In Acapulco everything slopes downwards to the sea. The mountains are green and lush. Houses are built into the sides of hills and on the tops of hills. We are here at the house of I do not know who, a man who plays some prominent role in the world of bull fighting. There is a group of men (boots, hats, gleaming teeth, all geniality), and Kelly and me. They might be ranchers, toreros, impresarios, or just friends, aficionados. I do not know, or, to be truthful, care.
The hospitality is impeccable, the dinner interminable and when the table has been cleared and the silent serving women have disappeared somewhere in the back of the house, the men are still seated, settling themselves to talk. Cigars are being lit and bottles opened. The mood is becoming more jovial, expansive. They’re launching into an evening of reminiscences, gossip and jokes and I sigh, despondent at the prospect of the long evening ahead. Though studiously polite, these men barely recognize my existence, I am simply not relevant, and I’m self-conscious, dismayed also at the struggle to keep up with the Spanish, the sheer exhaustion of trying to seem engaged. This, in the 70’s, seemed a requirement, I thought. Why am I here, I ask, not for the first time. (More…)
Early morning. I am in bed remembering that movie scene – – you’ve seen it – – in which the wife flings a suitcase onto the bed, grabs armfuls of clothes still on their hangers, pulls open drawers, stuffs everything willy-nilly into the suitcase, slams the lid shut and departs in fury. She’s had enough.
In my mind I play my own version of this scene, in which I am the fleeing woman, here, now, in this shabby hotel in Saltillo. I could. I could tiptoe across the wooden floor, remembering the closet door that squeaks, and make my getaway while I still can, before my husband wakes up and persuades me that we’re on our way to Mexico City, where things will be so much better. I long to get away from the oppression of narrow streets, heat, and the unrelieved atmosphere of the bulls.
The final straw has been our stay at a cattle ranch far out in the country, an experience disconcerting enough never to want to repeat. So I think: I could leave. Where to? I don’t know yet. (More…)
After breakfast, after the extra cup of coffee and the tidying up of our room, we have nothing to do now, except wait. I remember now, that this is a commonplace phenomenon in the taurine world. One finds oneself waiting for someone who is usually waiting for someone else, or for some event of some kind. One is assured that the event, or person, is going to materialize imminently, “ahorita,” – – any minute now. And no one, no one is concerned – – except the Anglos.
This morning my husband, Kelly, and I are waiting for a taxi, or some other vehicle, to take us to Huamantla, a mountain town perhaps a forty minute drive from the ranch where we are staying. At 4 o’clock there’s to be a novillada, that is, a bullfight for novilleros, young men or women, aspiring matadors, who will fight novillos rather than full-grown bulls. (More…)
Rancho Seco sits on a hill in a landscape of green, dotted with small white pueblos on the distant slopes. It has the look and layout of the traditional Mexican hacienda you’ve seen in films: white adobe walls, red tile roofs, a one-story rectangular building enclosing a courtyard edged by a covered walkway from which various rooms can be accessed.
Mounted on the walls are the huge heads of Rancho Seco bulls that have distinguished themselves in the ring, each with a plaque showing his name and dates. The most famous was Pajarito, who jumped over the barrera and into the stands, landing in the laps of some of the spectators. (Amazingly, no one was hurt.) (More…)
We descend through the last layer of cloud, and Mexico City is spread out below us, a red, white and gray metropolis covering the entire Valley of Mexico, and it’s climbing relentlessly up the sides of the valley. 21 million people – – isn’t it one of the planet’s biggest cities? – – live here.
Mexico City is, of course, a Spanish colonial city, built by Cortes after he had destroyed the original city of the Aztecs. The modern city has a European flavor: the tree-lined Paseo de la Reforma is modeled after the Champs Elysees; sleek cars stream down the boulevards and sleek people lounge and stroll. (More…)