It's Friday, and I've had a sore throat and nose for three days.
I might have a cold, or it could just be the altitude (7,500 feet), the dryness, the pollution, and the ash from the active volcano. The city is a giant bowl filled with millions of people, and the surrounding mountains keep any breezes from washing away the smoke of all the vehicles and trash fires. Every day here should be a Spare the Air day, meanwhile one develops impressive boogers that are every color of the rainbow.
That night we decide to go see the luchadores (Mexican wrestlers). I'll spare you the anticipation and just say that we didn't make it, owing to all the metro trains being totally (TOTALLY) packed. After 30 minutes we got clever and went the opposite direction to find unfilled trains, but by then it was too late so we went to a pulque bar on recommendation.
I'll also mention here that if you bring a camera to the luchadores match, they seize the it, and then they seize you and toss you into the ring and hit you with folding chairs. Since my Krav Maga studies haven't yet progressed to Folding Chair Defense, I decide to leave my camera at home, thus leaving the rest of this night picture-free. Sorry.
So we hit the pulque bar, which is three levels of dancing (plus a roof!), the walls inscribed with sayings like "Pulque is the Mexican Viagra", plus other things I don't remember because I was drinking pulque. The drink itself is like a thick juice, very sweet, with a light ethanol edge and a slight carbonation. When you suck it through your teeth it feels like it gets thicker, a phenomenon known as shear thickening, which Wikipedia says is an example of a non-Newtonian fluid. Sold from large, clear tanks, I order from the one that's most full (which I suppose to be their least popular flavor — adventure!), and it turns out to apia (celery) and is quite good with the spicy salt on the lip of the dented aluminum mug.
Darren and I first bop around downstairs to Spanish translations of American classic rock, making a game out of guessing the song from the tune. Then we go upstairs to the top floor (but not the roof!) and chat with a cute pair of friends. My Spanish is quite bad, so I dance with the girl instead but get all sweaty so I go upstairs to the roof (the roof!) to cool off. After twenty minutes up here, a Slovenian and his entourage sit down with me, and he starts chatting with me in either Spanish or Italian. After twenty more minutes, he realizes I have no idea what he's saying, but he buys me a pulque anyway. Twenty more minutes go by, I finish it and it's been an hour. I would find out later that Darren has left with both girls to some dance party inside a church because he looked for me everywhere (except the roof!) and decided I was gone. He would also mention that that cute girl kept asking about me. ¡Que bummer!
So now I'm drunk and alone in the most populous city in the western hemisphere at 3am, which is cool because it's very adventurey. It's been several pulques, but I don't seem to be getting any aphrodisiacal qualities. I'm guessing this notion is due to the fact that it's very easy to drink, meaning girls will drink lots of it, thereby making them more open to engaging in the reproductive act. But for me, I'm thinking of just going home. So I hail a (legitimate) taxi and I tell him to head for La Era. He has no idea what that is, so I tell him "Desierto de los Leones", a neighborhood somewhat near it, and we chat in each others' languages about motorcycles and women. He stops suddenly and says we are here, but of course we aren't so I guide him up further into the hills. He's not so chatty now as the graffiti gets thicker and the buildings more ramshackle, the streets narrower and windier, the cars shoddier and brokener. He starts asking construction workers and balaclava'd security men with assault rifles where La Era is, and we make a number of wrong turns. Cabbie is totally silent now except for, "Esto barrio es muy peligroso", ("This neighborhood is very dangerous"), but he hadn't even heard of La Era before I got in the cab, so what does he know?
After an hour we find Garry's and the cabbie kicks Your Humble Adventurer out and hightails it to the lowlands, and it's standing there in the middle of the street, the soft yellow light of the sodium vapor lamps muting the vivid colors of the graffiti, the drunken locals trickling by at 4am, it's here that I look at my keys with a through a pleasant pulque buzz and realize that I've lost my key to the steel gates that secure Garry's compound. Now, there's no way I'm going to wake up my lovely hosts, so I climb over their wall. I won't say how I did this, but I will say that I looked pretty sketchy, that it took a couple of tries, that it required me to get creative, and that the next day I would inform my lovely hosts that I took the liberty of penetration testing their perimeter. They said that I was the first person ever to do this, which I reasoned makes me the most adventurous of the adventurers that they have hosted. After this feat I decide to go to sleep, seeing as I have a cold and all.
To keep this from being a totally photo-less post, I'm going to hook up you, my loyal readers, with a picture from an unsuccessful photo shoot at Garry's, wherein I wear swim trunks and boots for some reason. That cloud behind my knee is a plume from a distant fire of unknown origin. Mexico has many of these.
And here is a photo of some work by Neck Face, whose work is more often found in Manhattan. This specimen was found in a nice neighborhood, not in La Era.
In the next post, Your Humble Adventurer eats brains and rides his motorcycle in a hailstorm.