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.
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).
I haven’t done this so far on Ordinary Nomad, but I’ve decided to delete a post. I’ve deleted the post from this morning, which was about my dislike of Hispanic accents in terms of spoken English, and also my dislike of gringo accents in spoken Spanish. Where do I get with hate speech? There’s no need for this. It just alienates people. It makes you sound ignorant and bitter, two things I never want to be. Which is why I’ve deleted the post, and in it’s stead written a post about 5 things I love.
(in no particular order):
1) Roberto Bolaño
Currently my favorite author, tied for #1 with Karl Ove Knausgaard. Right now I’m re-reading Los Detectives Salvajes (The Savage Detectives in English). My love for these two authors knows no bounds. They’ve been my favorite authors for at least two years now, though Bolaño has occupied that ranking for many more, basically since I discovered the book 2666.
2) Karl Ove Knausgaard
I’ve written about this author many times. He’s Norwegian. He’s conflicted. He smokes a ton of cigarettes. None of these things make him a better writer, of course. The only thing that made him a better writer was writing and writing and writing, and just when he was ready to give up, writing some more. And he certainly made it.
Acelga, mole, elote, I don’t know if I’ve ever tried a tamal I didn’t like. The best one I’ve had this go-round in Mexico was outside an Oxxo convenience store coming into GDL from the west. It cost 12 pesos.
4) The Final Scene from Whiplash
This last weekend my friend Kevin introduced me to the movie Whiplash, from 2014. I’d never seen it. In fact, the only thing we watched over and over, at my and his brother’s request, was the final scene: jarring, inspiring, haunting, original, upsetting, beautiful.
5) Bainbridge Island
My home. Every time I go back there I’m filled with calm from the moment I step off the ferry. Stepping off the ferry in the evening has also provided my current favorite smell to date: salt water mixed with pine trees.
So yes, better to write about things you love than things you hate. I apologize if I offended anyone with the previous post. I was frustrated. I was confused. I was sitting in a Starbucks.
Friends, I’m no longer in danger of starvation. I have many of you to thank for that, your generous donations, your love and support. In fact the way things are going I’m actually making money (almost) every day, and by mid March should have enough to have my very own apartment that I can hopefully Airbnb mercilessly until I get evicted.
Mexico is a land of possibilities.
I’m at Starbucks again this morning, which should come as no surprise because I go to Starbucks every morning. This routine makes me happy. When I walked in just now I started smiling, and I wasn’t sure why. I think it was just because I was in a place I felt comfortable. The people around me felt like my family, even though I know none of them. The only bummer is they didn’t have apples this morning, which means I’m involuntarily fasting.
Whenever I meet someone new here they I ask me why I came to Guadalajara. At first my stock answer was, “I wanted to be in a place like Mexico City that wasn’t Mexico City, Seattle was too expensive, and I wanted to improve my Spanish.” My Spanish isn’t bad, in fact I probably speak more grammatically than many Mexicans, just like many Swedes probably speak English more grammatically than you, but I want to take the oral legal interpreter test in Seattle next October, which means I want my Spanish to be perfect. This month has already helped (as of today I’ve been in GDL exactly one month). Yesterday a woman at the consulate asked me if I was Mexican and when I said “No, 100% gringo,” she said, “Really? No…..”. It was flattering beyond belief. She also gave me cake. She might currently be my favorite person in the world.
The other two reasons are also true: Seattle is expensive as hell, and I felt I needed to try a different place other than Mexico City since I’ve been many times.
And though I wasn’t elated about Guadalajara, I like it more everyday. Here are 10 reasons why:
1) El Terrible Juan Cafe
This is my favorite cafe in Guadalajara. I like it because you’re surrounded by plants, it’s in a wonderful, quiet, shaded neighborhood. The staff is nice (except one girl who I think might despise me), and the product is great. They have a pulled pork sandwich smothered in some kind of aioli that I could probably eat everyday and not get tired of. The only gripe I have about the place is the WiFi is sub-standard. But who goes to a cafe to be on their devices anyway, nowadays, except everyone.
2) Abarrotes la Abue’
If I keep going to this place everyday the lady who works there might accidentally end up adopting me. I still use the formal “usted” with her and probably always will, but we’re almost on a first-name basis. The thing I get here is the chilaquiles sandwich, soggy tortilla chips in sauce with melted cheese between two pieces of rustic baguette. It costs $1.50. In El Terrible Juan I could eat their pork sandwich everyday if I had the money; at Abarrotes la Abue’ I actually eat their pork sandwich everyday.
Abarrotes La Abue.
3) Parque Rojo
My favorite thing about this park is the kids who stand around free-style rapping. It’s hilarious. All they do is insult each other and wave their hands in the air and bob back and forth. Plus the other day I saw a guy there with a chinchilla.
4) El expiatorio
Apparently the ultimate example of neo-gothic architecture in the world, though I’m sure this is false. This is like when Mexicans say Mexico City is “the biggest city in the world,” an asseveration that is patently false. Mexico City is big, but not that big. Tokyo is bigger. Sao Paulo is bigger. Hell, if you’re talking metropolitan area, Chongqing is bigger.
El expiatorio is a cathedral, in case I haven’t made that clear. Masses are held all the time. The doors are always open. And right next to the cathedral lies number five…
5) Tamales at El Expiatorio
Seventeen pesos buys you a one-way ticket to flavor country. Destination: delicious tamales served out of big silver pots by smiling women. They have red, green, spinach, mushrooms, and corn. I personally like the corn tamales because they’re sweet. But since I’m a crazy, demented health nut (and also just demented), I often get the acelga tamales, which are like spinach.
6) El Bosque de la Primavera
A good place to spend an afternoon contemplating something you rarely experience in Guadalajara: silence. This is of course because the Bosque de la primavera is not in Guadalajara, it’s just west. If you go, consider doing a temazcal with Fernando and Miriam at Casa Quetzalcoatl. When I did it I could smell my hair burning and my hands went numb, but it was, like, kind of cool, too.
Sandwiches for $1.50. Rent for $200 a month. Even the tea I’m drinking right now at “Estarbucks” barely costs more than a dollar. The Mexican pesos is weak right now, like a middle school kid pre-growth spurt held in a head-lock. Not great for Mexico, good for tourists.
8) Lack of Gringos
That said, there aren’t that many international tourists. The expats have already decided where it’s “acceptable” to live in Mexico: San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala, parts of Baja, Cuernavaca. Which means those places have been ruined, and every other place is still awesome. Like Guadalajara. (Oh, I forgot: This one was supposed to blow your mind. That title was actually just an imitation of all the awful headlines seen on the internet today).
9) Tortas ahogadas
Imagine a wet burrito, but instead of a wet burrito a wet sandwich. Here’s what they do: They take a torta (basically a sandwich on french bread filled with carnitas), and douse it in a mild red sauce. I mean douse. Drench might actually be a better word. Or drown, since ahogada means “drowned.” The end result? It basically because like eating stew — a delicious, sandwich stew.
10) Calle Libertad
My favorite place to walk at night. Leafy, airy, cool. Not too much traffic. Great cafes and restaurants like La Teteria and La Cafeteria. And it’s also the street leading home, which is why I’ve chosen it to end this blog entry. Hopefully the post hasn’t been too good, because then you might come, and I might have to take number 8 off the list.