Thursday, March 03, 2011

magpies in the nest

She wasn’t beautiful.

But she had the advantage of youth. 

Probably in her late 20s.  Enough to get her into the noticeably attractive category.  Farmgirlish with a milk complexion that had not been tainted by the sun.

None of that immediately caught my attention, though, as she crossed the Zócalo in front of my camera.

What did catch my attention was her hair band.  Purple sparkles.  With cat ears.  The type of accessory you would expect to see on an 8-year old girl.  But her plunging decolletage proved otherwise.

Obviously, a tourist – in that getup.  Hello, Kitty meets Miss Kitty.

I went back to taking photographs of the major buildings around the plaza.  After all, I needed pretty pictures of Mexico City to share with you.

When I looked up again, there she was beside me. 

“Excuse me.  Could I look at your guide book?”  “Of course,” I said, trying to find a socially neutral visual point between her hair band and cleavage.

I was correct about her tourist status.  Yorkshire.  On her way home from a sojourn in Australia.

Because I have never met a stranger not worth chatting up, I launched into a lecture concerning the buildings surrounding the plaza.  She opened my guide book and tried to direct my attention there.  But I was on a roll.

I must have looked like a combination of Don Quixote and his nemesis, the windmill – and there was some question of who was tilting at what.  Arms flailing.  Pointing here and there.

On one of my pirouettes, I noticed a fellow standing nearby, but just out of arm shot.  I thought he was merely being cautious.

When the interest of my new-found audience started to wane,  I told her to keep the guide book.  I could get another.  After all, she was only in town for a few days.  She might find some use for it.

That seemed to surprise her – the gift, that is.  But it made me feel as if I had done my good deed for the day. 

As I was walking away, I turned to wish her a pleasant flight home.  She was looking at the fellow who was standing behind us.  And he was shrugging.

Only then did it occur to me what had just happened.  I was almost a bit player in a classic three-party pickpocket scheme.

I was the mark.  She was the plausible diversion (required by criminals and magicians).  The bystander was the talent.

I have warned friends over the years of this bit of urban guerrilla warfare.  And I have seen it work in Rome and Barcelona.  Come to think of it, it was successfully used against me two years ago by a group of children in

But knowledge is only the first step to wisdom.  In my case, I know that being distracted by secondary sexual characteristics can often lead to trouble.  Even so, I willingly jumped on the ride.

Had it not been for my shameless exuberance, I could easily have lost more than my lunch in Mexico City.

But the Yorkshire lass was a perfect metaphor for Mexico City.  The place is not really beautiful.  But it is attractive and has its own charm.  It can even be engaging.  With just a
soupçon of danger that keeps the jaded interested. 

I initially had hoped that I could manage to stuff my visit to the Tortilla Grande into one post – maybe two.  But I could not boil it down that far.

So, for approximately the next six posts,  I will attempt to relive my five nights in Mexico City.


Don Cuevas said...

O.k. Besides the guidebook, did they lift anything off of you?

(A friend here in Pátzcuaro reported on Mexconnect that his wallet, with his FM3 card inside, had been taken from him during the recent Fiesta del Sr. de Rescate, at Tzintzuntzan. I don't have the details.)

Don Cuevas

LeslieLimon said...

Steve, I love reading about your adventures as you travel around Mexico. But with this and the Snow in Guadalajara incident, I am really going to worry about you every time you travel. Please be careful!

Tdk6874 said...

sparkly cat ears - they'll get you every time!


Nwexican said...

Ah, the temptress, DOH!!! Chivalry will get you nowhere.

Steve Cotton said...

And they were surprisingly effective.

Steve Cotton said...

Red stilettos with a tight black shift could not have been more effective. We men are so predictable.

Steve Cotton said...

Caution is not one of my virtues.

Steve Cotton said...

Nothing else. I talked with a guy who lost all of his money and credit cards in Mexico City. The pickpocket was so good that the wallet was removed, stripped, and returned without him feeling a thing. Now that is a professional with a career in politics.

Mexican Trailrunner said...

Bottom line - they didn't get his wallet! Nor is he sporting globs of mustard goo all over his back. I think he's doing quite will. ;)

Felipe Zapata said...

I have a vacation apartment in Mexico City, as you know. When I head downtown there, my wife removes her wedding ring, and I slip my second wallet into my jeans. My second wallet lives in Mexico City. It has a Metrobus card, a couple of business cards I have collected, and a few low-peso bills for show. What it does not have is credit cards, drivers' license, bank cards, none of those things.

I keep other cash stuffed into a separate pocket of a travel vest I usually wear there. It has a velcro closure, quite noisy on opening.

I recommend this approach to anybody in downtown Mexico City. You were lucky, big boy.

Irene said...

Well, I have been catching up with your adventures. Intestinal malfunction, airport misadventures, various wildlife and now sex in the city, or I guess sexy in the city. Cannot wait to hear about the rest of your time in Mexico City.

Leah Flinn said...

I have no desire to spend much time in Mexico City. I fear the general chaotic nature of the city, not the seductress. Watch yourself!

Steve Cotton said...

I suspect Mexico City is not quite as dangerous as some fear -- or as benign as I see it in my oblivious world.

Steve Cotton said...

Wow! I should have thought of that as a post title: "sexless in the city." That would have helped my hits -- and I am talking about the blog there.

Steve Cotton said...

Good tip. You have mentioned it before, and I still walked into the lion den with the equivalent of raw meat in my pocket.

Steve Cotton said...

The adventures will continue.

Dan in NC said...

Ah Steve, you almost paid a stiff penalty for chatting UP rather than chatting TO the dolly bird in the plaza.. tsk tsk, you loquacious Lothario! Sheesh, I'd do exactly the same - if a pretty young thang tried to get my attention! LOL! :-) and thanks for the effective reminder of the perils that await the incautious traveler!
Dan in NC

Steve Cotton said...

Over the years, I have paid many a penalty for such chats.

Dey Valdez said...

Hola Steve,

I really enjoy your adventures, and I also like that you don't use common words to describe them, I often have to use a translator :) Thanks for helping me to improve and increase my English vocabulary.


Nita said...

I'm waiting, not too patiently.

Steve Cotton said...

Always happy to add to the vocabulary. Of course, I often have a tendency to be rather idiomatic in my writing. Just the type of thing I am trying to learn in Spanish.

Steve Cotton said...

It is coming. Bit by bit. I leave for Oregon tomorrow afternoon for a week. I was hoping to have the Mexico City pieces done by then. We shall see. They are not coming very quickly.

Kim G said...

Cat ears, but not a cat burglar? Wardrobe malfunction? I guess Mr. Sticky-Fingers will have to grab someone else's stash.

As for the danger in DF, I have spent tons of time there, and only suffered on such incident (equally unsuccessful) where a group of kids (with a shifty-eyed parent) all suddenly crowded me on the metro, but I pushed them away, and their plans came to naught.

Sure DF is a big, bad, dangerous city. But if you're used to such locales, it isn't all that bad. Just keep your wits about you, and you (like Steve) will be fine.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we laugh at danger. Especially if danger finds it disconcerting.

Steve Cotton said...

And you can get a good story out of it, as well.

Steve Cotton said...

And what a great disguise. Can you hear me giving the police a description? "Excuse me, sir, but are you telling us you were mugged by Cat Woman?"

Don Cuevas said...

Leah, we love visiting Mexico City. It's a world-class metropolis, with enough attractions, both of the mind and the senses, to keep you busy and entertained around the clock. (But I usually manage to sleep a few hours a night.)

Yes, it's seemingly chaotic when you enter it, but if you can, pick a colonia más tranquila, such as Roma Norte or La Condesa. The Centro Histórico is more intense, but it's manageable with practice and open eyes.

On the other hand, it pays to keep your eyes open and take precautions such as those of which Felipe wrote. There are areas into which we won't go, and even in the touristed zones, you have to be aware, maybe even more so.

Don Cuevas

Kathe said...

Dey, I am a native English speaker and sometimes have to Google some of Steve's references as they are not always part of my vocabulary either. Steve is great for not speaking down to his audience...broadens my linguistic horizons too.

Steve Cotton said...

An d I hope I write within context.