Monthly Archives: April 2011

Semana Santa

Antigua, 24 mars 2005

Semana Santa, la seconde en importance après celle de Séville.  Mais Antigua, même en pleine Semana Santa, n’arrivera jamais à être aussi affolante qu’Acapulco.  A trois heures du mat, ce ne sont pas les fêtards qui titubent dans les rues sous l’influence de quelques tequilas ou mezcals de trop mais, au flambeau, des centaines d’hommes en tuniques et cagoules violettes sous le poids d’une litière de milliers de kilos – dit-on – transportant le Christo Santo.  Hier en rentrant du marché, chargée de sacs, j’ai été prise dans la foule, au Parque central, massée devant une reconstitution du procès du Christ.  J’ai du demander à un soldat romain de baisser sa lance pour traverser le trottoir, il s’est exécuté avec courtoisie.  Pendant ce temps, une femme (je n’ai jamais pu deviner s’il s’agissait de la Vierge ou de Marie-Madeleine) s’égosillait, en larmes, les bras levés au ciel.  Je ne suis pas vraiment arrivée à comprendre de qui ou de quoi il s’agissait, ça devait être la Vierge, un peu faisandée il me semble pour jouer Marie-Madeleine…

Dans presque toutes les rues, les résidants créent des « alfombras », tapis de fruits, de fleurs, de pétales, d’aiguilles de pin et de sciure colorée.  Véritables tapis orientaux dessinés à même la chaussée et qui seront éventuellement piétinés par l’une des multiples processions qui, jour et nuit,  sillonnent les rues.

Vendredi saint: du Parque Central, à midi, montent les accords lugubres de la Marche Funèbre de je-ne-sais-plus-trop-qui, oui, celle-là justement, celle que nous connaissons tous.  Sur le parvis de la Cathédrale, entourés de Pénitents en cagoules noires cette fois, les deux larrons étaient déjà crucifiés.  Une statue du Christ a finalement été hissée sur la croix, puis coiffée de la couronne d’épines par deux hommes en complet noir et gants noirs grimpés dans des échelles.  Assez macabre, merci.

Dans la Primera Avenida, près de l’Escuela de Christo, les douze stations du chemin de croix, en plâtre et grandeur nature, se succèdent en plein milieu de la rue, parmi les vendeurs de ballons, de sifflets et de friandises typiques dont les marchandes indiennes chassent les mouches.

De chez moi, j’entends encore les accords de la fanfare mêlés au criaillages des enfants qui me dérangent moins depuis que nous avons fait connaissance.  Pas étonnant qu’ils soient bruyants, ils sont cinq, de deux à sept ans.  Haut taux de natalité au Guatemala.  Ils étaient tapis dans un coin tantôt, se moquant sans doute de la gringa qui n’arrivait pas à fermer sa porte.  J’entendais « Hello, hello », alors j’ai pensé qu’il serait de mise de me présenter en bonne et due forme, ce que j’ai fait et qui m’a valu une aide précieuse de la petite de quatre ans qui savait, elle, comment fermer la porte.  De ma fenêtre, un fouillis insolite de palmes et de pins dans lequel des volées d’oiseaux s’en donnent à cœur joie pour fare valoir leur ramage sinon leur plumage. Les enfants criaillent, les chiens aboient, c’est Antigua…

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Pie de la Cuesta no More!

Acapulco, 13 March 2005

Pie de la Cuesta is a miles-long beach of white sand north of Acapulco.  Acapulco, as I said before, is a detestable place.  It was once beautiful with its emerald belt of mountains and hills, its tranquil bay, its fine sand beaches.  That was way back then, when it was only a small fishing harbor.  It has regrettably transformed itself in an overcrowded, polluted and dirty metropolis, ridden with traffic and humongous hotels covering the hills and hiding the bay.  Not  a place to come to if you can avoid it or unless you have an old friend there that you happen to cherish.

Well, to come back to Pie de la Cuesta.  I don’t know how long its beach could be.  For all I know, it might go all the way up to the frontera.  The waves are a bit brutal for safe bathing but little palapas are planted here and there along the beach, shadowed with coconut trees and hung with hammocks.  They also shelter small restaurants that serve grilled fish and shrimp, drinks and cold coconuts.  I hasn’t changed much since I first knew it, more years ago than I care to remember.  You can walk along that beach, at least during the week, without meeting anybody.  You, the sky, the ocean and nothing else.  So I was a bit surprised the other day to find a whole pineapple abandoned on the beach and, further on, a soldier in full regalia gesturing at me with his gun, indicating quite clearly that I had to turn around.  Oh yes, the military base, I had forgotten about that…I obeyed but made sure to pick up the pineapple first.

Across from the beach is a laguna, calm and idyllic with its smooth waters contrasting with the roaring waves of the Pacific on the other side.  It is fringed with tall, lanky coconut trees – an entire grove actually – swaying in the breeze like undisciplined children with mussed up hair.  That laguna probably is one of the most beautiful places in Mexico, if not on earth.  Except that the laguna is no more.  I mean yes, it is still there but you can’t see it anymore from the road.  Greedy real estate developers have set their dirty minds and dirty paws on it and built and built until all you could see anymore would be restaurants and shacks, some more luxurious than others, but still shacks as far as I’m concerned.  Further on, there is the military base of course and, beyond its limit, you are not welcome.  The Pie de la Cuesta laguna and what happened to it break my heart.

Something else related to the laguna had also broken my heart several years ago.  We used to stop sometimes at Steve’s Hideaway a little bar on the edge of the laguna.  It had rough tables under thatched roofs and we used to sit, have a couple of beers, watch the sunset on one side and contemplate the laguna on the other.  One evening, we came and found ourselves greeted by an exuberant American woman in a fancy caftan who seemed totally out of place and totally delighted to see us.  She kept insisting that we also have dinner there: shrimps and steaks on the menu.  Somehow, we were the only customers and a bit taken off course.  Where was our usual little bar ?   She started to explain that she and her new Mexican husband had just bought the place and that he was going to build her a big house on the laguna.  She had even brought her hi-fi from the States which, for the time being, sat outside blaring loud American songs.  So far, so good, until the husband arrived, whose mood certainly didn’t match hers or perhaps wasn’t he as good at dissimulating.  He looked somber and disgruntled.  Either business was not going so good, the marriage was not going so good, he suffered from severe heartburn or all of the above.

That’s when I noticed the sadness and despair in her eyes.  She knew that we wouldn’t stay for dinner, that the big house would never be built and that customers, sensing such impending disaster in the air, chose to stay away.  I could very well imagine that middle-aged American having been courted by her  Latin lover of a husband; I could hear him promising her the world in a big house on an idyllic laguna.  I imagine her falling head over heels in love and realizing, once here, that the dream was over, that the prince was actually a frog and the promises nothing more but words.  I felt miserable for her and her lost illusions.  I don’t know what I felt for him, he just looked mean and furious.

We paid and left.  The next time we were in Pie de la Cuesta, the bar was not there anymore.  I hope for that woman that she’s back in the States and happy.  I don’t know why that illustration of lost illusions remained etched in my mind in such vivid colors after all that time.  I can still see her eye…

I took the pineapple home.  It was delicious.


Filed under Acapulco - Mexico - 2005 - English

Of Starvation and Margaritas

Acapulco, 10 March 2005

I thought I’d take a break from Antigua and go visit a friend in Acapulco.  Acapulco, mind you, is not anymore what it used to be.  A huge metropolis by a polluted bay, with too many high rises for too many noisy people with two many cars.

But my friend lives in a properly secluded area and you don’t really have to venture into town unless you really have to.  Not that we do.  There are three fridges full of food here and if I manage to take over the kitchen, which would mean a good clean-up (thank God for my blue rubber gloves), I might be able to concoct something to eat.  The house might be sumptuous (you should see my bathroom) but the kitchen is less than pristine I would say. I must explain that my friend Violaine does everything in excess, including buying huge amounts of everything.  Kilos of spinach, for instance, that would keep a cow happy for a couple of days.  Lots of it eventually gets past its expiration date and my grapefruit juice this morning had very strange things floating into it.

Talking about excess, she mixes the most lethal Margaritas that taste somewhat like inoffensive lemonade but must contain, in a bird-bath sized glass, half a liter of tequila. We had some people over for cocktails last night, about a dozen Americans who had passed the day at the beach, some of them being already a bit sloshed.  For a while, I had an interesting conversation with one of them who collects art but who was gradually, thanks to Violaine’s Margaritas, getting somewhat incoherent.  It got to the point where I couldn’t understand anymore what he was saying so I suggested that I was either getting deaf, seriously slurring his words or speaking a foreign language.  Of course, it was a tequila induced slur and I excused myself.  A few minutes later, he was asleep and the chauffeur carried him to the van.

It was a beautiful sunset though, a network of interwoven clouds hung above the horizon like a lacy counterpane.  After the sun had sunk below the ocean line, they became lit from below, in nuances progressively turning from salmon pink to deep rose while the sky, by contrast, darkened from light blue to purple.  But I was not immune myself to Violaine’s  Margarita and, not having eaten anything I was, pretty woozy  by the time I went to bed.  To be quite honest, I haven’t been so drunk in 30 years.  My watch must have stopped at one point because I woke up, somewhere in the middle of the night and it indicated 9:30.  Not knowing at what time I had gone to bed, I had no way to tell what time it really was and if it was actually 9:30, well,  it was going to be a loooong night.  The tequila was still slish-sloshing in my brains.  I went back to sleep and the sun rose shortly after.  Not feeling so bad this morning considering.  But that’s it with the Margaritas !

No more !


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