The lights dim, a crowd of thousands are hushed and a spotlight focuses on drawn black curtains.
It’s a Friday night in Mexico City and the Lucha Libre is the showcase event at Arena Mexico. More than a few tourists sit amongst a large, vocal and manically over enthusiastic crowd of well liquored Mexican men.
The hush is broken when the announcer’s voice crackles through the loud speaker, ‘El Magniiiiificoooooo!’ The crowd erupt and rise from their wooden benches. Plastic cups filled with bad Mexican beer are raised towards the heavens in a shaky salute and the stadium ignites as El Magnifico struts down the stairs in his He-Man underpants, knee high boots, sparkling cape and trademark mask.
With a pomp and arrogance that would impress Freddie Mercury, he tosses his cape aside, enters the ring and soaks in the applause, before his challenger is welcomed with a similar reaction.
Over the course of the evening, El Magnifico and his compadres attempt to out do each other with ever more grandiose entrances, before coming together in a well rehearsed, camp exhibition of stunts more akin to a 1970’s gay porn / action film, than the alleged ‘Wrestling’ that was advertised.
When the show concludes, an exhausted crowd, including many adorned in the masks of their heroes, discard the last of their plastic cups on the sticky, beer varnished floor and make for home. Thus, another night of an absurd, thoroughly entertaining and definitely unforgettable Mexican tradition is over and at least one Australian traveller leaves satisfied, with a Blue Devil mask in hand.
It looked so good. How could I have not? No man, or woman, could resist.
This was the reason free will is disputed.
It was tempting me, daring me. It was soft, smooth and warm. And a rich yellow. Oh what a yellow!
Moving the dish in my hands revealed every shade, every hue and subtlety, from turmeric to lemon to sparkling gold. It was deeper than an African sunrise and more golden than a morning crumpet.
It was not a daunting thought. It did not at first appear, to be the devil that it was.
And so I did.
An ashtray size bowl of stringy, melted, golden cheese sat before me. Begging me, and knowing. ‘Twas the remains from an order of nachos, in Comitan de Dominguez, Mexico.
And so I indulged.
George Costanza sold eating cheese as part of a bachelor fantasy life, so if it was good enough him…
I dribbled it like condensed milk from a spoon, I weaved my finger through it like a harmonograph over banknotes and then… when the cramps started, when the oil in my throat had trickled into my stomach, when I the voices inside told me to stop… I continued some more…
San Cristobal de las Casas to Comitan de Dominguez, an 88km journey through a canvas landscape of smooth green mountains, rivers into lakes into rivers and canyon cleavage.
Throughout the villages that spot the route to ‘Com Dom,’ the outlines of colonial architecture remain, through a top coat of Coca Cola and Pepsi. On the roadside, Indian women with long black plaited hair complete one half of a cliché, yet the men in sombrero’s, drunk and passed out against a wall with an empty bottle of tequila next to them, were nowhere to be seen. Neither were the drug barons, the Zapatistas, the Padres, nor a cactus. Instead, the men were hoeing in fields, selling fizzy drinks at the bus stops, driving taxis or going about other everyday business.
Each town, from Tuxtla to Palenque, opens itself to all, with a communal square, ideal for people watching, writing or just being. No kids on skateboards, no invasive electronic messages or touts and more often than not, a centuries old church offering itself for architectural examination and contemplation.
As the taxi entered the outskirts of ‘Com Dom’ the traffic congested. Our taxi driver began muttering, the words foreign and uttered as such a speed they are indecipherable in any case. He began, what was to become a symphony of car horns, with an agitated blast of his. Mmmmeeeppppppp!
It was of course, in vain, if anything, the traffic Gods, to spite him, allowed a truck to enter from a side lane.
His hand struck the steering wheel, ‘¡Ándele! ¡Ándele! Arriba!’ he announced at nobody in particular.
What? He really speaks like that? Like ‘Speedy?’
I glanced at his ID, erect on top of the dashboard. Gonzales it read! Speedy Gonzales!
‘¡Ándele! Arriba!’ he repeated, we found the male cliché.