After a few days out of the city at the weekend home of the family of friends, after those few days of sunshine and doing nothing much, getting back to Distrito Federal, it’s noticeable how loud the city is. Every regular big city has noise, but what makes Mexico City different to London, Berlin, Toronto is how much of that noise is specifically designed to disturb you. One could be charitable and say it’s noise that is there to alert your attention to certain things, but on the whole, the noises are there to be loud enough to make sure people in apartment buildings can here those noises through closed windows. And if, like me, you don’t really want to traipse down four flights of stairs to buy bananas or get your knives sharpened, they’re just added noise to an already noisy city. Still, I could leave with the trash men ringing their bells, the knife-sharpener’s whistle, the tamales guy’s looped announcement coming from the speakers on his bicycle, the steam whistle of the guys selling sweet potatoes, the shouts of “agua!” or “gas!”… I could live with all of those if the cilindreros, the organ grinder who plays on the street outside my bedroom/workspace would be swallowed up by the earth for crimes to the ears of human beings.
So, yes, as you can tell, I came back from a weekend away fully relaxed. I went to this place called San Gil. It’s a strange (to me, at least) little private estate, spread out around a big artificial lake and 18 hole golf course. It’s near a town called San Juan del Río, in the state of Querétero, about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Mexico City; a pleasant ride on a motorway through yellow-ish countryside with dusty hills on the horizon. And, since leaving Bellingham in the middle of 2009, I’ve hardly spent five minutes outside of one city or another. I spent the majority of the journey staring out of the window at the lack of buildings. Every now and again, there’d be cattle or sheepses in the fields, farmhouses, or by the roadside, cafes, restaurants, Pemex gas stations, auto shops, and places that sold concrete crap for the garden.
Nearing San Juan del Río, we found out that the people who’s house we were heading to were behind us on the road from the city, so we stopped for food at a barbacoa restaurant. Barbacoa is lamb cooked slowly in a hole dug in the earth, and covered with leaves. And it’s fucking delicious. It’s so very, very tender. I had some soup with the lamb, and, duh, some tacos de barbacoa. Also of interest at the restaurant were the pictograms used to indicate the toilets. Because all men smoke pipes, and women use fans.
At the house, it was one of those weekends where, afterwards, you wrack your brain to try and remember the order of events, but it’s impossible. The relaxation all blends into one mush of doing lots of nice stuff. Playing basketball and chess with teenagers, drinking tequila, eating all kinds of awesome food, sitting in the sunshine, riding a bicycle around the resort, playing with the dogs, and watching the freshly bathed and brushed male dogs suddenly get all fruity and spend an afternoon humping each other.
Noticing how quiet life is, noting the lack of policemen, enjoying the guilt-free drinking of beer before lunch, drunkenly not caring about making a tit of yourself playing the Xbox Dance Central game, trying to take poker seriously but just enjoying bluffing with a ridiculously stupid hand, developing intricate handshakes with a 12 year old, standing around chatting in the ever-busy kitchen, watching some gorgeous sunsets. It was a lovely long weekend.