Nobody Looks for you in Mexico - Page 5
Squinting my eyes, I tried to make out the figure of the Aztec princess but the closer we drove, the shape of the mountain got lost in the details, like looking at a painting from a nose-length away. We spent that night in a cramped, government-run “resort” on the flanks of the mountain.
In the grey-blue dawn we laced up our shoes and rose steadily above the resort on a soft, pine-needle trail. Above the trees the pine needles gave way to volcanic cinder and alpine tundra and not long after that we were running in snow that had fallen the previous afternoon. Difficult footing and cool, thin air slowed us to a pace barely faster than a walk.
On the summit, we split a conchita, which is a Mexican pastry of sweet bread and pink frosting.
“My brother would have liked this,” Jon said.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“I should have brought some of him,” he said, referring to Christopher’s ashes that he has scattered far and wide.
We descended the volcano the same way we had summited. Down to the stale resort. Down to the valley floor. At La Malinche’s feet we hopped in the rental, and joined the ever-present flow of traffic, heading into the bowl-like basin that is Mexico City.
I have avoided Mexico City on several occasions even though the constructs of the city have long fascinated me—that it was built in a swamp that rests a mile-and-a-half above sea level, with an imposing ring of volcanoes looming another mile-and-a-half above. Centuries of folklore have elevated the volcanoes amongst the ranks of the planets and stars. In Mexico City there are skyscrapers, billionaires, industry, art and the sobering little fact that you are always under the volcanoes.
We set to the street in search of a mezcaleria, a bar that would serve variations of the tumultuous kissing cousin to tequila. In short time, we found ourselves sitting before a collection of 30 mezcals from across Mexico. Tasting, sipping, shooting, giving in to the poignant effect of the drink. Glass jugs of the drink glowed ominously from behind the bar.
Por todo bueno mal, hay mezcal. We cheered. Por todo mal, tambien hay mezcal.
The bartender told us that in the times of the Aztecs law forbid the people from consuming more than a single drink. “The second drink,” he said, “invites the quatrociento conejos.” He imitated one of the 400 rabbits while Jon and I watched from a veritable sea of rabbits.
In the morning there were still some conejos flopping around in my head when we laced up our shoes for a run. We meandered through a neighborhood that looked more European than Mexican, through a bustling, impromptu bus terminal, into a subway station and out on the opposite side emerging into the great city park of Chapultapec. Trees grew thick over the large car-less avenues. Hilltops were adorned with the palaces of past kings, dictators and presidents.
“I could train here,” Jon said, as we passed a peanut salesman and several sporty joggers. This is a game that Jon likes to play: finding places around the world where he could live, work and train.
“I’d make sure to visit,” I said, leaping over a fresh, steaming present left by a pariah dog.