Mea culpa. I haven’t exactly been churning out the blogs recently – there’s just been too much going on plus a lot of work. Big trips nada, but lots of short ones round these isles that I know so little of. And plenty of London’s broad sweep of culture – from Juliette Binoche dancing rather brilliantly with Akram Khan, Kenneth Branagh returning to the stage in Chekhov’s Ivanov, Francis Bacon at Tate Britain, Rothko at Tate Modern to last night’s session of Mark Thomas‘ hilarious but no less forceful attack on the mighty Coca Cola giant – with some extraordinary, humbling stories of the Samson & Goliath variety.
Like a rocket, Viva la Revolucion! is now out there, not exactly in outer space or the ether, though it is on a few websites, but certainly in the public eye. Last night, on a balmy summer’s evening, the launch party kicked off at the Mexican Ambassador’s residence, a consummately chic mansion on Belgrave Square. It was an exhilirating send-off, fuelled by trays and trays of delicious Mexican morsels and flowing margaritas. (Now I’m going to cheat a bit for this post & insert pics from Mexico itself – as you can imagine, I had no time to snap last night. This one is of a divine chilli and prawn ceviche)
To most people, Mexican music means mariachis. Or even, for the spectacularly ignorant, Andean Pan-pipes (this sadly came to me recently out of a highly respected London publishing-house).
Mariachis are hard to beat, their music is infectious and the full-on harmonies and volume perfectly match the high-colour and heat of long Mexican afternoons and tequila-fuelled evenings. Their homeland is Jalisco, and a Sunday afternoon in one of Guadalajara’s big family restaurants gives the best overview. Small groups of musicians (usually a couple of trumpets, a guitar and a violin or two) move from table to table to play pieces chosen and paid for by the diners, some of whom end up shedding a tear or two in sympathy with the more soulful songs. It’s heart-rending stuff.
Somehow two weeks whizzed by without me managing to write a blog word. More Air France problems spiked my return (missed connection, delayed baggage etc) but that all fades into the far distance compared with life in Mexico. Technicolour, highly charged, incredibly warm people, endlessly varied… the superlatives are legion and oh so true.
Above all something unexpected lies round every corner, not least the weather. On the local weather-map little clouds and slanting raindrops were dotted all over, quite normal for June. The reality? one tropical downpour in Mexico City and one overnight storm in a village of Veracruz – cracking thunder followed by the chimes of the morning tortilla van, the equivalent of a wake-up call. Otherwise it was dry dry, sun sun and blue blue with temperatures creeping up into the high 30s in the Yucatan. So global warming marches on.
It was one of those unforgettably painful moments – staring, horrified, at a deserted departure gate instead of calmly boarding the Air France flight from Paris to Mexico. Your heart sinks and fury joins an already high dose of adrenalin pumped up by tearing through the airport. Together with three other hapless passengers I had somehow gone off-track at Roissy (CDG), or rather Roissy had lost us between airport buses, fire-engines blocking the way, corridors leading nowhere, a woeful infrastructure and generally unhelpful terminal staff. Roll on the new terminals, still under construction, because in the meantime I don´t recommend the airport to anyone.