29 January 2010

Here's Fred

The neighbor's house. No glass shards on top of the wall!

On Tuesday I began house sitting for a Mexican friend who is in the big city for a week on business. I am here until next Monday. 2666 by Roberto Boaño had arrived from Powell's on Monday morning just as I had finished Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Lacuna, about which I have written a bit.

The house is deeper in my neighborhood, which as I have explained is called Colonia San Antonio and is very Mexican. The house has a high wall around it with broken bottles embedded along the top and comes with a large yellow dog named Zumm. There is a great interior courtyard with lots of large plants where I read in the sun during the day. No heat inside at night, but I am used to that.

My pal, Zumm, in the reading area.

I had a full 19 liters of potable water, the refrigerator was full. There are a meat shop, tortilleria, bakery, vegetable and fruit shop, and two small grocery stores within one block of me. I have intermittent electricity and a strong wifi signal when the electricity is on. All my wants and needs.


So I began reading 2666. And read. And read. Slowly it towed me out into the deep water. I will not recommend this book, although I love it. I firmly believe it is a modern masterpiece. It is difficult and certainly not for everyone. It consists of five very loosely related parts. The connecting thread is the ficitional border town of Santa Teresa, clearly based upon Juárez, and the unsolved murders of hundreds of young women that have occurred there.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday I had to get out of here for awhile and away from that damned book. Laura had come for the day to clean the house anyway, and Zumm was going to have to look out for himself. Fred and I drove out to the edge of town to the mountains there for a hike.

Fred is an American who has lived in several large cities, primarily New York. Most recently, he lived in Mexico City for a couple years and finally hit the wall. He moved here at the beginning of the month. He speaks Spanish fluently and is an avid hiker. Most importantly, he knows stuff.

We got off the highway and parked Fred's Honda SUV at the edge of an agave farm. We set our sites on one particular pass and hiked up through the brush to see it it were possible to get up and through. We made it up above an interesting small dam, but it was tough going because we were really not equipped this rough a trek. A machéte would have been handy, for example.

We know it can be done now and intend to return next week for a serious assault on those mountains.

The whole effort cleared my head wonderfully.


Sheila said...

What a lovely place to end up staying. I am so envious of your ability to get out and abut and walk in the countryside, that's not really possible here for all sorts of reasons. Women don't go out in the town to exercise, you'd never see a women jog for example, although in the countryside women walk everywhere and all the time. I've no transport to get out to anywhere it would be nice to walk. Walking round our nagar is about the height of my excerise regime, to the sound of railway horns, inquisitive children shouting "wari" to me, and enormous trucks on the roads, so not your idyllic quiet saunter through the valleys. Out in the countryside it is lovely but walking alone is not advisable, first you'd very easily get lost, often there are no more than just footpaths tracks which ca suddenly be washed away by a storm, never mind roads which had been disintegrated last monsoon and never rebuilt. Second, there is Naxalite activity and although they've never targetted foreigners one never knows. So Steve I love to look at your pictures and stories and remember the Mexican hills and the fresh air.

Four Dinners said...

I love Zumm already!!!!