Brave, Brash, and Blind in the Mexican Countryside

It's pitch black beyond the gate. My friend fumbles with the padlock, irritably grappling with his tangled mass of keys. The ever-present thump of salsa music emanates from the hills behind me. Looming somewhere in the distance are the twin peaks of Iztaccíhuatl and her volcanic lover Popocatepetl.

We threaded through the dark streets of Amecameca and ghostly corn fields to reach this narrow road. I realize with a dark thrill that I have no idea where I am, nor could anyone find me. But this is the home of my most trusted friend, so I am both perfectly safe and perfectly hidden. There could be no better combination.

We sit in wire frame chairs in the courtyard, flanked by twin houses--one electrified, one inert. Two blankets apiece are in order; the mountain air is startlingly chilly after the breeziness of el DF. The stars are frigidly aglow, starkly scattered in the pitch sky. I can't recognize any of the constellations; at times my friend and I can barely understand each other. But the coffee in our hands is malty and hot, and our bellies still glow with the remains of a feast of mole tamales and succulent tripa tacos. Soon I will sleep like a perfect petted child and dream of a dragon kingdom. The night is absolutely hushed save for the heated yowling of a little cat.

I wake to my own secret garden. The gate, haloed by verdant shrubbery, is firmly padlocked shut but this doesn't trouble me: I can peep over the stone walls to see Iztaccíhuatl sleeping with Popocatepetl watching over her. Or I can rock back and forth on play set swing. It carries me effortlessly; I am lighter than I have been in some time. I prowl in and out of the house sneaking bites of orange coconut candy, lying flat on the concrete to soak up the sugary midday sun, goose-stepping through the grass, a book dangling from my fingers.

We go to town. Men in dusty ball caps clomp down the street, riding bare-backed. The fields are full of kerosene soaked cardboard curing in the sun. Women clutching wide-eyed babies with pierced ears enter our camión. "Buenas tardes," they say solemnly. The market carries the scent of freshly cooked sausage, spicy tripe pozole, roasted corn. Mountains of roasted pepitas jostle for room with withered chicken feet, plump canned peaches, ripe avocados, and hog head. "Do you want rabbit? Do you want café de olla? Do you want cecina (marinated beef) tacos?" asks my companion. I am shameless in my indulgence.

 My friend is a self-proclaimed triple F: feo, fuerte, y formal. He cooks up a mean longaniza sausage taco and then wants to pick wild mint to make tea. I am in my secret garden and I am on the moon. I'm a triple B: brave, brash, blind. I found my way and I have an idea of how to get back, but here I am neither seen by the usual suspects nor myself. This has to be equilibrium as I realize that I am not conjuring up my narrative, I am finally just living it without the usual self-reflexive illumination. The darkness in Amecameca doesn`t require such tricks; it always has the quality of a brilliant morning.

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