Sleepless nights lead to late mornings.
I am sitting at my favorite table in La Rana (The Frog) waiting for a serviceable version of heuvos rancheros.
La Rana tends to be a hangout for Canadians – and the few Americans who venture to Melaque. (I was tempted to use “gringo,” but I am simply not in a mood to start another debate on whether the appellation applies to Canadians, or whether a gringo should ever use as term that the sensitive find derisive.)
But things are different this morning. The Frog is hosting Mexican diners. A realtor and his three children. And an older family of four. From Autlán. Famous as the home town of Juan Corona – the serial killer, not the inventor of Mexican beer.
I like the change. Despite the owner’s well-intentioned, but vaguely apartheidish, attempts to use flags to lure northern tourists, The Frog has a distinctly local flavor this morning. Instead of the usual leaden and flat consonants, the conversation is filled with a torrent of soft vowels. A language far more fitted to gossip and seduction than accounting and financial journals.
But accounting was under way. At least, with the realtor’s children. The oldest boy was cross-examining his father on the sweeter aspects of Halloween -- and wondering why such a blissful custom did not happen here.
It does. At least, a beachhead has been taken.
I see a few Halloween decorations about. Some children will show up at my gate tonight asking for candy (or money) in the few words of English they have learned. Never with costumes. As if they were government agents.
And the purists need not decry the loss of local customs. My little village does not indulge itself in many of the highland customs that entrance northern tourists -- such as, Day of the Dead. So, it is prime pickings for a holiday steeped in Celtic, rather than Hispanic, traditions.
While I listened to the boy Perry Mason his dad, I started thinking about what I would be doing if I still lived up north. To start with, I would not be eating breakfast at 10:30.
Had I not left Salem, I would have been at work for three hours. Probably in my second meeting of the day. Dispensing sage advice. And believing that all of it actually added up to something meaningful. An existentialist void wearing a Yankee mask of purpose.
But there would also be people. Friends. Acquaintances. Ready to share dinner at El Gaucho. With a good story or two. Or, even better, a lie.
But my self-indulgent reverie has come to an end.
My plate is empty, the bill has arrived -- and the laguna is still filled with water cabbage.
My Sisyphean attentions are needed elsewhere.