Stopped at the newsstand in SeaTac airport. A prayer, once more, to my benevolent corporate masters (now with new flavors) for safe passage on this, my final journey.
Danced at the Zocalo in Mexico City. Nice turnout. Lots of students and young families.
Also, a German.
The Zocalo is the third largest city square in the world. The other two are Red Square and Tiananmen Square. It actually feels a lot like those places. The Marxist vibe is a bit out of place.
Some folks suggested dancing with the traditional Aztec street performers just outside the square. They wear elaborate headgear with massive plumage. Forgot to take a picture, so I’m stealing one.
Dancing with them turned out to be tricky. Their dance is sacred and they are very sensitive about being mocked or exploited. I had a half dozen locals lobbying on my behalf, which was enough to get them in for one take, but when they saw the way we danced, it made their "blood boil."
At first there was speculation that they wanted more money. That proved false. It really was about respect and consideration.
They asked that we not use the footage. I apologized and told them I understood their point of view. We worked for a while to smooth things over.
They invited us to learn their dance. We did. They explained its history and meaning. We listened. They gave us permission to join them in a circle dance. It felt good to make amends, and it was one of those daunting and nervy experiences that this project delivers on a regular basis. But alas, circle dancing isn’t all that conducive to what I’m doing. I got a very proper and respectful clip of our backsides.
After the dance, I was planning to go up north to Teotihuacán. I mentioned this to a few of the participants and they offered to take me, so I made a day of it with David, Matus, Gabrielle, Antonio, and Diana.
David almost missed a turn on the way up. Matus shouted, "Izuierda! Izquierda! Izquierda!"
"Man, you guys really need a shorter word for ‘left’."
I visited Teotihuacán once when I was thirteen on a class trip. All I remember are the cruel steps leading up the sun pyramid. I don’t hear about the place very often, so I’d kind of relegated it in my mind as a fairly middling site that’s notable mainly for its proximity to Mexico City.
That was a false impression. The sun pyramid in particular is pretty damn spectacular. Granted, there have been some changes.
It’s the third largest pyramid in the world (another third largest). The second is only a couple hours away by car, but it’s buried under a mountain of dirt. The biggest, in Giza, is of course nothing to scoff at, but you can’t climb to the top of it unless you’re also willing to spend some time in an Egyptian jail cell. I have a harder time enjoying things that I can’t climb on top of.
Apparently new agey people really dig Teotihuacán. There was a circle of them up top with us reciting prayers they’d written about peace, love, and understanding. I’m inclined to poke fun, but whatever. I don’t see any harm in it.
I find it harder to restrain myself with the Mormons.
The main drag is called the Avenue of the Dead, which is a great name for any street.
One rather amazing and unanticipated consequence of making the dancing videos is that I have friends in just about every country.
David asked me, "What stereotypes do Americans have about Mexicans?"
"You know," Matus added, "what kinds of jokes do people make about Mexicans?"
"It’s okay. We’ve heard them all."
"Um. How about you go first?"
"Well, there’s the one with an American, a Japanese, and a Mexican, and a genie grants each of them one wish. The American says ‘I want all the money in the world.’ The Japanese says ‘I want all the rice in the world.’ And the Mexican says ‘I want these other two guys to fuck off so I can take all their stuff.’"
Oh, man. I know what this is. This is a Curb Your Enthusiasm moment. I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth next, but it’s sure to be way worse than what he just said. This is bad bad bad.
…Okay, they seem to have shifted focus. Just stay quiet. Wait for them to forget about it. Move on to a different subject.
Went out to an early dinner on the way back. The restaurant had pictures of movie stars on the wall. This guy is the Mexican John Wayne.
I think he kinda looks like the Mexican Earl.
Matus and Gabrielle took me back to my hotel just in time to catch the lowering of the absurdly giganormous flag in the Zocalo.
They march several hundred soldiers out to perform the ritual.
"Are you sure Mexico isn’t communist?"
"We are a democracy."
"Are you absolutely positive? Cause that looks pretty darn communist to me right there."
"Trust me. If I lived in a communist country, I would know about it."
"Yeah. I suppose you would."