Sunday Night Thoughts #9

calle libertad guadalajara

The witching hour. The time of night when the light becomes crepuscular. When YOU become crepuscular in your thoughts and deeds. When you take a familiar route and suddenly notice that your surroundings are no longer familiar, that you’re lost. When you get home and the lights are off and all is silent. This is the witching hour. And it’s my favorite time of day.

Anyway.

Hello.

It’s Sunday night. And today has been great, but for no particular reason. I watched an episode of Black Mirror with D, a phenomenal show, and then we went to a sort of cafe with seating that was sort of outdoors and sort of indoors, a sort of open air, Caribbean feel, and I commented to her that I felt like I was “back in Cuba,” or “back in the Dominican,” despite the fact that I’ve never been to the Dominican.

When I got home I watched the Dortmund v. Hannover game, in which Christian Pulisic, my favorite player, had some wonderful dribbles. And then I worked my Instagram job, which I STILL somehow haven’t been fired from, and went out to wander a bit, and when I exited my house the light was perfect, the temperature was perfect, and I looked up at the treetops and suddenly my life was perfect, and I thought about how today will never be repeated, how each moment is a wonderful thing, and yes, one day my body will be in the ground, it will decompose, but for right now I’m fighting to add content to my life, to add meaning. I’m fighting to read poetry, to write poetry, to take pictures, to go surfing, to talk with friends, to help people, to learn, to teach, to love, to fight, to cry, and all that stuff. I’m fighting for living.

My first stop was El Expiatorio where I got a tamal rojo. I sat on the steps of the cathedral eating it and looking out over the plaza. Some people I met right when I got to GDL came up to me and said hi, and we talked for way longer than I expected, and the conversation was strangely refreshing. Then I walked to La Teteria, where I had a mocha frappuccino, talked to some friends on WhatsApp, worked a bit, and wrote in my journal. I’ve been keeping a journal religiously lately, thought I don’t know what kind of religion. It’s not catholic. It’s not muslim. It might be buddhist.

The light continued to be perfect at La Teteria. My mocha frappuccino had coffee beans in a it for decoration. After finishing it I walked into the cool, night air, down Libertad and over to Miguel Blanco, where I stopped at Aero Pizza on the way home. Tonight seemed like a perfect night to sit on the couch and eat pizza and watch a movie. I’m going to watch the new Tomb Raider movie with Alicia Vikander, mostly because I used to be obsessed with this video game and also because Alicia Vikander might be one of the most attractive people on the planet.

It’s been a pretty ordinary day, but it’s been a good day. It’s been a pretty ordinary week, but it’s been a good week. I plan for this trend to continue (minus, at times, the ordinary).

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A Cafe Dedicated to Cats

el gato cafe guadalajara

Imagine a restaurant dedicated to cats. It might be difficult, since you might wonder why anyone in their right mind (or any frame of mind) would dedicate a restaurant to cats. But that’s indeed what’s happened at El Gato Cafe, a half block from the famed neo-gothic cathedral El Expiatorio, in Gaudalajara, Mexico.

Now imagine spending time at this cafe, eating there, perusing the menu. This was the situation I found myself in the other day. I’d seen El Gato Cafe on Google Maps, where  it has an extremely high 4.8/5 rating, and since I spend 98% of my waking hours in cafes I figured I should check it out.

I went at 3:30pm, certainly not the most happening time of day, and besides the waiter standing there looking expectant, and Elton John music drifting from the speakers, there wasn’t much going on. I sat down and began paging through the menu, which brought to mind an unabridged volume of War and Peace or other such Slavic tome. I’d never seen so many coffee drinks, and all of them seemingly similar. There was the Iced Cafe Mocha on one page, and then halfway down the same page the Iced Coffee Mocha. On the same page there was also a Cappuccino with Chocolate, a Coffee with Mexican Chocolate, and something like an Iced Mocha with Mexican Chocolate (I don’t remember exactly, since I have the memory of a turtle). I opted for the Hot Chocolate with Shot of Coffee, and as the waiter was walking away I said, “Actually, can I have it cold?” He didn’t bat an eye.

I immediately noticed a curious thing about the tables at El Gato Cafe. They’re all equipped with buttons so you can page the waiter. He said, “Press it for three seconds and I’ll come right over,” which seemed a bit excessive since there was no one there and I’m pretty sure even from across the room he could hear the sound of me breathing. I noticed there was also a button labeled “Surprise,” which seemed mysterious to say the least. Letting my curiosity get the better of me, I started reaching for the surprise button, and as I reached for it I noticed the waiter eyeing me while he reached for what looked liked a clown mask and a meat clever. I put my my hand down, and he went back to making my drink.

My beverage came, which was, strangely, exactly what I’d asked for. It was a hot chocolate, with a shot of espresso, and at the last second it’d been made cold, as if an afterthought, much how I’d ordered it. I sat back and listened to the music, which had changed from Elton John to something worse. I kept on looking at the menu, since there’s not much else to do when you’re at a cat-themed cafe by yourself. I noticed many of the drinks and food items had cat-themed names, none of which I can remember now. One of them had the word “Miauuu” in it.

I finished the drink in about four seconds, since I have the self control of a Labrador retriever. Then I paid for the drink, which was prohibitively expensive, and exited out to the street and back to El Expiatorio, where they sell tamales for 17 pesos, or, less than a dollar. It was nice to be out of a cat-themed place and into a place that was cathedral-themed, or street-themed, or tamale-themed, or normal-themed, or anything else-themed, a considerable improvement from El Gato Cafe.

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El Mono Silabo

mono silabo guadalajara

I’m at el Mono Silabo, a cafe in the Americana neighborhood in Guadalajara. I’d never come to this cafe before because it’s two doors down from El Rincon del Mate, the one mate cafe in Guadalajara and possibly in all of Mexico, and where I go at least several times a week. But today El Rincon del Mate doesn’t open till 2:30pm, so I thought I’d give this place a shot.

I’m glad I did. When I walked in there was Cuban music playing, and the courtyard was awash with light and people talking. Guadalajara is full of buildings like this; they don’t look like much from the outside, but inside there’s always an open air courtyard filled with plants, and the sounds of the street become a memory. Sometimes there’s a fountain, and always the din of soft music and conversation. El Mono Silabo has a big room off to the side that’s filled with floor to ceiling windows that let in the breeze, and also shelves of books. I love being surrounded by books. It feeds my soul, much like the jugo verde, or green juice I just ordered, that feeds my body.

I just finished giving my last English conversation class on Saturdays. This was the first job I ever had here when I arrived a month and a half ago. I’ll tell you what it paid now, because it’s over and I’m less embarrassed. Fifty pesos an hour. I’ll let you do the math. When you do you’ll see why I referred to it as my “volunteer job,” but when I accepted this job it was because I knew it was the right thing to do. The pay was secondary. It was a way to hit the ground running (see: jogging [see: slowly]), to meet people, to have meaningful interactions. And it’s also opened doors. I’m now one of two Spanish teachers at the American Consulate here, which is another job I accepted at the same company because I figured it might open doors. I’m still not quite sure what doors these might be. So far it’s just another underpaid job. But it’s also cool to meet people from the consulate, to see that world, and if I hadn’t accepted that job that never would’ve happened.

The reason I quit the English conversation job is because I now have a lot more online work, and this work pays over three times as much as what the Saturday conversation class was paying. This is not to say it pays a lot, because it doesn’t, but it pays a respectable wage for Mexico. I’m still not in the financial position to get my own place. I spent all of my savings in Sayulita, so I’ll have to wait till mid March, unless I somehow sell an article to the New York Times or other such massive publication, which might be hard since I’m not submitting articles to such publications. But I have this strange feeling that I’m going to come into a decent amount of money soon. Have you ever had that feeling? It’s a good feeling. It reminds me of the J.D. Salinger quote:  “I’m a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”

That’s kind of how I feel right now.

I’m debating whether or not to order a coffee, or a frappe, but really just enjoying the music that’s drifting in from the adjacent courtyard. My nostrils are being intermittently assaulted by some kind of sewage smell from the street, and I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I’m supposed to work on my novel today, at least 1,000 words, and I can’t be bothered. All I want to do is take a nap. Which is fine. Because it’s Saturday, and Saturday’s in Mexico are for cafes and naps.

Crucial information: 
El Mono Silabo
Calle Miguel Blanco 1405, Guadalajara
See photos

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