You've ridden 19,000 miles from Buenos Aires, via TDF, up the Andes and through Central America to Mexico City. Your boots are on their last legs (ahem), and, because we live in a throwaway society, you're hoping they last until you get to Texas, where people have heard of Size 11 (UK) feet and you can buy some more. Wait. Stop being a doofus. Look at them! It's just the soles, isn't it? Go and get them fixed up at one of MC's many fine cobbling boutiques, for 20 quid. That's another 20,000 miles right there! One British Pence per 10 miles!
This week, in between eating doughnuts, I've got me boots resoled and bought Her Maj a new chain, a new back tyre, new spark plugs, new coolant, new oil and a new oil filter. And she got washed. Everything is now so fresh and shiny. It's just like starting over.
*stuffs lumps of bog paper up nose, dials work*
Brr Brrr! Brr Brrrr!
-I can't come in today, I've got Swine Flu.
=No you haven't, I've just been to Mexico City in January and nobody had it there, and it's The Home Of Swine Flu, at Swine Flu Time.
=That was funny for 8 seconds in August last year.
-Pine Flu? From going up a mountain?
=No. Shut up.
=That's the same as Wine Flu, but with lager as the active ingredient. Consider yourself sacked.
There are a couple of homeless blokes that hang around outside the Opera Bar. One is the fourth member of ZZ Top that you'd be happy to invite to Auntie Beryl's Xmas Party; you'd look to him for advice on the issues of the day, and you'd be confident he wasn't going to indecently assault your cousins. The other one elicits a gasp, mainly due to his carpet-wig: it's a black Vera Duckworth, while the beard is white. They're both good lads. You're spending $2.50 a beer and going outside every 40 minutes for a smoke - why not give 'em 10 pesos every time. Old beggars - good. Child beggars - go to school!
*note for American readers/educationally subnormal English people: Marlboro Light = shite.
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