Sunday, April 20, 2008

Heard monkeys, ate mangoes

I have a confession to make. I haven't really been lost in a swamp of work, as I said in my last post. I have been in Mexico! Oh, lordy. Wowee. Look at that little collage of colors there. That doesn't even begin to convey it. That country knows color, from the Mayan weavings to the peeling paint on the colonial churches, to the hibiscus, the bougainvillea, the turquoise and sea-green waterfalls, the shimmering feathers of the macaws. Color is everywhere, the trees are plump with mangoes, the crafts are gorgeous, the sweets are sweet, and the sky is blue (except when it decides to dump a year's worth of rain on you in one day, but more on that later!)

We had a wonderful time. As I fervently hoped, we heard howler monkeys -- they sound like monsters, I'm not even kidding. They should be called roarer monkeys. When they are all around you in the jungle calling to each other, it sounds like rival gangs of monsters about to rumble (click HERE to hear audio). We saw spider monkeys too, swinging through the canopy, and we interrupted a few crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the Rio Grijalva. We bought our weight in Mayan textiles, stumbling home from the market feeling drunk on color.


I didn't even know -- imagine, me with my dreams of making a "Mango World Tour" -- I didn't know it was mango season in Mexico!!! That was just a stroke of wild good luck! The market stalls were piled high with them, my favoritest of all favorite foods. We ate them for dinner fully half the nights of our trip -- we tried seven different varieties, from one as big as a football, to a wee green kind you don't slice, but only make a little slit in and then drink like it's nature's own juicebox. Oh my god. And it tastes ever so slightly of coconut, and it makes a slurping, delicious mess, but it's worth it. Heaven!

We were in Chiapas for the entire eight days of our short trip. It's Mexico's far southern state, right on the border with Guatemala, and it goes from beaches to sugarcane and corn fields to cool crisp highlands, to deep, humid rainforest filled with jaguars, rebel camps, and long-lost Mayan cities. It's not one of the more touristy parts of the country, Lord knows why, and since this was our first trip to Mexico, we can't compare it with the other regions. I can just say I recommend it highly, and I'll tell you lots more about it in the coming days, and show lots more photos.

Meantime, I read a really awesome book on the trip, one fantasy lovers must check out:
The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch, is a fat, juicy book about a clever, tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentleman Bastards, headed up by the audacious Locke Lamora, master of disguise. The fantasy element is not overwhelming -- there is alchemy, and there's some sorcery, but none of those things are especially important to the plot (at least, not at first). It's all about the thieving, the wonderful characters, and the rich, weird, violent, harsh, incredibly colorful world that Lynch has dreamed up. The city is a kind of debauched Venice -- if Venice had been discovered already built by some mysterious ancient race long since vanished from the Earth! In this world the Gentleman Bastards ply their trade, reveling in being clever and richer than everyone else, steadily amassing a fortune -- when a shadowy new villain comes to town to threaten everything they hold dear. It's a real page-turner, so vibrant and strange, funny, horrifying, crude, creepy, and suspenseful. A sequel came out last summer; I haven't read it yet. Check out this one, though, fantasy readers!

Oh, and one last thing: my new favorite Spanish-language pop song (the only one song I know!), "Perfecta." The band, Miranda, is from Argentina, but we kept hearing this song in Mexico. It's catchy and adorable, and the video is so silly; I can't understand what they're saying, of course, but I see on Wikipedia that the band is known for the provocative lyrics. So I apologize if it's dirty! Watch to the end to see the farmers' weird beet brawl. Enjoy!


Alex S said...

The photos look amazing Fatwoop! I bet those mangoes would have been perfect in the tropical sundaes! I can't wait to see the rest. A slideshow night is in order. On a separate note, if I had known you were coming home a day later than planned i would have made a greater effort to clear up the water disco ball holes I left on the ceilings when we yanked them out in such a hurry. I'm glad you two finally were able to get away and have a wonderful trip. But tomorrow, its back to work. I'll pop over for my breakfast about 7:45ish.

Alex S said...

Oh I forgot to add that back in 2003 there was another song in Spanish that kept playing everywhere Gene and I were in Hungary and Bulgaria-look it up! I think it was "Le Ketchup" or "Las Ketchup" - it needled its silly way into my brain and I couldn't get it out of my head for weeks (that also happened with that Chili's "i want my babyback ribs" commercial tune! oh NO there it goes again!....Fatty!.....)

tone almhjell said...

What beautiful colours! And you fit right in, dear :)

I love Locke Lamora, too! It's one of my favourite books. You musn't miss the sequel. It's not as perfect, but it's still quite wonderful.

Amber Lough said...

Oh, I am so happy you guys had a great, fascinating, magical time in Mexico! You'll have memories (and textiles) to last for years and years. :-)

And now that song is stuck in my head... One of my writing-group friends speaks Spanish, so I might see if she can tell us what the song is really about.

Again, so glad you guys got a fun break!

Amber said...

It looks like you would fit right in withe the colors of Mexico. lol! So beautiful. It reminds me of that movie awhile back, with Selma Hyack(sp?) and Matthew Whats-his-Face from "Friends"? They get married, and he comes home and she has painted the whole house in these colors? So funny.

Can't wait to see more. Happy you didn't get kidnapped by the Rebels. LOL


Deirdre said...

I love, love Mexico. Haven't been for 20 years (sigh), need to go again.

I'm going to send you a jar of mango jam from my next batch. I'm taking a canning break for a while because there wasn't a piece of fruit that came into my house that didn't get turned into jam last year. But ... I'm out of mango jam and everyone loved it so much they're begging me to make more.

Patry Francis said...

Mangos and music, and the luscious colors I always expect to find here! I feel as if I've had a little infusion of Mexico in my blood stream.

Heather said...

Soooo happy you are back and had a grand time! Nothing like monkeys and mangoes to refresh eh?

I have the Las Ketchup song and it's one of my fave motivational tunes to bop around the house to. Thanks for reminding me Alex S - now I'll be singing it for DAYS!

andalucy said...

do post more photos, please! We were in the Yucatan a couple weeks ago and it was everything delicious and deligthful. I've been to many places in Mexico, but not Chiapas. I think that's next on my list!

The Miranda song is cute and not too provocative. PG 13 maybe, or even PG. (Unless I'm missing a double entendre?)

The book sounds great. I'll put it on my list.

~Michelle~ said...

We saw this video last time we were in Mexico and thought it was so hilariously bizarre! The song totally gets stuck in my head even now. Love it!!!