On the way to San Miguel de Allende, we stopped in Irapuato for lunch.
A typical small ciudad, it features a central square flanked by a large church and several food venues. Unusually, an abandoned highrise looms just off the plaza.
We headed to the square and were lured into a carnitas joint by a free "taco dorado" with unidentifiable filling, and we each ordered a single carnitas taco which turned out to be enormous. A man dressed in camoflauge stalked around a bit, turned out he was the manager and he introduced himself. He wouldn't tell me his name or what was in the taco dorados (2 pesos [15 cents] each!), but when I said one flavor involved liver, he admitted that was an ingredient. He then said he was going to play matchamker between Darren and one of the waitresses, all of whom were gorgeous. I'm not sure if he was joking.
We moved on to that day's destination, San Miguel de Allende, where we found our hostel by accident and promptly let out a "Huzzah!" We got the bikes parked inside and up some steps with the aid of a plank which kept slipping out of place on the slick tile. Good fun, it was. The girl working the front desk was the most attractive woman I've yet encountered in this life — long, flowing dark hair framed her round face and her friendly, almond-shaped eyes made me forget both Spanish and English. Her slender body suggested youth and exuberance with a hint of indiscretion, and I stayed the fuck away from her.
The city square has a gorgeous church.
We had a drink at Cielo, a bar/restaurant with a very nice view, and for a moment everything felt just right.
We found pizza after some effort (was after 9pm), the pizza was actually pretty good, with chewy, golden crust and decent cheese with plenty of topping. After the horror of Guerrero Negro, I wasn't sure if Mexico could do pizza, but San Miguel has proven otherwise.
We are planning on leaving tomorrow for Mexico City.
Visited Dolores Hidalgo, birthplace of the War for Indepedence and site of Hidalgo's famous "Grito de Dolores" ("Cry of Dolores"). It's considered to be the war's spark, and much like the origin of most conflagrations, no evidence remains of what he said because no one wrote it down.
Saw oldest church in Mexico, it had a low, white, rudimentary exterior but a rich interior dense with painted inlays and gold leaf.
A gang of kids had been watching our bikes, Darren went to pay and asked who was the "jefe" (chief), they all hesitated and then pointed to the tallest girl. I looked at her and she seemed to be shooting me a mean look, maybe she thought we were both supposed to pay? Anyway, I smiled and she smiled back.
Went to hot springs resort, we were expecting just some ramshackle pools and a money-taker, but once again that was our discrimination via diminshed expectations and the place was quite nice. We had beers, chilled in pools, and went into a cool tunnel/grotto with thermal waterfall, which would have been totally magical with a lady.
Went out on town, had Starbucks coffee and remained wired all night. The cafe was on the main square but had its logo slyly hidden, and they served all the same stuff as in America.
Went to the main square and there was a big celebration. Appeared to be a cordon and Darren darted through when the lights suddenly went off. Then there was a projection onto the church, very cool.
Then we sat on some steps in front of a big mariachi band and saw lots of fireworks — big ones, July 4th-quality — shooting into the air with some coming back down very near the audience.
Some 10-foot high characters were dancing around, one with its tits hanging out half the time, it kept sticking its tits in peoples' faces. One man would come along and re-vest the dummy and others would disrobe it.
A dude carrying a wooden bull with spinning/shooting fireworks ran around near the audience, we thought we'd surely get a firework in the face.
I covered myself with my leather jacket but Darren caught a piece of firework on his neck and got a neato burn. We never figured out what they were celebrating, there were a lot of dentists in town for a conference, maybe they were celebrating the dentists.
We met some cute Mexican chicks on the steps, the señoritas said they wanted to hang later and then ran off, it seemed strange for them to be so forward, I suspected a trap but they were dentists so they were probably cool.
Later we met up with the señoritas and an Aussie from our hostel and we went to a nightclub that looked like nothing from the outside but turned out to be huge, with dozens of TV screens and a few hundred people. The dentists tried to buy the first round but we weren't having it.
I wandered off and stared at the undulating crowd and Darren came up and asked if everything was okay. Must've looked down, but was just having a moment. Went to pee when I intercepted one of the girls from our dental party, I'll call her "Alicia", she was so beautiful that it felt unfair, out-of-bounds. Her dark hair fell below her shoulders with insouciance, her prominent eyebrows framed eyes that smiled but seemed searching for something to fill some veiled sadness within. This was my kind of girl. Miraculously, I happened to say the perfect thing to her and we went back to her place.
We are supposed to leave for Mexico City today, but Alicia is upset that I'm leaving. I can't stop my journey for her but I want to spend more time with her, so I tell her I'll talk to Darren about changing plans to stay with her for a few more days and that I'll get right back to her. I walk home through the quaint streets under the blue and white streamers and have a strange feeling that never will I ever feel again as good as I do at this moment, that no matter what happens, the promise of the future outshines any possible instance of it, and I try to feel the pleasure in it even as I realize I don't know where I am.
Darren is cool with staying two more days, so I shower and shave and go back to her place. The hotel won't let me upstairs, I consider climbing the building but instead yell her name three times from the sidewalk. No answer. I go home and try to contact her via phone, text, and Facebook, though I'm about ready to bust out the flares and signal mirrors.
I lied in bed for a few hours, recovering from my sour stomach and getting in some prime ceiling-staring.
Around 3pm we visit an adventure-rider contact, Mike, at a soon-to-close Sri Lankan restaurant. We talk bikes and riding for an hour, we have beers, I get gentle noodles for my stomach but cannot finish them. We go to his buddy's home and workshop, which is gorgeous and has lots of cool art and landscaping and several cool motos. They give us tips on where to go for good ridin', they are great and welcoming folks with wonderful attitudes and interesting stories.
We go out later and grab beers, Alicia still hasn't gotten back to me and I realize I can't stop talking about her, gonna need to get a drunken rage on. We hang with Irish Amy, she shit talks the local Irish bar for having a British phone booth, I do shots of Jameson. She leaves but we meet the Aussie again at the club. Darren gets rum and Coke bottle service, maybe we are trying to recreate last night's magic but we didn't bring girls and there's no critical mass. There's a wedding party full of hotties but I'm starting to lose the ability to function or move and I abscond home, getting three tacos on the way. I regret trying to kill my minor heartache with booze instead of finding a new girl.
I keep asking myself over and over what must have happened. Could she possibly have not gotten my messages? No, of course she did. Did she feel embarrassed about the night before? Was she afraid of falling for an adventurous gringo who would just leave her behind? Was she just a flaky party girl? I'll have to be satisfied with the fact that I'll never know.
6am, it's dark and I hear fireworks, periodic at first but they get more frequent and louder, plus there are church bells, then some REALLY loud occasional booms and now the church bell becomes frantic — it must be warning the town! I have visions of the Enschede disaster (a fireworks factory catches fire and destroys a town), I put on boots, my hands are shaking, I rush outside thinking the main fireworks magazine has caught fire. I round the corner and a dude is setting off really loud fireworks in front of the church, he's celebrating Saint Something-or-Other. At 6am. On Saturday morning. Dude in hostel says it's normal: "I know, I am *Catolico*". Meanwhile I now have PTSD triggered by church bells, but I guess this is what I signed up for when I started this trip.
Wake up around 8am, slept poorly again, prolly all that Diet Coke from the club. Decide to get up and be productive so I go to Starbucks, of course. While working I look out the window and keep thinking I see her. I feel dumb for letting this get to me, but then I realize that I am still here and that this is happening right now. I think about how shitty it feels, but I remember Warren Zevon: "I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all". This trip is about both the good and the bad.
I walk around town, I have a liter cup of mango, I get the mango shits, I have some artisinal beer, I try not to think about Alicia, about why she'd want me to stay and then disappear. I take a nap, I wake up, I lean out the balcony, I see a couple, I think it might be her. I definitely need to leave this town, luckily we're finally doing so tomorrow.
The next day, we really, actually head for Mexico City, which has 20 million people and is the most populous city in the western hemisphere. That means 10 million women and a crowd that just might be big enough to get lost in.