My Mexican Moments: Chapter 20

Build it, and They May Climb it

In Mazatlan there are very few front yards. It’s all wrought iron gates and flowers creeping through tiles or concrete slabs. In Pepe’s casa, there is a large concrete slab, but he has plans. The bricks were dumped — 1,000 more or less — the sand arrives, the water is poured. This was so timely after my tour of the brick factory; I was appreciative of each and every brick. Pepe is building a wall for security which will have four wrought iron gates. Two with locks for entering and exiting, two will be decorative. We’ve never felt insecure on Pedregoso but I must say this will be good addition. It may even slow down the “Hola Sheila” yelling. May. The construction team works ten hours a day and the wall is built in two weeks. Those handmade bricks are wrapped in concrete, and then painted. All that backbreaking manual labour was lost in concrete. But that’s the way the bricks crumble here.

To escape the dust and noise of the construction we head to the Malecon for lunch and linger longer than usual. I have not had a sip of my margarita when I poke Soren to say, “Look, there’s a hippopotamus on the road.” No, I am not hallucinating; it’s just the way Mexicans like to advertise that the circus is in town. The hippo looks despondent and embarrassed by being paraded along the Malecon. I hope he has a better home than a flat bed truck at the circus.

During dinner in the square that evening we notice there’s a new mime in town. Well, there never was an old one, but this mime is fresh to the Plazuela Machado. You don’t often hear mimes talking, especially in full Marcel Marceau makeup, and you don’t often hear them speaking English. This could be an interesting sound bite. Armando just can’t wait to break the silence! Here’s what he proclaims: he has six million dollars in the bank, he speaks nine languages, he studied in Paris with Marcel Marceau, he’s a graduate of MIT with two PhDs, and he has two kids from his American wife, two from his Japanese wife, two from his German wife and two from his Mexican wife. He goes onto to say he can’t get through a day without performing mime. Armando, if that’s his real name, was born in Oaxaca and is investing in a bar on the Malecon called “The Road to Heaven” with a Route 66 theme. I’m smiling away, knowing full well I’m listening to a pathological liar. Good God, the level of detail is astonishing. Waiters and friends on the square all confirm that he is a scam artist and he can’t get through the day without begging for 20 pesos.

The next morning Pepe tells us that a man climbed over his newly painted, tall wall at 4 a.m. He knows this because the fisherman is awake and ready to drive to the marina to prepare his boat and bait. Before this concrete structure, anyone could walk right up to our locked gate. Now the wall seems to have created an intrigue, encouraging curious people of a certain nature to find out what’s on the other side. Most of the houses on Pedregoso are small and unpretentious. Soren and I wonder if Pepe has not built a structure a little too grand for our working class street. Time will tell.

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